Family Portraits: To Theme or Not to Theme

One of the biggest perks of being a parental figure is the ability to make your spawn dress up in specific ways in order to document the growth of your family unit. I am talking, of course, about the time honored tradition of family photos.

For those of you not in the know, family photos became a thing once photography really took off. Before that, it was only the rich people who could afford an artist to come and paint them (and what a horrendously boring time that was! All the interesting poses were too hard to maintain. That’s why old portraits are so dour looking). 

The fun part about family portraits is the ability to make it seem that you and your offspring (however many there are) are succeeding at life. After all, the family portrait is how the success or failure of your family unit is judged. They are the cornerstone of all small talk with other humans. They are proof that you are one of them and that you have bred. These are the images with which you decorate your home, your office, your wallet, your desk, and, if you can get the photo made in to a vinyl decal, your vehicle. Therefore, it is absolutely vital that these yearly images are of the highest quality and themed appropriately.

Yes, themes are definitely the way to go. It guarantees your photo will look classy and that your offspring are obviously yours because of the matching pastel jumpers you are all wearing. Decide on a theme as early as possible. I have a running list of themes for years to come. This way, I can prepare realistic props and costumes well in advance (this is a budgetary lifesaver!). Whatever you decide, go all out. Simply matching shirts is not going to cut it. The other humans will sense your insincerity for this ritual and shun you for it. Don’t half ass your family portrait because it will show and your perceived success/fail score will suffer for it.

Here are a few common themes that will get your family started on the path to family portrait success.

·         The Old West: for when history and the economy are important to you and your spawn. Little Jimmy can be a sheriff, little Alice can be a saloon girl, you can be the old crotchety prospector . . .  you get my drift. Bonus points for locating a mining town and having the portraits taken there. Be careful of which locals manage to make it in the shot, though. They may be ghosts.

·         Music Moguls: for when you want to show off what riches you (don’t) have. For this one, do your research and watch as much MTV as possible. Wear absolutely impractical outfits with lots of fur, feathers, gold, and shiny things. Have stacks of money ready to “rain” down on you and your offspring for the best effect. If you can somehow show autotune in your portrait, bonus points.

·         Country Club Sell Outs: this is a classic configuration that is meant to convey old, established wealth and stature. Everyone should have white sweaters draped over their pastel polo shirts and skorts. Decoratively arrange tennis rackets and tennis balls around the family. Action shots are encouraged, but notoriously difficult to pull off.

·         Outdoors Fun: for proof that your family can survive anything. The preferred look is camouflage and face paint. If you can identify the family members from the surroundings, they aren’t really that good at it, are they?

There are millions of other ideas, so don’t feel limited by this list. Remember. A picture is worth a thousand words so make your family portrait use all of them.

Say Cheese!


***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*