Why We Should Be Banned from Family Portraits

family portrait 2008
When I saw this 6 year old photo, I realized my teeth were much whiter then & that had to change! Smile Brilliant saved the day! I was compensated for the review below, but all opinions are completely my own.

Some families get annual family portraits professionally taken.  We don’t.  In fact, the last time we did was six years ago.  The time before that Jimmy was a baby.  And now I remember why.

I saw a Groupon offer for the portrait place at our local mall.  I should have remembered how our trips to the mall usually end up.  But in a moment of insanity, I bought the deal.

We aren’t a dress-up-all-cute-and-coordinated type family.  For photos, I’m happy if the clothes are (mostly) unwrinkled, (mostly) unstained and (mostly) clean (yeah, mostly).  Since I knew our next family portrait may be NEVER ever again in another 6 years, I pushed my luck and requested everyone to dress in similar colors.  Jimmy wasn’t home when I screamed down the hall politely said “Wear something with purple or black.”  He didn’t get the memo.  Grey/Black.  Close enough.

After much grumbling and complaining from me the kids, we arrived at the mall.  And even almost on time for our appointment!

I knew we were in trouble when I realized the photographer who was assigned for our shoot had ZERO sense of humor.  She didn’t crack a single smile the entire time.  The Groupon fine print should have included a warning, “Cheapskate Bargain seeking families will be assigned to the grumpiest photographer available.”

We did manage to get one print-worthy photo, which is near the end of this post.  But I know you don’t really care about that.  You are here for the outtakes!

This is what happens when the only photos your kids ever have to pose for are sports related.  Are you ready for some football?? Photo 1: Fail.

Family football small

My kids just weren’t getting the “instructions” she was giving on how/where to stand.  In their defense, she seemed to be trying to make it as confusing as possible.  She finally got tired of trying to get Eric to put his back toward Jake (he kept just turning his head) and just went ahead and snapped this photo.  I guess Greg got tired of waiting too.  Photo 2: Fail.

Greg monkey lips small

The next photo looks simple, right? It wasn’t.  BUT you can’t tell that Jimmy and Jake were trying to inflict pain on their brothers so…  Photo 3: Success.

Boys 1 with caption

Things went down hill quickly.  Photo 4: Fail (but perfectly depicts personalities).

Boys Goofy small size

I think by this point the photographer just wanted to shoot her “required minimum” poses and get the hell away from us. Photo 5: Fail.

Standing on Eric small

I guess the photo above gave the photographer a “bright idea.”  Why on earth she thought my kids would go for her next pose is beyond me.  But she tried.  She told Jake to lay down.  He did.  Then she told Jimmy to lay down.  And he did, next to Jake.  Then it happened.  She said, “No, lay on TOP of him.”  It was the first time all day the boys were silent.  We all realized what pose she was going for.  This…

Awkward Family Photos

The reaction was this… (They are blurry because I was shaking so hard from laughter!)  Photo 6A: Major Fail (so major that it didn’t actually happen.)

family portrait 2014 laughing 2 family portrait 2014 laughing 3

She had had ENOUGH of us and mumbled something before walking out.  Session over.

We picked our favorite pose (it was a really tough choice.  Not.) and left.  I think they locked the doors behind us.  Photo 6B: Success!

Family Photo 1 small

The best photo was good, but not fantastic so I decided to use my mad Microsoft Paint skills to combine the best shot of each person from all of the other outtakes and make it perfect.  Photo 7: NAILED IT!

Family Photo PERFECT

At least now we know what we’d look like as Bobble Heads.

Photo shoot: $16                 Memories: Classless

They have probably modified the Groupon fine print to say “Not valid for anyone affiliated with Momopolize.” 



It was perfect timing to try a teeth whitening kit before getting the long-overdue family portrait!  I received the Smile Brilliant package very quickly.  The kit came with material – which reminded me of silly putty – for the teeth impressions.  The instructions were very simple to follow and only took a few minutes.  My only complaint is that I wanted to play with the “silly putty” longer before it hardened in the mouth piece (Kidding!  I can buy ACTUAL silly putty if I want to play).  Once I received my custom trays, I got busy whitening!   The first time I put the trays in, I thought I would have a hard time keeping them in for the recommended whitening time without gagging, but I got used to it very quickly. I should add an important bit of information here. I’ve had spots on my teeth since I was a child from a reaction to Ampicillin, I think.  Some kind of ‘cillin anyway.  After the first time I used the whitening gel, the white spots were MUCH whiter than the rest of my teeth (i.e. more noticeable than before I used the gel).  I was slightly worried BUT the instructions said the gel is safe for teeth that were discolored by a reaction to medication so I kept at it.  After the second application, the rest of my teeth started to catch up to the white spots and started looking whiter over all!  You can see for yourself in the photos below the big difference after all the daily applications.  Both photos were taken at the same time of the day at the exact same location.  It is much harder to get a good photo of your teeth (and much, much more embarrassing to post them for the world to see) than you’d think it would be.  In full disclosure: the white spots are less noticeable in the photo than in real life, since I couldn’t get a perfectly clear “selfie.”  You can’t see them at all in the second photo.  They are much less noticeable, but still there. That is what I expected though because they’ve always been there!

