When we lived in Maryland, we were very lucky to have a neighbor who had spent some time as a professional photographer. You see, on Team WestEnders, I'm usually the chronicler of momentous events...the capturer of precious memories...the recorder of large amounts of silliness. But for our annual holiday photo, in which I actually, you know, wanted to appear....with my family...we required a trusted outsider to do the job. And let me just say, he was absolutely wonderful. He made sure that my wish got granted every year: Just. One. Nice. Picture. For. Crying. Out. Loud. (Even if I clearly didn't dictate what they should wear. Eh, they wouldn't look like my actual children if they were matching, or something crazy like that. It's also notable that this was the very last year that Derek was shorter than me. Aaahhh, those were the days...)
And the deal was, if they managed to contain themselves and behave for just a couple of minutes, I would then allow them to let loose and express their more...customary personalities with some goofy shots...that would never, EVER be placed on something mailed to family and friends:
(Incidentally, no, I don't know why Riley's channeling his inner...Supermodel. I don't even try to figure these things out any more...)
Then we moved to Chapel Hill, and lost our next-door picture-taking connection. Last year, I asked the very nice man from one-house-over to stop by and snap a few frames. However...the perfectionist amateur shutterbug in me--the one who's been fiddling with cameras since she was in elementary school, decided to take her mom's Instamatic away from her, and never gave it back--was...unsatisfied...with the results. (He did his best, bless his heart--it's just not his forte.) We made do for the time being, but we needed to formulate a new plan.
Aaannnnd, the festive season rolled around again, as it tends to do, bringing with it the same dilemma. What to do about that pesky group photo? And then it hit me: (in one of those "Well...DUH!" instants) of course my Nikon has a dandy little thing called a "self-timer" just sitting there waiting for me to learn how to use it. Fortunately, like everything else about my neat little contraption, it was fairly intuitive and easy to master. So, while Husband shuttled Derek to soccer practice one evening, this happened...
Ta da! Right...it's definitely not gallery-worthy, or anything, but it's a credible first attempt. Yeah, yeah, you can see the edge of Derek's ginormous Chemistry textbook I borrowed, to level the device on the uneven sofa back (my own creative way of McGyver-ing around the fact that I don't own a tripod). And I totally agree that the decoration on the coffee table that's visible in the lower right detracts from the composition. Not to mention the fuzzy pajamas...but these are all just minor details that can be manipulated with some practice, right? Flush with m yearly success, I set about addressing some of those issues....in a somewhat lengthy trial and error period...emphasis on the latter...and perhaps a couple of...ahem..."colorful words" were thrown about as I accidentally took numerous shots of the tree...by itself.
When I was confident that I'd gotten the process down to a science (as much as possible, anyway)--and was a bit giddy with excitement, to be honest--I called Riley downstairs to participate in the...whimsically entertaining Mother/Son bonding opportunity (or...whatever...). And my goodness, did we have us some fun...oops! About that pesky "push the 'okay' button" step that I keep somehow forgetting....sorry, sweetie! (Doesn't he look thrilled? Yep, "quality time", I tell ya...)
At last, the planets aligned...I remembered to tell Nikon it was "okay"...and voila: (In this case, referring to the less common usage, which translates roughly to "Hallelujah, it worked; are we DONE now, Mom so I can go back to my room and hibernate like the pre-teen boy I am?")
The only thing left to do was spring this whole experience on the entire gang. Naturally this had to be scheduled around a plethora of factors--such as the aforementioned soccer training...whether I was having an acceptable hair day...how sweaty and/or dirty Riley had gotten playing outside after school...etc. Oh, and Husband threw in there that he wanted to be freshly-shaven for the occasion. AND he insisted that the boys "dress nicely"....which caused yet another Delay of Game due to the grousing and protesting inspired by this decree. (In the probably-slightly-misquoted words of the immortal Crash Davis, "We're dealing with a lot of [stuff] here!")
Fi-na-lly we all gathered around ye olde Christmas tree for the 2015 WestEnders official fa-la-la photo. The "nice one" will show up on the cards (which weren't even ordered this year until December 17th, so don't hold your breath. Therefore, let me just take a second to sincerely wish you a most joyous holiday season and a very happy 2016, Your New Year's greeting will be mailed eventually, I promise...). But here's the "come as you are"...and "be as you will" version:
Sigh...yep, those are my boys. Now can somebody please pass me the sugar cookies? And maybe some eggnog? I've certainly earned them...