It’s Christmas!

Each Christmas begins with Christmas preparation.  This sometimes starts on the weekend of Thanksgiving, depending on the lighting and weather, since our first step toward getting ready for Christmas is to take a Christmas photo.

In years past, long before digital cameras were available, this could require many rolls of film and the assistance of a volunteer.  One year, it was a new-found horse friend who wasn’t well-advised of the job duties in advance.  Another year, it was someone walking through the park with a nice camera.  On one year, the weather had been very nice, so that the arched entrance to the park was still thick and green from the wysteria vine, and it formed a wreath-like appearance for two Newfs on a couple of grooming tables.  Opportunity is where you find it, as is adventure.  All you need to do sometimes is look up.

When multiple subjects are involved, getting a smile without eyes closed while all subjects look at the camera and are in the field of the camera is usually a challenging task, unless you have support from someone with special talent.  We learned some tricks, like throwing something up in the air in front of the arrangement of subjects, when we used film with a delay on the shutter.  This worked pretty well.  There are a number of well-recorded memories from this activity, and I am very happy to have those.

When we first began the practice of setting up Christmas letters, it took some practice, and more practice.  I think we had 12 rolls of film invested in the first letter!  We got better, and the Newfs matured, until each next young thing came along.

Banker was a fun subject.  Well, he was fun in every aspect of life.  A friend who helped for his first Christmas photo shoot had fun being the photographer.  Santa hats were good tug-of-war objects, and while he enjoyed climbing onto the hay bales for that one, he didn’t want to simply sit there and look pretty.  For another Christmas, we decided on a Santa’s Helper theme, and the Newfs were supposed to wear big red ribbons around their necks with bells.  Banker was always up for something that may be fun, but he didn’t like having to wear that ribbon.  As soon as we had the Newfs ready for a picture, and sat down with them, he would very quietly, very quickly pull it off.  One of those photos shows his detest at having to wear that ribbon – another treasured memory.

We had learned from the dog show and horse show photographers how to toss something up and let it fall to get their attention, which still required good timing to get their heads in the right position (not up, down or sideways).  Of course, when a toy was thrown, a Newf in party mood wanted to go get the toy, and when it was Banker, Parker was right behind him.  Eventually we tried tossing objects that generated less excitement. First we tried sticks, but those were still exciting, then keys, which wasn’t such a good idea when we took one photo among the fall leaves.  As Parker matured, we began to do Newf-only photos.  The fewer the subjects, the easier it is to get a usable photo.  One year there were some lovely backgrounds in town, after having some nice late weather again.  It was easy enough to put one Newf in a down and one in a sit, or put both in a down, and get some good photos.

Somehow, the Newfs seem to know that there is a party in store when we start staging an area for taking Christmas photos, even when it is their first time to participate.  They know when the weekend is coming, they seem to know when some holidays are coming, and then there is Christmas!  “Presents” begin arriving in boxes (again, need to teach Newfs how to read labels), decorations go up, the kitchen smells good and the humans are collaborating with joyful sounds on upcoming plans and presents.  Perhaps, however, the photo session is the first cue.  This year, we decided to give Jade the sofa (her favorite spot – the whole sofa, not just a “spot”) for our 2015 arrangement, and get Banner to lie next to us on the floor or in a lap.  Of course, to Banner that seemed like an invitation to put your feet in the air and do some break-dancing, Newfie style!

After looking through many photos, this year’s choice was one with Jade on the sofa and Banner doing a somersault, head-down, into Greg’s lap.  She was right!  Who needs composure for a photo anyway?


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