Funny Family Photos
“I want to shoot you and your family.”
That’s basically the Facebook message that got this whole thing started. And when I first read it my initial thought was “Pack a lunch and get in line, Bucko. You’ll have to take a number.”
But let me back up for a second.
The person on the other end of that message was none other than photographer extraordinaire James Richard Fry, and he was messaging me to say he wanted to take photos of me and my family that would capture the essence of the blog. It seems James is a fan and he had this sort of artistic vision that was dying to get out.
“So you’re not actually going to murder my family?” I asked him.
“No. I’m going to take pictures.”
“What about the kids?”
“Yes, they’ll be in the pictures, too.”
“No, I’m still talking about the murder thing. What if you just murdered the kids?”
And with that, I think James realized what he was dealing with.
He arrived at my home on a Sunday morning at 9 a.m. sharp. In arranging the time he asked if that would be too early and I explained to him what it’s like to have two small children. It was a cold Sunday morning with nothing going on — a day perfect for sleeping in. So of course I’d be up by 9 a.m. Hell, he probably could have showed up at 5:30 since my kids get up earlier than farmers on the weekend.
Before I go too much farther, I think it’s important to tell you a little bit about James. He’s flat-out the most talented photographer I’ve ever met. Him messaging me and asking to take my picture would be like Leonardo calling you up and offering to paint your living room.
And I’m talking about the Ninja Turtle. There were no phones when da Vinci was alive.
If you want to see more of James’ work, check him out here. He’s out of Philly now so if you’re in that area hit him up.
I was excited when he asked me as I had actually given some thought to getting photos taken. After all, when you are the quasi celebrity creator of a marginally funny comedy blog, you have to project a successful image. I sent my finest suits to the dry cleaner in preparation for the shoot.
“OK, for the first photo,” James said, “I’m just going to dump some spaghetti on your head.”
“Come again?” I replied. I know my finest suits aren’t exactly Gucci but they were 2-for-$99 at JCPenney. I can’t just go and dump spaghetti all over them. I have a certain image to uphold.
“I wouldn’t worry about people taking you too seriously,” my wife chimes in. “Your claim to fame was writing a post about a guy taking a shit in a Kohl’s dressing room.”
Oh, right. I think you could actually hear my ego deflating. It also could have been my dog. He got into a bunch of broccoli the night before.
It takes James a few minutes to get set up since he brought 22 bags of equipment with him. In a matter of minutes I had this gigantic underground photo studio in my basement, which already makes me twice as successful as everyone I graduated high school with who just have gigantic underground meth labs in theirs.
Once set up, James asks my kids if they want to take some test pictures so he can get the lighting right. And so my children started hamming it up. My daughter took over and acted like the second coming of Tyra Banks. She demanded to see each picture afterwards and scolded James for failing to perfectly capture her good side.
“You call this a photo!” my three year old diva screamed, “I could take pictures better than this when I was two-and-a-half!”
Thankfully another great thing about James is that he’s also one of the nicer humans on Earth. Certainly the nicest of people who make a living shooting other people. He was incredibly patient and played along with my children’s antics and was comforting when my son did a somersault and kicked Emma in the gut. He told her he had it on camera as evidence and could turn it into the police to get my son arrested.
She thought that was hilarious. Jace, however, took a different angle.
“Those pigs will never take me alive!”
We all stared at each other a little scared. Again, I think James was realizing that all the antics I write about in my blog really are non-fiction.
“Do you have any cool or funny shirts you could wear in the photos?” James asks me. I think about it for half a micro second before blurting out, “I have a ‘World’s Sexiest Dad’ shirt I’ve been dying for a chance to wear!”
Please make note of that last sentence, as I believe it to be the only time it has been uttered in the history of the modern English language.
“Did Amanda get that for you?” he asks me, figuring my wife would be the logical person to buy me a “World’s Sexiest Dad” shirt.
“No, his cousin got it for him,” Amanda blurts out, almost suffocating from laughter.
“Oh,” James says. “That’s awfully….um…nice of her.”
“Him,” I reply stoically. “His name is Todd.”
I put on the shirt and we start the photo shoot. Within seconds my kids are climbing all over me, kicking me, kicking each other, and screaming at the top of their lungs. Excited, James praises the kids for such great acting.
“Who says they’re acting?” I shout out while taking an elbow to the jaw. “This is just how they act. Hell, they don’t even know you’re taking pictures.”
The next set of photos involves Jace dumping a bucket of Legos over my head. He’s never been more excited in his life. At one point he actually shouted out, “This is the best day of my life!”
Wow, talk about setting the bar high.
Moving on, we decide to take some pics of me dangling the kids upside down by one leg. Being a professional, James thinks immediately of the safety concerns.
“What if you drop them on their heads?”
“Oh man,” I say, “That would be a hilarious picture.”
From across the room I can feel the daggers coming from Amanda’s eyes. James even shot a picture of her at that moment.
Here’s a pic James took of Amanda when I was holding the kids upside down.
“I mean, ‘Oh no, that would be terrible. I’ll be extra careful.’”
Great save, Jason. Great save.
A few photos of that and we’re starting to wrap up. James wants to get a few upstairs in the dining room depicting a normal day at the Wolverton breakfast table. We head upstairs and he sees the table covered in syrup — chocolate and maple — along with ketchup, whip cream, crumbled up crackers, cereal, and a big piece of bologna.
“Wow, you guys set this up already?” he asks, clearly impressed.
“Actually, we just left it this way after breakfast was done. We figured you could use it.”
He laughs, thinking we’re joking. But we’re not joking.
I go to sit down and immediately Emma is right there. The entire morning I think James was impressed at how quickly my children could appear out of thin air and be right there in my face. They’re basically like little ghost bullies. Like if Casper and Dennis the Menace had a baby.
We start taking pictures and James keeps complimenting me on how good I am at portraying emotions such as disgust, anger, frustration, and exhaustion. You’re a real natural, how did you get so good at it, he asked.
“Practice.” I say. “Lots and lots of practice.”
James gets up and dips his finger into the chocolate syrup and starts decorating my face. My kids are laughing and my son comments that it looks like I have streaks of poop all over my cheeks. I think back to when my kids were in diapers and that pretty much was a reality every time I tried to change them.
“There, that’s a wrap!” James yells out after snapping the last picture. “You guys did great!”
At this point, Emma starts dipping pieces of cereal into the puddle of chocolate syrup on the table and eating them. Jace joins in and starts licking up the whip cream.
“Oh, the table tastes better than usual!” Jace proclaims.
“Than usual?” James questions, looking at me and Amanda.
My wife and I simply exchange glances and shrug our shoulders. We wrap up, shake hands, and wish each other well.
“James, thank you so much for coming over and shooting us,” I say. “Because the kids were being a real pain in the ass all morning and I’m pretty sure that if you hadn’t come over to shoot us, we would have shot ourselves a long time ago.”
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Originally published at www.bigfunnyblog.com on January 13, 2015.