“Lady, You’re Scarin’ Us.”

March 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm 17 comments

Brad and I quote Billy Madison probably more than your average couple, but the quote above is just so damn fitting in so many situations, especially the one we found ourselves in this weekend.

Oh yes, we did.

(Go get Sadie’s picture taken, that is.)

(We never take photos of our family leotard sessions.)

Yes, we finally caved and gave Sadie the full Sears Portrait Studio experience so that my parents would clam up about it already have the “professional” photos they’ve been asking for all these months. We had gotten a coupon for a free sitting fee and complimentary small print package (more on the ass-fucking of their prices and fees later), and going to the mall was on our rainy day agenda anyway, so…how difficult could it be, right? It’ll take, what, an hour, tops? Oh, and she doesn’t really have an outfit that’s picture-worthy (and still fits), so…we’ll just pick one up in the baby department before we head down to the studio.  And we’ll just throw a bottle in the diaper bag, because surely we’ll be done and back home before it’s time for her to eat dinner. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG WITH THIS MOST EXPERTLY LAID PLAN?

Actually, the first part of the plan worked remarkably well: we got to the mall, cruised right into the baby department and found a cute-but-not-too-cute dress and some matching tights. PERFECT. Buy it, let’s go.

Off to the portrait studio, where there was only one other family getting their pictures taken. AWESOME. I’ll just slap the dress on the baby, squeeze her into these tights, and…oh. Her shoes are too big. Like, WAY big. Well, I’ll just run back and buy a pair of those cute little white patent numbers I saw in the baby department. NO BIG DEAL. We are totally mastering the baby photo experience (just please, pleasepleaseplease don’t poop, kid).

Unless, of course, pooping is required in order to properly work it for the camera.

While we waited for the studio to free up, we were told to pick two extra backgrounds in addition to the plain, white, standard background that would begin the session. Here’s where I started to remember why I have a distaste for the photo studio experience in the first place, because I struggled to find two backgrounds that DID NOT include one or more of the following: intrusive flowers, fake landscapes, words like “PRECIOUS GIFT” in puffy fonts, fences, and very season-specific patterns completely inappropriate for the current time of year.

As well as a whole host of delightful airbrushed images.

I selected a yellow (“Buttercup”), and a retina-searing green (“Clover”), mostly because they were two of the only solid backgrounds available, even though I really just wanted them all taken in front of the white background. And you’d think they’d be able to do that for me, right? But OH HO HO HO NO, because the fine folks at Sears are CONVINCED that the colored backgrounds will somehow multiply your child’s adorableness by a factor of 5,000, therefore making your purchase of multiple (EXPENSIVE-ASS) prints an inevitability. Stupid Sears!

And your stupid man-boob-grabbing spokesman!

After the backgrounds were selected, we waited. And waited. And made fun of the sample portraits on the wall. And waited.

The classic “My Parents Abandoned Me on the Side of State Route 508” pose.

Finally, it was Sadie’s turn. And things started out great! She was smiling, she was happy, and her dress looked really cute against the white background. But with each change of background, she seemed to get progressively more freaked out. I chalk this up mostly to the photographer, who kept SHRIEKING at my baby in a voice somewhere between “harpy” and “banshee,” and who also kept leaning forward to give Sadie’s cheeks a quick squeeze with her terrifyingly long nails.

Which was meant to yield a smile (and sometimes actually did), but mostly just made me nervous that she’d spear my baby’s eyeball like a cocktail onion.

The yellow background was second, followed by the (horrific) green background. Sadie was really starting to come unhinged thanks to the fucking Foley artist of a photographer, and then? The photographer insisted we lay Sadie flat on her back while she scattered fake flowers around her head. In order to…take pictures that looked as if I dropped Sadie on the floor of a JoAnn Fabrics? I don’t know. All’s I know is it looked ridiculous, and my baby was perilously close to losing her shit. When it became clear that we weren’t going to get any more smiles out of Sadie (whose poor little eyes were rimmed with tears of horror thanks to the CONSTANT SCREAMING of Ansel fucking Adams), I figured that – being a reasonable adult – the photographer would stop.

Oh, no.

Oh, nooooo no no no no.

Because these photo places? INSIST on taking a minimum amount of shots. And not because they are nice like that, but because they want to make sure they give you ample opportunities to throw cash at them for prints, EVEN WHEN those prints are of your poor child’s traumatized, tear-stained face.

Don’t they know I already take plenty of those myself?!

So even when Sadie was giving me a look that convinced me we were going to have to skip ice cream at the food court and head straight for therapy, that damn lady just KEPT ON SNAPPING PHOTOS. I was about three seconds from telling her where she could shove her hideous green backdrop when she finally stopped, and we rescued Sadie from her artificial flowerbed of  SAD.

Roughly ten light years later, we were able to view the prints and place our order. This is where you really get fucked in the whole studio photo process, because NOT ONLY do the prices of the photos go up if you don’t order any right there on the spot, but the prints are EXPENSIVE, yo! And we didn’t even pay a sitting fee (or should I say, a “have-your-baby-traumatized fee”), which is another significant expense. Look, I don’t mean to give the impression that I think the photos or the service should be free, but…if you’re going to price gouge me, at least give me the option to choose a background that doesn’t look like a goddamn Trapper Keeper.

(I had the one with kittens. BAD ASS.)

Here is where I admit that – even though the whole photo studio thing is not really my scene – OF COURSE the photos of Sadie were adorable. I just wish the whole process was more up front. When we walked in the place, this is how the conversation should have gone:

Me: “Hi, I need to get some pictures taken of my baby.”

Sears: “Of course. We’ll be forcing you to choose from ugly backgrounds and strange poses because we known you’re a sucker for your kid and will throw any amount of cash at us in an attempt to preserve your baby in time forever.”

