when things don’t go as planned

I had these grand ideas for our Christmas card pictures. I was going to dress the girls in cute outfits. I was going to take them to this neat little path tucked away in a corner of our subdivision. I was going to lay down a fuzzy blanket and get a bunch of adorable pictures of the two of them.

I was going to have to spend HOURS pouring over the amazing images just to choose two or three.

It was going to be PERFECT.


That was fun.

My vision flew out the window, and I realized that we were not actually going to get anything “posed.” So I just let them do whatever they wanted to do, and I ended up with three really cute shots for our cards. Which is kind of how it should have been since I actually never do posed photography, and I don’t know why I thought it would work now.

I won’t share the main image until after the cards have been sent out, but I was pleasantly surprised with the final result.

By the way? Those shoes are two sizes too small on Emma, but the only shoes that currently fit are pink and sparkly. Just keeping it real.

Anyway, this whole trip ended with both girls crying at the playground and me laughing at myself for thinking it would turn out any differently.

Remind me next year to start working on holiday pictures around mid-September.

43 Comment

  1. Oh, can’t wait to see! I should probably send you my address, then. :)


  2. Jen says:

    You totally should use the crying picture of Lucy on the card. Because COME ON. It’s real! And it’s adorable. ha

    We used our fancy, professional shots for our cards this year. They turned out amazing but what you can’t see is that we were all SWEATY AND GRUNTING AND MUDDY trying to chase Audrey around. OY. It was stressful. LOL The photographer did a ridiculously good job getting good shots.

  3. Adam says:

    Your girls are adorable (those feet . . . holy guacamole, those feet). And there’s nothing I love more than those moments during a photo shoot pose when someone finally breaks down and screams, “SMILE NOW OR ELSE!”

    1. keli says:

      Ahem. I would NEVER say that.


  4. Nadja says:

    Every year my mother in law takes pictures of all the grandkids for her Christmas cards and every year at least one baby is screaming. She uses them anyway and they’re always my favorite.

    Love the screamy picture of the babe.

    1. keli says:

      Crying baby pictures are kind of hilarious!!

  5. That sounds just like my visions of every holiday shoot. And all end with sweating and crying and possibly some cursing. I’m not sure I’ll ever learn. My husband has vowed to never, ever be around for one again.

    The un-posed shots always turn so cute anyways. Can’t wait to see the finals!

    1. keli says:

      I don’t even try to talk Ken into getting into any of our pictures recently. Ever. He knows that we will more than likely end the photoshoot divorced. :p

  6. Nate says:

    Great post, I can totally relate,

    I always have amazing ideas for cards and I think it’s worked once. What, with being more busy than any time of the year and then it always seems to be the worst timing for the kids to try and capture anything festive. The past 2 years I have gone with the collage of “best of” photos of the year. Seems to have worked well, even though it takes more time than it needs to cause I’m somewhat of a perfectionist with the ones I choose and the layout of the card. Anyways, hope your holidays are grand!

    1. keli says:

      I’m jealous for that one time you got it to work!!! I really like the cards that have pictures from the whole year, so WHY do I do this to myself!?!?!? I understand the perfectionism, though – it would take me longer to choose pictures than take new ones.

      Happy Holidays to you and your family, Nate!

  7. Sarah says:

    I love these photos! On another note, I also love that cozy sweater that Lucy is wearing! Life doesn’t always turn out like planned but your pictures are proof that it’s beautiful all the same.

    1. keli says:

      Thanks, Sarah! Oh man, I have to post a blog post of pictures of Emma wearing that sweater. I actually used it for her Christmas pictures 3 years ago. THREE YEARS AGO, OHMYGOODNESS!!!

  8. If it makes you feel ANY better at all, I haven’t even attempted to get the perfect picture yet!
    UGH! all 3 of my lenses are not working properly (one won’t focus, one has the Image Stabilization broken and one I dropped and it’s not focusing so well either)….
    AND, now SAvannah went back to public school so I feel like I never have the time or it’s too cold out.
    I was hoping some photo opportunity would just drop into my lap.
    looks like I may be making a collage of some random shots from the last few months.
    I love all of the ones above!


    1. keli says:

      I think I should have done the random shot thing, but that’s okay … I like how these turned out, and they are very recent. Plus, it seems like all of my random pictures lately are inside because every time we go outside, Lucy books it into the road, so I don’t take many pictures, lol. I hope you can get all of your lenses fixed!

  9. Lisa says:

    I just took pics today. Not even for cards. For a frame thing. Wth do I even try? Lol!

    1. keli says:

      Ha!! Luckily, my mom asked for an album of the everyday pictures to show her co-workers and church people. Phew.

  10. erika says:

    Same thing happened two weeks ago. I freaked out because I knew I didn’t have a recent posed photo. Came up with some wacky idea which sounded awesome in my head. And set out to make it work. My kids don’t know how to do Posed photography! I don’t know how to do posed photography! In the end, it sort of worked. But next year I’m getting it out of the way early. Like in March…

    1. keli says:

      “Yes, I know my kids look a year older than this picture, but this is what you’re getting. SO THERE.” ;)

  11. Susan says:

    hahaHA! laughing at you. with you. just wait til you have THREE!!! :-} makes me remember one trip to Picture People (back in the dark ages when I didn’t have a big girl camera) … I finally told the photographer to just take the picture with two of the three of them crying – that I would buy it because it was funny. or at least I thought I would think it was funny 10 years down the road. I was right … ;-)

    1. keli says:

      Next year, I really will start in June! I’ll give everyone a 6-month old picture of the third baby ;)

      I would have totally used the crying picture of Lucy if I had a comparable picture of Emma to use on the card, as well – but she didn’t stick around long enough for me to get a picture of just her. And you know how it is with having to give them equal facetime, haha!

