The Photograph That Is Never Going To Happen

Every year I make a calendar for my mom and Sir Monkeypants’ mom for Christmas. They like it because it’s something disposable, at a time when they are both trying not to accumulate any more stuff. It features photos of all of their grandchildren, and one thing I have learned from working on the calendars is that other families do not take thousands of pictures of their kids every year.

What DO they do with their time?

So now I spend a lot of our visits with the extended family trying to snap good shots of my nieces and nephews, and to try to set up group shots of all the grandkids, all with the calendars in mind.

There’s always a page or two devoted to each kid, and a page or two devoted to each family. For the page that will feature our family’s kids, what I want is a shot of all three of our kids.

Just one picture. All three in one spot at one time, smiling happily.

This year I’ve been working on my own Project 365, which means I have photos of the kids from just about every day for the past year (I’m at the 11 month mark now, whoo hoo!). Several months ago I started to really focus on getting pictures that had all three kids in it.

I have quite a few now. Ones where one kid is fake smiling, one smirking, one looking away.

Ones where two are happy and one is crying. Ones where two are sitting quietly while one jumps about blurrily in the background.

Ones where all three are giving me the NO MORE PICTURES, MOM eye roll.

I’ve taken their photo so often, the older two run away when they see the camera coming. The youngest is still content to pose but only if I will let her do the Super Fake Princess Grin.

I’ve thought of giving it over to a professional, but the chances of everyone being in a good mood at the same time seem to be less than zero.

I’ve heard others say that it’s important to take the camera away from your face now and then. To have a look around and experience things as they happen, not just fret about capturing them for the future.

But I have to say, looking back at the pictures and videos we’ve taken of the kids over the years – as many as there are, I wish there were dozens more. Hundreds more. It goes so fast, and it’s so easy to forget how little they were once, how far they have come. Looking at how they have changed makes me excited for how they will grow in the future.

So although I do try to remain present in the now, and I do try to peek out from behind the camera every now and again, I’ll keep on clicking. Searching for that one shot where everyone is posing nicely and smiling happily.

And if it never happens – at least the photos I do have capture the real us. And that’s more than worth putting in a calendar, I think.

This post is part of Brie’s Monday Moments series over at Capital Mom. This week’s theme was Photograph.

11 thoughts on “The Photograph That Is Never Going To Happen

  1. Damn right! Just because I’m taking a photo doesn’t mean I’m not in the moment, absorbing what’s going on. If anything, I’m often MORE involved in the moment because I’m interested in capturing it. When Alex and I flip through our photos, we never think, “Oh man, that’s a great photo but I totally missed out on the chance to run, wrestle, read, or laugh (etc).” The photo is taken while doing all of those things, or right before or right after.

    The camera isn’t a trap or a void, isolating you from the world. It’s also a way to remember those moments that you were fully present for but just happened to have a camera for. DSLR is especially good for this because you don’t have to make your family pose while a slow point-and-shoot focuses.

    And for posed “Hey, come here, I want to take your photo” moments… even if they get annoyed and tired of us, aren’t we still more engaged with them when we haul them in front of the camera than doing our own separate things? 🙂

    I feel no shame in taking lots of photos, and I don’t feel disconnected from the family when I’m taking them. I’ll have all these photos to look at for years to come! A DSLR was my best investment in the family that I’ve made in a long while!

  2. I am awful at taking pictures of the kids. There are never enough. Partly because once I pull out the camera one of the kids want to take a picture. And that gets old fast.

  3. This has little to do with your post, but I LOVE your new profile picture!

    Anyway, we have similar issues with getting photos taken. The year my whole extended family decided to have a big family picture, something in me died. It’s the worst photo of all time. THE WORST.

  4. Ha ha here’s the same dilemma only different – with adult kids. My sister and I have decided to make a family photo calendar for our 83 year old dad for Christmas. My brother sister and I will submit some shots to my sis who will produce the calendar. I think we can manage everyone looking at the camera at the same time with real smiles. The challenge is getting the kids in one ROOM at one time. Still trying to find a time when my two sons and my new live-in-girlfriend-of-my-oldest (there must be a name for this) can get together. Last night didn’t work, #1 was sick, tonight he’s still sick (although #2 son is going over there for dinner and to ‘hang out’ – hmmmm), Wednesday is her brother’s hockey game, Friday they’ve been invited to dinner, Satuday is their Halloween party…

  5. P.S. I LOVE your new profile picture. Totally you! And I especially loved this post – I think you’ve done here what I always aspire to do: write a beautifully crafted post with a begininning, a middle and an end, a theme and tight writing! Not to mention killer humour. Kudos, my friend!

  6. I think the pictures of the “real us” are the ones worth holding on to. If you can capture that? Wow.

    Besides, perfectly posed family photos aren’t nearly as much fun to embarrass them at their weddings with 🙂

  7. We had professional photos done a few weeks ago. I got there SUPER skeptical that we would get one with all the kids smiling but we got one! So awesome 🙂

    And I spend a lot of time trying to get photos of all the kids at family gatherings too. Whenever I try to get all 6 cousins smiling at once – now THAT’s hilarious 🙂

  8. Perhaps you can try videotaping them, and then try to extract a still frame photograph from the video footage? I’d think it would increase your odds of being able to capture a split second when they’re all looking in the same direction.

  9. Lynn!! I’d loooove to photograph your family! Seriously! Maybe you could even PAY ME IN PIE!

    Having met you kids once, I know they’re pretty darn cute… maybe they just need the-fear-of-someone-unknown-behind-the-camera.

Comments are closed.