I don't know what it is, but I adore school picture day. Maybe it's because I'm a photographer by hobby and love pictures that capture these important milestones of my child's life. Or maybe it's because they remind me of my own picture days growing up, picking out my outfit, making sure my hair was just right, and writing "BFF" on the back of all the little wallets, trying not to smear the ink (damn you left hand) before trading them with my classmates. Or maybe it's because as photography has evolved to capture the more real, un-staged moments of everyday life, these cheesy, overtly staged photos in front of that generic, swirly gray backdrop seem to stand the test of time.
I love our daycare for many reasons, one of them being that school pictures are taken much before most kids get them. And while most kids only have a window of about three years of adorable school pictures before the infamous years of no teeth, awkward smiles and braces, I already have a rich collection of these cheesy photos that make my heart melt. And out of the thousands of pictures captured of my children, some of their school photos stand out as my absolute favorites.
This year, we got a note home from Mila's teacher saying Mila was not feeling pictures today. I asked Cruz on the way home from school how they went and he told me Mila cried the whole time. He went on to tell me how hard he tried to make her smile, making funny faces, pretending he was her favorite animal, and even reading her a book to make her happy. I laughed at the picture in my head of my nonchalant little boy doing his very best to make his spirited little sister happy in his parents' absence. Sometimes, it takes all three of us working very hard to make her happy! I thanked him for his help and wondered what Mila's picture would look like this year...
I think that story from Cruz made me love the pictures this year even more, as I could see every piece of what he told me in stories of these photos. I love the way he's reading to her, his sweet, protective brother smile, his arm around her, and the way she's leaning in to his words. I love his confident smile, the happiness in his dark brown eyes, and his perfectly straight baby teeth. And I love Mila's face, her questioning eyes, wispy hair, her dark little arms, and that scab on her nose. My babies, just who they are, unique little souls emerging boldly in front of that swirly gray background.
I love them so much.