  12. K says:

    Um, I am still having a hard time getting over Lucy’s hammy thigh in the first photos. LOVE THEM.

    And I know it didn’t go as planned and that’s always a bummer, but your images are fantastic and am confident will turn out even better than anticipated.

    1. keli says:

      And how does it make you feel to know that she’s blowing kisses in the second picture of the first image? Um, yeah.

  13. Jaimie says:

    Mine didn’t really work out either.. I got some cute shots, but I don’t think I’ve EVER gotten a posed shot of both of my kids together.. I don’t prefer the posed stuff anyway, but grandma would like it!!!

  14. It’s amazing how similar my Christmas card attempt was!!! These turned out really cute…I’m sure the card is GREAT!!!!!!!!! :)

  15. I do it too, start to pose the girls together. It’s never worked for me, but I always love the “escape” photos where my oldest is trying to hold on to her sister for dear life as the baby lunges for freedom… I love the one of Lucy crying! And the kissy one is adorable!

  16. I totally cracked up at the line “just keeping it real” lol. I think what you got was perfect <3

  17. Melissa says:

    But you know, I absolutely LOVE those photos. They’re awesome. And it’s because they’re not posed or perfect. It’s lovely just seeing the girls through your eyes.

    I received three Christmas cards this week, all with posed kids and studio backgrounds, and they’re just… ok. I mean, I see these neighborhood kids all the time, and they NEVER look like that when they’re playing outside with my kids, and although the photos are nice it’s just… not really “them.”

    We tried on three separate occasions to get a family photo–my brother, his girlfriend, and my dad all taking turns on various weekends in October/November–and NOT ONE was decent enough to use, lol. Someone was half-out of the picture, someone was making a weird face, the whole thing was blurry, etc. Then I took about five shots of the kids at a park and somehow got a good one. Next year maybe we’ll get a pro for the family photos. :)

  18. Nadine says:

    That crying picture of Lucy is adorable! Too cute for words. You should totally use that for the card :) Love how the other ones turned out too, I like the one where Emma is holding Lucy by her hands, so sweet!

  19. Erin says:

    I totally had this girl fly up here and stay with me for a weekend. I picked her up at the airport under the guise of wanting to spend a weekend with my BFF, but I totally just wanted her to take our Christmas card photos. I’m pleased to say it worked. You should try it some time!

  20. Jess says:

    been there, done that! I can’t wait to see :)

  21. mary says:

    i may have done some ‘smile or else’ screaming once or twice. i love these shots, keli. any one of them would be perfect for your card. even the crying one. :)

  22. stacey says:

    Adore them.

    Real. Perfect.

    That is all. :-)

  23. stacey says:

    P.S. Our family photo shoot for Christmas cards (in which I used the TIMER, smart) ended with all of us (well, all of us except my hubby) in tears and me proclaiming, “Can’t you guys just do this for me?? It’s important to ME!”, all while balling like a baby. Classic.

  24. kristin says:

    super cute shots! can’t wait to see the final image! i really do love the idea of having expectations for a photo shoot! love how i should know better by now too, eh?!! so silly now, isn’t it!

  25. Andrea says:

    Is it wrong of me to say that my favorite photo is of Lucy crying? ;) It’s just cute. And it’s real life. Real life is the best moments to capture!

  26. Christine says:

    I love the one of Emma holding Lucy’s hands– so precious!

    Something happened to me upon giving birth to our 3rd; I somehow lost the energy I once had to be less than 100% real. We do those photo cards with 12 slots– one for each month. This year our card includes photos of my husband recovering from a deviated septum repair and my daughter with chicken pox. 20 years from now I’m going to look back at that card and remember EXACTLY what kind of year 2011 was!

  27. Natalia says:

    They are soooo lovely!
    I never thought making holiday pics selfprinted with my kid on them, I always just send store-bought. What a neat idea…

  28. Elaine says:

    I’m sorry but the bawling face one just totally makes my day! I know what you mean about the set up. We all have those ideas in our head as moms, don’t we? I’m sure the one(s) you are using are fabulous, just like these. :)

  29. becca says:

    I need you to email me your address for a card . . . And maybe I can get one of yours too? :-)

  30. Sarah says:

    Bahahahaha. I wonder how many blogs today will have this theme. I took some photos of Attia last night. Put her in a cute outfit. She kicked off the glittery gold shoes IMMEDIATELY. Then started ripping ornaments off the tree. She’s eleven months old, I mean, what did I expect….hahah. Love the pictures of your girls. And your photography. Merry merry to you and yours! <3

  31. Rebecca says:

    I am quite the amateur and I just spent a good hour reading through your questions, tutorials, etc. thanks for teaching a lady a thing or 2!

  32. lissa says:

    funny how that works. ;) i’m sure it will be perfect!

  33. TinaPow says:

    I love, love, love crying baby photos. I don’t know why, maybe it is because it shows what real life with little ones are like, but I love them and take a ton of them.

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