Smile and pretend you like each other

"OK, I need you to scoot in a little closer. I need you to turn a little more towards your sister-in-law. I need you to turn your head more to the left. Now turn more towards me. More. Now tilt your head down. Close your fingers a little more. OK, now everybody smile!" We drove to Richmond this afternoon to meet Rich's parents, uncle and brother for family photos at JC Penny's. The adventure started when I walked into the bedroom in my light blue cashmere sweater as Rich was getting dressed and he said, "are you wearing that for the pictures or just to drive down there?". Needless to say that sweater got ripped off and I packed my fucking suit jacket and suit blouse and my damn suit pants in case these photos showed more than the top 4" of my outfit. I even changed my fucking shoes (and stomped around the house a bit with all these various outfits packed for the drive).

Rich did admit that he hadn't participated in one of these photo shoots since he was 14 so he wasn't sure what the dress code was, but I was miffed that my fashion sense was being questioned. When we arrived at Rich's parents' all the men were in dress shirts, ties and dress slacks. Rich's mom was in a tan corduroy dress with hose and dress shoes. I was convinced these people all knew something I didn't and that in order to fit us all in the photo someone was going to have to lounge across the front of the group like the goalie in hockey pictures. Why else would Rich be worried about what color socks he was wearing?

We arrived at the portrait studio and our session lasted less than 10 minutes total. You know that scene from a Christmas Story where Ralphie is desperately trying to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas and the elf is trying to shoo him along so all the kids can get a turn? That's what it felt like in that portrait studio. She took exactly two photos of each family member combination and we then had to wait 30 minutes to see the grainy results on their monitors. The photo of all of us that turned out the best was actually too high so you could see the rigging above the backdrop. That's when they tried to sell the faded edges feature on the photo to hide that. No thanks, we'll just put it in a matted frame.

Thankfully, Rich's mom had a coupon that spared us the $10 per person sitting fee to have these pictures taken. I don't know how much the prints cost, but they couldn't have been that cheap.

The good news - great news, actually - was that the whole family took this adventure in stride. No one made any pissy comments. Rich's mom noted that the whole thing was an experiment but that she now sees the difference in photos by JC Penny's and photos by a "real" photography studio. I saved myself the trouble of dealing with a department store photo studio for my own photos, where I probably would have just gotten in a fight with someone there. And we all had a really pleasant dinner after our glamorous photo shoot. We'll see if the photos are anything to really look at, but I can honestly say I had a good time overall, which is a great improvement over previous family functions.

I got over my huffiness about wearing a suit soon after we got in the car to head to Richmond. Like Rich and I said, in case they were hiring for some extra store clerks, I could have interviewed right then. But I did wear sport socks under my suit pants. That's how I roll.