I generally despise family photos. I worry about slouching, not sucking in my stomach, the kids not smiling enough, and Peter doing that fake "I hate to smile" thing. I realized late last year as I was trying to decide whether or not to do 'official' two year shots for Nicholas, that we had not taken any real family photos in ages (other than quick snaps by a strangers in front of Hoover Dam with a so-so outcome).
Ages turned out to be almost two years. We had a semi-professional photographer take shots of us on the beach one morning in Chincoteague in June of 2008, and despite the fact that we did the 'white t-shirt look alike' business, many of them were quite good. One shot of the girls was particularly darling, and it reminded me recently that since the kids are growing like weeds, well, no time like the present.
I toyed with having the photos taken in San Ramon by an absolutely wonderful photographer. She has a gorgeous garden for a backdrop, and my only problem was not being decisive enough. I probably should have gone to her last winter, but I was in a funk about losing more baby weight and I let that distract me.
Then I saw these photos online, and knew I might have a chance of getting absolutely the family photos I craved. Not with Jessica, but with a divinely talented photographer who frequently visits the Annapolis area, close by the home of the Salty Dog Crew. I made mention of this to Shannon (Dr. Salty Dog) who happened to be in touch with Jana. Jana wrote to me, and it turned out that she would be in town the week that we arrived. We couldn't hope for better timing and grabbed the opportunity.
In some respects, it couldn't have been crazier. Not only was I throwing baby-fat, belly-sucking caution to the wind, but we were barely rested from our crazy cross-country charade. My hair could end up being a frizz fest, the girls might argue the entire time, Pete might not smile (actually a trait that works well in his job, just not great for fun family photos), and Nicholas could have a complete and utter "I need a nap" meltdown. So, we made sure to book early in the morning, I coffeed myself up (in order to deal with any arguing), Peter practiced smiling whilst muttering under his breath at morning traffic, and the hair magically worked out.
Now we have photos that made me laugh, cry and want to book another sitting. Jana works wonders with nothing more than two cameras and a knowledge of perfect backdrops in downtown Annapolis. It probably didn't hurt that our assistant also knew the kids (thanks, Jenn P.!), and even a bit of knowledge of the personalities being photographed is amazingly helpful. Jenn and Jana both knew that Nicholas would be awestruck if the fire truck that whizzed by us towards the end of the shoot could stop for a minute. Jenn had a chat with the driver, and moments later, fire truck stalker Nicholas and his family had the perfect shot in front of "Firetruck, firetruck!".
There were so many incredible shots that it will be very hard to decide on a family photo book. We will have not one, but two, as you can well imagine. One for home, and one for Peter's home away from home. I can't say his departure for a year didn't play into our decision to invest in gorgeous photographs. In fact, it increased our desire to capture more precious family moments on film. Many thanks to Jana Bannan, and her assistant for the day, Jenn, for a morning and photographs that are burned into our minds and hearts forever.
* Please note that the above photo was taken by Jana Bannan. The same holds true for all linked photos in this entry.