Creating a record…

We just came home from one of the craziest annual adventures: the event of documenting our family in this moment. I’ve posted about photographing our own family before. It’s an endeavor in insanity. You are laughing now, but I’m completely serious. The reason you hire someone to perform any task is because it’s too challenging to do yourself–either because you do not possess the knowledge or because you don’t have the appropriate equipment or because the coordination is too great an effort. For us, the final reason would be the justification. I should hire a photographer to capture our annual record. But I don’t. I almost always regret not having hired another local photographer, and one of these years, I’ll pull it off. But it didn’t happen this year.

I have to say our experience this year was better than we’ve had, but there were still some tense moments, especially involving the 6-year-old who is currently not a huge fan of the camera. I usually respect that and give him his space. I can’t think of many greater annoyances than someone forcing you to pose for a photo you don’t want to be in. That’s not really my style. That said, I want to capture him right this minute. With his oversized grown-up teeth, and his long hair that he refuses to cut because it acts as a good shade from the sun, and his perfect little self. He will only look like this right now. Never again.

I had a little more presence of mind today than I have had during past family photo sessions with our own family. I started to get frustrated and tried the bribery route (we were at Mam and Bump’s (Gramma and Grampa’s), where his 4-wheeler was waiting to be taken out for a spin), but bribery was not working. Daddy tried talking quietly to him, and he was more open but still resistant. I finally just told him the truth. That I don’t ever want to forget what he looks like today. At six-and-a-half. That he’ll change so much before he is a grownup, and I want to remember what he looks like at each age and to be able to look back and see a record of him growing and changing. We have a luxury that families have never before had–the digital photography age has opened up the ability to document your family in such a tremendous and detailed way.

I digress (it’s my thing).

So Logan agreed to pose for a few photos, and I captured some really sweet shots of him, as well as some silly faces, which I love just as much. We finagled a few photos out of his brother, and Mam helped us coordinate a mini stylized shoot coupling the suitcase props I brought with two “hobo” traveling stick sacks for brother photos. Super cute pictures.

We opted to do family photos with our Wrangler this year for something fun and a little different. It has been such a fun and happy part of our life that it seemed the thing to do. I kept it simple–we just drove five miles to Grandma’s where we could park in the pine trees.

I’ve just started going through the photos–it’s a bit of a process to narrow everything down. This year, I’m designing our card myself as I’ve found a printer who allows a custom upload for photo cards, which is pretty fun. I like the flexibility of being able to include exactly the number of photos I want to include as well as the size and arrangement of the photos. Each year, I figure something new out about the process, but the core remains the same: documenting our family’s changes and sharing this record with the people we love.

So I leave you with this to ponder: when you look back, will you be happy with the record you are capturing? Does it tell your story? Not everyone prefers a photographic record, but for many of us who do like to have some tangible visual guide to tell our family’s story, it’s lack of time and resources that lead us to miss capturing those moments in time. I’m not posting this to push readers to book sessions, though of course I’d be thrilled if you do! We document our own moments. You can do that, too. Whatever way works for your family is the right way–just don’t let this time slip by. I’m not talking only about families with small children, either. Each stage of a family’s growth or of a couple’s love is precious and worth memorializing. Do it. Do it now. Do it often. You will not regret those few hours, and if you do decide to hire someone to help you out, you might even have fun in the process!

And by the way–you might think I am utterly insane capturing our photos in August. Christmas is MONTHS away, you say. And you are correct, but all the big sales on photo cards start now and end in September. It works for us and leaves my calendar a bit more open to help out the clients who decide they could use a hand documenting their memories. I love sending out photo cards for Christmas. We send about 60 cards, and between postage, fun paper for our newsletter, and the cost of the cards, it adds up quickly. I’ll take the breaks where I can get them!

So to give you an idea, here are some of our family photos.  There were a couple of us sans babes, and I know we sent out a photo the year I was prego with our first, but I can’t find those images digitally at the moment–that’s a topic for another day: preserving your digital files in an organized way! If I find them later, I’ll add them.

There are a few rules. #1: you may laugh out loud, but you must keep it to yourself. No “LOL”ing in the comments.  #2: Be gentle on my skillz. Remember I was winging it for most of these. I decided to get smarter about photo capturing in 2009, and it was a slow learning process owing to me being a slow learner and having two wee ones at home…oh and a day job that ties up some of my time. It is pretty cool to look at the photographic growth through these photos, though.

Below: 2006 — The Pup at 5 years old and Babe #1 at almost 1.

We’re not going to talk about the photo we took in 2007. It was on our couch, and it was taken at a time when photographic lighting was not in our info base and when posing meant everyone was in the frame. Back when we were capturing memories with our great little point-and-shoot, we had much better portrait results with outdoor photos!

Below: 2008 – The Pup at 7 and Babe #1 at almost 3. Went a little scrapbooky on this one. I printed this at 4×6 and included in our holiday card.

We welcomed Babe #2 in 2009, and our holiday mailing that year went out at Thanksgiving and was his birth announcement. I’m thinking perhaps there was no family photo that year owing to me just having given birth and the fact that I neither recall a photo nor can find one. So we have an *almost* annual record!

Below: 2010 – Babe #1 at almost 5, and Babe #2 at 1 (the Pup was home sleeping)

Below: 2011 – The Pup at 10, Babe #1 at almost 6, and Babe #2 at 2.

UPDATE 9/8/12: Here is an outtake from the second round of family photos this year.  I’m trying to keep the almost 3-year-old upright, the six-year-old is working on depositing some bit of nature in his brother’s pocket, and the hub is wrestling the pup into a sitting position.  She was worn out after 15 minutes of being so close to all of us and our craziness.

You know what, though?  The outtakes make me laugh, even if they don’t always make it onto our walls.  On that note, happy annual photo planning!!  It may not feel like a worthy priority right now.  The thing is, by the time it becomes a priority, the moments to be captured will be long past.  We have a few spots left this fall and would love to capture you and yours in this moment, right now.

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