You've all seen the bad Olan Mills, Sears, and other picture galleries around the web. One of the better ones is here.
Now for the secret shame of my family - THIS photo!
It was 1971 in a suburb of Winston-Salem, NC. My mom was excited. Our next door neighbor, who was a traveling photographer, was going to be set up in the local shopping plaza the next day. My mom booked the local beauty parlor for the next afternoon. After my dad got home, we all were stuffed into our jackets and had our hair brushed. Then it was off to the plaza. Our neighbor was set up with a minimal amount of equipment. Not enough lights, and no choice of backgrounds. Here's the result. Click for larger pic.
Some notes: My mom's hair never looked like that before or since that day. Apparently the only 'do they knew at the beauty parlor was beehive. I'm the oldest, in the top right, resplendent in my brand new Robert Hall blazer and orange tortoise shell glasses. Of course, every jacket in the photo was a hand-me-down from me. And what can I say, everyone in my family is nearsighted. We could have gotten a sponsorship.
Update from my sister: "The best thing about that shoot that you didn't mention was that the "studio" was the open area just beyond the cash registers in the Ben Franklin store, so we were all laid out for all the kids from my school to watch and make fun of during the shoot, and for the next couple weeks at school."
To top off the embarassment, a short while later our neighbor was arrested. He wasn't a fulltime photographer, but an operative in a New York to Florida car theft ring.
It was not until 1983 that we assembled for another family photo.