The Nightmare Before Christmas Card

Adrienne Brown is a lucky woman. As of 2012, she has not been responsible for creating the annual family Christmas card. That duty has fallen to me, her eldest and prettiest daughter. Every October I am charged with shooting photos to be uploaded to Snapfish and put into a holiday card preset so my mom can send out the completed cards two days before Thanksgiving, allowing our life colleagues to receive the masterpiece on Black Friday. This post is a tour of what goes into making the Christmas card, a nightmare my mom does not have to endure.IMG_1744.jpgI am beginning with my dog, Finnegan, because he is perfect and has never taken a bad photo in his life. Look at his face! How could anyone not love this face! I love Finnegan more than I love the grand majority of my family members. He is perfect and, at this moment, curled up on my rug sleeping because he loves me the most. IMG_1639.jpgMy brother, Kevin, is a different story. After his shoot, he was given a talking to by my parents because of his “dead eyes.”IMG_1643.jpgYou’ll remember Kevin as the person who knows no joy. These are my best attempts at trying to make him look alive. That this goal failed is by no means from a lack of trying on my part. IMG_1656.jpgKevin just hates Christmas. He let me know this the entire time I was shooting. He also let me know this every day of the holiday season. IMG_1645.jpgThis is the photo we put on the Christmas card. He looks slightly more alive here because I took it immediately after I let him abuse me for trying to get a nice picture, so he was lit up by his own witty insults. Photography tip: take a photo in the moments before and after your model poses if your model is particularly difficult or unnatural. You will catch the person more relaxed and therefore your shot will be better. I learned that from a Hallmark movie, but Mario Testino is another fantastic reference. IMG_1663.jpgNatalie comes locked and loaded with her own poses. She won’t let you catch her in the moments before or after her modeling; if a camera is on her, then her arm is popped. IMG_1659.jpgThis shot is a variation. Notice her over the shoulder stare-down with the camera. Notice the deep back of her dress that was once my dress. I have fantastic taste. IMG_1678.jpgHere is yet another soft smile, arm popped pose. She learned this pose from my mother, who learned it from me, who learned it from Mindy Kaling’s first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), who learned it from Kim Kardashian. IMG_1665.jpgThis photo made the Christmas card because Natalie is actually, real life smiling here. Soft smiles do not exactly sell “Merry Christmas!”IMG_1715.jpgHere, I begin with the photo that made the Christmas card. This was shot with the self-timer and came second to last, after a significant portion of my shoot was spent messing around with different poses. My go-to is similar to Natalie’s via Kim Kardashian, but I refuse to look as though I am copying my younger sister. I may be lame, but I will not be lame because I am trying to look like a fourteen-year-old. IMG_1697.jpgSelf-timers come with challenges. For instance, there is no one to properly frame the shot. After cropping and editing, I made this shot my Facebook profile picture, because once it had been fixed I thought I looked cute. IMG_1705.jpgEmma Thompson and her holding her shoes at the 2014 Golden Globes inspired this shot. Her, and I realized no one could see my shoes. They are gold glitter and I love them only a little less than I love Finnegan. IMG_1712.jpgHere I am returning to my ballerina roots. I am on tip-toe, I am feeling confident in my arm/hand placement, and I am blinking because I will never have the exact amount of grace required to be a ballerina.

In short: Kevin is a nightmare, Natalie has one pose and it is honestly so boring to see in every. single. picture., and I am an overflowing fountain of talent to be able to produce this card given the models with whom I must work. Finn is the exception. He’s perfect, and I have gotten in trouble for defending his honor too aggressively at the Christmas dinner table.

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