Photo Finish

One of the recurring events in a child’s life is the family photo. Sometimes it’s immediate family, sometimes it’s extended family, and sometimes it’s just the child by himself.

I had opportunities to be involved in various family photos this year, and I observed something:

Family photos are like a race.

No, not to see who can get done first. It’s like a race in that the finish line must be set – a fixed destination.

You know the drill –

“Okay, we’ll do this group.”
“Now put the grandparents in.”
“Okay, now everybody together.”

By this point, some nerves are getting frazzled.

Invariably, someone now says “You kids are doing such a good job, let’s get pictures with you and [insert family grouping here]”

But the longer the photo shoot goes on, the worse the kids get. Why?

Because you’ve moved the finish line.

The kids thought they were going to be done after the everybody-together shot. But then they weren’t done, they had a couple more poses to do.


Think about a race. You enter a race knowing the finish line is a certain distance away. You pace yourself accordingly and have just enough energy to kick it into high gear near the finish line.

How would you feel if someone saw you running at that point and said, “You are doing so well, and you look so fast right now, we are going to move the finish line another mile down the road!”? And they said it in a cheery voice to encourage you.

You would feel annoyed, betrayed, dismayed, or something along those lines. And you would not do very well for that last mile, since your racing energy was used up for the expected course.

That’s how kids feel when you just keep adding groupings to the family photo and extending the whole session.


My two recommendations for family photos:

1. Get the most important photos first. The more photos you take, the worse the kids behave. Unless you like pictures of crying and frowny kids, plan your photo priorities.

There are some cultures that believe photographs steal your soul. I don’t believe that, but I would be open to the theory that each photograph steals part of your smile. After a long photo shoot, you might not be able to smile for a time until your smile can recover.

2. Tell the kids the plan, and establish the finish line. They can pace themselves if they know where the finish line is. “We’ll take just you kids, then you kids with your cousins, then everybody together, and then we’ll be done.”

And then don’t move the finish line.


P.S. If you are worried that it was you who inspired this post – it wasn’t you, it was the other side of the family.

What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should endure?

Job 6:11

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This little article thingy was written by Some Guy sometime around 6:34 am and has been carefully placed in the Life category.

2 Responses to “Photo Finish”

  1. Buckley Says:

    Best post you’ve ever written.

  2. js Says:

    I wouldn’t have argued with you if you also said that it should be like a race in the sense of seeing who can finish first.

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