Create lasting memories with family portraits

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By Susan Stott-Smith

Since we moved here from Maryland two months ago, we go to the Hunting Island every Sunday. This week, I sat and watched a young family playing with their tow-headed little boy. I turned to my husband of 28 years and asked, “Where have the past 20 years gone?” It seems like just yesterday that we we’re that young family, playing on the beach with our little blond son. Well, he is now almost 25 and our daughter just turned 21. Luckily, I can actually see how the kids have grown up. I have their entire lives documented in pictures. You see, I grew up poor: 8 kids with a stay at home mom. We didn’t even have a camera, so we just had the occasional school picture or the group shots with the rich relatives. So I married me a photographer! We own a portrait studio and I made sure that we did family portraits in the studio every year for our Christmas card. I also had my photographer husband take our daughter’s dance pictures, our dogs’ puppy pictures, our son’s Cub Scout pictures, their senior portraits, etc, etc. Now I know I’m over the top, but why not? I married me a photographer!

We have so many of our clients bring their teenagers in for their senior pictures and say to me “We have never had a family picture.” Or they say, “The last time we had a family picture was when Timmy was 2!” When I tell Mom we’ll do a family session for free, her first words are, “Oh no, I need to lose 20 pounds!” Well, my job before I owned a portrait studio was as a life insurance agent. I always tell my clients, “You never know what tomorrow may bring. Your family loves you just the way you are. If something were to happen to you tomorrow, will you deny your children and grandchildren a lasting memory of your family because you were a little, or a lot, overweight?” Take the picture! If you lose 50 pounds, reward yourself and take another one to replace it! Who wants their legacy picture to be the one at the beach, in a bathing suit (gasp) with flat hair and no makeup? Or on a boat with a beer in your hand? Have a lovely professional portrait done!

My mother was super picky and vain. My husband actually got a portrait of her that she liked! (of course, we retouched the heck out of it to remove wrinkles and turkey neck). When she passed away eight years ago, the first thing we did when we got home was to print copies of that portrait and send it to all her brothers and sisters and children and grandchildren. People want pictures! Now I am just as vain as my mother, but I suck it up every year, fat or skinny, and get that family picture taken for the Christmas card. And I retouch the heck out of it.