Jim was so impressed with my results, he is using a kit on his teeth also!

Now for the fun part:  A GIVEAWAY!  One lucky reader will win a kit just like the one I used.  To enter, subscribe to Momopolize via email (in the upper right corner of this page).  If you are already a subscriber, just add a comment below.

teeth before
teeth after
Contest winner will be chosen on 2/28/14.

24 thoughts on “Why We Should Be Banned from Family Portraits”

  1. I take family pictures all the time–people actually pay me to do it–my number one tip is DO THEM OUTDOORS! Especially whenever children are involved particularly boys. I hate the mall photo studios. Second, I always start off the session with having the kids make the most ridiculous face they can think of and always, always, always retain my sense of humor! LOL

    I always tell moms, no matter how ridiculous they seem now you’ll treasure them when they are grown. Imagine the fun you’ll have including these photos in your sons wedding slide show!

  2. I was there and still fell out of my chair laughing at the pictures! Thanks for bringing it all into focus. (like that pun?)

  3. I LOVE all the pictures (probably because I can’t get pics of my 3 kids together because the boys just aren’t having it anymore). So I settle for a lot of Savannah pictures with a few shots including one boy or the other. Maybe if I show them these they will change their minds.

  4. I am long overdue for a family picture. My son is nearly 3 and we have never done one! I am hoping to do a nice outdoor photo shoot as soon as the weather gets better up here in NY.

    P.S. Your family is lovely, thank you for sharing.

  5. Those pictures are hilarious! And, i mean that in a good way! 🙂 W haven’t had family portraits done in a while. My oldest daughter and my husband hate having their picture taken. My middle one always does that duper cheesy, toothy, fake smile. Not worth the frustration! These actually make me reconsider, though.

  6. The last time we had a family portrait taken, we only had 4 kids.
    I cannot believe your photographer wanted to do the stacking pose!!! It has got to be one of the most awkward, ridiculous poses known to man. Of course the boys were laughing!
    Outside, relaxed, fun photos are the best. I always encouraged people to do them when I had my photo business. And the outtakes are the stories you will remember and discuss for years to come. Frame those, too. 🙂

  7. I love the humor! I’m laughing while looking at the photos with the ones that didn’t happen and the “bobble heads” I had fun reading. It made my day!

  8. Angela I have to disagree, I think these photos are great!!!! Years from now you are going to love seeing how your boys really were! Wow do you have one gorgeous family, and how old were you when you started your family, 5? Gorgeous!!!

  9. Our family sucks at family portraits. The boys make faces. I couldn’t even send a Christmas card this year. Pathetic. I give you credit though. I never would have even tried to go in for a session. LOL

  10. Those picture are hilarious! I can totally relate. I can’t even get the teenager to SIT IN the picture, let alone smile. I usually just make a collage of each of our faces from some point through the year. I’ve used a 5 yr old picture at LEAST two different times that I can recall!

  11. OMG I need so much more than the teeth whitening kit but I love your photos and captions!! Hilarious. Awesome. Hey I’m going to see you again soon yes???

    1. I should have made an appointment at a place that does major photoshopping…but…ya’ know. It is what it is. 😀 Yes! We need to get together again soon! I will see you at the show, if not before. I still need to buy my ticket. So excited that you are in it! I just saw that Dana made it on the Baltimore show! Wondering if we can get a group to make a road trip for that one too.

  12. Awesome! I tried to get all my MIL’s grandkids together for a photo shoot one Thanksgiving weekend. Major fail. I have 2 kids. My sister in law has FIVE. She wasn’t able to get them all cleaned up before the mall closed.

  13. Awesome!! We are that family too, and I avoid the mall (especially with my children) at all costs! Personally, I’d rather have the pictures where the character of the people come out. That to me is worth capturing 🙂

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