Photos of family are awful trial

Sunday, December 21, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:48 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Last month I had to endure two photo sessions in one week. I have written before that I hate having my picture taken and have gone to great lengths to stay away from the eye of the camera. But I sat for these two photo shoots for two very different reasons, with two different outcomes.

The first was actually my idea. I decided I wanted a portrait of my husband and me surrounded by our 14 grandchildren. Gathering the masses is quite a feat, but after several long-distance phone conversations with my son in Springfield and my daughter in Arkansas, we came up with a date that worked for everyone’s schedule. I told the parents that I wanted all of us to wear black turtlenecks. Being a control freak, I bought seven turtlenecks just in case.

I held my breath waiting for disaster to strike, but, by golly, when the day arrived, both of my out-of-town children had made the trip. Not one of the kids had a fever or even a runny nose and, best of all, everyone showed up within 10 minutes of our appointment.

I had chosen a photographer who had worked with my family before so he was used to large groups. Better yet, he was one of the pioneers in digital photography and promised me he could work magic.

Like a general inspecting the troops. I checked my little darlings one by one making sure everyone looked uniform. To my 12-year-old granddaughter’s dismay I asked her to remove her stunning rhinestone necklace.

“Like Grammy, it makes me stand out,” she pouted as I undid the clasp.

“Like, that isn’t the point dear, we all want to look the same so our faces are the focal point,” I patiently explained.

“Then you need to take off your necklace too,” the little brat retorted.

Sighing, I slipped my trademark necklace inside my turtleneck.

After sitting with my husband on two adjoining stools, the photographer got to work placing the kiddos. Within minutes he had all the older ones positioned and had placed the two 2-year-olds in my husband’s and my arms. My grandchildren were uncharacteristically well-behaved. No one pushed or pinched. No loud sighs emerged.

It was over within minutes. The masterful photographer had taken more than two dozen shots. And because of modern-day technology, I returned to the studio that afternoon and was handed a CD of all the pictures.

I raced home and poured over the pictures. I was surprised to see that I looked pretty good in all them. It helped that I held my red-headed grandson who obscured a couple of my chins. With 16 people who were all supposed to smile at the camera in unison, I figured it would take a miracle to find one that was perfect of all of us. But after only a few clicks there it was: an “almost” ideal image. Everyone was smiling except my youngest grandson, whose tiny face held a scowl. As a matter of fact, he looked grumpy in every picture save one.

Again technology took over, and the photographer was able to cut and paste and plop the smiling baby into the crowd and I had my perfect portrait!

My next photo shoot was one I had avoided for years. It was for our church directory. I decided that after attending Mass at Sacred Heart Church for almost five years, it was time to officially announce that my husband and I were members.

My first mistake was getting my hair cut that day. For some reason, my hairdresser was overly ambitious and cut my hair a little too short. To make bad matters worse, he decided to curl my bangs! I didn’t have time to rewash my hair, so I plastered down the bangs with extra-hold hair spray.

My second error was what I chose to wear. The light-blue and black knit jacket looked great when I stood at my full-length mirror, but I discovered when viewing the proofs that when I sat, the jacket ballooned at the midriff giving the appearance that I completely filled the garment.

I looked like a bald marshmallow! I could barely contain my disdain as the woman flipped through each photo. I wanted to shout, “I hate all of them!” but of course I just sat there and told her to pick one because I couldn’t decide.

I find it ironic that only a few people will see the lovely 16-by-20 portrait of Grammy and Papa surrounded by our adorable grandchildren, but hundreds will be able to take a gander at the frumpy-looking fat woman with the nice looking gentleman. I’m thinking of switching to Our Lady of Lourdes until it’s time to publish a new directory.

If you have a comment or know how I can confiscate all of the directories, please e-mail me at

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