I can’t speak for other families, but there are reasons why Picture Day in my household comes but once a year:
1 – Color Scheme Angst
No matter what you and your kids look like on a daily basis, for Picture Day you have to put your Professional Stylist game face on. My oldest daughter may wear a Texans jersey everywhere she goes – – but she WILL wear something pretty and feminine for Picture Day. My second daughter may love her cozy t-shirts and wacky socks, but she too will be girlied up for Picture Day. I’m not talking about pink tutus or frilly dresses – – just something that makes them look a little less sports bar/hobo and a little more HOLIDAY CARD worthy. My oldest son may enjoy his George Costanza sweatpants; he may cry when he tells you AGAIN that nothing else is comfortable. But, for Picture Day, he will wear something with a button – – even if it’s there only for show, hiding the fully elasticized waistband. My little guy may occasionally don a pink hairband and pair it with a striped t-shirt and plaid shorts. But – for Picture Day, he will match.
So, I hit the store and try to find four outfits (2 boys’ and 2 girls’) that will be tolerable to my completely not fashion-minded kids – – and the outfits have to be in some sort of pleasing color palate that looks nice together, but they mustn’t be too matchy matchy.
Are ya kidding me?
2 – Hair
My kids and I (and at some point, my husband) have all been blessed (cursed?) with incredibly thick and wavy/curly hair. This creates a Picture Day nightmare as it means we all (except Big Daddy, bless his shiny cabeza) have to make a coordinated trip to the salon to be professionally coiffed so that we look less Monica-from-Friends-in-Bermuda and more Monica-from-Friends-Everywhere-but-Bermuda. I won’t spend a lot of time on this – – for more on why Hair Day is no fun, you can visit
3 – Moods
There is nothing like a professional photographer armed with a camera to instantly turn my kids into the worst versions of themselves. Does this happen to anyone else?? My kids are *generally* happy, outgoing, photogenic small people. But then it’s Picture Day and it’s as if I have four little Jekylls and Hydes. They can’t smile. They don’t know how to stand, or sit, or function. They are angry about EVERYTHING.
Anyway – all of the above reasons make it very clear to me that Picture Day is only to happen once, typically in October/November, to create some beautiful images that are worthy of sending out to 200 of our closest friends and family. And – we’ve been lucky enough to be blessed with a photographer who is somehow able to capture such great shots of my crazy stinkers that I always print a bunch of giant collages which I can stare at lovingly. Much like childbirth, when I look at the products of Picture Day, I often forget about the pain.
Bonus Picture Day
But recently, my in-laws came to town. When your in-laws come to town; and they are celebrating birthdays and soon to celebrate their 51st anniversary; and the blue bonnets are in bloom – – – you again are lulled into a ridiculously false sense of security and calm when you book your wonderful photographer for a bonus photo session.
I told myself it would be super casual; I would not go on a shopping spree to hunt for the perfect apparel. I would not even fret when our Hair Day had to go down days before Picture Day, leaving us frizzy and frazzled. Because it wan’t about flawless images this time; it was about capturing moments with Grandma and Grandpa.
So, I worked it all out – – I told the kids this would NOT be like other photo sessions. We would simply go to our lake; do some fishing; feed the turtles; maybe have a fun “jam session.” Our photographer would be there to capture some spontaneous moments. The kids seemed on board. Until…
They realized quickly that the fishing poles were not hooked or baited. That was it – – no “fake fishing” for my little evil Hydes. Let the meltdowns begin! And they were going to feed the turtles on the side of the bridge where there were the most turtles – – even if it meant that their backs were to the camera.
Ok – – plan B. Take out the instruments and let’s get these kids singing before
I throw them into the lake the entire session is a bust.
Ok – – it’s working. Everyone’s singing. Dean is on box drum; Izzi is on tambourine like a boss; Sofie’s got the cabasa; Anthony’s on guitar; Luca is armed and ready with a single maraca. But then – Luca loses it. Apparently – he can only play the maraca if he sings a song he made up. So, naturally – we cut ourselves off in the middle of a U2 jam and we tried to play along while Luca launched into a 7 minute rendition of his own original song that he is clearly making up as he goes along. And then, Izzi started losing it because she wanted a song we all know – but she couldn’t think of a single song she knows.
I saw that our lovely and brave photographer remained completely unfazed by the Madness she was witnessing as she kept snapping away, and I could’t help but wonder why I dragged us all into my personal circle of Hell known as Picture Day on this, Grandma and Grandpa’s last night in town. What was I thinking? There is no such thing as a super casual, easy-going, laid back Picture Day. And while I have TONS of confidence in my fearless photographer friend, I can’t imagine how any good pictures would come out of this mess that I am single-handedly responsible for. But then – just two days later – she sends me a little preview. And just like that, I forget about the pain and I can’t wait till the Fall for more exquisite images of my amazingly quirky and unpredictable crew.