Life with triplets.
The Holiday Card episode.
(The other night at dance, I was telling another mom about our photo shoot and we were laughing and laughing. Because, really, what else can you do.)
I've determined that the real issue with our holiday card is that I don't stress out about it until Rich asks, "Ah, when're you going to take a picture for the Christmas card?" And then I usually respond with, "Well, what about next weekend when there's that event and blah, blah." I procrastinate. So this year, I thought about taking some photos at the Christmas tree farm but that presented a few problems. 1. The girls would have to be dressed in something other than what they would normally pick out to wear. 2. It could potentially be too chilly to wander around without coats on. (I'm not going to make them uncomfortable for the sake of a photo, and it was cold that day.) 3. The farm is small and a public space with a high potential for unintentional photobombing. 4. I knew the girls wanted the outing to be about selecting our tree as a family, and not about a staged photo shoot.
That left us with the day of The Nutcracker outing when I knew the girls would all be wearing their fancy holiday dresses and I could try to line them up in front of the blank wall in the family room but that's the photo I took last year and as a photographer, I wanted to branch out. (slight sarcasm) Anna was even wearing her navy blue dress from last year. So the next morning, with the hope of avoiding express shipping charges from Tiny Prints, I decided to just do it.
Our tree, sans decorations, was set up in the family room and I had the idea of throwing a bunch of lights up and having the girls sit in front of the tree.
Test shot. Here, take my phone and just sit here for a minute.
I knew right away that it wasn't going to be what I was looking for and I had a few other ideas involving lights in the background but the set-up had the potential for major time consumption and so I moved on. It was really warm that day (which means it was 60 degrees) and Rich pointed to a small stand of pine trees out back and suggested I move outdoors. Two problems: 1. The sun was out in full force and 2. It was late morning and I didn't want to wait until later in the afternoon. But I know how to shoot in all different lighting situations so I asked a kid to come outside with me for a test shot.
I really liked that pine background with the sun coming through from behind.
So here's what can happen when you're a photographer and you're photographing your own offspring:
- Someone decides she just doesn't want to be photographed at that particular time.
- Your children are so comfortable with you that they behave in a way they would not for another photographer.
I had recently ordered the girls some sweater dresses and they wanted to wear them so the clothing thing was a non-issue. What was an issue was having one kid who just wasn't into it at that moment. I've learned over the years that for younger ones, distraction is key. For older kids, involving them in the process is key and that's where I messed up. I did the whole rush, rush before the sun gets any higher thing. I've also learned that for some reason, my kids cannot stand next to each other with their arms around each other without pulling someone down. Sitting works best but we were standing in what amounted to a pile of mud, so stand it was.
"Okay, I need you to line up. In a line. Right next to each other. If you aren't right next to each other, your head is going to look huge. (laughter) See, look at how big your head is in this picture. Okay, right next to each other. Put your feet right there."
"Can you not stand on your toes, please. I know you aren't that tall. Why are you stretching your neck like that? You look like a giraffe. Why are you trying to be taller?"
And then someone pulled on someone and someone almost fell into the pines and I exclaimed (not yelled, exclaimed), "I don't know why you can't put your arms around each other without knocking each other over. Is it that hard to do?" The next set of photos, I had one kid with a blank expression on her face. She was just staring at me. "Um, why aren't you smiling?" Another kid starting crying, real tears crying. "Because-you're-yelling-at-us." Which always reminds me of when I was a kid. "If you want yelling, I can give you yelling." But no, I wasn't yelling. I quickly scrolled through what I had taken (a grand total of 15 photos), found one that was decent and ended the session.
But then I had an idea (or 10.) The area behind the fenced portion of our yard has some photographic potential. I asked the girls to hold hands and walk along the path. Of course, someone is still trying to be the tallest and someone else wants to be done and now she's giving me the blank stare.
The past few years, I've included a silly photo on the back of our card and the girls have enjoyed participating in that. We moved inside to the blank wall for those photos, of which I took three.
Test shot for light.
Where's the missing kid? Getting her bathrobe. For the photo.
As I was editing the photo that I ultimately used for the front of the card, I told Rich that I wasn't 100% happy with it. He replied, "Well, some years will be better than others." As a parent, I got it. As the photographer, I cringed. But, hey, I've already thought of a new idea for next year and I think I can easily obtain munchkin buy-in on it. We're good. It's all good.