In Which Our Souls Are Definitely Captured

I consider myself photogenic in a fairly specific way. If I am captured on film doing something I enjoy, while I am actively enjoying it and am in no way aware that the camera is on me? I am pretty nice to look at. (Unless I am singing at karaoke and then I look batshit insane. Just like you do.) But any other time, it’s hit and miss. I ham it up if I know the camera is there. I have a collection of shit-eating grins I haul out for pictures. I am not very good at smiling with my eyes. My angles are kind of funny; my mouth is crooked so if you photograph me in repose I have Mean Mouth, my nose is getting bigger by the day and my hair is often unruly. Unruly like an LA riot.

To sum up: I am a creature who looks best when animated. If I were on a reality show about models, (and that is the biggest, most scornful IF you will see all day, my friends) the host would say, “In PERSON I get a model, but her film is TERRIBLE.”

Fresco has inherited this characteristic. In person, he is freaky cute. On film he looks like an angry old man. Partly this is the curse of the camera, so attractive to him that he must concentrate on catching it and eating it and cannot unfurrow his brow for one second to look adorable. But mostly I think it is just the way we are in our family. I should say, our family excluding SA and Trombone because I think they generally photograph quite well.

(The caveat here is that I take the most pictures of my kids and I am not a professional and I am using a simple point & click camera. With a real photographer, and I know there are lots of you out there, Fresco might be Canada’s cutest baby but no, actually, I think he’s just got lots of Personality and needs to be seen up close and personal to be believed. Don’t forget your earplugs, though.)

When Trombone was 3 months old we went to Sears for our first family portrait. I think we did it because we were at the mall and needed something to do and Christmas was coming. It turned out well – Trombone was young and easily amused and grinned it up nicely for the camera. Last year we sent Trombone on his own because we had to work but we wanted photos for our Christmas cards. He happened to be coming down with a really bad flu that day so the photos are kind of sad looking. There was one where he was actually crying but trying to smile through the tears. Very Liza Minelli.

This year we went with both boys and got one portrait of all of us and then a bunch of just the boys because they are way better looking than us. I think it is because they are getting full nights of sleep and we are not. Oh and because they don’t have to deal with themselves all day.

When the photographer offered us her favourite, most popular background we said sure, until she rolled it down and it was this crazy Donald Trump / Thomas Kinkade Christmas tree, all gold and green and lights and freaky ornaments – okay it doesn’t sound that weird but go to that Thomas Kinkade link (incidentally, holy shit I had no idea there was so MUCH Thomas Kinkade crap out there!) and you will see what I mean except imagine it 7 feet tall and behind you – I would bet money that in 5 more years there will be a Make-Your-Own-Blinky-Light-Christmas-Portrait with this tree in it. We shook our heads, well actually, I was all “Oh hell yes!” but SA was more, “Oh hell no!” so we went with a nice calm snowdrift background. And then the poor photographer tried to get what she would call “good” pictures of us. Classic family poses.

See, I think of the Sears Portrait (or department store portrait of your choice) as High Cheese and that is the point for me. I want us to look like us, in front of an amusing backdrop, in poses we don’t normally strike. I am muzzy on this, like the rest of my memories but way back in 199something, Sarah won a free portrait from The Bay and it was 11 x 16, mounted, and we went in the two of us and chose a painter’s dropsheet background and pulled out cans of fake paint and paint brushes from the prop box and insisted on posing with them. THAT picture will be in the Department Store Portrait Hall of Fame, right at the front door.

But the photographers who work in the studios, they have to take it seriously. Because people do, they come in with their 2 day old infants dressed in Christmas Finery and then spend half an hour blowing on them to keep them awake to capture the moment. In all seriousness. I saw it happen while I was waiting to pick up our pictures the other day.

Which is cool. I’m not dissing your baby or her pictures. It’s just not why I go to the Sears portrait studio. I do it for fun.

Now Trombone is great. He follows directions, knows how to say “STINKY” on cue to make a cute smile, yes, has a home-done haircut but whatever. He’s cute. SA and I, well, we know no one is really looking at us anyway and we are 36 and 34 respectively so we can manage to smile for 10 minutes straight and still attempt to wrangle our children. But Fresco, king of the flirts, smiliest baby of all, just stared at this photographer like she was The Satan. Would not smile. Would not laugh. Would not look at the dangly birdy. Just. Kept. Staring. Who are you and why are you shaking your HOLY CLEAVAGE! in my face?

Many poses followed. We got some we liked. Then the photographer said, OK now let’s do my favourite shot. She brings back the crazy Christmas backdrop, gets a fake glass of milk from the prop box, hands it to Trombone. She gets a fake plastic plate with chocolate chip cookies glued to it, hands it to Fresco. She gets an elbow-length Santa Claus glove, hands it to SA, tells him to put it on. SA is out of the shot but his Santa hand is in it, reaching for the cookies and milk. And I guess the kids are supposed to look at him and be all, whee it’s daddy! but on film it will look like, whee it’s Santa! I don’t know. Mr. Jay was not there to speak to the artistic vision.

First, Fresco shoves the plate in his mouth. He’s teething, you see. Then Trombone has a look at the plate and manages to pry one of the glued-on cookies off. Fresco reaches for that, too. The photographer is peeing her pants laughing because I guess she’s never photographed a baby that puts things in his mouth before; in other words it must have been her first day. We got a few shots and then put her out of her misery and left.

