Family Photos: What’s Happening Here?


Flipping through our phones, my husband and I look at pictures. There are soccer games, piano recitals, and little boys bundled up in winter jackets building a snowman together. There are adoring parents (that would be us) smiling at the camera. ThoughtBubble

“Aww, how cute! The one of the kids at that holiday festival.”

“Look! I love this one of us at The Nutcracker.”

“Oh, yeah,” we cringe. “That was the time when…”

We have our arms around each other. All of us are smiling. I am beaming. I will not excuse my clichéd word choice here because I am simply beaming, people. My happiness is bursting through the pixels.

Yet I know that I had just barked at one of my boys after he had a meltdown and turned Hulk on the other one after he wandered away from us into a crowd of people (again). And yet there I am all smiles.

Especially during the holidays, when we’re snapping pictures more often, I’m reminded of this.

Sometimes, what we see in a photograph is the honest, beautiful truth. But other times, it is a lucky snapshot of a moment we wish were true.

That’s life – beauty and bullshit.


The reality of the family behind the picture isn’t always pretty. Then again, sometimes it’s beautiful.




My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.


11 thoughts on “Family Photos: What’s Happening Here?

  1. What a great–and thought-provoking–post.

    And, it has always been thus, no? Not long ago, I was looking at a decades-old family picture: two women (my mother and her sister) playing a capture-the-flag type game with their four children (two boys, two girls, ages around six to ten). Everyone is running and laughing and reaching for bright colored plastic rings dangling from belts. I remember the bright colors, though the photo is black and white. A perfect moment of inter-generational, innocent summer fun preserved on film. So that’s how things must have been.

    Not captured on film: The fact that those same cousins spent most of that summer beating the bejeezus out of me (and, less often, my sister, and occasionally even one another). The fact that after the game, my mother berated me and my sister for the grass stains on our shorts. The fact that my uncle (presumably the person behind the camera) routinely drank too much and said unforgivable things to his wife and sons in the presence of all us kids.

    And, you know what? I love that picture. It preserves a perfect moment in an imperfect world.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love, love this. Beautiful description and exactly what I’m talking about. Behind the scenes. What goes on behind the scenes?

      Oh, how many photos I’ve looked at as a parent and thought about what had happened just before or right after the photo. I’ve also stared at albums full of Polaroids from when I was a kid and thought, “That was a horrible vacation. Why am I smiling in all the pictures?” Just as I do now, as a parent, I look at those faded Polaroids and think, “Oh, crap. That was the time when…” But you’re right. A perfect moment in an imperfect world. Love that.


    • That picture is priceless. It is exactly what it looks like. That day, two little boys built a snowman together. They were cold and happy playing in the snow. Their parents were cold and happy taking the picture. That is the honest, beautiful truth.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha. 😀 Yes! True. Every picture tells a story. Like the one of that “happy” couple at their wedding (who got divorced 3 months later). On the flip side, candids catch seemingly awful moments that are also not the real story. “Pictures don’t lie”? Yes, they do.

      P.S. The boys built that snowman together. They were cold and happy. That picture is no lie. It’s a beautiful moment from a beautiful day.

      Liked by 1 person

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