Before and After

Long ago, my family lived in Wisconsin. One of my parents’ good friends was a professional photographer and in his studio, he had a photograph of a couple and their two young boys in formal attire out in a field with a full dining table. My parents thought this was spectacular and talked for years about recreating it.

Then, in 1998, my grandparents, who also lived in Wisconsin, announced that they were moving away and my parents decided that if they were going to do this picture, now was the time. And so, on our last visit to my grandparents’ Wisconsin home, we took this photograph:

Because of rain, we ended up taking this picture at around six a.m. The ground was incredibly muddy and it was freezing cold outside. A very large copy of this picture has hung in my parents’ dining room for the last twelve years.

Soon after this picture was taken, my dad mentioned how fun it would be to recreate the picture ten years down the road, with us all grown up. Possibly, there would even be some spouses and grandbabies.

2008 came and went.

But then this past fall, everyone was going to be together in Austin for Ella’s baby blessing. And it was determined that this would be the moment the photo was recreated.

The amount of effort that went in to making this happen was insane. Ralphie (who took the new rendition of the photograph) spent tons of time scoping out a spot. My grannie mailed the dishes that we’d used from her house for the 1998 photo to my apartment in Texas. Another friend lent us the chairs, tablecloth and goblets. We rented tuxedos, borrowed the table from the church, and ordered the flowers and the cake.

Once again, we took the photo early in the morning. We had a procession of two mini-vans and a car. This time it was blazing hot. When we opened the cake box, all the frosting had melted and Merrick had to use baby wipes to get the strawberries looking decent again.

The husbands kept the wee babies in the air-conditioned car, dashing out every time the cloud cover came over, then racing back to the car.

All the girls were wearing knee high soccer socks in a (successful) attempt to avoid chiggers and red ants.

But, in the end, this photograph now hangs in my parents’ dining room:

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  1. Just think. If you do this in another ten years there will be almost twice as many people in it.

    It is amazing to me how different every family picture is in the L family, and even in my family, although to a lesser extent.

  2. Oh I love it! I'm deriving such pleasure from clicking back and forth between the two versions. What a good looking family!

  3. My favorite line from this entire ordeal:

    "I think the lamb would have been the straw that broke the camel's back."

    Yes, yes, indeed.

  4. I wondered how much effort taking that picture took- how fun to read about it! Even the very same dishes- my goodness your family is good at precision! 🙂 How fun.

  5. Oh wow, I love this idea SO much. I seriously can't wait til my family is old enough that I can do something similar. Good job Ralphie….all the extra effort was worth it!

  6. Just like Kristy, I went back and forth between both photos several times, comparing. Both photos are amazing!!

  7. What a wonderful idea. I'll admit, I never quite "got" the formal picture with family thing because it wasn't something my family ever did. But now I see things like this and understand how wonderful a piece of a family's history it can be.

  8. That is really neat! Considering the cake had melted it looks amazing!!! I never would have known. I can't believe their are red ants… those things are the worst! Smart idea keeping one car nice and AC'd. I bet that helped a lot huh?!?

  9. Love it!!!! I too like switching back and forth to see the old and new picture and compare them. Great idea. I think I have a picture that we took about 8 years ago that we can copy in two years from now. Thanks for the idea.

  10. oh ym gosh I REMEMBER this pic in your parents house- it's amazing to see it updated!! what a beautiful and amazing family!! cant wait to see the next one in the next ten years:)

  11. That is a freaking whole lot of effort that I'm pretty sure you will all be sooo glad you went through if you're not already.

    It's gorgeous.

  12. I can't even tell you how happy this makes me! I have been dying to know whether or not the idea panned out, and oh my goodness it couldn't have panned out more perfectly! I love comparing the two – right down to the yellow flowers! I also love the pop of color the cake and punch give the photo. You guys all look fantastic. I'm so curious to know if you had any curious passer-by's as you took it, ha! Beautiful job to your family and Ralphie!

  13. Can we talk about the fact that your parents look exactly the same in both pictures- that is amazing! This is such a marvelous idea, I love it!

  14. That was such a fun project! And what a HUGE bonus to meet all of your family. I'd like to consider myself an honorary member. Since I was "in" the picture and all.

  15. I seriously love this picture. When your parents sent it with their christmas letter, I showed everyone who came over.

  16. This is incredible!

    Oh, and in case you are wondering- I found you through Design Mom's link.

    Love the table in the field. It reminds me a lot of old paintings 🙂

  17. I happened upon your blog from Design Mom and I saw the photo and thought, that picture looks familiar. And it is because I was in your parents ward a couple years ago. And I photographed Merrick's baby shower in Henderson and her family last summer.

    Small world!

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