Me: “Naturally. And I fully expect to feel taken advantage of.”

Sears: “Perfect. Glad we had this talk.”

But it was totally worth it.


I mean, of course it was worth it.

Even the yellow background with the nasty, ancient wicker chair.

Even the ridiculous over-the-shoulder pose.

I still maintain that this is absurd. Also, poorly taken. DAMN YOU, SEARS!


Entry filed under: Gobble-gobble.

And The Oscar Goes To… PAY IT FORWARD: Erin Go Balls

17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Swistle  |  March 15, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    So funny, and so very evocative of the experience. After 11 years of this crap, I’ve started going straight into offense: “I like PLAIN backgrounds and NO PROPS,” I say, giving them the eye. Also, I switched to JCPenney, which has many of the exact same vile practices (“Doesn’t it look adorable when we put three of the shots together in charmingly tilted matte openings and write ‘Mommy’s Lil Angel’ under them in cheezy script? It’s only $120.00!!”), but the particular staff happens to be better than at our particular Sears, so I’ve found I have good success with my, “No, I really just like PLAIN PHOTOS” tude.

  • 2. MLE  |  March 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Yay! Baby photos! Just what I wanted!

    Boo for Sears!

    At least Sadie’s mug will adorn Grandpa’s desk now, yes?

  • 3. Holly Jane  |  March 15, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    What? You didn’t get the baby-in-the-suitcase pose? My cousin had pictures done of her baby dressed in a tweedy suit with a newsboy cap and sleeping in a battered suitcase. The resulting disposing-of-the-body photos were so fantastically bad, I think we need a family shoot with all of us in suitcases. Maybe that package is only for boys. Sorry, all you get are vaguely sexualized American Beauty shots. Which I think Leif could totally rock, btw. Maybe I’ll take him in and see if I can talk them into doing it.

  • 4. hillary  |  March 15, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Sadie is adorable. I’m a little sad that you didn’t pick the Easter backdrop and make her wear bunny ears.

  • 5. Marcy  |  March 15, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    My last couple of experiences at JC Penny sound exactly what your Sears experience was. I have switched to Target which has way better for us. I agree with Swistle, you have to say what you want and if you want any props at all. I have been lucky to find some awesome coupons too for Target (no sitting fee, traditional photos for $3.99 a sheet). Another tip is to know how many sizes of the pics you’ll need. It has gotten to the point in my family that I actually have a cheat sheet that tells me how many wallets, 5×7’s, etc. to order so I don’t end up spending a fortune. Who would’ve thought pictures would be so stressful?

    Sadie’s pics are lovely. Can’t wait to see the family portrait with the Easter Bunny with the woodsy path in the background while you are all dressed in white and barefoot.

  • 6. Meg  |  March 15, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    I’m so glad her adorableness makes up for the cheesy backgrounds!!!

  • 7. Mermanda  |  March 15, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    White shirts, jeans, laying down, all three of you. Go!

  • 8. Amy  |  March 15, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    The pictures you take look more professional than the Sears ones do.

    At least your didn’t have to take her to Glamour Shots?

  • 9. Amy  |  March 15, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    This validates my choice to wait until Haley was 3 before we had professional pictures taken! Of course, now that she is 4 and Trevor is 2, I am certain I will never have a picture of them together where they are both looking at he camera…at the same time.

    And sweet Sadie is on her feet. Woo hoo! Walking is soon to follow and don’t listen to all that “be careful what you wish for” bullshit. It’s awesome when they start walking.

  • 10. Sara  |  March 16, 2010 at 3:23 am

    The yellow background ones look like they may have been taken twenty years ago. But Sadie is so cute, so yes, that totally makes up for the poorly photographed Anne Geddes one.

    I went with my brother and sister when they took their kids to get a photo for my mother. The place we went to did an all white background, which is great. However, my younger niece, who takes great pictures and is super friendly, cried the whole time. The girl managed to get a picture of all four kids that’s adorable because they’re adorable, but we couldn’t figure out what my niece was crying. It could be because she had no desire to get out of the stroller my sister took her out of (fair, she did say “no” when asked if she wanted to come out), but it also could’ve been her way of telling us she’s not smiling on demand, bitches. She told us.

  • 11. kristin @ going country  |  March 16, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Hello, gorgeous! Little girls’ dress-up clothes are AWESOME. Boys . . . not so much. Except maybe the clip-on ties. I do love little boy clip-on ties.

  • 12. FoST  |  March 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I might just be tempted to have my child’s photo taken with the most ridiculous backdrop and props….just for fun when they’re older.

  • 13. Amy  |  March 25, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    You need to treat these experiences like getting head shots!

  • 14. Sean  |  March 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I’m mostly excited by the inclusion of the Bad Idea Jeans logo…

    That is a nugget of vocabulary I have yet to work out of my system…

    • 15. jiveturkey  |  March 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm

      Don’t you DARE work it out of your system.

  • 16. Kelly  |  March 30, 2010 at 9:41 am

    She is adorable. Straight up.

    And I cop to NEVER have taken either of my pant-tuggers to get professional photos done. One, because my mother always takes like 5-fucking-thousand pics every time we get together, and two, because my kids would never sit there calmly. They’d run back to me screaming in terror, so wtf is the point for me.

    I also hate the family portraits where everyone is wearing a white shirt and khakis. Those make me want to kill myself. Digression there.

  • 17. magdalena  |  April 6, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    The only thing sears is good for is hiring old men and occupying old, stained ceiling tiled, poorly lit spaces. I don’t care what the commercial says.

    But aside from that, your daughter is a mini you. The likeness is as clear as day – but not from the sears experience photos… noooooo. Rather in the one above those on the green carpet. You. In baby form.


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