Frame of Reference

Isabella has hated having her picture taken for over a year now. Each time I break out the camera, she either runs away, throws her hands over her face, or scowls and/or frowns at the camera. Bribery attempts (Candy! Cookies! Caillou!) don't work, and neither do pleas that mommy will cry if you don't let her take just one photo of you. 99% of the photos of her that you see on this blog were highly covert attempts that took more energy and stealthiness than any mother should have to exert to take a damn photo of her kid.

Yesterday was Picture Day at Isabella's preschool. Her school is semi-cooperative, and parents have to serve on two committees. I'm on the Fundraising committee (under which school photos fall), and back before the school year started, I volunteered to herd the kids to the room where photos were taken, and once they were there wipe snack off faces, pick dried Play-doh off shirts, and attempt to tame wild preschooler hair before the kids were put in front of the camera.

Half of me didn't even want to bother putting Isabella through the photoshoot, but even more than that, I didn't want to expend the energy of getting her photo-ready, because I figured there was no chance in hell we'd end up with a decent picture to buy. But I did, and she looked very cute.

Her pictures did not.

I tried standing behind the photographer and making funny faces while she yelled "Stinky Cheese! Stinky Cookies!" in an attempt to get the little curmudgeon to even crack a semblance of a smile. I tried hiding behind the equipment, figuring she might follow directions better if she didn't see me.

Isabella was having none of it.

I had very low expectations for the event, but I was still disappointed. I would have been more disappointed if I didn't have these.

At the end of the summer, we took advantage of a free photoshoot offered by a photographer friend of one of the hubs' friends. She wanted experience shooting newborn twins, and wondered if we wanted to serve as her subjects. In return, she would give us a bunch of free photos. I figured if I couldn't convince Ness to come to NY and take photos of my kids, this would have to do.

The plan was originally to do the shoot when the twins were a few months old. We soon realized that given Luci and Nicholas', shall we say, "challenging" personalities, this wasn't going to happen. The colic lasted for way longer than anyone anticipated, and then we decided we wanted to wait for them to be sitting up on their own before we did the shoot.

On a beautiful day in September, we spent just short of 14,000 hours preparing the kids and schlepping gear, toys, and ourselves to a park to have photos taken. It became immediately apparent that things weren't going to turn out well. The photographer could only meet us at 11:30am, which is close to the kids' lunchtime. Isabella didn't want her photo taken (no surprise there) and the twins? Well, they were the twins. They fussed, cried, and screamed through most of the session.

The photographer, bless her unprepared-for-the-maelstrom-that-is-my-family heart, tried her best. She took what seemed like thousands of photographs, just following Isabella around, pretending not to take her photo when she really was snapping away, and enticing the twins with anything and everything she could to eek some smiles out of them.

We left feeling bummed about the whole thing, but hey. It was free. So really, we didn't have much to complain about.

But when we saw the proofs, we realized that we didn't end up with perfectly posed photos that featured 100-watt smiles from our kids. Isabella, Luci, and Nicholas wouldn't be appearing in any Gap ads, and school picture days for Isabella are going to be a wash for the foreseeable future.

What we did get were pictures of them. No posed shots. No artificial smiles. But snapshots in time that represent what they were like in that moment. When I look at these photos of Isabella, I see her - the faces she makes when she's excited, happy, or about to laugh. And for me, these are so much better than my feeble attempt to force her to smile for the camera. The photographer captured the essence of my kids in a way I never could, and I'll always be grateful for that.

Oh, and speaking of essence, the session would not have been complete without a few shots of the twins. This one is cute

and these individual photos are nice too

But this one? This is Luci and Nicholas. Undeniably, unquestionably, my twin babies.

And it's our favorite shot of them by far.

11 Responses to “Frame of Reference”

  1. # Anonymous Ness

    I usually get comments on my photographs from parents, that I have captured a kid as they are. As a photographer, you can't ask for more than that. Natural smiles, and little characters coming through are really more important than toothpaste commercial smiles :) I particularly like the close ups of the twins, it's similar to my style of shooting :)

    Thank you for your link to me BTW, believe me, if I had the funds, I would have already been to visit!  

  2. # Blogger Simply-Mel

    These are very precious pics Kristy, and yes, the one of the twins crying is a beaut! I love my *real life* photos in my albums - they are the ones the trigger far more emotion/memory 10 years later than the perfect poses in front of the christmas tree!

    Your kids are really really beautiful.  

  3. # Blogger Marie

    They're great pics!

    I took K to a similar session with a friend over the summer. Love the natural photos!!  

  4. # Blogger Melissa

    Those are beautiful pictures! I especially love the close-ups of the twins - what lovely eyes they have!  

  5. # Blogger Mom24

    Those are great. You will treasure them more than any "perfect" photo for sure. Too cute.  

  6. # Blogger Hopeful Mother

    Agreed. The best photos are the ones that can "take you back" to the time they were taken. These achieve that, and more!  

  7. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    The pics are great! Real life is better than poses anyway. I', terrible. They had picture day at Little Elvis' preschool, and I didn't order any. Couldn't imagine him trading any with his classmates like the flyer promised...  

  8. # Blogger Veronica

    Awww. I love them! They're so cute!  

  9. # Blogger Sunny

    I just *lurve* when you post pictures of your kiddos, they are beautiful!! The last one is an absolute crack up. You should include a copy in your holiday cards. (You are working on holiday cards, right? In your spare time?)  

  10. # Anonymous Lisanne

    That's awesome!!! I definitely love the last picture of the twins. Beautiful. I love Isabella's dress, too!  

  11. # Blogger Holly at Tropic of Mom

    Oh, the cuteness! It's hard to get a good photo of uncooperative kids. I know all too well, thanks to my preschooler.

    Nicholas' eyes! Just. Amazing.  

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