Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Christmas (Picture) Story

I've been thinking, hard, over the past few weeks about our family Christmas photo.  I decided to just do the boys this year, since Jon and I haven't changed much these last 12 months ... and if we have it's not changes we'd like to record.  But you know how hard it is to get a decent picture of both boys together.  So I was settled on taking them to a studio.  Neither of my kids have had a professional photo taken yet.  Horrible, I know.  I thought it was because I didn't like spending money on something that would be out-of-date within a few weeks (the way kids grow!), but I guess that's the point of taking pictures - to perserve memories.  So I'm not exactly sure why I haven't done it yet.

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Everytime I walk by the Picture People at the mall it crosses my mind. So I was quite certain that I was going to pull together some coordinating outfits and drag my kids to the mall one fine day.  Well, I never got around to it. And while we were home for Thanksgiving my mother-in-law suggested I just borrow the Christmas shirts she bought the boys for Christmas and take a few shots in front of the tree.  Well, we never got around to that either so I brought the shirts home and thought about ways to get two small boys to look at the camera and smile at the same time on my own. 

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I decided we wouldn't even attempt it on Monday, since that was our first day back and everyone was in recoop mode.  I also wanted to wait until Tuesday because Jon had off and I would need an extra happy-face to entertain the boys.  So I started pulling together my "set."  I opted for the front living room, since it's the sunniest room in the house and had the most space.

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Tuesday dawned dark and rainy.  Too dark for pictures unless I used my flash, which I was trying to avoid.  So we did a few practice shots just to get an idea of what to expect for the "real" photo op.


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Practice Shot #1 - In which I learn a quick lesson on "white balance."

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Practice Shot #2 - In which we learn a lesson on sharing.
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Practice Shot #7 - In which Jack tears apart the set.

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Practice Shot #10 - In which I fall in love with my little guy for the 20th time that morning!
 Wednesday had to be the day.  Jon was home in the morning and I didn't want to wait any longer so I could get the cards out in time. Unfortunately, it was still cloudy but I was hoping there would be enough light to get at least one good shot ... which is hoping for a lot with two wiggly boys.  I knew we only had one small window of opportunity between breakfast and Jude's morning nap, so we had to move fast.  We got everyone through breakfast.  I changed Jude first since he's easier to keep clean, and then set him on the floor crossing my fingers he wouldn't spit up.  I chased Jack down who then thought we were going to "chutch" since I was putting him in a button-up shirt.  Then I said "Let's go get pictures" in my most excited voice to chase him back downstairs.
The first challenge was lighting and getting the boys to stay still long enough for a clear picture.  I never really mastered this but "burst" mode helps ... and also results in an indordinate amount of photos.  According to Scott Kelby you have greater chances of getting one clear shot if you take a couple hundred :)

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To help the little guys sit still and focus we gave them something to hold on to... 

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Then realized that this did not help them look at the camera.

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This is where Jon came in, he got lots of good laughs out of the kiddos...  From his perch in the upper right corner! 

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I got him to move the entertainment a little more front and centered, but happy kids are also wiggly kids.

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In order to cut out the blur, I finally agreed to try out the flash but ended up with red eyes and washed out faces.  By now, the Christmas photo shoot had lost its allure and the boys were more interested in playing with the props than in capturing the perfect photo.  We changed up positions into this potential winner ... but Jack thought it was a game instead and soon both boys were rolling on the floor.

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And naturally it wouldn't be a photo sequence without a few pictures of Jack doing this...


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We called it a wrap and I soon found myself scanning through 100 shots trying (willing, hoping, praying) to find at least one that would work.  It wasn't easy.

I finally settled on this one.

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Jude obviously looks the best, Jack's a bit out of focus, but at least he's semi-smiling. It wasn't quite what I was going for so I tooled around a bit in Photoshop.  I wish I knew more about layers and saturation and all that good stuff, but alas I do not.  And it's probably a good thing for now since I have plenty of other things to keep me busy.  I do know how to add text though, and since a plain old "print" costs about 1/6 the price of a "photo card" I decided to add my own design and save myself a few bucks.  I do not recommend this though, since I received our prints just today and sadly the right side of the text has been shaved off.  And so finally, after all that effort, this is what we came up with.  Enter, our 2010 Christmas Card.  Ta-da!:

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Maybe next year will be the Year of the Professional Photo...

3 comments:

Meagan Duthie said...

it's beautiful and classic and "real"! Everytime you look at it, it will bring back memories!

J9 said...

Aww thanks! Very true!

the girl said...

Oh my goodess that is tooo cute!!
Your boys are adorable! We are expecting our second boy in April, we're very excited. I love the photos of them with the red balls.. =)

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