Anything For The Perfect Shot

Since the other day I was talking about what an ADVENTURE it is shopping with kids, I thought I’d tell you about another wild time we had this week with the boys.  Now, I warn you, this kind of thing isn’t for the faint of heart.  It’s an experience that could make Bear Grylls of Man Vs. Wild go weak in the knees.

I’m talking about an Outdoor Photo Shoot With Three Kids.  So brace yourself for an edge of your seat tale of danger, close calls, and adorable coordinated outfits.

The day started off with a certain middle child who woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  “GET PICTURES TAKEN??!?!?  I’M NOT GOING!!!” he hollers from under a blanket on his favorite chair, quite possibly intending to stay there all day.

Not to worry, I fully expected this and have counter intelligence tactics prepared.  (AKA: Bribery.)  “But look!  Surprise!  I have a new Lego Batman movie for you guys to watch when we get back!  IF you cooperate!!!”

It is enough to propel him out of his comfy chair.

Things run smoothly until it is time to get dressed.  Last year I bought the boys coordinating outfits on sale from Janie and Jack, specifically with pictures in mind.  Don’t you just love Janie and Jack?  I do.  What do my boys love?  Jogging shorts and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tees.  So they were not too happy when it was time to put on their linen button up shirts with roll-cuff sleeves.  “WHAT ON EARTH?!?” (referring to the rolled sleeves.)  “AGGGHHH!  I CAN’T DEAL WITH THESE SLEEVES!!!  THEY’RE SO UNCOMFORTABLE!!!”  This is BOTH of the older boys freaking out.  Don’t even get them started on the sandals.

Bribery time.  “It’s only for a little while!  I’ll get you a treat afterwards!  What do you want?  Chick Fil A?  Cold Stone?  Lego Mini Figures?”  I’m sorry, what’s that?  I sound desperate?  Okay, so maybe just a little.

The thing about photo sessions is that they are usually a big investment for parents.  Photographers are expensive (though totally worth it), but even if you get a  special price, by the time you factor in the clothes there is a lot riding on a good outcome, you know?  I have one piece of advice for having a happy and relaxed photo shoot with kids:  LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS.  And then lower them even a little more.  And if that’s not enough to quell your anxiety, have a stiff drink. (Kidding!  Well, at least only if you don’t have to drive to the photo shoot.)  I know all of my kids are not going to cooperate.  I know we are more likely to have a meteor land in our front yard than to have everyone looking at the camera and smiling at the same time.  I am totally okay with that.  I like shots that capture the kids’ personalities (even if certain personalities are a bit… quirky?)   Besides, it always seems like the photographer manages to get plenty of amazing photos despite the chaos.

So, yes, I was totally relaxed when we got to the park to meet the photographer.  I in no way expected to get a smile out of Finn, who was still On The Wrong Side Of The Bed.  I’ve seen what happens when photographers push the issue with Finn.  It’s not good.  We can have him looking serious, even sullen, but I don’t want to put an “If Looks Could Kill” photo on the mantel.  Beau, on the other hand, is the glue that holds everything together.  That boy loves the camera.  So not only did he gladly cooperate, he tried to get Finn to smile too.  And it almost worked.  I think there will be a cute shot of Beau whispering something to Finn and him cracking a smile.

So, we spent some time with the boys running around a grassy knoll until the photographer suggested heading towards The Pond.  There was a bit of a hill leading down to the water and she had a little square stool for the boys to sit on.  Beau sat on one side and Finn shoved his way onto the other.  Dash was supposed to stand in front of them.  Dash screamed and didn’t want to do that.  Finn decided Beau was hogging the stool and pushed him off into the grass.  Enough of the stool.  But wait, Dash wanted to climb on the stool and stand up.  This doesn’t seem very safe, as the stool isn’t even on a flat surface, but we let him do it because by then we had lost our sanity in the quest for a good picture.  So we’re all diving to catch him and strangely, we just keep letting him do the same thing over again, like maybe they’ll be a good shot before he starts to fall again?

After we’ve had enough of Dash’s stunts, the photographer suggests going down to the water so the boys can throw rocks in.  Except there are no rocks.  My mom came with us to give me a hand, and she is really determined to cheer Finn up.  So, bless her heart, she sees some rocks in the water and starts wading in to get them.  Dash thinks this water thing looks like a good idea, and he will not let the big boys hold his hand (would have been cute, right?)  So I keep diving into the shots just in time to keep him from ending up face first in the pond.  Every way Dash moves, the big boys are moving the other way, so they are never all in the view of the camera at the same time anyways.  I suggest they sit on the park bench.  Dash falls off the park bench.   My mom slips in the mud and falls in the water.  Amazingly, Finn smiles straight at the camera.  The perfect shot.

We walk back to the van and notice there is a gravel path filled with rocks, just waiting to be thrown in the water.   Mmhmm.

On the way home, my mom asks what Beau whispered to Finn to make him grin earlier in the session.  “He said someone in his class had POOP on their face!!!”  BAAHAAHAA!  They roar with laughter.  Really?  All this time we have been wasting our breath trying to get the kids to smile with phrases like “Ice cream!” and “Puppies!”???  Boys!

Alas, we spend the rest of the day trying various stain removal techniques to get red mud out of clothes.  And watching Lego Batman.  And today I will clean out my van because it smells like Chick Fil A and Pond Scum.  Memories are made of this. 🙂



  1. Cyndi Szalma says:

    Oh Jennifer, I laughed so hard. You really find the beauty among the chaos. All I can say is “poop” rules! Keep up the great work.

  2. Beautiful. I wish I had been there. The photos I saw are amazing! Any chance the photographer will let me use them to create a layout and put them online or in a magazine? I will give him/her credit, of course.

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