This weekend, we're getting our annual family photos done. I've gotten one done every year since Alex was born. It makes a great pictorial timeline of his changes and makes a handy gift for relatives.
We used to get them done at Sears. Easy access, reasonably good pictures. Until Alex turned four and refused to go into the strange place and stay still. He'd given us trouble before. I thought I was prepared since I'd booked two sitting sessions. But he threw such a massive tantrum that we had no choice but to abort.
From there I realized we weren't going to be able to use a commercial studio again. Which left hiring a private photographer or giving up on the tradition. Like most people, I assumed I wouldn't be able to afford a private photographer, since my only experience in hiring one was at my wedding.
This is where Ryan Parent came into the picture. He was taking photos at an event my mother was organizing. She mentioned my situation and he offered his card. We talked and I found his prices reasonable but was still concerned about how he would deal with Alex's complete lack of cooperation.
When Ryan arrived, we did a few quick family photos and then something amazing happened. He let Alex wander around the house and snapped photo after photo. He caught Alex laughing (which is very difficult to do when he's distracted by a camera). Alex was curious about the camera and Ryan got a bunch of shots with Alex looking directly at the lens. We got some beautiful pictures and the start of a new tradition was born.
Every year, we have Ryan come and take a family picture and capture some great candid shots of the boys. He gives us digital copies of the photos, letting us print up as many as we want. And it doesn't cost us much more than the studio and print fees from Sears.