I knew the photo shoot was going to be a big success the moment that I met Brad, our photographer. Brad graduated from high school in 2008, a fact I gleaned from the writing on the t-shirt that he was wearing. Despite his youthfulness, I was relieved to learn that Brad was an experienced and highly trained photographer, having worked at Target since September.
Brad took one look at the pack of wild things heaving in the corner and assured me that he was not a man who was easily intimidated by a hoard of wiggly five year-olds. He changed his mind after trying to arrange the beasts on a small bench draped with a white sheet.
Brad learned the hard way that crossing one's ankles and repressing the desire to flare one's nostrils for three second intervals are reasonable requests. "Leaning in real close" and "putting your arms around the person sitting next to you" are not.
The first frame captured Kellen pinching Camber's stomach.
Kellen is absent from the second frame (having been shoved off the bench by the hand of God), save a small portion of his right leg which is visible in the bottom right corner.
After shot 3, I retrieved a bag of Blow-Pops from my purse. As the three man-eaters watched, I unwrapped a sucker and licked it a few times.
"Mmmmmm!" I chirped. "This sucker is sooooooo good. Whoever sits still and smiles really nice can have one when we're done." Brad asked if the offer was open to him as well.
"I just need one picture!" I said, ignoring the man-child. "Just one!" I said again in a tone that was more begging than threatening.
It was not meant to be. In the 18 shots that followed, there was not a single one where at least half of my children do not look stoned or look like they are being stoned. Toward the end of the sequence, Camber decided that it was just as good of time as any to see if Cameron could put some weight on his legs. The last six frames show Cameron in a number of unnatural poses, including one where he is slumped across Camber's lap, his head flung back and mouth wide open.
The quality of the family pictures dramatically improved once I started deleting members of the family from the picture. We got a couple really good shots of Camber and Kellen together, but the best shot by far was of Cortlen standing alone, hands in his pockets.
"I'll take that one!" I said to Brad, pointing triumphantly at the picture of Cortlen.
Brad was confused. "I thought you wanted a picture of all your kids together," he said.
"Close enough!" I shouted gleefully as I handed Brad a coupon...and a Blow-Pop.
P.S. I made a second pass at the "family picture" when we got home from Target. As you can see, they turned out a lot better than the ones Brad took.