Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Week of the "Family Photo"

This past week was “the week” - the week of the “family photo”. Once again it was time for the biannual family photo. If you’ve been in my home you may have had the privilege of viewing the Wilkes Family Photo Gallery (aka the dining room). Lining the walls of our dining room is quite an extensive collection of family portraits, beginning with our first official “family photo” when Logan was only 18 months old. They continue through to the last official “family photo” which was taken two years ago This is one of my favorites – all of us dressed in white and blue at the Oregon Coast. Our son Clark is now home from his two year mission in Chile and it was time for an updated “family photo”. I forgot how much work the official “family photo” can be.

First – you need to find a time that everyone is available. Now when the children were younger this was a much easier thing to accomplish. You just had to work around nap times to make
sure they weren’t tired and cranky. We have one darling picture of the two boys when they were about 4 and 2 years old. All dressed up in their pale yellow and navy matching linen Easter suits that I had-made for them. Logan was in a great mood and smiling happily for the photographer but we didn’t time it so well with Clark – he was cranky and not in the mood to sit still. In fact, the only way we could get him to hold still was to give him my car keys – so we have a darling photo of the two boys in their Easter suits with Clark holding the car keys. This is the same child who in another family Christmas picture is being hung upside down by his feet because he would not cooperate!

Now that the children are older and working, finding a time when everyone was home was also a challenge – I was running out of time too. Summer was almost over and the boys are heading back to school next week. So this weekend, Saturday was our window of opportunity. A friend from church who is just starting a photography business agreed to take the picture in our backyard – yeah!

The next and biggest challenge was figuring out what everyone was going to wear. If you look over our gallery of family photos you can see the painstacking care that was taken with each portrait to make sure that everyone coordinated, blended and looked good together. There is the white and denim picture, the khaki and black one, the green and black color scheme and just about every other possible combination of colors. Now this is no small task to make sure everyone is appropriately outfitted and coordinated with each other – especially when there are six of you. In fact it’s a full time job!

The first step is deciding on the color scheme. This year, we (I guess it was really just me) decided to go with denim and jewel tones for everyone. Of course we always pick mother’s outfit first! So off I went to the mall to find the perfect “jewel tone” sweater for myself. After several stores I found the perfect foundation piece for the photo. Next were the two girls – they were easy. Jim had a shirt in his closet that worked great– so now only the boys were left.

They boys are always the challenge, especially Clark (the 21 year old). Now Clark’s fashion sense isn’t as highly developed as his mother would like. In fact, his standard wardrobe in high school was a t-shirt and a pair of gym shorts. If he had to wear a pair of long pants the gym shorts were worn underneath the pants and the pants were immediately dropped to the ground upon entering the house and of course left right where they were dropped! As a small boy Clark refused to wear any type of pants other than “soft pants” (aka. sweat pants) and I don’t think it was until he went to middle school that he finally wore a pair of jeans (aka hard pants)

It took two more days of shopping, and many stores later until I finally found two shirts that I thought would be acceptable to the boys and that worked with our “jewel tone” color scheme – actually I bought 4 shirts in the hopes that at least two of them would work. Of course Clark wasn’t crazy about his shirt, in fact he left the tags on it during the photo shoot and threatened to return it after the picture (probably for a t-shirt!).

So 9 a.m. Saturday morning arrived – now I knew I was pushing it to schedule a family photo for that time on a Saturday morning but everyone got up and ready while being fairly cooperative although Logan did ask if he “had” to shave and I had forced Clark to get a haircut the night before! It was perfect picture taking weather, warm but overcast – no bright sun. The “new” photographer hadn’t taken any large group (family) photos yet – we were her guinea pig but I assured her that since our kids were older we were a great family to practice on – the kids would be cooperative– well I guess some things never change. As the photographer arranged us and positioned us there was the same old “ouch he’s pinching me”, “this is uncomfortable”, “I can’t sit like this”, “are we done yet?”, “how many more of these pictures do we have to take?” that we’ve always heard. There were the goofy faces, the rabbit years behind a siblings head and even my sweet husband asking,”has she taken any pictures yet” (after she’d been snapping away for several minutes). In the past I would bribe the kids with Happy Meals if they smiled good and behaved for the photographer – that doesn’t work any more. It takes bigger bribes these days - a day of boating on the river!

About an hour and some 200 photos later we were finished and I was tired! Hopefully we didn’t’ scare her away from taking family photos again and hopefully we got some good ones – I’ll let you know!

Even though it’s a lot of work, I love my gallery of family photos. I love going into my dining room and seeing an overview of our family from the last 23 years beginning with our first family photo in 1984 with my tightly permed hair, my home made dress with the lace color and our first baby . We had no money at the time but having an official “family photo” was important. My family is now grown up – four children who are all taller than I am. My gallery of family photos is the most valuable art work in my home. Whether your pictures hang on your walls or decorate the pages of a scrapbook they are memories and a reminder of who we were and who we’ve become. Hopefully soon there will be a new official “family photo” – the jewel tone one – to add to the gallery. .

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