I have this disease where I’m compelled to get professional portraits taken yearly which always leads to a series of unfortunate events. I don’t know the exact medical term but it is a mental illness. There is no known cure. No available medication for symptom management. And I won’t be talked out of it.

This disaster WILL go down, people.

Theoretically, the idea is fabulous. Pictures are great. My family is great. Taking pictures of my family is not great. Any mom who has ever attempted a photo shoot with children is nodding.  Perhaps sobbing quietly.

The minutia involved in pulling this thing off is maddening. Who will wear what?  Society requires we be clothed but when do you put on the outfits? Before the car ride?  After?  Everyone knows that cute, well-planned wardrobes are destroyed faster than the sweats you’ve worn around the house all week.

The kids are going to want a snack at some point.  What snack do you choose?
It has to be small bites so it can be consumed quickly and can’t have a hint of chocolate or you have a whole new issue on your hands.

On their hands actually.  And their cute outfits…

What if they need to vomit?  Where will that happen?  How does each particular child vomit?  Is it typically projectile or does it dribble down their front necessitating extra clothing? As I learned today, this should be on the list of considerations. I can’t believe I didn’t consider vomit. It’s like I’m not even TRYING.

Dear Lord, please get us through this with one good picture.  Just one.  And cure me of my mental illness. Amen.

Here’s the back story:

I saw some pictures with very “pinterest-ing” backgrounds.  My eye on the prize, I purposed to get my cute family to that spot on the planet to smile in front of a camera.

Theoretically, not that big of a deal.

Who cares that we had to take a road trip? That the background was on a busy main street? That it’s 104 degrees and humid? That it is the children’s bedtime?

None of those are factors worthy of consideration. See, I told you it’s a mental illness.

We arrived early enough to get some dinner. That way everyone would be full, relaxed, and able to smile for the pictures. We can’t possibly wear the clothes we will be photographed in so we need to carry those. And for Pete’s sake be careful. They can’t get wrinkled!

Oh, and whoops, we forgot the stroller. We get to carry the boy child.

The girl child’s new pink glittery shoes (that she HAD to have in order to go on living) are giving her blisters and she will simply NOT be wearing them NOR walking at this time. So, the big people (already gingerly carrying ironed clothing for 4) hoisted up the little people as well.

I found a restaurant with live music and served french fries. Up to this point, I had never been to a restaurant that was entirely outdoors and spanned three levels. It didn’t occur to me that an establishment would have no indoor seating or that it would be several stories of patio overlooking busy streets.

****To recap, we are carrying humans and ironed clothing, we ordered food at a restaurant that would be very fun for adults but is a death trap for kids and the only choice is to sit outside in triple digit temperatures.  Just wanted to make sure you were with me.****

The food arrived.  For some reason, mine was on a tortilla.
I don’t know why that surprised me at this point.

I WILL have a good attitude.
I WILL hold on to the children so they don’t die at dinner.
I WILL eat my burger-ito.

Desperate for an air-conditioned area and a place to change into the (now-less-ironed) clothing, we descended upon a cupcake shop. Being a stress eater, I just went ahead and ordered myself multiple cupcakes. I ate them in about 57 seconds. This does not get me any closer to winning the money but at this point I didn’t know if we were going to survive the evening so I figured I might as well enjoy it.

They didn’t have a place to change so we did some fancy maneuvering and changed right in the middle of the shop. A classy move indeed.

What I couldn’t see from the pinterest picture that drew us to this spot on the planet was that the awesome background was on a very busy main street of town. It’s tricky to keep a toddler out of traffic on a good day.  If you’ve been paying attention, you know this is not a good day.

The boy child is in that cute I-wave-at-all-passing-vehicles phase. And he’s teething. So we have the sweating, the hound-dog-esque drooling and all the waving.

Then from the girl child comes, “Mommy, my tummy hurts.” Of course it does. That definitely fits.

