2015's movie-based-on-a-true-story

 Earlier this month, we got dressed in fifteen layers and took family pictures.

No coats in December (in Montreal!) is just a glimpse at the non-reality that is family photo shoots. Last year I took to calling family pictures movies based on a true story, and that's helped me reconcile the chaos and stress and organizing and unnatural events that unfold each year we take them, with the fact that I truly cherish these images.

Like last year, everything that could go wrong probably did. I was checking the weather all week to find the perfect day for outdoor pictures, but when it's December in Montreal, that means no days, and a good dose of what-was-I-thinking? Welp. With the help of several added layers and the warm heaters on the Noble Cafe terrace, we managed to not freeze. We were also running late because getting five people gussied up is no joke, so our poor photographer was waiting in the cold for thirty minutes while we tried not to argue. And what is it with arguing on the best days!!?? We can go weeks without an argument, but then it's date night or family photos or a wedding, or some other joyous event, and it's so hard remember that we're best friends. Anyone else?

Once we got out of the house (the pictures were taken down the street) and taking pictures we all loosened up a bit. My favourites are these pictures, taken after the more formal family shots. Hot chocolates, lattes, croissants, and a collective exhale made these ones the real deal and I'm so glad to have them.

The kids were great for the whole thing until the very end. We bribed with screen time because, hi, parents of the year. Of course photographing kids is like photographing snowflakes. STOP MOVING. And melting? Ahem, Chloe.

You'll notice we have no pictures of me and Lily because she was attached to Brad at the hip all day. Likewise, Chloe rarely left my side. Oli was (as always) independently happy and having a blast on his own terms. The only problem with him was actually channeling his joy into a still shot. Smile....less? Can you? I can see your molars, bud. What a great problem to have!

The setting was perfect. Noble Cafe has quickly become a favourite of me and the kids because it's less than a block away and the staff there are the absolute sweetest. The kids were totally comfortable and it wasn't a new place that begged to be explored - two keys in family photo locations! They're selling Christmas trees for the holidays so if you go there be prepared for the idyllic urban Christmas overload. Fresh pine trees, hot coffee and hot chocolate, and warm heaters so you can enjoy in the snow.

Some out takes that I still wanted to share, because REAL LIFE. Oli...dancing? Chlover...wanting to be anywhere but in a family picture. Blurry arms. Never forget that behind every pretty picture are a hundred outtakes, an insanely patient photographers, and bunch of smiling sinners.

Last year I wrote something that I want to repeat.

It's true, these pictures were posed. But they're an image of a real thing. A real family that loves and cuddles and laughs. It's a movie, based on a true story. And yes, we're also a family that fights and cries and sins, but we don't need pictures to remind us of that, do we? If we're honest, it's often hardest to remember the beautiful parts. Life is hard and this world is fallen, and we forget God and his promises for us and our families. But there is great love and great forgiveness thanks to Jesus, the author of both. And these are one way we remember his grace.
And it's more true this year than last year, and always will be the longer we're alive.

Merry Christmas! Grace has come.


  1. As a photographer, my favorite pictures to take are the ones that come after the formal, posed shots. I love seeing the relationship and interaction that shines through once everyone's done smiling for the camera. :) Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  2. I generally record my ideas and thoughts. The extent that me recording, that is the place I take as much time as required to really go in the studio to record.
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