Say Thursday

DSC06323There’s nothing like trying to take a family photo to convince me that Plato was right: we can only conceive of perfection and never actually attain it. ¬†Year after year, trip after trip, my family has tried to take that perfect photo where each of us looks happy, natural, and–and this is key–at the camera. We’ve come close, but never actually succeeded. My comparatively small family of six, however, is more successful than my extended family (parents, siblings and their families) of 24. That group tries each year to take one picture of all 24 of us, together, on the same set of lobby steps in Western North Carolina where we’ve been vacationing since I was a child. We’ve never once had a photo where even 75% of us managed to look happy, natural, and at the camera.

Part of the problem is we all had bad advice as children. No one looks natural after bellowing “Cheese.” Look in the mirror and try it. On me, it creates a double chin. Even worse is the phrase my mother tells us all to use, the loving but silly face inducing “I love my family.” Try that in front of a mirror as well. For much of that phrase, I look slack jawed.

Recently, my local paper had some tips for better personal photos. Apparently the famed fashion photographer Irving Penn told models to say “Thursday” right before he clicked the shutter. Try it. It’s a vast improvement over “Cheese.” ¬†Model Kate Moss says to raise your chin–she made 13.5 million dollars last year, so perhaps she knows of what she speaks. Rather than face the camera square on, cant your shoulders and your hips slightly to the side–my sister-in-law does this in photos and she always looks great! And, in order to make sure all eyes are open, shut your eyes and have the photographer count down to three and then open your eyes as the picture is taken.

What about you? Do you have any good tips for family photos?

– Dabney Grinnan

4 thoughts on “Say Thursday

  1. Katja

    Hi Dabney, I usually take several photos in very quick succession. Because the funny thing is, that most people relax when they think the photo is over and then look much more naturally. So usually the second or third one in a row is much much better.
    And with digital photography one can do that easily.

  2. LeeB.

    I’ve always heard “fromage” is better to say than cheese. And when I take group photos of small groups of friends, I try to make them do something more unusual than just the usual stand in front of some tourist attraction, e.g., talking on cell phones while posing in front of a London red phone box, emulating statue poses that appear in the background, etc.

  3. Blythe

    One of our best Christmas pictures had all four children laughing joyfully. I found out after I took it that my husband was right behind me, pretending to hit me with a big stick. So I can vouch for that technique.

  4. Donna

    Anyone over forty should only *ever* have photos taken from slightly above… trust me, it’s a more flattering angle!

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