I have never (purposely) had professional pictures taken of my family. You know the kind, everyone grouped together, in matching sweaters. All of us looking at the camera-smiling...with the "We are such a happy family" gleam in our eyes. Don't get me wrong, we are a pretty happy bunch. It is just that our kind of happiness doesn't seem to photograph all that well.
I think, that part of the problem, is that my kids don't know HOW to have their picture taken. This is not for lack of trying. I have spent much time trying to get just one good shot of them together. I have hundreds of family shots...none though, where they are all looking at the camera. Getting all of them to sit still AND look in one direction for more than 1/2 a second is near impossible. Somebody invariably turns their head, somebody bends down, sneezes, and then... there is Oscar. My constantly moving curly headed flying boy. For years, I don't think that people believed that I had a second son. I would patiently explain-"no, he's the one on the right"..."The right?" "yes, see that blur over by the window?"..."That fuzzy blue thing?"..."Yup, that's Oscar!" Needless to say, I have an awful lot of partial family photos.
Candid shots seem to work best for us. Our home is filled with them. My children are quite lovely...until they are asked to pose. I don't know what happens..when posing, they seem to take on another persona....a certain "gooniness". They don't look like themselves. They look strange. Nothing proves this better than the dreaded school picture.
I don't make a big deal of picture day at school. I don't buy special outfits or dress the kids up. I send them in like I do any other day. I have told them if they choose not to have their picture taken-that this was o.k. with me. I do this especially for Oscar, as he has told me that he doesn't like it. I don't intend (intend being the operative word) to buy them anyway. Regardless, they always choose to have them taken-even Oscar.
About three months later, they come rushing home pictures in tow. Large packets of them. Eight by tens, five by sevens, wallet size, bookmarks, key chains, refrigerator magnets. Just how many photos does one family need? Judging by what the photo company sends home, apparently hundreds. Hundreds of the worst imaginable pictures ever. There's Sammy with the ENORMOUS head...balding Lily..and Oscar (who after probably being prompted to smile five million times) looking like the before picture in a laxative ad. Yes, they are that bad. The worst part? Not only do my kids WANT me to buy them...they get upset when I say that I don't want to...couldn't possibly...NO! "But Mama"..Sammy says as tears pool in his luminous dark green eyes "don't you WANT a picture of me?" "Oh Sammy, buddy...it doesn't LOOK like you.." "Yes it does!" "No honey, your head couldn't possibly be that large..""My head doesn't look that big in the picture..""Honey, if it looked any bigger, N.A.S.A. would send a space probe...""But don't you want it Mama..(hiccup)...a picture of me?"...a single tear runs down his rosy cheek..Sigh..I say the only thing any self respecting mother would "O.K.buddy, if it means that much to you..." I smile, but inside, I am seething..
I know what those school picture companies are doing. Instead of sending home one picture, they send home the entire package. They KNOW the odds are, that our children will somehow guilt us into buying them all..I imagine the meeting in their corporate office.."First, we'll take bad pictures...print them on low quality paper..hahaha...and then haha...we'll send home the whole package..hahaha..the kids will beg for them..haha maybe even cr haha cr haha CRY! HAHAHA!...we'll make a FORTUNE!! MWhahahaha...mwhahahaha!" They are evil.
This year I decided to do something different. I decided that instead of buying them, I just wasn't going to return them. If the photo company wanted them back, they could come to my house and get them. They could talk to Sammy. Let them have a taste of their own medicine. So, I took the packages of pictures and put them in a box in my attic. The same box that I put last years and the year befores pictures. My kids haven't missed them. I figure that one day, after I am gone, they will find them and wonder "Just who ARE these odd looking kids...and why did Mama have so many pictures of them." In the mean time, I haven't heard a word from the photo company. Cowards.