Through clenched teeth I pleaded, “Please. Smile. We will talk about your tummy in a second.” Judge if you must. But you never know when kids are actually sick. Her illness was confirmed, however, when she vomited into her backpack on the ride home. The books were allowed to marinate because we were about 45 minutes away.

Moments like those make me wish I was hard of smelling. We just rolled down the windows and continued to fly away from our photo shoot experience.

I have to pause and say that our photographer was phenomenal.  I first met him at the Declare Conference.  Joseph with The Forgotten Stories made the picture part super fun. He has a great demeanor and creative ideas. Dallas peeps should look him up! He’s very obviously talented. He made the whole disaster look like this:

So do you have any family picture sagas you’d like to share? I would love to hear them.

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17 thoughts on “a series of unfortunate events

  1. kristy

    This could be why our family photos are done when KOG does a new church directory – once every 10 years. Great picture.


  2. emily

    love this post Emily. even though i am very familiar with what goes on behind the scenes of a family photo shoot, I am always amazed how easily i fall victim to the ‘mental illness’. i am going to refer to this post over the next two months as i’m deep in the ‘family photo’ season.


  3. Penny Raine

    we were just talking here today about how we should have had a video going during all of our family photo shoots, it is truly entertaining! beautiful picture you got! my one photographer daughter took bridal pics of her sister whose new last name is Webster, and after 4-6 hours of pics on a whim she said she had one more place to go, 45 minutes away (in a wedding dress 2 days before the wedding) next to a road sign that says “Webster Lane” the pics were great but the memory of the day will last forever with or without pics, enjoy all those moments!


    1. Karen

      I am laughing out loud, tears streaming down my face, funny. Mostly because you capture the minutiae so well, but also because we have ALL had a similar photo shoot experience! Throwing up in a backpack does take it to the next level, though, I have to admit.

      I have taken to posting the outtakes of our photo shoots. Mostly because it more aptly shows the real us.

      Keep writing.


      1. emily Post author

        Thank you so much, Karen! I think the outtakes are just precious. I have just as many of those up around the house as “good” ones.
        Vomit does take it up a notch. I hope that was a one time event. She thought that meant she was getting all new school books, backpack and car seat…ha! It was hard to make her do homework for awhile though because she wouldn’t touch any of her books even though they had been cleaned. Good times. :)


    2. emily Post author

      Penny, I love the video idea. I don’t think I would want to watch it for like 20 years though. It might take that long for it to become funny.
      Love the Webster Lane story! A long car ride in a wedding dress sounds SO uncomfortable. She must have really wanted that picture!


  4. Dani Brown

    My six year old daughter: “mom, why are you laughing…what’s it about?”
    Me: “It’s about how hard family pictures are”
    6YO: “I wonder why she thinks it’s hard”.
    5YOson: “Huh?”
    6YO: “This mom on here thinks family pictures are HARD. Well…at least for THEIR family”.

    Coming from a family of 7….kids ages 6, 5, 3, 3 and 1.

    At our last family pictures, one of our 3 year olds fell off of a railing and smashed his face during one of the shots (thankfully more towards the end). This was after multiple excursions to get coordinating (but not MATCHING) outfits in all the correct sizes (and we still ended up with jeans that were too big for the boys) that would be practical for future wear + didn’t cost too much $$. Then, of course, as we were getting dressed we realized our lack in the shoe dept. Minor freak out from me. Much convincing from the hubs….kinda like “Oh well. Nothing we can do now”. We set up bribes for the wee ones….you MUST smile. you MUST listen. you MUST obey. Do it for the special secret prize.

    Oh yes. Mental illness indeed. I’m pretty sure there was more and I’ve just blocked it out.

    You got a super cute picture, though!!


    1. emily Post author

      Ooh! A special secret prize. That’s brilliant. What was the prize?
      Love the description of the scene while you were reading! So funny.


  5. Meredith

    I just wrote about my picture taking experience too. Maybe on the same day as yours? We must have both been experiencing this madness at about the same time. Except my difference is that we do not hire a professional. We try to do that crazy stuff by ourselves!! Talk about mental illness. ;)


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