by STEPHANIE JULIAN
When I was pregnant I ‘won’ a free baby photo session. We’d gone along to a pregnancy and baby expo, where – just quietly – if you think the idea of being pregnant in a big hot room surrounded by a million other pregnant women or new mums and screaming babies with no air flow, no decent place to sit down and prams being driven into the back of your heels for a couple of hours sounds awesome, you’ll be in heaven. Little did I know that every person who filled in a form ‘won’ a free baby portrait.
We took our delicious little bundle along to the photographer’s studio when she was about four weeks old, so we were still well entrenched in the ‘what the hell are we doing’ phase. I’d dressed her up in a crazy combination of what I thought, in my sleep deprived mind, was kind of ‘street adorable.’ There was pink, there was velour, but there were some emo striped tights and comedy shoes to top it off. I also took along a ridiculous hat I’d bought online from China that looked a bit like I’d scalped a tie-dyed Swedish monkey and embroidered a flower on it.
“Isn’t she just ADORABLE?!” burbled the photographer as my daughter scrunched her face into a sunburnt tomato tribute and let forth with her exorcist, head-spinny best wail.
“SO cute!” she said, less convincingly.
I then, I’m ashamed to admit, put my new little baby through the torture of flashing lights, purple satin dropsheets and, shame of all shames, a gold satin nappy cover while the photographer did a go-go gadget arm with a rattly toy in one hand and a massive camera in the other. I know that photoshop can work wonders but I had no faith that these pictures were going to be anything anyone would willingingly look at.
“Shall we do some family shots then?” the snap-happy girl said in her best ‘I’m so upbeat’ voice.
“No.” I said in my best ‘I’ll be ready to be in front of the camera in another couple of years thanks, when the government heeds my calls for publicly funded botox and lipo.’
“Right, just Dad then is it? Sure! No problem. Do you just want to take your shirt off please Dad?”
At this point my husband (otherwise known as The Viking) looked at her like she’d asked him to slip into some buttless chaps and twirl a couple of plastic revolvers. He then gave me that look that says that he loves me, a lot, but not THAT much. He’s not much of one for getting his gear off in public, and he’s not a huge fan of photos. He only realised that you were meant to smile for photos when I would tickle him before every photo to limber him up a bit.
After our amazing and free photo session we were locked in a small room adorned with photos of actual smiling babies on every wall. Some of the little cherubs were riding on the backs of their shirtless fathers or being held in their muscular, hairless arms, sharing a serene moment of mutual affection. I had plunged Bubba Sass into the general direction of my boobs to quiet her by this stage as we waited for our own angelic images to appear.
The smiley photographer was replaced by the saleswoman who flashed us through a slideshow of our pictures. The best photos had red eyes, tears and clenched fists, the worst had, well they had the ripped purple satin sheet and in one that was meant to have the Vikings hands around Bubba’s feet also had the smiley photographers rogue finger positioning the shot, it looked like the Viking had sprouted an extra, smaller finger and put gold nail polish on it.
The worst thing was that I bought two of those hideous photos. I now have, hidden in the bottom of a wardrobe, a massive picture of my child looking petrified and like she’s lying on a pillow in a brothel and another of her looking like she’s trying to strangle a teddy bear. As we left I said to the Viking, our Mums will still like the photos, we can give them to them for Christmas. Two weeks later we picked the prints up and said, yeah – nobody needs that on their wall.
I’m pleased to say, I’ve since taken many photos of Bubba, mainly on my iPhone where she looks extremely happy and not at all like the little girl from Poltergeist. And they were all free. I’ve even managed to do a few self-portrait shots of her and I which, thanks to the free filters you get on apps nowadays, are pretty good too. Still working on catching the Viking shirtless, hairless and giving the baby a piggyback ride though.
This post was originally published on Stephanie’s blog here.
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