Friday, December 21, 2007

Through the Lens

I am not the one to typically harbor regrets, but I do have one lament. And a huge one at that. We have no, really nice pictures of Chip and us, that are, well, superficial as it may sound, display worthy. While I hear the collective gasp of utter horror, let me enlighten you on the picture (pun is very much intended). When I was pregnant, we were inundated with coupons and offers to take those timeless pictures of our baby. They offered us an assortment of predictable backgrounds ranging from autumn leaves and baskets of spring flowers to clear blue skies. Complete with hackneyed props from two huge acrylic hands, a la Geddes, holding your tiny newborn to soft fleecy blankets and teddies. From $4.99 to $250. BigGeek and I scoffed. Go to a studio to take a posed picture? That would be like those godawful pictures of our parents and grandparents. We all have seen those, right? The must-have post-wedding one. Against a backdrop of lotus-filled ponds and little bridges. She is sitting on a chair looking demure, he standing with a hat and all, beaming. And then a few years later, another one, when the family is complete. She again, sitting down, looking older and tired, definitely not demure. His face is smiling, but worn with concern. A kid on the lap, one standing and one sitting. Big eyes lined with kajal, hair oiled and combed in place. And then the undated one with frayed edges. The photographer was called home then. This is not a family picture. This is a dynasty picture. Husbands, wives, and kids, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, cousins and the odd neighbor’s kid who managed to sneak in. All posed. All dressed up. All looking very slightly out of their element. This was not for us.

We have two cameras, an assortment of lenses and filters, a tripod and I went to a film school. My not-that-bad composition skills and BigGeek’s accurate, unfailing exposure has given us many a striking landscape which we hang proudly from our walls. There was no way we would take our baby to the local JC Penny and get an $8.99 portrait package. We would do it our own way. Capture candid moments: the one right after Chip’s bath in a pretty towel, when he is sleeping, when is stretching and yawning, when looking curious, when he is frustrated. But when Chip came, he was no quiet angel. He was colicky and fussy and cried a lot. We were so exhausted by the end of the day that when BigGeek in his unending enthusiasm would get out the camera, I would be too tired and unwilling to change and comb my hair. On the days BigGeek caught me as soon as I got home from work, the house would be a mess. So we had candid pictures taken alright, but they mostly had dark circles, half finished baby bottles, stained t-shirts, crumpled onesies, frizzy hair and toys littered in the background. No perfect family there. It slowly dawned on me why we needed someone else to take a picture. It was so simple that I slapped my forehead for not realizing this before. When the baby cries/fusses, I have to tend to the baby. I cannot hold a camera and soothe a baby and take the perfect picture. I don’t have eight arms. I yearned for the posed portrait where for once I would be dressed and Chip would be dressed and BigGeek would be wearing a jacket and the exhausted family would then go to a portrait studio, smile and let someone take their picture.

So, this season when I suggested we go to a studio and get a picture with my parents, BigGeek readily agreed. And a couple of days ago he told me it would make sense to get their club membership because we would be taking more pictures when his parents got here. So, here we are all set to go get our picture taken this evening. I am advising everyone what to wear and what to avoid. We have debated Indian clothes or Western ones. We have discussed make up and shoes. All for ONE family portrait. And to think I wasted Chip’s precious years in my silly vanity.

14 comments:

kodi's mom said...

damn! now you tell me! :)
2 years and we don't have any studio portraits either. but so far no regrets. the candid ones are good enough for display. but you know, there is this little thing called photoshop that can do just abt anything, including ironing out crinkled outfits, correcting frizzy hair and cleaning up toys in the bg ;)
enjoy the posing this evening!

Sheela said...

you described my situation exactly! i scoffed so much - despite my sis-in-law sharing tons of lovely posed pictures of her 3 kids right from birth - 'i can do better - capture realistic poses at home' indeed! ha! but, D hates pictures, and has staunchly refused to go to the studio for one... so we are stuck with no display-worthy pictures :)

DotMom said...

kodi's mom: I have photoshopped backgrounds to eliminate clutter, but to it on my face would take some really EXTREME photoshopping :) You'll volunteer?

Sheela: Same here. All my friends display this angelic babies and families. BigGeek has relented.. Hopefully the experience will be a positive one for him. He still refuses to keep a picture of me and Chip his desk. To him that's too personal!!!

rayshma said...

hehehe! it's fun to pose at times...! :) enjoy... and happy holidays! :)

noon said...

Gosh - like you are talking about us! :) No pic of us on B's desk. Wallet - goodness, no way! The one time we went to a studio (soon after marriage) when I was on a weekend trip visiting B - it was such a disaster - I wore a Sari but I had forgotten to take any Bindis with me on my trip - B of course had none at his place - so I borrowed my MIL's big one - the studio guy didn't know anything about getting us to pose naturally - made us look so stiff - such a disaster. And for kids - both B and I try to get their pics only at home. But as I wrote - this year it was so challenging - getting two kids to pose! My god, I lost my voice begging KB to sit for just one second and smile. He kept running to the camera and the times he did sit he looked like Calvin - hating every minute of it - kind of look. Made for very funny photos though. We got a tiny hint of a smile from him in one shot and baby girl gave a good smile - so that was the photo card! I wonder if studio can do any better when it comes to two young kids - or if it will be a total disaster. We should try it out next yr.
BTW - would love to see your other wall decor pics - the ones you/BG shot..

dipali said...

Have fun! I'm rather allergic too studio pics anyway, but there are times when one has to succumb!

Usha said...

So how'd it go? Do we get a peek at the lovely family we have only been reading about? :)

choxbox said...

happy posing!

Mona said...

happy 100 dotmom! and hey, good luck with the potrait!
i did one in india, many moons ago and never, ever, ever again. i didn't recognize the stiff, uncomfortable, over-made-up girl in those pictures was.
and i'd love to see some pictures you guys have taken, landscapes and all.

Preethi said...

Aah.... we dont have any studio pictures as well... recently though Nantu's school took it in their hands and took some potrait pictures and sent them to me with a bill.. (take it or leave it types).. That has had me thinking that maybe, just maybe we do need to go in for that family potrait.. I even have a blank space n my wall for just that!!
So how did the photo session go.. cud you get chip to sit still??

DotMom said...

rayshma: happy holidays to you too!

noon: we went to picture people and I was very happy with the experience. Places like JC Penny or Sears I think are not posed well. Or try getting a student photographer to come and get pictures. I'll do a show and tell on our landscape pics :)

dipali: Haveing tried it. lemme just say this. It was fun!

Usha: Will email you the pics Usha :)

choxbox: thanks...

mona: I dressed semi-formally and wore a lil makeup. They came out looking nice and casual..like someone shot a picture of us while we were headed out for dinner.

preethi: I had been talking about it to Chip for a few days, so he was prepared. He did pretty good for the first three sittings then wanted to go see the choo-choo train.

Aryan said...

I can understand your feelings. Just recently we finihsed our studio family picture taking ceremony..
Aryan's Mom

DotMom said...

aryan's mom: how did it turn out?

bird's eye view said...

Hey dotmom,

I'm a new visitor. My sister used to do this over in the US with herself and her husband, and later her son but until last winter when they visited us, it never occurred to us to get formal portraits clicked - it seemed so 'firang'. But now that we have done it once, i see what a great idea it will be to chronicle each year in a formal yet meaningful way, so over the years you can track how the family changed and grew...