Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Candid Camera

I just want one good picture. I don't think that's too much to ask.

I have a lovely picture of my cousin and myself with my Grandpa, who recently passed away, and didn't notice until my cousin's wife pointed it out that my youngest son is falling down the stairs in the background.

I have one single good picture from my wedding, as the photographer's young son exposed all 6 rolls of the film she had taken and we had to rely on copies of pictures taken by guests (and no- we weren't far-sighted enough to supply those cute little disposable cameras at every table).

Some idiot (I'm not naming names, but she is currently wearing my pj's and posting on my blog) recently told Squid, my youngest son, that he needs to smile nicely in pictures, and not make the constipated face. He is now bent double and straining in every shot taken since. Gorgeous.

I have a charming picture of my brand new baby boy on the hospital scale, weighing in at 9 pounds, 4 ounces, which I proudly attached to my birth announcement and emailed to everyone at work. This prompted a light-speed response from my supervisor, who wanted to know if I was aware that my right leg, from thigh to ankle, was actually in the OTHER half of the picture, and did I really mean to send that to a group of engineers? If I listen, I can still hear the screams of laughter...

I have a teenage daughter that takes umpteen pictures of herself, all of which involve her flashing a peace sign and making the duck face. (If you know a girl between the ages of 13 and 20, you know to what I refer. Otherwise, feel free to visit the website www.antiduckface.com). You would think that because of this, she would feel comfortable smiling sweetly in my pictures, so that we would have SOME recorded proof of her beauty. Not so. She delights in wrecking everything with her face in it.

I have a different picture of one of my two best friends holding my brand new baby girl. Immediately before posting it to Facebook, I noticed that although the FOREGROUND of the picture contains a stunning shot of Auntie L. and Eva, the BACKGROUND of the picture contains a midwife examining a bag of placenta, and me, naked from the waist up, chowing down as fast as I can on a plateful of toast and peanut butter. Seriously. It's like feeding time at the zoo.

This brings me to my latest attempt to get a nice, candid shot of all four kids, together, to remind us of this summer. This year, I have allowed myself to dream big enough to imagine a 10x14 print, professionally framed and matted, hanging on the big red wall in our living room.

I love nothing more than pictures of children doing what comes naturally, unaware that they're on camera. While at my husband's company's beach party this past weekend, which takes place at his boss's lake house, I happened to glance over and saw my children, standing together, silently gazing out at the water. Perfect. And with no camera in sight, utterly useless to me.

Not one to be defeated by trivialities, I set out to recreate the scene. Since it was obvious that by the time I retrieved the camera, the moment would have passed, I decided to wait until morning, when everyone was in a good mood and well rested. The following day dawned cold and windy, and after breakfast, determined not to give up, I gathered up baby Eva and Squid and made my way down to the beach. When I reached the water, I found my two teenagers standing within 15 feet of each other (a miracle unto itself) and handed them their siblings.

My instructions were simple. Stand at the water's edge, holding hands, just like last night, and gaze out at it with your backs to the..... Damn it. Who forgets the bloody CAMERA when they're taking a picture???

Ignoring the cries of "It's cold!", and "I'm shaking!", I sent Jason back to the house for the camera. Knowing perfectly well that allowing even one of the kids to step out of the shot would cause the rest of them to scatter like so much sand in a windstorm, I warned all of them to keep still, and proceeded to line them up by gender- that gave me the natural, carefree summer effect I was looking for.

Jason returned with the camera, and I turned to take the picture. Although I had been worried the night before about having boaters, jet-skiers and swimmers crowding the shot, the day was far too cold and the water far too choppy for any but the stupidest families to be on the beach at all.

My daughter Liz gave the baby a brisk rub (she was starting to look a bit blue at that point), and plopped her down directly into the freezing water, inspiring a screaming fit that lasted for 23 straight minutes. Past caring, I shrieked at Liz to stand up and relax and stop looking so COLD, yelled at Isaiah to hold onto Squid, who was desperately trying to make a break for the pile of towels he could see at the corner of his vision, and finally, blessedly, took the freaking picture (to the delight of friends, who were standing behind us, taking in all my parenting skills).

It looks great. Check it out. All the kids are getting along, and you can tell just by looking how happy they are to be together, and how appreciative of the short time they have to themselves. I am taking it in to have it matted and framed this weekend.

And whenever anyone admires it, I will tell them how I had been walking past, saw them, and just had to snap the picture, because I love nothing more than pictures of children doing what comes naturally, unaware that they're on camera.

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