Five hundred family pictures please, and hold the cheese

It wasn’t like I actively fought against having family pictures taken—it was actually never discussed. My wife and I share a distaste for all things cheesy, so I assumed she found the idea of professional family pictures as cheesy as I did. Then one day a couple weeks ago she was like, “We’re having our pictures taken Saturday,” and handed me a hot pink necktie.


When I think of family pictures, two things immediately come to mind. The first is walking into someone’s house and seeing a humongous family portrait over the fireplace where the family is dressed in all white and laughing pleasantly as they walk along a white sandy beach during an apparent dream sequence. Who could ever compete with such a clear representation of Caucasian happiness?

“Welcome to our home. You know this is really our home because that is our family above the fireplace, see? I trust you and your family have had similar blissful experiences ... ”

“Uh, actually we had to stop at a gas station bathroom on the way here because this one (points sideways with thumb to daughter) threw up fish tacos on her new shirt.”

The second thing that comes to mind are mailers from dentists. You never get a mailer from a dentist that is just a picture of the dentist like, “Hello, I am a dentist. Trust me.” It’s always like, “I am a dentist, and this is my wife Emily and my eight beautiful girls who are maybe all receiving Communion today? Also my mother-in-law Barb, her cat Sparkle, etc., etc. My point is that we are super good-looking and also I do root canals.”

Having no fireplace and not being a dentist, I thought we were in the clear. But apparently adopting daughter No. 2 prompted the need to capture photographic evidence that we are a functioning, well-dressed family unit. Considering I’d be the only male represented in this shoot (the dog wasn’t invited, for some reason), it was safe to assume the theme wouldn’t be baseball.

We met outside of Sunrise Mountain Library. The photographer’s sister/assistant took all the girls inside to do their hair while the photographer was nice enough to shoot some professional headshots of me. The (only) cool thing about being a writer is that you can have professional headshots done and it’s not weird or narcissistic. Curious library patrons looked on as I did various (sexy) poses and thought to themselves, who is that guy? Afterwards I was like, “You probably didn’t recognize me because I’m taller in person, but I’m Mike, publications manager for The Glendale Star. Who wants an autograph?”*

Now we were almost ready for the family shoot, and the photographer asked if I could help her get the props out of her car.


Ten minutes later I was sitting under a tree, in a canopy, wearing a pink boa and pretending to have a tea party with my two daughters. Flustered by the whole experience, I ended up fake pouring creamer into the sugar bowl, which was embarrassing, as if this was my first tea party or something.

Only two hours later, the shoot was done. Admittedly, it was fun, and the pictures came out great and not at all cheesy, all things considered. Afterwards we all, while still dressed similarly in our photo shoot attire, went out for Chinese food. Everybody probably thought I was a famous dentist or something, which probably explains why we got our fortune cookies for free.

*no one, apparently

Note: This column appears in the 11/21 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/22 issue of the Peoria Times.

Oh, and here it is: