Why Everyone Needs a "Me" during Family Photo Time...

So, I'm a professional, I can take my own family portraits right? Wrong. I've tried on numerous occasions to take our annual family photo. We didn't even do one last year because I just couldn't think about gathering everyone. See small story here. But this year I promised I would do it. I wanted to have something of our family - especially since Dex joined us in March. I knew I couldn't also add in the horse and definitely not our other new addition of the year - Millie the cat - but thought I could handle the 3 dogs, myself and my husband.


So it starts. Ok - set up the tripod, get the exposure correct (yay for overcast, evenly-lit day - that helps!). Gather husband and 3 dogs. Did I mention we have 3 dogs. 3 dogs with very different personalities. Maggie is the sweetest and will do whatever you ask of her even if she's just not quite sure. Dexter aims to please but he's also a bit skiddish - he is a border collie afterall. And Izzy, oh, our sweet little INDEPENDENT/Jack Russell Terrier, Izzy. Izzy who won't do something if she really doesn't want to....yep, really. Izzy actually loves the camera when it's on her own terms and usually if it just includes her - yes, I'm serious (she was also a recent "Cover Dog" for a local magazine, more on that in another post later).

So, they are gathered, tripod and exposure set. Timer set. Ok, ready, go. Fail. After about 8 minutes at this location, Izzy decided she was "over it." and went with her tail tucked underneath the deck. I tried to sweet talk her, Mike said, "If she doesn't want to be in the family photo, then she's out." Aha, I've heard this conversation many times during client photo sessions. I can easily now relate. Our middle child is sulking. I also can see a foreshadowing of our future roles someday as parents to human children. But that wasn't all...

We move to location #2. Immediately that wasn't working. It was just inside of our fence and all they wanted to do was go outside and go for a walk as we do everyday.

We move to location #3. Gather everyone again, get the exposure ready because by  now the clouds have parted and we're getting spots of sun. I knew I'd have to act fast before it came out and ruined the exposure. Dexter clearly had other things in mind at this point. Maggie was confused. And Izzy was still...over it. She sat for a couple and then as she was refusing to cooperate I said, "Just go, go Izzy. Away from here if you can't play nicely." Again, I've heard this exasperation in a mother's voice before during a photo session. I was feeling all too well what so many of my clients go through.... So she did go, into the drainage tube and refused to come out. I bribed, I sweet talked, I asked for her forgiveness.

I JUST WANTED A PHOTO WITH MY WHOLE FAMILY IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?! You've all felt this way before haven't you?

So we took a couple without Izzy. They looked sweet. But I still wanted that little stinker in the photos. I do love her. She has an incredibly sweet streak beyond her stubborn qualities (Ok, so she COULD get that from me...or Mike...). Then, Hannah, the other farm dog "photo bombed" us. We considered using that one as it was just fitting for our day thus far.

We decided if we went for a walk, Izzy would eventually follow. She loves adventure and hates to feel left out of fun. Apparently family photo day is no fun. Sure enough, out she came running as we walked down the drive. I picked her up and we went back to our spot and got this one. This turned out to be my favorite. Ugh, except my hair, the wind was blowing. We'll keep going...

New location. This time holding Izzy so she couldn't run away for the 4th time (yep, I skipped a couple in my story). This one was great...but blurry. Finally, I think we got one. C'est la vie. I ended up using the one with my hair as my favorite.

Next year, I will pay for a professional. Oh man, how many times have I heard clients say that to me. And I know a professional could have done better than I did on our final photo. Why? Because they'd be worried about things other than what I was attending to when I was in FRONT of the camera. My role was reversed and I so wish I would have had help. If it's important to have your family together, do yourself a favor and get some help. We are happy to do it and most likely your kids will respond better to one of us making silly faces at them than one of you. I wish I'd had someone to squeek a ball or whistle. And the photo may not be "perfect" but it's your family and that in itself is perfect. Our photo session would have taken under 30 minutes, I'd bet, if I'd had help. Instead, it was an exhausting, stressful 2 hours. A huge thank you to my husband for continuing to let me try to get "the perfect family photo" even though it was way past lunch time and we were all "over it".

Can anyone else relate to this story?