On Taking Family Pictures

Photo Dressing

Photo Dressing


Every other year, when our family vacations in Colorado after U. S. Staff Conference, we schedule a photo shoot to get a family portrait for our Cru Christmas card—and a few for our personal use.

Usually Worldwide Challenge photographers do the honors—and do a great job. But this year the schedule was not good for our staff photographers—we were gathering almost a week after the Staff Conference. So I found a local photographer in our mountain town who had a great reputation as a photographic artist.

Amazingly Laurie agreed to shoot a portrait of all 15 of us, including three under three. And then individual photos for each of four families. There were many challenges.

The most major challenge was that Josh, Lesley and Kayla could not join us because Josh began a new job the week before our vacation. I really struggled with a family picture with part of the family missing.

Brad, who lives and works in Denver, had an important meeting come up, so we rescheduled for a later-in-the-week day.

The best light occurs from around 5-7 p.m. So do most of the mountain thunderstorms. So we set the time at 3:30 to get ahead of the rain, but the clouds disappeared and the sun came on strong. Not the best light.

We were at an idyllic lake in the woods, so we chased shade from the trees for the first hour.

The first photo attempt was with three brothers, 6. 8 and 9. They had not been thrilled to dress up (just a little), and they weren’t eager to appear close and loving. One didn’t want to smile, another was in tears.

We then went to the just-under-3-years and 7-months-old brothers, who were also not eager to sit still and look happy at the same time. Their redbone coonhound added hound dog music and plenty of distraction.

The darling, almost always happy 19-month-old girl hadn’t felt good all day. Her usual big smile became a “what are we doing here?” look.

Setting up all 12 of us in a field of wildflowers, with lake and mountains behind us, was amusing to say the least. Clouds came and went. Children smiled and cried. Adults comforted and consoled and corrected.

But mostly we laughed and tried again.

The patience and creativity of our photographer prevailed.Little boys cooperated enough to make great shots.

Darling girl laughed and giggled on the carousel horse among the wildflowers.

Three brothers ventured out in a little boat, grinning big and wide, ready to row across the lake with oars improvised from dead branches. Smiles abounded.

And our artist did her best to make Steve and me look good. We were in jeans for most of the pictures—a first for my husband at a photo shoot I’m sure.

We haven’t seen the results yet, but Laurie assures me that she got lots of great shots. She’s sure we will be happy.

Don’t you think God must have some of the same kinds of thoughts and feelings as he watches us—His works of art—whine and complain and resist His efforts to portray the beauty He has created in each of us.

What about you? What’s your experience with family pictures?

C2015 Judy Douglass