Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My In-Laws' 50th Anniversary Party #NikonMOMents

Complaints, jokes and funny stories about in-laws are commonplace. And relationships between women and their mother-in-laws seem to be some of the most difficult relationships to navigate. Which makes me all the more blessed. I have known my in-laws since I was 17 years old. They are like a second set of parents to me. Italian parents. Which is awesome, because they have a way of life that's very different from the way I was raised. So I have been lucky enough to be exposed to two wonderful worlds. And I've eaten lots of delicious, homemade Italian food. (That can't hurt.)

So I, along with my husband and his two sisters (pictured with their parents above), were happy and excited to celebrate my in-laws' 50th anniversary recently. In true Italian style, we gathered together with aunts, uncles, cousins and friends to celebrate this beautiful, loving couple.

My kids, along with their cousin, said a prayer before dinner. You can't imagine how surprised I was to see my normally reserved son volunteering for this duty. That's until I found out the kids were bribed by their aunt ($5 each). For a prayer. There's something so wrong about that.

Here's my husband with one of his lovely sisters. All of Nonna and Papa's children married non-Italians - people with East Coast roots to be exact. I remember when we were younger some of Nonna's friends would ask her (in Italian so I had to get my husband to translate) why their kids didn't have Italian mates. But Nonna poo-poohed that idea. My in-laws are two of the most loving and accepting people I know. I recall that some of the strangest people in the neighbourhood would end up hanging out with Papa in his backyard next to his giant vegetable garden. Papa doesn't judge people at all. He is probably the gentlest man you could meet. And, yes, you can bring an extra person to dinner. Nonna always has more than enough food!

As a Nikon Mom, I confess I was a bit apprehensive about capturing good photos at this party. I much prefer the ease of taking outdoor photographs. And the hall where the party took place had particularly challenging lighting and colour tones.

Left: f/1.8, 1/60 sec., ISO 100     Right: f/1.8, 1/60 sec., ISO 400

My Nikon D3300 can capture great shots on an automatic setting, but I thought I'd be brave that evening and go with manual settings. That way I could really bump up the light without using a flash. (I don't generally like the look of a flash.) I took the above left photo of the vase of red tulips at the usual ISO of 100. Clearly it was too dark. For the photo on the right, I quickly changed the ISO to 400. That's it. One easy change, one big difference.

People clinked their plates to get Nonna and Papa to kiss. Nonna's not real big on public displays of affection (except the standard-Italian-greeting-double-cheeked kiss). So I had to snap a picture super fast and I didn't get the actual kiss.

f/1.8, 1/80 sec., ISO 400

Here is my son with his twin cousins. They are so happy when they're together.

And my son with the twins' sister - the only cousin who is the same age as him - perhaps that's why they are always bugging each other?

Nonna wore a beautiful new outfit and some of-the-moment nail art. Oh, and we drank wine and ate cannelloni.

Here are some party-goers, including my dad over there on the right. He used to raise a bottle of beer to the camera, but now that he rarely drinks he's into hand signs.

My folks. Aren't they cute? Mom's the biggest Italian cookie fan I have yet to encounter.

My eldest niece with her younger cousin.

Just to give you a better idea of how important it is to have a good camera in challenging lighting conditions, I want to show you one of my favourite group shots from the party, taken first on a cellphone cam and then on my Nikon D3300...

Here's the cellphone shot. Just a tad blurry.

Here's the Nikon shot. I think you'll agree this is a more fitting way to capture this grouping of Nonna and Papa with their eight beautiful grandchildren (and a whole bunch of Italian cookies)!

This celebration was truly a high point in the ordinarily rather glum month of January. It was a rare and wonderful opportunity to meet with extended family and share in food and festivities. Hopefully we'll do more partying come spring and summer!

Have you captured any great family occasions "on film" recently?

Disclosure: I am part of the Mom Central Canada Nikon MOMents team and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.


  1. How gorgeous!!! Congrats to the lovely couple and great photo taking on your part-- it makes me miss my Italian grandma!

    1. Thanks so much Taby! Aw, I miss my (non-Italian) grannies too. :( Grandmothers are the best!

  2. What a gorgeous family and photos too :) You can clearly see the love all around! Everyone looks so lovely and I'm very much reminded of my family gatherings growing up!

    1. Thank you!! That's so kind. Yes, lots of love. I am a lucky in-law. :)

  3. You are absolutely right Jo they are a wonderful couple. Happy belated Anniversary to them both.
    And as usual great picture taking Jo.

    Love you

    1. Thanks Nancy. They are pretty awesome. Hugs. Jo

  4. What a stunning group!!!! Your dad's hand signs made me laugh out loud! Nice job - and thanks for the tips for indoor photography without a flash. I hate flashes, but I get so nervous that my indoor pics won't come out right. You should make them a photo book of the party :)!

    1. He's a character my dad. ;) You are most welcome. A flash is sure easy in a pinch, but it can be so blinding. If you have a detachable flash, bouncing it off the ceiling helps diffuse the light, but that's not always possible. So playing with the camera settings is our best option. :)

      And yes I definitely SHOULD make them a photo book. I am soooo slow though. I am still working on my New York book from summer. ;) They may have to wait awhile.

  5. What a gorgeous family gathering! Big congratulations to you and the lovely couple!

    1. Thank you so much. That's so sweet of you. :)

  6. Thank you so much Lisa! It was a great milestone to celebrate indeed! :) Jo