Even though the Sears Portrait studio will never put any of our shots on their wall for other customers to look at, to me, ours are perfect family portraits. I love them. When I look at them on my Portrait Wall (oh I am so serious) in 5 or 50 years, I will remember what everyone was like, how we all felt, that poor photographer yelping, “HEY BABY LOOK AT ME BABY!” the baby giving her his best Withering Stare and Trombone silently wishing he was back in the waiting area playing with the talking Dora the Explorer Kitchen.

Our photo session captured so many moments that accurately represent my offbeat, super animated, decidedly not picture-perfect family. And so, department store portrait studios, you will always have my heart and my money.

(This is the one where Santa was supposed to be taking the plate of cookies away. To the photographer’s surprise, we ordered two 5X7s.)

<i>You know what, Santa?  I DON'T BLOODY THINK SO.</i>

You know what, Santa? I DON'T BLOODY THINK SO.

This entry was posted in cheese, Fresco, funny, trombone, two! children! and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to In Which Our Souls Are Definitely Captured

  1. t says:

    i am crying, honest to goodness crying. quite possibly the funniest post ever, and that photo is now my desktop, how could it not be? i need to go find some kleenex now.

  2. eva says:

    This made Brad and I laugh so so hard! The post itself was great, but that is definitely the funniest Christmas pic ever.

  3. milkybeer says:

    Laughed so hard I nearly peed myself. Classic.

  4. Joanna says:

    I might drop by Sears and order a 5×7 of your family too. You just wait. You are SO going to be “The Sears Portrait Family” if I get my way! Hilarious!

  5. mo-wo says:

    TTTRREEE-EEM-BELLL-ING! with laughter. No make that reverberating. Mostly because I all — cheated! — skipped to the end and then went back and read it through.

    Beautiful boy cheese-fairies!

  6. mo-wo says:

    But what does Trombone have in his breast pocket. Does he have a passport already? If so WHERE IS HE GOING after this shoot. A date in Tropez with Marisa Miller??

  7. Phil says:

    I laughed so hard cookies came out of my nose.

  8. Pat says:

    Where did those eyebrows come from? His Grandmother got up in the middle of the night to check for a new blog posting and when I came down this morning the photos was on the desktop. Great story, great photo.

  9. Deb says:

    When will people learn never to f**k with a child’s cookies? If Fresco looked at me like that I may pee a little.

  10. abbersnail says:

    I am CRYING laughing right now. That is EPIC.

  11. Kathy B says:

    That is the BEST Christmas picture I have ever seen.

  12. stephanie says:

    This picture made me laugh so hard. So. Hard.

  13. Randi says:

    Love it. Perfect. Best post and best Christmas photo of all time. I love that those are the looks of two children who may very well be seeing Santa… Holy crap – it’s Santa!!

    And you do a great home-done haircut – when Cole gets enough hair to require a cut I’ll be lookin’ for tips! 🙂

  14. Steve says:

    This post is a classic – and the photo is the cherry on top! Fantastic!
    “Sears Portrait Family” indeed!

    thanks for this. I’m going to go back and read it again!

  15. erin says:

    My cat is staring at me like I’m crazy, because I cannot stop laughing at the look on Fresco’s face. Hilarious!

  16. MonkeyPants says:

    This is hilarious, and OMG, your baby boy is going to LAY THE BEATS ON SANTA.

    I remember those faux painter shots of you and Sarah. Those ruled!

  17. Arwen says:

    That baby is the cutest. baby. EVAR.
    Like everyone else, laughed so hard it hurts. Awesome.

  18. sarah says:

    That faux painter portrait is currently in my bedroom closet. I haven’t decided yet where my portrait wall will be in this house, but that thing is always (and will always be) the centrepiece. PS. You better send me one of those shots of your funny-looking kids.

  19. janice says:

    This is like the third time I’ve come back to look at the photo and Scott says to tell you that this is the ONLY photo of anyone’s kids he has ever liked (with my apologies to our 5 nieces and nephews)

  20. miss mouse says:

    Clara, by now you may have noticed that Ryan has borrowed Fresco’s superstar christmas photo as his facebook ID. Please consider it an hommage to your dear, shouty, crabby son. This is by far, the very best Sears Portrait Studio Christmas photo EVER – I am sure that it will grace the wall of fame for years to come

  21. Kim says:

    OMG.. that picture is PRICELESS. Fresco’s expression made me pee myself!

  22. OMFG. Oh. My. Freakin. God.

    I have literal tears pouring down my cheeks right now, I’m laughing so hard.

    The build up was enough, but that picture just SLAYED me. I have one of me as a baby making Fresco’s EXACT face.


  23. metalia says:

    Done. I am DONE. I am sitting here in my office, trying my best to remain composed, but I am quite literally snortlaughing. (What? It’s A Thing.) I cannot stop laughing! Best picture in the history of anything, ever.

  24. Ruth says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! This made me seriously LAUGH OUT LOUD!!
    You see…I work at Sears Portrait Studio. 🙂 Thank you for not taking it too seriously. There are some parents that get so bent out of shape about getting the perfect picture and really…that happens maybe 20% of the time.
    I have had these things happen to me with kids looking at me like Satan. Its just classic! Thank you! 🙂