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I am an old blogger who has found their way back to the internet. I love being a mom, an African American, spending time with my husband and shopping online. I waste time on Facebook and I do not spend enough time on Twitter. Reading is my favorite past time but bad reality shows are my guilty pleasure. Here, I blog about parenting, businesses and their successes, and innovation.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

7 Tips on making the Family Portrait Stress FREE

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A couple of weeks ago, a favorite photographer of mine was running a special on family portraits.  I, so badly, wanted my family to get one.  The deal was he would snap about 5-7 photos and edit the best one.  Then he would my post them online to a password protected site.  It only cost us $30!  This seemed like a great idea.  He is a great commercial and family photographer.  His work has been featured in National Geographic, New York Times, and he is a chosen photographer for the Clinton Library.  I tell my husband this and he's like - SO?  He's got a camera and he takes pictures - Big Deal! I really try to breed culture into this family of mine but they constantly just let me know that NBA on TV, burgers, Xbox and Disney XD will suit them just fine. The Struggle is real!

The last time I tried to get my family to take photos, my middle child was 3 months old. Now that he is 7 and there is an extra child in the mix, I figured it was about time to do it again. 

When we last took a family photo, my husband and oldest son complained...and…complained... and complained. 

Why are we wearing blue?
I don’t want to wear blue.
You don’t have blue on…why?
Why are we wearing church clothes?
How long is this going to take?
I planned everyone’s outfit and yet, it still took us a longtime to get ready. I was determined to be better prepared this time around.  Here’s what I did and my advice on how to make your family photo shoot less stressful:

1.    Scour Pinterest for ideas i.e. clothing, color, theme, setting, etc.  You get the picture.  I based our outfits from my husband’s peach long-sleeve button shirt. Make sure your other family members have outfits to go with your inspiration.  My daughter and youngest son had nothing.  I had to buy my daughter a new outfit and my youngest son wore one of his brother’s old shirts.  It was kind of cold and the shirt I found for him was short-sleeved. That meant that he was going to have to be cold for those 5-7 shots and the during time waiting for the photographer to call us prior to the photo. I am a terrible mom but it’s all for the sake of a great family photo.  Who knows when I’ll get the energy to force these people to do this again?

2.    Make sure all clothing is clean the night before. Don’t wash any part of said outfits with black sneakers the night before. I made the mistake of washing my husband nice shirt with my son’s black Nike’s.  Epic FAIL! I really don’t know why I did it.  Trying to kill two birds with one stone, I guess.  It looked like a bicycle tire had invaded my husband’s neck and arms.  I ruined his shirt, the shirt that I based everyone’s outfit on! I discovered this tragedy an hour before we were to leave for the photo. He was upset but promised he’d improvised. Oh boy!

3.    Have everyone eat BEFORE they get dressed.  My kids are messy eaters, even the twelve year old. They were all dressed in record timing. I knew they’d be hungry but they could eat later, or so I thought.  They all wanted to eat jelly toast.  Yes, people – JELLY TOAST.  Last time I checked, jelly is not invisible. Like I said before – THE STRUGGLE! When I discovered my 12 year old had made the others toast for breakfast - I, figuratively, skipped a 4 foot distance to intercept those jelly toast plates of destruction. Oh no! Not in my our award-winning-photographer-low-cost-but-good-quality pictures. Catastrophe evaded….WHEW! He would have never tried to be so helpful any other morning.

4.    Know the photographer’s location at least the day before the shoot. I kind of knew where the photo would be but I didn't. Yeah, I know – NO CLUE.  I knew the vicinity but that was it. Needless to say, we were an hour late.  We drove to the park where I thought it was, but it wasn't.  I mentioned the park name to my husband and he immediately knew where and so did my oldest son. I always underestimate my husband. I should give him more credit. The photographer took us on.  He was still there in between shoots.  It was a family photo day.  Good thing because tardy was our name that morning. Why I never referred to Google Maps, I'll never know.

5.    Steer clear of dog poop walking up to the photo shoot spot. Pet owners you ‘gotta’ scoop the poop. I fussed at everyone this particular morning about applying lotion to elbows, rubbing Chapstick to lips, and keeping food away from clothes but I really didn't think about having to yell to my husband to catch my son from stepping in the doggy do. We were walking up to the photo shoot and because I was on a quest to block all things that could ruin my our family photo, my super mom senses laser-ed in on the poop pile.  I yelled to my husband and I swear this scene happened in slow motion. He grabbed my son around the waist just as he was about to ruin his shoes in the "prize" and whirled around in a circle like a ballerina and her partner and then ever so gently tiptoed over it himself.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen - my husband is superman.

6.    Give your youngest time to warm up to the photographer.  She was mean-mugging through the whole session.  I guess the 5-7 shots were good for everyone else but not her.  She needed time to warm up to this stranger pointing a camera at her family. This stranger that kept repeating her name was not cool with her.  The evidence is in the picture.

7.    When taking pictures outside make sure that it is not too bright that your family cannot open their eyes. The sun was really nowhere to be seen but if you already have tight eyes, it won’t take much to make them squint. It was a bright beautiful day. When I saw the picture, it looked like we are all struggling to open our eyes while smiling.  This was clearly a forced picture. 

Even though it took an act of congress to get this picture, I am glad we have one.  There is record that my family exists and we exist together - even if my husband and oldest look dorky, my youngest son was cold on his birthday (Yep - I did this to him on his birthday), my daughter was a mean toddler and I had too much going on around my neck (frills on blouse and a scarf – fashion NO NO).  I’ll take it because I know everyone will have the memories leading up to the moment of the photo. We were happy to be together.

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