capturing the elusive family photo

I love the tradition of photos with Christmas cards.  I really do.  I look forward to getting them every year, and I put them in a scrapbook each year that I pull out during the holiday season.  It’s always fun to see how our friend’s families (and hairstyles) are changing with each new year. 

I even love the Christmas letters.  I often here people mock the tradition.  Who really those things? Um, I DO.  And then I go to my mom's house and read all the ones she got.
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What I don't love: taking the family portrait.  Oh my word, with four kids it is a lot of work.  It is so rare to get all six of us in a photo together, much less while we are wearing clean and color-coordinated clothes. However, I do like that the annual photo card forces me to be intentional about getting portraits done.  Drew B took ours again this year and I am thrilled with how they came out.  Especially because our son Kembe is finally home from Haiti.  This is our first Christmas photo as a complete family.
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Getting a good Christmas photo is one of those holiday tasks that can incite fear and dread into the heart of even the bravest of parents. I have spent countless hours in a portrait studio with my children, puling my hair out and seriously biting my tongue so that I don't scream at the barely-15-year-old employee to TAKE THE FREAKING SHOT and WHO CARES IF HIS KNEES ARE NOT CROSSED, HE JUST SMILED.

And then explaining, as they enter into their sale pitch, why I would not like a collage of my kids with a Diego frame, or a photoshopped version of Jafta's head gazing down at India as she plays on a snowy meadow. Some Sears highlights of my first two not cooperating over the years:

2006 (with screaming newborn)
2006 (Jafta attempts to eat his sister)

2007 (older brother tries to physically restrain the toddler to stay in the shot)

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2007.  Oh dear.  Why do we all look so greasy?

These were considering amongst the best shots in our tour of Sears over the years. Studios are tough because they don't shoot rapidly enough to catch the kids in action, and then the space is so small that the kids are always running out of the camera range.  A few years ago, I promised myself we would never go to another studio, and that I would always hire a photographer to meet us in a natural setting.  This improved our family photos dramatically.

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And then, we met Drew.  She took our first photos as a family of six last February.  She has an amazing eye and really knows how to get an artful shot while still capturing everyone’s unique personality.

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We were thrilled to have her take our holiday photos this year.  We love what she did, and it re-affirms my decision that hiring a skilled photographer is a truly worthy investment.
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You can see more of Drew’s work (and brush up on your own photog skills) at her amazing photography blog.

Now, time to write that Christmas letter!

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