There’s a lot of hype associated with getting that perfect graduation picture. You know, that intense feeling that you need a perfect memory of you with your first born child wearing his college regalia right after the ceremony. Throw in some traditions like, “your grandfather had his picture taken from this very spot” or “all graduates take their pictures by the this campus feature” and you have the perfect storm.
It was the morning after my son’s graduation. All smiles, we approached the quintessential grad photo location on Florida State’s palm studded campus: Westcott Fountain. Dozens of happy parents and students were waiting for their “moment” to take a picture with their grad in front of the historic fountain. Both my husband and I had our pictures taken here some 30 years before. Of course we would wait forty five minutes in the heat for our perfect picture moment. This was “what you did!”
There was plenty of joking and playing around while we waited. It was a glorious day; that North Florida heat was beating down on the bald and the young.
I nervously tinkered with my aged camera, checking out my lenses in the sun, working my filters.
Finally, we were up. I told the folks behind us, ” We may be a minute. There are quite a few of us.” The group behind us looked at their watches, “No problem. We’ll give you a couple of minutes.”
Yikes! A couple of minutes to get four grandparents, five kids, an uncle and a best friend into a picture, all looking the right direction, all in focus, all smiling. This is going to be fun.
First, we got the graduate. That was easy, a few lens changes and the lighting was fine. Then more joined. Finally, we got the whole bunch and had the best friend take the family group shot. Whew! What a relief!
We can use these for our Christmas picture…what a great looking family…so proud of our graduate…isn’t she a neat mom with her camera set up… you go girl…now we can get out of the heat…isn’t that lady together! These thoughts and more went through my mind.
By now, we had been moved off to the side for the next group’s time in the sun.
“Momma Naz,” I heard Chase say. “I think I got some good pictures.”
“Thank you for taking ’em!” was my reply.
“I didn’t happen to hear a shutter click though. You must have a really quiet camera,” he added.
“What?” my hyped-mamma, camera ears heard the words you never want to hear.
“There was no click? What do you mean you didn’t hear the shutter?” I ran over, grabbed the camera and scrolled to the most recent shot. There were no family pictures. No pictures with grandparents. No picture with my Uncle who had driven up from Port Richey. No Christmas card shot! My heart sunk. Chase had taken the cell pictures first and, after the delay, the camera had automatically shut off!
Ugggg! What are we going to do now? I had to think fast.
The older family members were melting. Tempers were flaring.
“Well get ’em off the cell phone,” said the graduate.
The grandparents and the favorite uncle left.
Tears were starting to come.
“NO!!” I suddenly felt like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation! We would get that damn picture.
I took a side angle of our group in front of the camera hoping no one would get too upset with us. I prepped Chase on how to turn on a camera.
Round two was shot, with mostly smiles but a few growls. I ran to the camera. Better to check just in case. The horror! Every frame was blurry!!
“Let’s get out of here!” was the agitated command from the rear. The graduate gave an evil eye.
“NO!” Clark Griswold snapped again. We will do this! I prepped Chase on how NOT to turn the camera to manual focus. “Keep it on AutoFocus,” I barked.
Round three. Half grunts, twisted lips and mangled brows, but we got it in focus. Strangely, I felt vindicated, like someone had done me some wrong and now we were even. Maybe it was my sun-baked brain telling me that taking pictures is my only important role in the world.
The truth is, no one did me wrong and I’m not a great photographer. I just got too hyped up about getting some stupid graduation photos. And, of course, Murphy’s Law kicked in to remind me that my priorities were all wrong.
Of course, there are more important things! We got the grad! Whether I captured a decent picture or not, he’s still a grad. He finished it and I am so proud of him!