Earlier this year my mom proclaimed that for her 40th wedding anniversary in September, she wanted family portraits of the whole family: all of her kids and grandkids together. A couple of months ago my sister sent me and my SIL an email asking what we wanted to do for the anniversary. Neither of us responded, I don’t think, because we weren’t sure what to do. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that we remembered my mom’s request – and then we were scrambling to find a time when we could all be at the same place at the same time.
When I went on Picture People’s website, I saw the gorgeous shots of wholesome looking families all wearing the same outfit. I loved how that looked and decided we needed to be the next spokesfamily for Picture People. I informed my sister and SIL that we needed to all wear the same colors. I mean, that’s cute, right?? They collectively groaned, but went along with it anyway. We decided on white shirts and blue jeans in the end. I wanted to do bare feet, but I found out that was simply pushing my luck. Shoes it was.
We figured the best time to do this would be when we were all down the shore visiting at my SIL’s parents’ house there. It took the surprise factor away for my parents, but it also allowed them the choice to be in the pictures, too – which is what they decided to do. So we get to the shore house and everyone gets dressed in their white shirts and blue jeans and we headed over to the Toms River mall.
I wish I had taken my camera with me to shoot some candids of us walking through the parking lot and the mall. Somehow we managed to look simultaneously cute and creepy. We got a lot of looks as we made our way to the Picture People location, which was – of course – the farthest store away from the entrance where we parked. I joked with my brother that we should have brought some pamphlets with us to hand out.
Our appointment was at 11:40 – actually, we had two appointments since there were so many of us – and the second one was at 12. I thought this would prevent us from having to wait very long, but I was wrong. The service was horrendous as all the employees did their best to avoid eye contact with us once we started getting itchy and the little kids started to tear the place apart. Finally, we got into our session and met up with the most horrid photographer I’ve ever encountered.
For those not paying attention – we were wearing white shirts. Guess what backdrop she put us on? WHITE! I asked her if she thought that was okay since we were wearing white and she said it was “the best” one to use. Umm. I’m no photographer, but I do know a little about contrasts and lighting and I didn’t think she was right, but I didn’t press it.
I should have.
Here’s the original family portrait:
If it didn’t take so damn much work to get us all into that position, we would have shot them over after seeing the proofs. The little kids were in no shape to do that, though, so we settled.
I tried to fix the picture up, but I need to do some more work because the lighting is off on this when it’s printed.
After we had the massive photo taken, we started breaking up into smaller groups. First it was just the grandkids:
That went relatively okay. Joseph (the red head) was a pill, though. He kept messing up the photographers props and running behind the curtain and just generally was being a menace. Some of it was funny, probably because he’s not my kid, but after a while it did get annoying.
“Joseph, don’t do that!” “Joseph, come out from behind there.” “Joseph, don’t move the blocks under the cloth, we have to sit on those.” “Joseph, Joseph, Joseph.” Good times.
What was even funnier, though, was the positions the photographer was trying to get the rest of the kids in. First she told Connor to lie down on his belly. Heh. Then she had them in all sorts of contorted poses. We had to talk some sense into her. It was like she didn’t realize she was dealing with a crazed 6 year old and two restless 3 year olds. I wanted to shake her and say, “In case you haven’t noticed, there are no dolls here. We’re all real people!” I refrained, thankfully.
After the grandkids went, it was time for just the kids: me, Greg, and Jen. Where do I even begin with this story?
First of all, the photographer broke out a stool and placed it on its side. Then she told me to straddle it. Ooookay. I straddled. Next she told my brother to get behind me and also straddle the stool. He does, but sits as far away from me as he can – meanwhile I was scooting up as far away as I could, too. She tells us we need to get closer. I look up and Rob and my mom are standing behind the photographer slack-jawed and wide-eyed. My sister, who was waiting to be positioned, was laughing her ass off and I just lost it. I jumped up and said, “I’m not really comfortable with this arrangement.” The photographer was flabbergasted. And clueless, obviously. I mean, did she think we were 10? That pose might have been suitable for child siblings, but for grown up almost 40 year olds? Creepy.
So we’re up, and the photographer is thinking… reaching deep into the recesses of her mind for some poses she learned in her extensive training for Picture People. She decided that my brother should lay on his belly with his feet up over his head while I sat next to him. I immediately started giggling when she gave him the instructions, but flat out went into hysterics when he got on the floor and onto his belly!!! Hahahaha! I couldn’t believe he did it! I was laughing so hard that tears were starting to come and I had to ask the photographer if we were on Candid Camera. I mean, the whole thing was just so surreal. She couldn’t possibly be serious about these poses, could she???
And she was offended that I even suggested it was all a joke.
“These are actual poses,” she informed me stern-faced.
Finally we settled on a good old-fashioned standing pose. Whew!
Question. Who looks the oldest in that picture? If you say my brother, you win the prize. ;-) He asked the photographer right before she snapped the picture if she could make me look younger. Either she did, or I’ve just got it like that. And I think we all know which one it is.
There were also some pictures of just my family and just my brother’s family, but the one of us turned out so horrible that we didn’t even order it. I will never go back to the Picture People in Toms River, and don’t have any plans to visit any of their locations at all, really. I’m really disappointed with the service we received and the quality of the pictures they delivered. Oh well, there’s always next year. If nothing else, we’ll get some more good stories to last for the ages.