A couple of years ago, we tried our first blended family photo session with Photography by Bethany. With intentions to plan family photos and blended pictures every year or at least every other year, life tossed some obstacles in the way, so it just never happened. This year we planned Senior pictures for our oldest daughter, so Molly, my daughter’s stepmom, thought it would be perfect timing to have both family and blended pictures. Of course, we can never have an event without a little bit of chaos.
The days leading up to the photo session, we always have to try and figure out what everyone will wear to make sure everyone is coordinated with one another, which if you have ever tried to tell two men they have to coordinate with another man is no easy feat. Every time we suggested an outfit idea to our older kids it was like unleashing a mob of angry banshees loose in our houses. I can’t wear peach. I hate dresses. Mom, why do we all have to look the same? This is so stupid! Why can’t we just wear what makes us comfortable?
“You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn’t depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.” -Trenton Lee Stewart
On picture day, as we pulled up to the studio for senior pictures, a thunderhead loomed on the horizon. The soft evening breeze ripped through the sky, limiting our time outside at first, so our first few shots were racing the storm.
As the rain tapped on the ceiling, my daughter posed inside, waiting until we could return outdoors. I followed with a large umbrella to protect the equipment. My husband watched from our vehicle, making silly faces at us from the window to make our daughter laugh.
Bethany, our photographer, took us back outdoors to a nearby park for our family photos. The little ones soon decided they were ready for dinner, and my two oldest soon followed. Smiles faded. I jumped up and down behind Bethany, stuck out my tongue, and crossed my eyes. I’m sure I looked ridiculous, but it worked! The frowns faded as giggles erupted.
An abnormally large German Shepard wandered up behind us, the fur on his neck bristled, scanning us nervously. The little ones lost all interest in looking at the camera, and would only focus in the direction of the dog.
Bethany attempted to shoo the dog away, however, he meandered over into almost every photo she attempted. We finally tossed a stick, and the dog trotted after. He came back a few times, creeping back behind us. Our determined photographer finally relented, deciding to photo-shop the dog out of our pictures.
The final poses were difficult, with grouchy kids, stray dogs, and humid weather.
“I don’t care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching–they are your family.” ―Jim Butcher, Proven Guilty
“Family isn’t blood. It’s the people who love you. The people who have your back.” -Cassandra Clare, City of Heavenly Fire
We chose our outfits in advance, the time, date, and photographer, but it is impossible to plan everything in life, especially in a blended family. Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts, and the people in your life while they are still here.
Trish Eklund is raising her two daughters of thirteen and sixteen with her husband, ex-husband, and his wife. Trish is the owner and creator of Family Fusion Community, and Abandoned, Forgotten, and Decayed, a photographic adventure in the abandoned and the forgotten. Trish is also regularly featured on Huffington Post Divorce, Her View From Home, The Mighty, and Making Midlife Matter. Trish also has an essay in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz. The first book telling the story of blended family life from the perspective of the stepkids. Trish’s photography has been featured on Only in Nebraska. Follow on Instagram, Facebook, Facebook-Family Fusion Community, and Pinterest.