Unbeknownst to me, I’ve already had my first paying photography gig

Do you see this rather ugly picture?


What is it?  I’ll tell you.

It’s a picture of a framed picture of Christmas trees.

See, way back in December, my father-in-law (we’ll call him Dad) said, “They do a really nice display of Christmas trees at the Eagles.  Would you mind taking a picture of them for me?”


About half an hour into taking all sorts of artsy shots of the lights and the trees and the ceiling, I finally thought to ask, “Uh…what exactly do you want this picture for?”

“I’m going to show the picture to the leaders of the Eagles so it can be enlarged, framed, and put on display here in the club.”

Huh?  No!  No, no, no!  That’s not fair!

Out of all the pictures in all the world, it has to be Christmas lights?  Seriously?  Christmas lights?

Taking pictures of Christmas lights is tricky, tricky, tricky.  And, more importantly, pictures of Christmas lights are ugly, ugly, ugly.  I’ll prove it to you. Google images of “Christmas lights on houses” and you’ll see what I mean.  Aren’t they the most boring pictures you’ve ever seen?  Yes they are.

My mood sunk.  Don’t get me wrong.  The display was beautiful in person.  Hours upon hours of work went into it, and you could tell.  There were about 40 trees, all decorated and with whimsical displays beneath them.  Truly lovely.

But so boring in a picture.  Somehow, I’d have to try to take a picture nice enough that the leaders at the Eagles wouldn’t snicker in disdain when Dad showed it to them.  The family honor was at stake.

I warned Dad, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” and did my best to lower his expectations.  In the end I managed to eke out a few unattractive pictures that, with luck and a lot of squinting, might turn out so-so.

Then I spent a very frustrating evening trying to edit out the graininess.  Elements proved it hates me yet again by permanently deleting part of the picture I was working on.  Why, oh, why would Elements do what it did unless it is sentient and resentful and a big fat meanie?

And then came the realization that even if the Eagles leaders liked the electronic copy of the picture, what if it looked bad enlarged?  What if it was grainy and distorted?  I’d better check before Dad presented it to them.

Fortunately, Darling Husband works at a college with a photography department and is friends with the photography geniuses who work there.  They edited it a little more for exposure, figured out how exactly how much it could be enlarged before it got distorted, and printed one out for me.  $10.  I should make those guys some banana bread as a thank you.

And I have to say, the picture looked a little bit cool printed out.

I gave it to Dad and he liked it.

He showed it to the Eagles guys and they liked it.

So dad had it framed.

And even I have to admit that it looks kinda of nice enlarged, printed and framed.  You can’t really tell from the picture I posted above, but in person, it was nice.

And get this: two days ago, we took Mom out for her Birthday Dinner.  (You know where.  Jin says hi.)

Before we left the house Dad said, “Here. The Eagles wanted to pay you a little something for the picture.” And he handed me real live money.  Real live money!  For my ugly Christmas tree picture!

It was just $25, but still-it was real and it was money.  I guess it wasn’t really alive.  And if I can get $25 for the ugliest picture I’ve ever taken, think of what I could get for something nice.

I’m not going to spend my $25.  I’m going to frame it.


Here are some artsy pictures that I was having fun with before Dad rained on my parade:




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