Latest News

Focus: It's time for the annual family photo

It’s that time of year when all our hopes and dreams are reduced to a series of miserable outtakes in pursuit of that sadistic family ritual: the holiday card.

A family portrait is such a good idea in theory. 

Until you look into photo after photo of your kids with psycho killer eyes and you realize that your family looks a lot like the deviant, marginal people in a Diane Arbus photo.

Last year, most of my cards didn’t get mailed until after Christmas, if at all, but I still feel compelled to create again.

In my Miami household, where we’ve been shooting a family photo every year for the past 14 years, the debate about our Christmas card picture begins around Thanksgiving. It starts with my husband suggesting the same idea he’s had for the past decade – a portrait of me and our two daughters with the greeting “Ho, Ho & Ho” underneath.

This idea gets shot down every winter, primarily because we have a nun on our Christmas card list. Oh yeah, and because it’s not funny. 

Once we settle on a theme, the annual DIY family photo shoot starts off innocently enough, quickly deteriorating into a hot and sweaty, mosquito-ridden moment  that ends with my husband and I screaming at the kids as they sink into total uncooperative mode, followed by tears. 

“We want to go home. Why are you doing this to us?”

We start off feeling fresh and original, and end up opting for the one photo that at least has everybody’s eyes open. 

We’re still struggling with the execution, but we’re smart enough to know a few simple rules need to be in place to ensure that everybody is still speaking to each other when a new year rolls around. 

With that in mind, here’s a list of don’ts to get you through one of our most treasured – and treacherous – traditions.

  • Don’t make your child pose in a manner that will get him beaten up at school after winter break. 
  • No nudity. (Dads, please keep your shirts on.)
  • No divulging family secrets in long, accompanying letters. (“Guess what, Isabel increased her bra size an entire cup! This is the year she became a woman!!!”)
  • No matching outfits.
  • No antlers, Santa hats, tacky sweaters or elf costumes.

What’s your favorite family photo shoot idea – and how do you get your kids to cooperate?