In photos the light is not quite perfect. Very golden and soft it lacks a crispness we look for in professional photographs.
It was late afternoon in October, on a gorgeous autumn day. The yard was clearly turning brown.
There isn’t a mum, cornstalk, or clever autumn craft in sight. I’ve always been a close-photographer.
I crop in close to capture features and feelings. I’m not much for scenery. Posing on bridges and in gazebos has never been my thing.
Still, I wanted it to look less Tobacco Road and more Country Living for the photos here. We had offered to go to a nearby park, but Girlwonder insisted she wanted her last Homecoming photos at her home. She wanted home.
I, the resident photographer, wanted nothing less than perfect.
The night before the dance I bought 47 pumpkins at auction. Yes, 47. I only paid 10 cents each so my whole investment was under $5.
Since I am not even remotely crafty I came home and tossed pumpkins around with wild abandon. We pressed Boywonder into service unloading and stacking pumpkins too. He did a very nice job if I do say so myself.
Thus adorned we did a quick sweep of the yard for errant soccer balls, swept off the steps, and called it good.
Girlwonder and the girl next door (who is equally stunning if I do say so myself) made arrangements to come to our home for photos. Girlwonder had a dress so sparkly that the stones cast sunlit patterns onto everything around her.
We always knew she had an inner sparkle — now she had an outer one, too. She stood on tiptoes, even in heels, to give her date a peck on the cheek, and waved away a near fainting spell when the poor guy got stuck with a lapel pin.
He is probably the only person I personally know who can look model perfect even when being stabbed.
Still, despite the delightful memories being made, as always happens we started out stiff.
Girl Next Door, beautiful and usually lively, and her blue-eyed boyfriend stood stiff as poles, blinking into the camera like they were posing for impossibly attractive mug shots. I teased. I cajoled.
I told bad mom jokes and even worse dad jokes. I pressed Girlwonder and the The Cutest Boyfriend Ever (Patent Pending) into service as my professional models. They smiled. They turned. They pivoted on cue.
I had them posed just so. There were the elegant white porch columns, clusters of autumnal foliage, and the aforementioned artfully arranged pumpkins.
What I didn’t seem to have was any magic in the photos. I had four very well dressed teens standing stiffly. The eye went more to the porch and pumpkins than to the teens. Things were just a little too perfect.
So I did what any photographer would do. I threw a pumpkin at them. Then another.
The startled looks and laughter as the boys (thank goodness they’re athletes) caught the pumpkins were priceless.
Moral of the story? I got them laughing and got the shots. Four teens looking impossibly young and stunning, out glowing even the most glorious autumn day. I have a long lens and a heavy finger.
I keep clicking long after the moment seems to have passed. You tend to capture the best moments that way. Beyond the stiff poses, arms around each other, smiling for the camera, I caught giggles, and young girls tenderly adjusting lapels and ties.
Glimpses they’ve learned from their mothers. I caught a young man looking at his girlfriend like she was his sun, moon, and stars. I caught shy smiles, big grins, and a firm strong hand holding a smaller, more delicate one as they walked across the driveway to the car — and out of my frame.
Every parent says it but wasn’t it just yesterday I wrote of finding a lollipop on the sink as she breezed off to an eighth-grade dance? Now she’s almost grown and definitely in love, and I see her simultaneously almost grown and two years old all at once.
Memory is tricky that way. The days are long, but the years are short. Some moments, however, seem to live forever.
As I uploaded the photos and relived the moments, I realized that not a single one of my favorite shots was perfect but that every moment — and the memories — were.
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