The Not So Formal Family Portrait

Several years ago – while preparing for one of our larger Christmas family gatherings – my cousin in California asked if I would set up an appointment with a photographer to have a family portrait taken. I liked the idea of a family photo, but doubted that many others in this clan would be thrilled with the idea. Several days later I was downtown running some errands and as I walked past one of those “Olde Time” photo shops the light bulb came on! You know those places – where you dress up in costume and have a photo taken which is printed to look like was taken ages ago. You can be a gunslinger, a riverboat gambler, a Southern belle or a flapper. Everybody loves these family portraits.

Since we live in a tourist area, we had several studios to choose from and one was large enough to handle our crowd. We were able to use our numbers to get a nice discount on our photos and because we were willing to schedule our appointment as their last shoot before shutting down on Christmas Eve, we didn’t interfere with their walk-in business. Of the 20 people here for Christmas, only 2 didn’t come for the photo. A couple more had to be dragged in, but they turned out to be the ones who enjoyed the experience most.

The process of choosing costumes and comparing each other’s choices created a much more relaxed atmosphere than we would have had for a “formal” portrait. The results were delightful and those photos are treasures! A few years later – at the next big Christmas gathering – the family photo was most requested event option. Who’d a thunk?

Family Portrait – actually an out-take where the photographer said something funny, then took the photo. It’s my favorite.
Click to enlarge.

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