The Bergerons might be sending out the most awkward Christmas cards, but the Stanleys know how to play the game as well. This family from Charlotte, North Carolina have been using the same format to capture the essence of raising boys, and this year a baby sister has joined in the fun.
“The very first time we tried to take a “traditional” Christmas card photo we had hilariously bad results,” Jonathan Stanley told Bored Panda. “We were new parents with a one-year-old and everything went wrong – baby cried the whole time, it was windy, the lighting kept changing, you name it. If 2 of us looked okay, the third one blinked. We laughed so hard at how bad the photos were that we decided just to send them out as is and our family loved it. From there the tradition was born – instead of trying to send perfect cards, we would send something that represented the chaos of parenting.”
“At first, I think my wife kind of rolled her eyes and said okay we’ll try it,” he said. “I had no idea if a staged scene would make sense or be funny, but we went for it and it just kind of worked. The kids love it, though when they see the final product I have to constantly remind them that it’s fake and to not try it in real life. I worry sometimes I am putting ideas into their heads!” On the surface, Jonathan tries to make the scene aesthetically pleasing “as if it’s a Pottery Barn ad or something.” The magic happens, however, once you look a little closer and realize this family’s life is completely out of control. “I also take care to make sure its a realistic as possible – most of the scene is shot practically and I try to minimize the photoshop required to yield the best results. Today most people have a strong eye for recognizing when something is fake, so the goal is to make it just real enough that they question how we pulled it off.”
“The hardest part is getting the kids to look in the right place and hold the right pose – especially when they were younger,” Jonathan added. “We use a lot of tricks like putting bells on a pole and then holding it where their eyeline needs to be, etc. Also ensuring they don’t bump the tripod while we are shooting – easier said than done when you have two boys running around for an hour. We shoot each kid individually and then stitch it all together…but if the tripod gets bumped it ruins the effect and we have to start over.”
“Our friends and family would be so disappointed if we went back to a normal card at this point. It’s also a great creative outlet and once the kids are a little older it will open up some crazy possibilities that aren’t feasible with a four-year-old and a baby.” “I think deep down everyone hates trying to get a photograph for a Christmas card,” he concluded. “It’s near impossible if you have young children – so people appreciate a card that emphasizes the challenges of parenting vs. hiding them. Plus a lot of people seem to appreciate that the cards are a fun thing we do together as a family. After all, the family that plays together stays together!