“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.” – Andy Warhol
Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that we actually presume ourselves to be more beautiful than we really are. While you may personally disagree, there is little doubt that as a culture we seem to have a strange fascination with looking at ourselves. (Insert your selfie-stick here.)
However, sometimes a selfie-stick just won’t do and we’ve got to hire the big guns. And by big guns I mean a professional photographer with a camera lens as long as your arm. Unlike wedding photos that capture an event, there are times when we hire a photographer for the sole purpose of capturing one thing and one thing only: what we look like.
Forget that I walk around most days in yoga pants and a messy topknot. When my kids and I look back on the fall of this year they will see mom with her hair curled, makeup on, in skinny jeans smiling amongst the beauty of fall foliage. A place that our family never went to before this family photo day nor returned to since. Ah, the memories.
Professional photos are the ones that live on and punctuate a time in our lives forever. We pay big bucks to stage these photos and damn it, we better look good when we get them back.
Before kids, before marriage, before your ta-tas touch your belly button, you want to capture just how sexy you feel as a young, hot, woman engaged to be married.
You schedule a boudoir photo shoot to take sexy pictures for your fiancé to always remember what a hot woman he married.
Lingerie is purchased. Hair and makeup are done sexy in a slutty kind of way. You arrive at some random warehouse that a photographer has booked. Is this creepy? You don’t care. You're living out your dream as a Victoria’s Secret model.
You are in prime physical shape because you have been surviving on carrots for the last six weeks in preparation of your wedding day.
Like the little devil that you are, you snuck your fiancé’s favorite football jersey for the photos. You slip the jersey over your naked body, exposing your buttocks as the photographer snaps pics of you gazing out the window.
You narrow the proofs down to 25 of your hottest pictures and make a nudey book to present to your man on your wedding day. He opens the book as his dirtball groomsmen look over his shoulder.
Your boudoir book, which is hardly coffee table appropriate, makes its next appearance when you dust it off after your first child to motivate yourself back into shape.
You’re pregnant with your first child – a blessing that needs to be captured in photos! You book a maternity photo shoot. You order a dozen maternity dresses, a flower halo, anything silky that conveys you’re a creature of majestic qualities sent to earth to bare children.
Your husband questions if it’s really necessary to spend $500 on maternity pictures and offers to take your picture for free. Um, no. You decide not to tell him that the price doesn’t include actual printed photos. Those are extra.
Four months later it’s time for your photo shoot. You feel huge. You look huge. Only one of the dresses you bought still fits. You waddle to the photo shoot, in a field of tall grasses. This is good; the grass will hide your swollen ankles. You rub your belly and gaze down lovingly. Photographer asks your husband to step in behind you and hold your belly, too. This just makes you sweat. The grass is starting to itch. You need to pee. Will there be a break for a snack?
You get the proofs back. How long has that double chin been there? No way are you displaying any of these. You order the CD of proofs and stuff it in the back of the baby album.
At the maternity photo shoot the photographer upsold you to Photo Package D which included a four-hour newborn session. Baby girl is ten days old and photog says this is the perfect time to take the photos.
You slept two hours last night, you’re still wearing a pad as thick as a pillow, you can’t remember the last time you showered, and now this chick is coming over to take pictures? This sounds awful. Your husband complains. You yell at him for complaining but secretly hope the photographer will offer to do the session alone while you go sleep.
Instructions are given to turn the heat in the house up to Sahara-desert levels. You attempt to do your hair and put on a non-maternity shirt. It doesn’t fit. Postpartum hormones don’t mix with 80 degrees. You are in a full sweat before the photographer even arrives.
Photographer is the baby whisperer and your baby girl, who hasn’t slept more than 45 minutes at a time, stays asleep through the entire session.
Every picture is more darling than the last. You order books, prints, CDs and coffee mugs for every member of your family.
Your third child is now two years old and you haven’t taken a professional photo in six years. You envision your family frolicking in colorful fall leaves. This will be great!
It takes you six weeks to purchase the right color-coordinated outfits for five people of varying sizes. Family photo day arrives and everyone from the toddler to your husband complains about their outfit.
Forty-five minutes late, you finally hoof it across the park, stomping on the stupid fall leaves, sweating, and dragging a screaming toddler. Isn’t it supposed to be fall? It's 90 degrees outside and you’re in wool and corduroy. Sweat rolls down your face. Through smiling (gritted) teeth you continuously bribe the kids as the photographer snaps away.
Photographer sends you 175 proofs. There is one photo in which everyone is looking at the camera. Except you. You order and frame that one picture.
Really, what’s it matter what you look like anyway?