Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Portraits 101....

...or Why I Will Never Be a Children's Photographer.

Rule No. 1:  Three days prior to Christmas portrait event there will be no running by children whose portraits are being taken (that includes tripping and bumping heads on hard basement stairs.)

Rule No. 2:  Scissors will not be left in full reach of said children thirty minutes prior to Christmas portrait event, resulting in one previously long-haired blonde girl who now sports a pixie-ish emergency haircut.

Rule No. 3:  The portrait hack artist will not mess with the camera settings prior to said Christmas protrait event resulting in strange pictures because she could not get the camera to go back to its normal state.

Rule No. 4:  The photographer will not attempt to create studio conditions when all she has to work with is a king-size sheet and a 42" plasma television on a stand.

Rule No. 5:  The photographer will, prior to the event, take the maximum amount of Advil allowed.

The girl with the nice bruise between her eyebrows.


Gaige practicing his yoga while Nathan attempts to distract him.

Nathan caused a lot of laughing.

Matthew was a whole lot easier last year when he would stay put. This year he just wanted his mommy!

It's like herding cats. Seriously.

Out of hundreds taken, here are a few that made the cut.




(the previously long-haired girl!)


Best cousins, best friends.

Oh well, there's always next year!
Here's looking at you, kids!

Christmas Bonus

Cranberry-Pecan Bars
(a tried and true recipe of many years)

For the crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup finely chopped pecans, divided

For the filling:

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 beaten eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped cranberries
2/3 cup shredded coconut
Zest of one orange

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13 x 9 inch pan with cooking spray (or butter if you prefer).
  2. Chop pecans in food processor. Reserve 1/2 cup for filling.
  3. Combine 1 cup flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, butter and 1/2 cup pecans in processor and pulse until you have coarse crumbs.
  4. Press into prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes or until light golden brown.
  5. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix 1 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons flour. Stir in eggs, milk, vanilla and orange zest.
  6. Stir in cranberries, coconut and remaining pecans. Spread over hot baked crust.
  7. Bake 23-25 minutes until light golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on rack. Cut into bars when cool.
Note: it takes about 1 1/3 cups pecan halves to make 1 cup chopped pecans.


CottageGirl said...

Oh Susan! How sweet!!! Kids are ... well ... kids and they just do what they do best ... being active! I feel your pain in a smaller way. I only had two grandkids to work with!
Our daughter-in-law asked if I could try taking a few shots of Ella and Jack in front of the tree, since they had no luck getting a good shot of both of them at the same time. Ha!! After about 60 quick shots, I think I almost got 2 decent ones! We had a great one, but the dog decided to walk right by at that most precious moment!
I love your rules! I think I'll embroider them and hang them on the wall for next year.
The pictures are adorable and they sweetly document stories that those kids will be telling their grandkids about!!

OOO the cranberry bars look yumm-o!!! And with pecans and coconut! I'm sold! Thanks for making me chuckle this morning!!!

Sandy Nawrot said...

This is the second post I've just read that almost made me pee my pants. Don't even get me started on holiday portraits. I now use pictures taken over the summer while on vacation! I've got some hilarious Xmas pictures...series actually, where Emma is various stages of fit-throwing, the baby is crying and face is red, I am rolling my eyes, burying my face in hands, some where my husband is strangely absent from the picture because he messed up the timer. Serious stress! Years later, though it is actually funny!

Ruth said...

Your collection here along with your creative post is WAYYYYY better than boring portraits taken at Sears. I know it must have been MAJOR work to get all that done, but it's pretty easy to enjoy it from this side and laugh at you, HA! I love those kids, and they are just too hilarious (like their g'ma). YOGA??? FUNNY!

You all are providing a pretty wonderful life over there, and you know this is just going to be such a cute Christmas memory.

And I'm already anticipating, sadly, Matthew's beautiful curly locks being gone for next year's portrait. :(

Char said...

oh dear!!! I do know something of what you're talking about - I took 277 pictures Sunday and you have seen the five best. So I feel your pain. But...these are just adorable - so sweet and like Ruth said, will be wonderful memories for years to come.

steviewren said...

