Finally, a Perfect Photo Finish
It took four attempts, but I have the first Christmas card image of my kids worth celebrating
It's the middle of November, which means it's time to start obsessing over Christmas cards.
Gone are the days of going to the Hallmark store and buying a couple of boxes of "Seasons Greetings." It's all about the holiday photo card now. Whether it's the perfect picture of your kids surrounded by lights or your dogs with red velvet bows around their necks, the generic card with a sparkly snowman on the front just won't do.
The most difficult part is always getting the perfect picture, especially when you're trying to capture small children.
My kids were only two-months-old on their first Christmas. I decided I would dress them in Christmas sleepers, plop them on the couch surrounded by tinsel and ornaments, and just snap away. But first I bathed them and, since they had already inherited my insanely dry skin, slathered them in Vaseline.
What I ended up with was 100 pictures of the world's shiniest babies. I was still in the throes of new mom insanity and to my eyes, they looked adorable. I made my own cards on Snapfish, printed them out at the Walgreens and mailed them to everyone we know. Looking back, without the haze and hormones of new motherhood clouding my perceptions, I can honestly say they were awful.
The next year, I was determined to do better. I had professional photos done in our home. My girls were a little over a year old and completely uncontrollable. Anyone with a 14-month-old knows how well they take direction. Even a professional couldn't get a great picture of them together. The best we could do was a shot of them sitting in a chair, one slouched down looking tiny and one sitting straight up so she looked like a giant. Friends probably opened the card and wondered if I was only feeding one of my kids. It was better than the first year–at least no one was glowing–but it still wasn't great .
Last year I decided to try the portrait studio route. Off we went to Portrait Innovations in Clifton, where we'd had some nice pictures taken earlier in the year. Let's be honest, two-year-olds don't take direction any better than one-year-olds, so there was no posing nicely for photos.
Since it was November, my kids already had colds and their noses were running like faucets. One of my daughters dealt with this by leaving her mouth hanging open and her tongue stuck out like a little puppy. She looked crazy in every picture. I used them anyway.
This year, my girls are three. They still don't really listen … but they can be bribed. Our photographer, Sandy, met us in Verona Park on a beautiful, warm sunny fall day. I had dressed the girls in head-to-toe holiday outfits from the Gap–from earmuffs down to sparkly red ballet slippers. We were not leaving that park without a decent picture.
Sandy used lollipops to entice them to stand still, I used some cold hard cash (it's amazing how much my three-year-olds love a dollar). And I think we finally did it. For the first time, I won't send out a card where one of my children looks like a giant, a puppy or a greased Butterball turkey. I have a Christmas card picture good enough to hang on your fridge all year long.
Next holiday hurdle, a picture on Santa's lap. I think the St. Nick at Short Hills Mall is still traumatized from our visit last year, so this could take some work. I'm already planning my bribes.