While we were in the States we took some pictures with our families. These are always so fun to do because we get to see how much the little ones are growing each year. My nephew Justin was especially excited this year to take the family portrait because he had grown a few inches from the previous year making him not only taller than his older sister but his dad and favorite Uncle Ricky. Our little ones on the other hand look at these photo ops more like a chore, so it is difficult to get them interested in standing still or smiling. I can totally relate, I remember hating it when we had to take family photos as a young child. I might even have a little emotional scaring from one photo session when I was around four years old. Like many four year olds, I had a difficult time smiling on cue. I would try, but as some of the photos from that era would testify, it looked more like I was about to give an open mouth kiss to a fish. Lips puckered, teeth showing, not really a photographic moment.
I remember one time my parents had one of our uncles come down to take photos of the family for a family portrait. My dad always had amazing gardens when we lived in Southern California so this particular photo shoot was going to be on a little bench in one of his gardens filled with tropical plants. I don’t think my uncle was photographer, I am leaning more towards just some dude with a nice camera. Apparently he didn’t understand that some kids have difficulty smiling and thought the best way to get them to smile was to spank them. So after the family shots, my parents wanted a shot of the kids together and then a one on one shot with each kid individually. Since I was the youngest and the second son, my photo session was last. The rest of the family had gone inside when it came to my turn so I guess my uncle thought that it would be a good time to take out his frustration on my fragile four year old bum. I remember trying as hard as I could to conjure up a smile that would make a Grandmother’s heart melt, but each time I tried it came out worse and worse. My uncle’s temper didn’t help, instead of getting the award winning smile, he got a picture of a kid with a red face, blood shot eyes and the look of fear like I had just seen ghost. Even today, some 36 years later I get a little shiver up my spine when someone says, “On the count of three, 1..2…3 cheese.” If you look closely in some of the photos you might even see a little glimmer of fear in my eyes.
Things have changed and technology has made taking a family portrait something that is pretty easy to do. We don’t need photographers to take family portraits any more, or short tempered uncles with a fancy 35mm camera. If you want to get a family portrait you just need a camera with a timer and a good photo editing program. Needless to say I understand that kids sometimes just don’t like getting their photos taken, and that is fine with me. If my boy feels that he should scowl at the camera while my daughter gives you a look like she is about to eat the family pet, so be it.
These days we try to make taking the family portrait more fun for the little ones by doing a crazy photo each year. Lets face it, we do not have to pay for film or developing the film any more, why not have a little fun with it.