Tag Archives: Family portrait

Arrrr, Me Hearty, Avast Ye!

“No patterns, no stripes.” These are my basic guidelines before a photo session. Mind you, after imparting these few words of wisdom to parents, I have seen a kid show up in a striped outfit with a huge pumpkin pattern on the front… but I was definitely not prepared for the one who showed up with the pirate outfit.

I had forgotten about red head Zane. Yesterday, PlanetRoss (who seems in dire need of a vacation to get over his vacation if I may say) left a comment about how much of a sucker he was for the “I was born on a pirate ship pose” and Zane came to mind.

A cute kid, that Zane. Red hair, tons of freckles, huge hazel eyes. A bit tentative. A bit shy.

I thought that the pattern on the tee-shirt would be a little distracting, but the kid was so photogenic that in the end, it worked out. Still, despite emptying my usual bag of tricks, it remained difficult to get him to act natural.

Then, shiver me timbers! Zane’s father dug out a pirate outfit from a bag. I think my eyes narrowed into wee Belgian slits and I probably contorted my mouth in an expression of “you have to be kidding me” but one look at the kid, and I promptly snapped back to my usual adorable self (I assure you I am quite sweet.)

Suddenly, someone acted like a kid again.

By the Powers! He could not be stopped.

The’e is no nay ne’er a way to replicate that kind of joy without a great grand swashbuckling outfit. In the end, I managed to sit him down two minutes for a portrait with his father and lass Lindsey, but even then, he stayed in character.

I have never believed in gimmicks. I feel that if you are going to display a family portrait next to the Ugly Yellow Plastic Cat on your mantle, the photograph will travel through time much better if faces are the only things that draw attention. It pains me greatly to say this but I was wrong. My hearties will tell you that even when I’m wrong, I’m usually still quite right… But in this case, I’m eatin’ a whole bag of crow.

Not all Photos Belong in the Family Album

People are supposed to learn from their mistakes. I don’t.

Once, I photographed a gorgeous male model without realizing his fly was wide open, a tribute to my purity if I may say. One might think that, considering the disastrous experience, I would make a conscious effort to check out these things before the beginning of a session… but call it whatever you will, manners perhaps, I can’t bring myself to cast a prolonged stare on my subject’s crotch.

My hard drives are full of images which never make it to the family albums of my clients. These are some of the reasons:

Charlotte and her stallion. I did not notice a thing until I saw the images on my computer screen. I had to photoshop the offensive member out of all the portraits. By the time I was done, I had had enough equine intimacy to last me a lifetime and the bad boy got castrated.

Nothing makes a guy more uncomfortable than being asked to get closer to his friend for a photograph. He first looks at you with incredulity: “You want me tooo… er, really?” When he realizes you are dead serious, he obtemperates resignedly, contorting his body in all kinds of ways not to make body contact with his buddy. Both men have a frozen look on their faces. Disconnected. Unusable.

The subject escapes.

The child suddenly feels compelled to emulate Bill Murray.

Tears? Not for the family album. When I look at my own childhood photographs, It seems as if I never cried. Always cheerful, always smiling.

I think it’s a ploy. Parents engage in a concerted effort not to leave traces behind. Then, much later, when confronted with their sullen teenager, they can always evoke the happier times when their brood’s sole emotion appeared to be one of complete content. “What happened to you? You used to be such a jovial little kid!”

The Boozer. No matter how artistic the image, if it involves a bottle of alcohol and a rather enthusiastic little child, it just never makes the cut.

When your clients get arrested for disorderly conduct, chances are they will not want to be reminded of the sad turn of event. Ok, ok, this one was a pretend arrest. The cop got called for noise disturbance and I asked him to arrest my client for giggles.

The case of the “oeil qui dit merde a l’autre.” Parents frown upon including photographs of cross-eyed children in the album.

Slightly deranged expressions. The above photograph represents the typical look of a child asked to open his eyes a little more. I generally keep these to myself.

Little Jeanne expressing herself will remain in my archives.

So will Joanna and her Freedom Fry.

Meet Gladys, Mr. Shinn’s 89 year-old mother-in-law. Mr. Shinn had decided to re-do a bathroom in his house, just days before the arrival of out-of-town guests. Complete obliteration.

The last time Mr. Shinn had taken upon himself to renovate a room, the project had lasted 18 excruciating months. Threats of imminent divorce proceedings had finally brought the project to completion. I thought the surprise portrait of Gladys, Belle of New Orleans, should be taken in the brand new area of contention. In the end, the Shinns opted for a much more traditional portrait.

Ah family portraits! This one was never an option.

Neither was this one.

The first shot. Never quite makes it to the mantle.

Ultimately, I am guilty too. This photograph represents my nephew expressing his ardent love for his girlfriend, and I chose not to include it in my mother’s 75th birthday surprise album. I guess I’m not a romantic after all. Bitterness is a terrible thing.