family photos

We took some family pictures this weekend. I’ve had my eye on a red building, thinking it would be a perfect back drop for a family photo. I seem to be the only one who ever thinks taking a family photo is a good idea. One never smiles. The other only makes wacky faces. One pouts when given directions. The other zones out until it’s over.

I run from the camera to the pose, then wait for the light to blink faster and the camera to click. Then I run back to the camera from the pose. I check the shot. Checking for the nonsmiler or the jokester or the pouter.

Then we do it again. And again. And again.

I finally get the one who is zoned out to pay attention, change the pose, help out just a little. I adjust the tripod. Reset the camera. “Say ‘Merry Christmas!’ everyone,” I say, pushing the button and dashing back to the pose.

Back and forth. Back and forth.

The jokester gets out of control. The nonsmiler can’t stop giggling because of the jokester. The pouter cracks a smile, although her hands remain firmly on her hips. The zoned out one comes to and makes up a silly song about too-long photo shoots. They laugh more.

My time is up — or perhaps it is just beginning.

This is real family life. It is more than a pose, more than coordinating clothes, and much more than the smiles held in place until the shutter snaps. Sometimes the two collide. It is this hope that gives me resilience to insist on family photo shoots. It is the chance — no matter how slight it might be — that we will end up with a photo of the two worlds coming together. Real family life captured in 2D.

I need this documentation. I want to remember how the jokester and the zoned out one can bring us to hysterics. I want to remember how the pouter can get us organized in the very best of poses. And I want to remember the way the nonsmiler’s face lights up when she gives herself the chance to be real.

This is why I keep clicking my camera.

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  1. Don't know if I have ever seen a picture of all of you together, even though I feel like I know you!Gorgeous writing and a gorgeous family!

  2. Love it. I have NEVER been able to talk the men in my life into a formal family portrait. It used to bother me. Then I realized that my favorite pics were always of us in our natural habitat, doing what we do best…laughing and loving. Now I just keep snapping 'cause you never know when magic will strike.

  3. You have an artist's eye–that red building is the perfect backdrop. It's funny because the connotation when you hear about a “family portrait” is that it is posed, yet this family portrait captures its own sort of moment–its own family memory. There is a good energy in the Ayres family that comes across in both your words and the image.

  4. Real family life, beautiful words to go along with a beautiful family. I love the way you can hold on to this magical moment with your camera and words.