Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - August 7, 2015

Shooting the family

I am an obsessive picture taker. But one common denominator of my pictures is I'm rarely in any of them! Photos taken by our family Christmas trees include husband Art and daughters Mariya and Katie, but where was I? Someone looking at my trip photos would never know I was there. At family reunions, either I'm in the photos or Art is, but not both of us at the same time.

That changed a bit in the last few years with the advent of the "selfie." But when I take one, I reach so far forward with my phone to capture the people and the background that I end up grimacing or grinning like an idiot. In selfies the girls have taken of our family, it's common for someone in the photo to make a goofy face.

The last time we had a professional family portrait taken was 15 or 20 years ago. That changed in July! Mariya and Katie had presented me with a gift certificate two months earlier:

Tired of all your pictures showing a family full of creeps? This certificate entitles you to one free fancy family photography session.

They gave me the certificate for Mother's Day and then scheduled the session with a professional photographer for Sunday, July 12. I was excited!

We had a choice of several outdoor locations, but eventually settled on Anneberg Park at the west edge of Manhattan. Katie, our family's fashion expert, wanted the clothes we wore to be color-coordinated, so she chose salmon, navy and gray.

But as the day grew closer, the temperature began to climb and Art started complaining. A Wisconsin native, he's not at all fond of hot Kansas summers. And what he likes even less is trying to look decent as his clothes become saturated with sweat. The day was starting to look like it could be one of those really muggy summer days.

Katie, ever the planner, texted the three of us along with boyfriend Matt and Mariya's girlfriend Miriam at 10:30 in the morning on July 8. It triggered an exchange of messages throughout the day.

Katie: Just wanted to touch base about the photo shoot. Do we all know what we're going to wear? Can you please send me (in an individual text message) what you plan to wear, including the color? That way we know we don't have all salmon colored shirts or whatever. P.S. I know I'm helping mom with her outfit, so she's exempt from this text.

Matt: Yeah, you'll have to help me out too. :)

Art: I am coming naked.

Mariya: I'm gonna wear Daisy Dukes and a Confederate flag bro tank.

Matt: Mariya, you can't do that! I'm pretty sure we're not supposed to match.

Me: We're the worst, aren't we, Kate Forgive us! :-)

Katie: I hate you all. Except mom.

Mariya: I plan to wear a salmon button-up shirt, green pants, a blue jacket, a gray vest and a tie. So I call dibs on salmon shirts. (I'm lookin' at you, Matt.) Tryin to steal that sweet bro tank style.

Katie: It is going to be warm that day so dress accordingly.

Art: That is why I will be naked.

I laughed out loud when I read his text. Our exchanges reminded me of the final episode of the first season of the TV show "Modern Family." Claire, the perfectionist, wanted everyone to be dressed in white outfits for the "perfect" family portrait. But her quest for the ideal photo became too much for her father, Jay, and so he started a mud fight. The portrait turned out quite differently from Claire's vision, but she loved it so much she hung it in the living room. So, I sent the following to everyone:

Me: Chortle ... so we are kind of like "Modern Family." Dad is Jay :-)

At noon, the day before the shoot, Katie had more directions: "Good morning/afternoon everybody! Tomorrow we'll be meeting at the dock in Anneberg Park at 7:30! Please be prepared, prompt and pretty! :-)"

And, believe it or not, when the time rolled around, we were all there and we all looked good, in spite of the 96-degree temperature. We had also invited Mom, my sister Gaila and her daughter Larisa to join us for a few shots. They arrived prepared, prompt and pretty, too. Alexis Pultz, the photographer, took a few pictures with all of us near the pond, and then Gaila and Larisa whisked Mom back to her air-conditioned home.

The rest of us stayed for an hour and a half, posing with the green Flint Hills in the background, on an iron bridge and by a stand of trees. By the time we were finished, we were dripping wet from the heat and humidity. But we had survived. And we were all pleased with how it had gone - and there was no mud throwing.

That evening, Alexis posted the following message to her Facebook page:

Well today marks possibly my hottest/sweatiest shoot yet. And by that, I mean me - I was hot and sweaty. The Vaughan family, on the other hand, somehow managed to look great the entire time.

"We look pretty dang good, considering we were all covered in a sheen of sweat," Mariya said.

Katie said we all matched pretty well and she liked that we had so many family members present.

And me? I was extremely happy, too. The family shoot hadn't involved me having to cajole anyone into posing, and I actually appeared in a bunch of the photos!

Upper-left: Certificate from Mariya and Katie;upper-right: l-r: Matt, Katie, Art, Gloria, Mariya and Miriam on the bridge; lower-left: Just for fun!; lower-middle: l-r: Katie, Mariya, Gloria, Gaila and Larisa behind Edla; lower-right: l-r: Art, Katie, Mariya and Gloria

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