A holiday picture worth a thousand smiles

By Melanie Yingst

With social media and the ever increasing emphasis of an online presence — and flawless Christmas cards — decent pictures are hard to come by.

Especially if you hate having your photo taken.

And I, as you can see above, am not a photogenic person.

You don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “Oh! You’ve look nothing like your photo in the paper!”

Thanks Grandma Norma Jean. I know that picture isn’t the greatest, but I am keenly aware that I don’t photograph well. It’s why journalist cling to our own “mug shots” for decades because talented photographers in the newsroom managed to capture one decent pic. That and we aren’t mentally stable enough to go through that process again any time soon.

While my son is cute, witty and has a great smile, he too, isn’t a photogenic kid. I can say that because I’ve had to shell out hundreds of dollars on school pictures that I’ve absolutely hated because his desire to watch me go berserk at the sight of his odd, forced grin.

And yes, even my beloved dog Shorty, while amazing in real life, doesn’t photograph like a Purina Dog Chow model either. He’s got this wonky eye thing that only appears in photographs.

Last weekend, I took Shorty to have his holiday photos done by the talent pet photographer Donna who also does the Miami County Animal Shelter photos. She donates part of the session fee to the shelter and I get amazing pictures of my dog. Win-win.

How she manages to keep a squirrely pet’s attention, I’d love to know. Shorty’s Christmas pictures are my dad’s favorite Christmas gift, miles ahead of his annual installment of Antique Tractor calendar and DVD.

Evan and I also had family pictures done this weekend. Most families have pictures done each year. Not us. We are on a tri-annual schedule. We try every three years.

I booked a session with Marrissa who took our last set of pictures for Evan and me — gulp, three years ago. This fall, she advertised that she was holding a holiday themed session in an abandoned warehouse off of Linden Avenue on the east side of Dayton. Remember when holiday photos were held in an Olan Mills studio? Well, fast forward to today’s photo studios, which can be found in the most obscure, dilapidated, yet in the various stages of restoration, place to have professional photos taken. Say hello to the warehouse studio.

Talk about terrifying location, but oh so hip and rustic. I’m a sucker for old industrial doors, wood floors and rusty pipes. You can’t recreate that vibe.

It was a relatively quick session despite Evan’s best efforts to make the process unnecessarily painful. I finally bribed him with dinner at his choice of restaurant that whipped him into model-mode real quick.

All in all, we had a great time. It was short. It was sweet. It was indoors.

I hope Evan looks back on these photos fondly, but I’m sure he’ll begin the story of the time his mother dragged him into an old abandoned warehouse for family pictures.

I received an email with a photo gallery the following day. I don’t know if this is a disorder, but I have a hard time looking at myself in photos. But I’ve forced myself to take pictures because I won’t be 24 forever and Evan won’t be in junior high forever (God and Principal Mack willing).

Needless to say, I was thrilled. While you could tell the first few pictures were us just trying to act natural, the rest looked, well, natural.

Sure we don’t have a fireplace or a vintage sofa in our living room, but we didn’t look overly posed or in varied states of stress.

They were perfect.

It definitely was the best gift I gave myself this year.

Now if I can find the time to actually mail out the Christmas cards this year or my family will just have to wait another three years to finally get them.


By Melanie Yingst

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. Photoshop is cheaper than Botox.

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. Photoshop is cheaper than Botox.