Family Pictures: My Personal Hell

“If I had a choice between getting smashed in the face with a hammer or being a child photographer, I’d be smashed in the face with a hammer every time.” – Clark Harrell, following our most recent family photo shoot

The only thing enjoyable about a family photo session is (hopefully) the outcome. Everything else is like sitting in 104 degree heat surrounded by crying babies and cranky grown men. OH WAIT. That’s EXACTLY what it is.

Family picture sessions (and the hours of prep preceding) are what I’d imagine Hell to be like. There’s the toddler, at whom you make 173 funny faces and every animal noise in existence to elicit a smile. Who still won’t. Then there’s the baby, a total crap shoot. Funny faces won’t work (not that it would matter), so you can only pray that you scheduled the shoot for the right time of day. And don’t all husbands love to take family pictures? I’m sure yours is always excited when he hears you scheduled family pictures again and never says things like, “We just took family pictures” (our family looks a little different now) or “How long is it going to take” (not long at all) or “I don’t want to take very many,” (you’ll take as many as it takes to get four smiles) because he knows you’re stressed enough having to get yourself and the two minions perfectly precious AND perfectly perky. And I swear I start getting us all dressed 4-5 hours ahead of time but SOMEHOW I’m ALWAYS running around like a squirrel for at least 15 minutes before shoot-time.

Every time I leave, I say, “There’s no way she got ANY good shots.” And then wish I could just be left alone for the rest of the day.

Charlee’s one-year pics were awesome, in that we found out a few days later that she had an ear infection. You can just imagine how well it went. Hannah Vickers is AMAZING, though. For example, in this picture you’d never know my mouth was slowly filling with salty tears as they streamed down her fussy little face:

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She’s not kissing me. She’s trying to head butt me.

These are also winners:

This last session with Erin Davis was no different. This was the opening scene: We start off by doing some solo shots of Hattie while Clark holds the socially malevolent introverted child. Hattie is awake, but so far cooperative so I tell Clark to leave Charlee with me and run put his clothes on (because it would have been too easy for him to actually come dressed). Of course, AS SOON as Clark runs inside to change clothes, Hattie starts going ballistic. There’s no option to set down Charlee because we decided it was a good idea for her to go barefoot while out in the middle of this sticker-infested pasture. Erin, bless her soul, tries to calm down Hattie, but she won’t have any of it. Feeling terrible, I tell Erin she can hand her to me. Well, sweet big sister doesn’t want me to hold Hattie and makes this clear by crying in my other ear. So, I’m just bouncing both of them, sweating like I’m in the pits of Hell (or am I), makeup dripping down my face until it looks like we’ve all been crying … really looking forward to getting my picture taken. Erin and I just look at each other and  laugh, as if to say, “Whatteryagunnado…”

While it did get better, Charlee, just devil-stared at Erin the entire hour and a half. Every time we asked her to touch, kiss, hug, lay next to, look in the general direction of Hattie, she would say, in the whiniest, most pitiful tone, “Noooooo,” shove her paci in her mouth, and lay her head back down on Clark’s shoulder. This was the saddest part to me, because she ALWAYS wants to lay by Hattie and is so dadgum sweet to her. But NOT TODAY. No ma’am. Not the day it will be professionally documented for eternity.

Think of this as you see these pictures. While they turned out sweet, she was not, in any way, trying to be:

Afterward, I looked at my sister and said, “I feel like I just ran a marathon. That was totally exhausting. I just want to go to sleep.” I mean, has anyone EVER had a session where everyone cooperates and is happy to be there and smiles the whole time and leaves so grateful to have had such a wonderful experience together? If so, don’t tell me. I always leave saying, “This just isn’t worth it.”

But then I get the cd in the mail. And there’s these…

Worth it.

How’d she do it? I praise Erin (and Hannah) for the ability to squeeze out some of the most adorable pictures that capture us exactly as we are: the perfect family. 😉 I swear you would look at these and think it was a smooth, relaxed day of giggles, cool breezes, and glossy smiles as opposed to back sweat, hair frizz, and whines. Erin, thank you for somehow, SOMEHOW, making us look like we have it all together. I know it was really (REALLY) hard work.

Sidenote: as soon as she left, Charlee perked right up and put on a big show for all of Clark’s family. While she was being completely precious, I could have rung her sweet little neck. Where was this ten minutes ago? I’m going to have to hire a photographer to court Charlee the week before taking her pictures.