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‘Tis the season for family portraits?

Today was our day to get our Christmas family photos done.  I should have known it was going to be the worst experience ever (aside from someone dying or having a stroke, that is).

My first clue really was last night, when my youngest son, E, woke up every 2 hours with a stuffy nose.  Any time a 7 month old does not get an appropriate amount of sleep always amounts to a horrible time.  Regardless, we got up nice and early, and went about the morning as usual for a Sunday.  I put E down for his nap at the normal time and hopped into the shower.  Just before I started to get “done up,” I asked DH to dress our two-year old because we had to leave in about 30 minutes and the baby was still asleep; I also gave him a friendly reminder that he needed to get ready too.

20 minutes later, I am putting on the final spritz of hairspray and DH comes up behind me in the washroom, compliments me on how good I look and then says: “Um, I didn’t shave, is that okay?” (Context: he has not shaved for at least 5 days)

“What do you mean is that okay?  These are our family Christmas pictures… that we are putting on our Christmas cards…”

“I didn’t know you wanted me to shave…”

WTF?  really?  I have to tell you when to shave!?!  I’ve only been talking about this photo session for the last 3 days: “Look at these cute outfits I bought for the boys,” “make sure you pick out a good shirt for the photos on Sunday…”

This should have been sign #2.

Well, we got to the studio and realized we were assigned to a new, beginner photographer.  With all due respect, why did I specify the ages of my children if they were just going to give me to he next person on the list?  There was another family, with older, more cooperative children who were assigned to a much older, more experienced photographer.  Our photographer was absolutely horrible!  She had one strategy to get the kids to smile: count to three and squeeze a rubber duck.  When that didn’t work, she was out of ideas.

Just to get the boys to smile, DH and I were jumping around, making farting sounds, singing songs, you name it, we did it… and it barely worked.  What’s even worse is that she kept missing good smiles and not taking pictures!  I was getting so mad!  To make matters worse, she had no idea how to position our children so half of our pictures have these boring poses of our boys just sitting beside each other, and the rest were poses that I tried to se up myself.  When baby E kept falling over, it was my husband who suggested that they use the baby seat to prop him up.  The photographer replied by saying, “yeah, good idea!”

We then tried to get a photo of the whole family.  It was so painful.  There she was, trying to get the boys to smile by counting to three and squeaking the duck. Lady!  We already tried that! It doesn’t work, Remember? Ten minutes later my two-year old is crying because he wants to play with the duck, the baby is grumpy and fussy because it’s boob time, and I have no family photo.  Thanks.

It is now time to look at all the photos and this (so-called) professional photographer tells us that her next appointment has arrived.  She says that she is booked up solid for the whole day, and since it took so long for us to take the photos, she won’t have time to show them to us.  Perhaps we can come back another day?

Seriously?  I almost lost it on her.

A hungry 7 month old, a cranky two-year old, a horrible photo shoot… welcome to bitch mode.  She instantly saw that I was not okay with this idea.  Her new idea: come back in a few hours and she’ll skip her lunch to show them to me.  I wasn’t impressed with this idea either, since I had other things I wanted to get done today, but I figured it was better than nothing.  However, I wasn’t really expecting any good photos so I was still grumpy about this pseudo-compromise.

After lunch and putting the boys down for a nap, I went back to the studio.  I told the manager about our very miserable experience from earlier, but she really didn’t seem to care.  She gave no apology and said she’d give us some free prints to make up for our experience (which, she never followed up on in the end because she was nowhere to be found).  As expected, the pictures were crap. There were maybe 3 or 4 that were acceptable, but they were ruined because the background was crooked or off-center, or there was a gap between the background and the blanket flooring, of the floor coverings were flipped up and you could see the ugly backing.  I wondered how the hell any photographer could take a picture knowing that their background looked so out-of-place!  Finally, the woman realized how bad the pictures looked and started to offer free enhancements to make them look “better.”  Nothing really made a difference.  She did, however, offer to give us all the pictures on a CD for no charge.  I took her up on that offer, and I felt a little better knowing that she felt bd about how horrible the pictures looked.

I ended up picking 4 poses and making a christmas card – I sort of had no choice because I was using a groupon that was already paid for and about to expire.  They are lucky that I had the groupon because I would have walked away from the studio without even paying a sitting fee and I would have never gone back.  They “reminded” me that I could always use the original value of the groupon towards another session, if I wanted.  In my mind, however, I thought: “what in the world would ever possess me to come back here and pay FULL PRICE for your services!?!”  So, I made the best of a bad situation, got my prints ordered, took my free CD of pictures, and took off with no intention of ever looking back!

Hopefully in a few years from now I can look back and laugh at this situation.  In the meantime, I may have a slight panic attack recalling the events of today every time I look at our pictures and Christmas cards!

3 thoughts on “‘Tis the season for family portraits?

  1. Sounds like an exhaustive nightmare of a day. How annoying is it when you have to set up the photo shot while the photographer lets you do it? A double groupon isn’t worth that headache.

    Yes, one day, hopefully soon, you’ll laugh about it. Choose a different photo place next time, right?


    1. I can assure you that I’ll never be going back there again! I’ve been telling everyone about how horrible this experience was and I’ve even shown a few people some of the pictures. I love that people are shocked to find out that I went to a “professional studio.” I also enjoy that my crappy experience has been a source of laughs and entertainment for some people… it’s the silver lining, I guess!


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