Monday, December 15, 2008

Modern Challenges of Family Pictures

Back in "the day" I'm sure it was much easier to take a family picture. Sure it was a challenge because you had to stand really still, and you needed to change the lightbulb in every shot, but figuring out what to wear had to be easier.

You only had one or two nice outfits, the women probably sewed them from the same bolts of fabric. Clothes were all from the same color families...black, white, browns. And even if you weren't trying to match colors, the sepia and black and white tones would make every one's clothing in the same shades of gray or brown.


My parents have coordinated a photo session with my wife and daughter, as well as my sister and her husband. We've wanted to take an updated family picture, but haven't all been at the same place at the same time for awhile, and now have the perfect opportunity.


Except, coordinating with a variety of closets to find coordinating outfits is almost as impossible as getting all of us together at the same time and place. My mother, thinking her idea was simple, thought we'd try to match, maybe wearing similar sweaters in similar tones with the same color pants.

Somehow, this has been more difficult then expected. My mom would ask around...do you have a blue sweater, a brown sweater, a gray sweater...only to find that no one had matching articles.

It's interesting to really think about how diverse our wardrobes have become. I look in my closet and realize that nothing I own is really that unique, but the various styles and colors really demonstrate the diversity of options out there, especially in terms of clothing.

Even when we tried to figure out black pants, blue pants, khakis, browns, and jeans, the diversity of our wardrobes became even more apparent. We're used to the stylized portraits and coordinations we see in advertising and media, but the fact of the matter is there are so many options that while one person has tradition dockers, another has suit pants, while another wears designer denim, one pleated patterned skirts, and the other wears cargo pants...okay, our styles are not so completely diverse, but coordinating has been surprisingly tricky.

I feel like after saying all that I should wrap it all up with some big point, some lesson about our expanding frontier of options, or our convergence and differences that occur over age or generations...but really, I have no such wise point. Instead I look forward to the family picture we will take later this week, knowing that years down the road we will all look at the pictures and make fun of our clothes no matter what we wear and comment on how young we looked and how we wear our hair so differently now, and so forth.

You can hardly look at a family portrait down the road with out some sort of mockery when you look at it. The only exception of course is the saving grace of children who are always cute no matter how big their bangs are, how poofy or outdated their clothes are, or how clearly the background of the photo describes the decade.

So with that I leave you with a picture from a 1970s JCPenny's catalogue of an advertisement with a family dressed for Christmas in matching sweaters. Yes, as all the details have been worked out we too will be wearing matching sweaters...no reindeer's or argyle, just solid colors...guys in one color, girls in another. We still don't know what pants we're wearing, but it'll all work out I'm sure. No matter what we wear we will make fun of it ten, twenty, and hopefully fifty years from now.

Above pictures from VintageCDArt and PlaidStallions.

3 comments:

Anthony said...

I want to see your new family portrait.

Michael Parsons said...

Grand Mothers in old family pictures always look so angry

Lorna said...

I never thought about that particular difficulty. I guess candid shots are in my future.

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