Sunday, October 5, 2008

Picture Not-So-Perfect

You may have already gathered this from what I've shared here on this blog, but pictures are of paramount importance to me. Photographs are not only beautiful keepsakes but they are the tangible evidence of a memory. They are tokens to ride the time machine. I step back in time and remember what I was thinking or feeling at the time a particular photo was taken. It's this emotional element to pictures that makes them so special - at least to me.

As a matter of fact, when DH and I were I was planning our wedding - and arguing budgeting - I wanted the photographer to be top priority. I could scrimp on the invitations, the limo, the flowers and the deejay. But I could not - would not - sacrifice photography. Even if the dollar signs made DH's eyes bulge from his skull. After much negotiation, including finely veiled threats and crocodile tears, I won him over. Yes, we spent a somewhat exorbitant amount on the photos. But now that all is said and done, we don't regret it for one second. Our wedding photographs were, to me, the best investment we could have made. She captured every look, every smile, every tear, every touch. I look at them just about everyday and I feel the same sense of stupendous joy I felt on that day.

So, with that being said, it makes sense that something as awe-inspiring as having a baby would need to be documented in a similar fashion. The 1,400+ pictures I have personally taken on my Canon Powershot SD600 just weren't enough. I needed a professional. To capture those moments that I want to remember tomorrow and years from now when I'm old and gray. Besides, I'm always the one behind the lens and I wanted to have more than one photograph of me and my son to cherish forever and always.

Since I gave birth to Nate, I've had my heart set on getting our first family photos done. I had a vision. Traditional portraiture with a splash of contemporary. Soft, tender shots of Mommy and Daddy gazing adoringly into our baby's blue eyes. Caressing his smooth, nubile skin with my fingertips. Maybe even some discreet nekkid baby poses while he is too young to object. My Type-A side had it all planned out in my head and my heart.

Against my better judgement, DH and I decided to go to a studio at the mall, not only to be more fiscally responsible before the holidays (as I'm sure to run rampant with his first Christmas fast approaching) but because we could get more prints to share with family. I heard good reviews from friends so it seemed to be a no-brainer.

Well, I learned the hard way that you get what you pay for.

Our appointment time was noon, which was carefully planned to be directly after Nate's naptime when he's at his most loveable. We weren't seen by the faux-tographer until nearly 12:30pm. I say "faux-tographer" because she couldn't have been more than 18 or 19 years old and was obviously new and inexperienced but we gave her the benefit of the doubt. She asked us to choose backgrounds from a book and we happily obliged. We woke Nate from his peaceful sleep to get started but our faux-tographer moved at the pace of a slug setting up the background so by the time we took the first picture it was 1pm.

Little did we realize that the cameras they used only moved vertically - not horizontally - so we had to be perfectly posed in a specific spot for each photo. Needless to say, this does not bode well for a newborn who likes to be walked and bounced around. We got 3 shots in before a major meltdown ensued. Nate's fussing turned to full-fledged screaming. We were able to calm him down enough to take a few shots in between the howling episodes but our faux-tographer wasn't able to work the camera fast enough to capture anything without a tomato face. I found myself directing her and telling her which poses I thought would work. Remind me why I'm paying her again? Daddy finally got him to settle down to a slumbery state to take his solo pictures. We got him perfectly posed as he was asleep and the faux-tographer snapped the shot. We were so excited. We finally got the perfect picture! Wouldn't you know that she got a message on the computer that she had reached the maximum number of photos allowed (8) and the photo didn't take.

That was it. I almost lost it. (1) With all of the technology they have nowadays, how could their computer system only hold 8 photos? There are 8GB thumb drives out there that hold thousands upon thousands for cripes sake! (2) Shouldn't she have realized we were getting close to this ridiculous maximum and deleted some or notified us that we need to narrow them down? I could feel the steam coming out of my ears like in the cartoons. The one f#$%^*g picture I wanted and she didn't even get it. I told her I was extremely disappointed and she apologized but the damage had been done. She said she was disappointed too. Yeah, well, she wasn't the one paying over a hundred and fifty bucks for crappy a$$ pictures.

Sure enough, the wailing resumed and it took another half-hour to calm him down and get a decent solo shot. We didn't even attempt the unclad shots before cutting our losses and calling it a day.

I was thisclose to tears. My vision was toast. Nothing had worked out the way I had conceived. I was hoping for a photographer who was experienced with newborns, or who could at least work quickly and maneuver to get the good angles. I expected Nate to be a little fussy but I was hoping our photographer would be able to make the most of it and take a few pictures of us soothing him. Something. Instead, I got 7 marginal poses to choose from and a hefty bill. I left feeling defeated and regretful. I had waited to design his birth announcements because I wanted to use amazing professional photos. Now, I have to figure out which personal photos to use from our collection. Everytime I look at these pictures, I am plagued by what could've been. I wanted so much more for our first family photo experience.

This newborn phase goes by so quickly and now I feel I've lost a piece of that. I can't go back in time and I can't afford to have them redone elsewhere. I'm glad we at least got the shots we did but I'm bummed we spent so much money on something so ordinary. I could have probably done just as good of a job - if not better - myself with a tripod.

Anyway, here is a sampling of the ones that turned out okay:


Kim said...

Okay, now it appeared.. how strange!

Well, I love them. I totally know what you mean, though. Where did you have them done? We like Portrait Innovations quite a bit.. but nothing is like a professional photographer.

You should look for one in your area who has a photo-journalistic style. If you want to see some from before and after we had M.. I don't mind sharing privately! Fortunately, our photographer was just starting out.. so we got a great deal as she was building her portfolio.

And if you just so happen to live near PA (I can't remember!), I have an AMAZING photographer friend there!

Fertilized said...

i am so sorry. I hate when things you have dreamt of for so long not go the way you would have liked them to go ... If it makes you feel any better, the pictures are cute.

Grad3 said...

If that's any consolation, I think the pics are cute :)

Geohde said...

I think the one of you kissing Nate is divine,


eggorchicken said...

I'm sorry it wasn't all that you were hoping for.

They are really cute pics though :)


Melissa said...

I love the photos, but I understand your disappointment with the whole experience. It's understandable. You're absolutely right - this precious newborn phase goes by so quickly, and being that this was your first family portrait, it was important to have the "perfect" experience. I'm sorry it wasn't everything you had hoped for, but I still think the pictures are fabulous. You, Hubby and Baby Nate make one adorable family!

R&R said...

I think they look great--but I know what you mean with those studios. I have decided against taking Lemy until she's older because I can't handle her and an inept photographer. I'm just not that nice. :P

Polka Dot said...

Gah ... I wonder if you could have just refused to pay, refused the pictures, and walked away.

The ones you've posted, though, aren't bad at all. They look a bit stiff, but probably because you were trying to keep yourself from strangling the photographer.

On a side note - for some reason, I pictured you as a blonde. Not sure why, but my mind has always seen you as a blonde with curly hair.

Isn't that strange?