You’d have thought I asked them to check into prison for a week.
“God, I don’t want to do that.”
“I just don’t have the time.”
“That’s sounds terrible.”

All I was asking my wife and two daughters to do was to get a family portrait taken. As far as I could track down, we had only done that one other time. That was when my daughters were still in elementary school—one family photo in 40 years.

The primary catalyst that prodded me into wanting to do this was a photograph of my grandmother that hangs in our guest bedroom. It is a picture of a woman I never knew. The women in the photo was a young and overwhelmingly beautiful.  The woman I knew had silver gray hair, wore rimless spectacles, and could only be described as fragile.


But every time I glance at the portrait of the woman in the old-fashioned button down collar, immediately I think of trips to my grand parents house where as a kid I spent a week or two every summer. During these visits I have memories of sitting and listening to the radio (even when most people had a television), special trips for me where we would get on a bus and go downtown to have a tuna salad sandwich at the lunch counter at Newberry’s, or the smell of fried chicken that was dinner every Sunday afternoon.  Collectively, these feelings are some of the most pleasant of my entire life.

Of course, I didn’t tell this tear-jerk of a story to my family to convince them to go to a portrait setting. Nor did I tell them my rush to get this done was because I had won a free sitting (value $100) by a photographer by submitting a card at a display at my local mall (“No sir, not everyone who entered won.”). What I did was threaten, cajole, and bribe them like whenever I want them to do something—“Yes, there will be a fancy lunch after.”

So we schedule that shoot and showed up with everyone wearing black to have black and white portraits done. All my idea and, when shot against a black background made for a rather ghostlike photo were our heads seem to float in space. But it’s a photo that’s amazingly stunning.

Later we come back to select the photos we wanted printed from their gallery of proofs. They are not that expensive, but neither are they cheap—depending on size $50 to $100 each. Of course, suddenly these photos are important to everyone. There are just so many photos that they “just have to have.” But that’s ok. As cheap as I am, I am happy to pay for a set of these special photos. They suddenly became one of my most prized possessions.

A lot of us would like to be immortal—remembered long after death.   Well for the most part that’s just never going to happen. As close as any of us will ever get is to be remembered when a loved one glances at an old photo of you and says, “Remember when dad took us ice fishing and we caught all those trout.” Yea, that’s what a family portrait is all about.

Time to Do It: Family Photo
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