10 Things, Parenting

10 Ways to Screw Up Your Family Photo


Yesterday my family survived what is inevitable and mostly unavoidable in the parenting world.  Family photos.  When you hear these words, don’t you just die a little inside?  We put ourselves through this painful feat, because it’s a good thing, kind of like jogging or eating peas.  We say to ourselves, “The world must know how cute my kids are.  I must catalog this for posterity.”  Everyone else’s photos look so smiley and happy, so surely we can fake this for an hour by a lake.  Sure we can.  Sure we can.

After our super-fun shoot, in which no shots were involved except those from the camera (hashtag winning), I realized maybe some places where we went wrong, and being ever helpful, I thought I’d jot them down in an effort to help others avoid these pitfalls.  So, here are 10 ways to screw up your family photo.  If you do the exact opposite of what we did, you should be fine.

  1. Schedule the photo shoot on a Sunday after Mom’s been gone at a conference all weekend.  Make sure Mom drove home late and try to nail Daylight Savings Time and everybody needing showers at the same time.
  2. Make everyone wear clothes that need ironing when you only iron about once a year and don’t really know how to do it.  Cram in this new fun chore at the same time everyone needs showers on the morning when you all lost an hour of sleep.
  3. Choose colors and patterns like turquoise and neon yellow, flowers and plaid, for that uncoordinated, “we don’t give a flying crap and dressed in the dark” look.
  4. Make sure Dad takes the girls out for oversized temporary tattoos the day before, so your family looks like a pretty, floral biker gang.
  5. Let your children get in close proximity of each other during the photo shoot, so that every picture involves grappling, hands smashed on faces, and mouths caught on camera in an eternal “She’s touching me!”
  6. Take photos on a rusty bridge so you can scream at your kids not to let their clothes touch the rust right before you demand that they smile.
  7. Ask them to toss leaves in the air and then spend five minutes picking the leaves out of their hair.
  8. Tell them to lean up against each other and watch as they try to fart on each other and smile at the same time.
  9. Tell your four-year-old, who lives in perpetual Opposite Day, to keep her legs together and stop flashing the camera.  Watch in horror as every picture looks like a white-pantied toddler version of that scene from Basic Instinct.
  10. Smile widely while whispering promises of candy and threats of all day quiet time so Mom looks like a bug-eyed droid from The Stepford Wives.

Despite these working conditions, I have every confidence that our fabulous photographer will make magic.  When I see the proofs, I’ll hear birdies and a chorus of angels.  For a second, I’ll even believe that my family is perfect.

Which it is, just like yours.  Perfectly, definitely crazypants.  I love it so much.


image from forwallpapers.com/danbo-love-family-hd-wallpaper

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  • Malorie

    I think this is what I was trying to say about our vacation yesterday, but my small talk awkwardness shined through. It was absolutely wonderful and positively horrific. Yay for happy, crazy families.

    • Melanie Dale

      Yay indeed! I like small talk awkwardness, btw. Is there any other kind? ;)

  • Off The Cuff Cooking

    I have only been on the other end of this stressful situation, as my sister and brother are both professional photographers and I often work with my sister as her assistant. I call myself her “AsSister.” Ha ha ha… So many minutes of my life I have spent cajoling kids to smile and look at the camera and holding up her reflectors and gear! Honestly, sometimes the best shots are the ones where each kids’ personality really comes through, even if they’re not necessarily all smiling. My sister also likes to do lots of fun candid playful shots, which tell the story of the whole day… I even studied photography and design myself in college, but never really did anything with it; other than being my sister’s assistant, and advanced hobbyist myself. :) At least it guarantees that my own children will have lots of amazing photos of them, and few of them will be taken with a cell phone as everyone in our family has gear.

    • Melanie Dale

      I like “advanced hobbyist.” Nice. :) Can’t wait to see your family photos someday!

  • Awesomemom

    Pro tip for the ironing thing: If you haven’t been at a conference the preceding weekend you throw everything that needs ironing into the wash, dry it on hot and then pull out non wrinkled clothing. Don’t forget to get them out of the dryer right away or you will have to repeat the process over again.

    • Melanie Dale

      Hmm, yes, that last step is the crucial part. Thanks!





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