Whew! Another family picture day come and gone.
Every year we shoot a family photo for the upcoming catalog, and as some of the kids have moved farther away, it’s become more complicated—we have to set the date months in advance to make sure everyone can make it. This year we worked it around Jon’s spring break, so the Browns have been in town for the whole week.
And as our numbers have grown, it’s become quite a production as well. The photographers who shoot the cover of the Idea Book & Catalog also shoot the family photo, so we go to their studio in Salt Lake City. They’ve been working on the set for weeks, and we (mostly Shalae) have been working on our wardrobe. Everyone gets a new shirt or blouse, and they bring their own jeans, pants, or skirts.
The women without children (just me and Shanna this year) head to the studio first for make-up, with everyone else scheduled at different times. Those with the youngest children arrive last, for obvious reasons. All the girls get make-up, and everyone (men and children too) get powdered.
Our focus is, of course, keeping the kids entertained and happy while we’re getting ready. Grandpa brings a supply of mints (small and white, so they don’t stain clothes), healthy snacks abound, handheld electronics are welcome, and a play-zone is stocked with all the kid-friendly props from the studio gathered in one place to keep little hands occupied.
Once make-up and powder is applied, the grown-ups and older grandchildren get in their places. Lights are adjusted, props are moved, and people are arranged. We absolutely couldn’t do it without the behind-the-scenes professionals—they’re incredible!
At the last possible minute, we place the younger children. This year Phoebe (age 1) and Stella (age 2) were little stinkers (the rest of the kids were fabulous!), but we still managed to shoot plenty of photos in about 20 minutes.
People sometimes ask me how we got everyone to look so great in one shot, and here’s our secret—we don’t! PhotoShop is our best friend! We pick the one shot that has the most number of people looking good, and then we steal head shots from other photos and PhotoShop them in. And you thought we just had kids who were darling all the time, huh?
After it’s all over, we head back to Grandma and Grandpa’s (we order lunch and pick it up on the way home), eat, and then everyone (sometimes even adults) go home for a well-deserved nap!
It takes a lot of effort, but as I look back at the family photos we’ve taken through the years, it’s worth every minute! I’m so grateful for the wonderful memories and tangible history we have of the Gardner family. I think Sidney captured my feelings best: “I love family picture days,” she said several times, “because we’re all together as a family!”