Category Archives: Generations

It’s just what I always wanted…

A very useful Crystal Bootie...

A very useful Crystal Bootie…

All of my family are together this Christmas for the first time in a long time. We’ve decided to add to the fun and reduce the gift buying frenzy for the adults by trying something called ‘bad santa”. It’s called “bad santa” because no-one gets a particular gift bought for them like Kris Kindle – so technically you could end up with a ‘bad gift’. But really that’s not quite accurate – all the adults are going to buy one gift – any gift – male/female; useful/useless – whatever you fancy, for about €25 minimum. And once the first gift is opened, any other person can claim that gift rather than pick from the pile –  so you could get the gift you’ve bought if you’re lucky (and if you draw the long straw and get to choose last).  If you’ve bought something wonderfully thoughtful  – all the better. I mean, haven’t we all at some time wished we could have gotten the present which was just opened by someone else? Or aren’t ‘bad’ gifts really quite good gifts – just going to the wrong person?

It got me thinking about the gifts I’ve given and received over the years. I am sure we’ve all had that feeling of seeing our lovely, thoughtfully selected gift opened and greeted with a less than enthusiastic reaction. And there have been times I’ve opened a gift and truly remarked “Oh, you shouldn’t have…” and really, they shouldn’t have thought I would, in a million years, use whatever the gift was.

I just have to share my worst ever gift with you and hopefully I can find a home for it after 17 years languishing in a cupboard. For the birth of my second daughter,  I got this Waterford Crystal paper weight/ornament in the shape of a baby’s bootie. Even now, after the demise of Waterford has given the item collector’s status and as my daughter nears her 18th next summer, I still can’t see its’ merit and neither can she. But I know that somewhere out there, someone would just love to have this Waterford Crystal paper-weight-baby’s-bootie and so I am on a quest to find someone who will love it dearly and give it a good home.

Gift giving is hugely important to all of us, let’s not pretend it doesn’t matter  – and in the next seven days we’ll all invest a lot of time, care, consideration and moolah in “the perfect gift”. And in some sense, every gift is the perfect gift – we just have be giving it to the right person!

So Happy Christmas – enjoy your family & friends and don’t fret too much about the gifts – it’s having great laughs and making precious memories that really matter for all ages.

{Oh, and if you want to claim my Crystal Bootie- just post a comment to this thread and state your case – the best one will get to give it a new home.}

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Filed under Christmas, Generations, Humour, Life, Shopping

Why do you…..?

Why do we do the things we do? Photography portrait businesses like ours are relatively uncommon in Ireland – or anywhere – these days. You don’t see a studio on that many high streets anymore – certainly there isn’t one in every town or even every city.

Coming to a portrait studio is not something that you’ll do every week or even every year – and some people never commission a professional portrait at all.

Knowing this, we sometimes reach out to the public and encourage them to participate in one of our events – like our current Grandparents Celebration – to give people the opportunity to avail of a particular portrait experience with no financial commitment. In some ways, it’s like any kind of sampling – just like trying out the taste of a new food in a supermarket before you decide that you like it and you may – or may not – go on to buy it and become a loyal customer.

So, to answer the question of why we offer our time, talent, facilities and a gift portrait during our Grandparents Celebration in particular – it’s because we know that portraits between the generations are some of the most fun and most rewarding sessions we ever do. And the portrait becomes so important to the families and the grandchildren – it’s quite remarkable. But generations portraits are not easy to organise for the families so it requires a committed group of people to arrange the session.Working with large families & groups requires quite a big studio and a good eye for arranging a pleasing composition – which are two things we have in spades.

Of course, we hope that having produced a beautiful portrait that the family will go on to become or remain loyal clients – and many do. Some don’t. Such is the natural ebb and flow of business.

Personally, I never met either of my grandmothers. One predeceased my arrival on the planet and I have one distant snapshot of me as a 6 week old bundle on the knees of my paternal grandparents in Longford. By the time I turned two in New York, they were both gone. Now I envy my own daughters’ relationship with my mother, their only surviving grandparent. This year’s gift to her {and to me}  will be a portrait with her 7 granddaughters, something she doesn’t have.  Oh, the cobblers children will soon have shoes…

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Filed under Generations, Life, Photography

Doesn’t everybody take pictures nowadays?

The easy answer to that question is yes. The actual answer is yes – people do take pictures and this story is a classic example of how ‘taking’ pictures is not enough sometimes.

We have a company called the Old Photo Hospital and we literally provide intensive care for all kinds of photographs. Mostly you’d think our work involves really old photographs or really damaged prints and usually it does. But this week, we have worked on a ‘salvage’ operation that need never have happened from an event that took place very recently.

Imagine a couples’ 50th Anniversary party. It’s a very special event. We won’t all get to celebrate such a day, because, such is life. The lady in the relationship came in to me to help her create something she really, really wanted but no-one organised for her – a photograph with all of their grandchildren at their party. You’d imagine that would be easy to do. Even if a professional portrait couldn’t be arranged surely, with all these cameras everyone has, someone would take that picture for her? But nobody did. She arrived in to me with an assemblage of files, prints and discs from which we have gleaned an image of almost every child and created a montage around a photograph of the couple and even that image was cropped from another shot – not even one picture of the couple together on their own was taken. Most of the photographs were taken on cameras at such low quality settings that the images won’t print well, . Some were taken on phones and these are truly underwhelming. I offered to photograph the couple and the children here – but it really mattered to this lady that the photographs had all been taken on this one day.

It would have been so easy to give this lady the only thing she really wanted for her anniversary, for probably quite a lot less than the price of all the other gifts she got but didn’t really need or want. Now money couldn’t buy the gift because the time has passed.

It’s one of those simple things – that popular belief that there will be loads of photographs of every aspect of every event in our lives. For one lady this week, that has not turned out to be the case.

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Filed under Anniversaries, Generations, Photography

Can I be in charge of the treats?

Last week I observed an interesting situation during a portrait session with an extended family. Grandparents, their children and partners and four busy grandchildren.

Right from the off, some of the children didn’t want to be in the photographs. This can be a bit stressful for the family, especially when so much time has been invested in arranging the session and several family members live overseas. The stakes seemed high.

Amid the rising noise levels and protests by three of the four children – a bag of treats appeared. “If I give you a treat will you be in one picture…who’s going to get the first treat?” I heard the familiar words. The noise and cries got louder. It wasn’t looking good for the portrait!

“Can I be in charge of the treats?” I asked. The unopened bag was passed to me. The fever pitched noise continued in earnest. “Ok, now I know who’s going to get the first treat…” and I gestured to the one child who was doing exactly as they were asked and was being ignored by everybody – everybody except me. “Alex gets the first treat and if anyone else wants a treat – mommies and daddies included – they have to be just as good as Alex…”

To be honest, it was almost embarrassing how quickly the noise abated and suddenly I had everyone’s attention. The children were all copying the beautifully behaved and polite Alex. The adults thought I’d put a spell on the kids! The situation went from bad to brilliant in just a few moments. Portraits were created, a family’s moment in time immortalized.

I passed the bag of treats back to one of the moms, making sure to give Alex one first. Then, the noisy chorus started up again and, in an instant, it was rewarded by treats. I guess old habits die hard….

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Filed under Generations, Life