“Your beauty is in the way your hair moves, and the smile you give to everyone. Even when you really don’t care for them and I know it’s not a real smile, you still do it. And I love the fact that your eyes sparkle when you’re being a shit. I see beauty in your brown coat that you’ve had for so long and you love and you’re comfortable with and it’s beautiful.” —Beth, Oct. 7, 2017
Last Christmas, my friend Beth came over to do our first family photos — indoors, which you see here.
The session was quick and painless, taken around our house around the holidays, kind of on the fly. I know Beth from a church we both attended back when our children were babies, and I trust her.
Except for our son James, 15, we’re not very photogenic. We’re aren’t family photo session people, either. Both James and Ed would rather get a root canal than have their pictures taken. But after the hell we’ve gone through the past three years, I feel we deserved this; we needed to celebrate our casual, oddball family unit in a way that we can concretely look back on, with fondness, and maybe share with a handful of others who care about us.
I’m about 20 pounds overweight from where I’d like to be. I could lose 50 more pounds, to tell you the truth. But I figured if I don’t do the pictures now, I never will — to hell with waiting until I’ve got my act together, the story of my life.
Around the tail-end of summer, I decided to engage another photographer friend for an outdoor session. She’s a fellow soccer mom with a thriving business, M.E. Life Photography.
I tried to drop the 10-20 pounds I gained from our Labor Day Weekend trip to Montana, in time for the outdoor family photo session with Meghan. In vain, of course.
Because I’d broken my eyeglasses the night before, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to remember to thoroughly prepare for our photo session later the next day.
The session in front of our house two weeks ago was fun, actually. Meghan allowed us to goof around, at one point asking us to yell our favorite curse word (“Fuck!”). My best friend Gen even came out of her house in the same cul de sac to join me for an impromptu shot or two.
Meghan texted me one of the shots — the proofs will be ready in two weeks after she settles in her new house — and said they turned out awesome.
I only saw the flaws: my sagging boobs, the left one lower than the right, why did I wear that tight blue pullover sweater? why didn’t I wear a support bra? I forgot to take off my Depend adult diaper! I look like a fat freak with a flaccid penis…
She insisted I looked great, as did the rest of my family. We looked natural, real. My son’s red Calvin Klein underwear was showing, but his smile lit up the neighborhood. My husband’s entire face crinkled in one huge grin, completely for the first time in his life taken by surprise. I leaned into my son, caught mid-laugh, like the three of us were sharing an inside joke.
We weren’t even looking into the camera.
Meghan did a damned good job of capturing us, as is. She photographed the Weber clan with love, as a friend would, just as Beth did last December.
For the first time in my life, I began to believe someone else’s narrative. I began to believe her when she said that we looked happy, and that’s what matters.
I began to see myself through her eyes, Beth’s too. And let me tell you, it wasn’t an ugly sight.
I’ll show you when we get the proofs.