Susan your grandkids are darling! Such photogenic children! I have the same problem you do getting good pictures. Mine love to make crazy faces or they walk away the second before the camera shoots. I always mess with the settings on my camera and never discover it until I download the photos.

ds said...

Oh, thank you! They are, each and all, adorable!
Best cousins, best friends is a wonderful thing. Long may it last. Yoga and giggles combine perfectly, I think...
Happy memories (disregard stairs, scissors etc.)!! Will be smiling all day... :D

dutchbaby said...

That's a great gene pool you're sporting there, Susan. Our family is still talking about the one Christmas we tried to take a Christmas portrait of the ten cousins, ages 6 months through 13 years. This was before digital cameras and PhotoShop. I have six photos in the family album of all ten kids on the sofa. That's how many photos it took to show at least one non-crying eye-open image of each child. This year, ages 15 through 28, it only took one photo.

Those cranberry, coconut, pecan bars looks serious delicious.

Cindy said...

I feel your pain... but am laughing my head off! They look like they're having a blast. Darling kids. Great photos. Hilarious post.

Bella Rum said...

Oh, Matthew, I could eat your face. It is so sweet.

I loved the crazy photos up top. What a fun and lighthearted post.

Cora said...

LOL.....I think we can all relate to this at one time or another...The makings of memories!
Cute photos even with the brusies, cuts, giggles, etc...

Thanks for sharing the Yummy looking recipe! :)

The Bumbles said...

Wow - I am impressed with the yoga! He should teach them all to do it so they would be calm kiddos for the photo! I love candid shots - better than fake smiles.

My niece gave her sister a hair cut the day before their scheduled portraits which caused her mother much grief since she was very attached to the long beautiful locks. The same niece also knocked her front tooth out a few months ago and a few years earlier than when little girls normally get visits from the tooth fairy. So she has a few years of "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" in front of her ;0)

VioletSky said...

I was thinking the same as Ruth about those adorable curly locks...
I love Lauren's new hair, though.

I have no kids.
I have tried herding my cats for a portrait though, so I know whereof you speak.

Susan said...

CG, you still have time to accumulate a few more grands before very long and then you'll really have a photographic experience! :)

I just hope I live long enough to tell the REAL stories when the grandkids are telling them to their kids. I think they might tend to gloss over a little! lol

These cranberry bars are one of our favorite holiday cookies and I make them several times every year.

Susan said...

Oh no, Sandy, you're too young for Depends! I think anyone who has kids and ever held a camera in front of them has had this experience or close to it. What would Christmas be without a little portrait drama?!!! You should have seen me...I was so hot during the shoot that I stripped down to a tank top and pants. Everyone else was was probably the blood pressure rising!

Susan said...

Uh-huh, Ruthie, you just wait! Lauging at me, eh? I can't wait to laugh at the hi-jinks you'll resort to in order to get good photos of your future grands! No, wait! They'll probably pose like perfect little angels and then I'll have to eat my words!

Gaige was actually showing me some of the yoga poses that the gym teacher has been teaching them. He's pretty good at it! He even knows the names which I can never keep straight. Only in second grade and already outshining his g'ma!

Yes, Matthew is due soon to have his locks shorn. :( Kelly trimmed his bangs that day and that is why the scissors were left out where Lauren could reach them!

Susan said...

Well, Char, I have a feeling that you set your photographic standards a wee bit higher than I do and why you only got five "best" ones. I bet you had a lot more usable ones than I did!

I know one thing...I have great respect for children's photographers!

Susan said...

Thank you, Stevie! I was having a huge problem with lag time which I usually don't have. I was messing around with it beforehand and must have hit something funky and I didn't have time to get the manual out and read it (which usually does me no good anyway!). So every time I would snap, I would have to do it again before it would actually take the picture. By that time the perfect moment was long gone!

