A few months ago, my husband and I attended the funeral of a friend. It was a wonderful celebration of his life and it was filled with the chatter of friends and family reuniting and sharing memories. At the front of the church was a 24×36 enlargement of a family photo. It was beautiful. It was also at least 10 years old.
Friends, none of us know how much time we have on this earth. It’s time to get in the frame. Now. Today.
I don’t love to be in front of the lens. I loathe it, truth be told. For many reasons I cherish my position behind the lens. I have groaned, moaned, and complained when my husband deigns to snap a sneak shot of me doing something with our kids to ‘prove I existed’. I’ve replied with a ‘yeah, whatever’ too many times to count.
That all ends now. I am vowing to be in the frame.
Thirty years from now, my kids won’t care if my hair was brushed or if I had twenty pounds to lose or if I was wearing an old, tattered sweatshirt that day. They’ll just see the mom they saw every day. They’ll see the joy in our faces and remember the time we spent together as a family. There will be lots of candid, unposed, everyday moment pictures from here on out.
There will be a yearly family photo. I’ve been good about that one thing thus far and I plan to continue it.
I posted the family portrait above on Facebook at this past Christmas. So many of our friends and family commented on how much they loved it.
Do you want to know a secret? It wasn’t fun to take.
We had one entirely failed attempt early in the fall where we never even left our home. And then life got busy and I felt our window of opportunity closing rapidly. This photo was taken on what I felt was possibly THE last day we’d make it work in 2017. The location I wanted to use wasn’t going to work that day and I wasn’t going to get to wait for beautiful light because December days in Wisconsin are woefully short. In fact, by the time we waited out the harsh midday sun, clouds rolled in, the wind shifted, and the temperature dropped 15 degrees inside of 15 minutes. It was freezing. I posed everyone in their coats, positioned my camera, got my settings right, ran over and grabbed everyone’s coats, threw them as far as I could and then slipped into the frame myself. I told everyone to look at the lens and smile.
My camera remote app didn’t fire the shutter. My husband and I looked at my phone trying to figure out the problem – and the camera fired. Rinse and repeat. I have no idea to this day what was causing the sudden lag, but I do know that the picture above is the ONLY shot we got that day where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling. We were losing light quickly and everyone was frozen through. There were no individual portraits taken, no other poses, and anyone in our family who currently has a portrait orientation shot of us on their wall is out of luck this year. But we got the shot.
Despite the difficulty surrounding this shoot, I’ll treasure this picture and I’ll know that if our family changed in an instant, we’ll have this.
Please, I am begging you, take family pictures. Don’t wait until you look better or you can afford to buy all new outfits or until the timing is perfect or you think the kids will behave. Take candids. Your family won’t care if you didn’t look perfect. They’ll care that they have something tangible to remember time well spent.
None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow and pictures are the legacy we leave behind for our children and their children.
Let someone grab a shot of you with your kids or with your spouse or with your pet. It won’t be perfect. It will be a memory when you’re gone. Master the flattering angles of a good old selfie. Then get a kiddo…your spouse…a pet… and get in the frame. Get in the frame by yourself – those pictures are important, too.
The time to get in the frame is NOW. Today. Please don’t wait.
[post by Sarah Gannaway]