Susan said...

ds, I'm so glad I brought a day-long smile to your face! I can smile now that it's over, but I sure wasn't smiling much at the time! And it's taken me forever to go through and edit all of them. That's the worst part. I still have to upload the ones I want to be printed. And it looks like Christmas cards may be going out next week instead of this one! Maybe I should just go buy some Happy New Year ones instead! lol

Susan said...

dutchbaby, that cracks me up! I can't imagine trying to corral that many fidgety, squalling kids! Five is about the maximum for me, I'm afraid! I'm not sure how you fit that many into one photo this year, but thank goodness only one try!

Susan said...

Seriously, Cindy, I need to come out to Portland and take some kid photo-taking lessons from you, Miss Expert! I think I'm gonna have to do a system restore to get my camera back to normal after I fooled around with it. Sometimes modern technology gets the better of me! :)

Susan said...

Bella, that's exactly the way I feel every time I see that little heart-shaped face! I just want to squeeze him until he pops! He's just as sweet as he appears on film, too.

Susan said...

Thank you, Cora! I really love doing it, no matter how much I pretend that I don't...but I bet you already guessed that!

I hope you get a chance to try the bars...they are seriously yummy!

Susan said...

Molly, I couldn't believe Gaige knew so many poses and pretty much had them mastered! He could sure teach me a thing or ten!

When Jaye (Lauren's dad) called to tell us what had happened, I could hear Kelly (mommy) sobbing in the background. I was just relieved that she didn't cut any of it down to the scalp, which is what they usually do in these cases.

My oldest sister (I am told) gave the next sister down a haircut once and literally turned a bowl upside down on her head. It actually didn't turn out half bad, but I think they were a little older than 3 1/2!

Susan said...

Sanna, I know, it will break my heart when they cut off the curls, but he's kinda starting to resemble a girl, so I guess it's inevitable.

Didn't Lauren's cut look cute? I actually loved it and would kind of like to have mine cut the same way, but it might not look as good on a 56-year-old! :P

Yes...herding cats, herding chickens, herding's pretty much the same! :)

Anonymous said...

You've got the cutest offspring :) I love Matthew's hair, adorable! I am best friends with my my best cousin too. Even over 37 years later.

Elle Bee said...

Susan, you really got some darling shots!! I was laughing out loud over the "herding cats" comment and photo! Too funny. Ahhhh, aren't you glad it's OVER?! Hahhaa, me too! :o) Thank you so much for the recipe! I'm having a cookie exchange this Friday and I think I'm going to make these! I've got lots of cranberries and pecans in the freezer just waiting for a recipe like this to be given to me! Thanks!

Natashya Kitchen Puppies said...

So funny! Herding cats.. !
These are the things that you will remember fondly, more interesting than if it were easy.

Susan said...

Stacy, thank you, thank you! Matt's hair is just like his daddy's at that age only not quite as thick. It just killed me to cut off the curls, but everyone was starting to call him a girl!

That's so sweet that you and your cousin are so close! I hope Kait and Lauren stay that way.

Susan said...

Oh, Elle, I hoped I would get a laugh from you! I didn't even consider photoshopping with that many bodies to contend with!

You won't be sorry if you use this recipe...they're delicious! And pretty, too!

Susan said...

Don't I know it, Natashya! I just hope when I'm in my dotage, I'll be able to remember enough to tell their children about all of their shenanigans!

Tattered and Lost said...

These are so much nicer than any professional shots. And they'll mean so much more to the kids. Really enjoyed them.

Susan said...

Thank you, Tattered! I'm glad you enjoyed the circus! I'm sure when they're older and sitting perfectly still I'll be wishing they were this age and acting up!

VaNeSsA said...

Susan, You're so funny! What an adventure. But the final results are adorable. Francesca is at the stage right now where she knows I'm taking her picture, so she pulls some adorable pose, but the camera isn't quick enough to catch her movement, so some part of her is usually fuzzy. Also, she wants to SEE the picture, so she moves out of place in about 2.2 seconds. God bless children's photographers (and their amazing cameras). :) Merry Christmas Susan!

Susan said...

Vanessa dear, you are so sweet!

I know all about that quick movement thing!! My granddaughters always want to see immediately, too. But I think that little blur in the picture is just part of the charm.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!