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I think sequentially I’m backwards. Kind of like my boys.

Although, I could be wrong. About the sequence in which I am perfecting my new hobby, not as it relates to my boys (which we’ll get to shortly). I know they have it backwards. One look, and it’s obvious.

But with my newfound hobby, I’m not so sure. I do know one thing, though, I am a far better photo editor than I am an actual photographer. That’s the part of the sequence that seems a bit out of order.

Because we are constantly – and sadly – being reminded life is fleeting and memory is a fickle friend, I have recently taken up photography. Nothing serious, definitely not award-winning, just something I’m doing on my own, around the house and outside in our yard.

I try to get the lighting just-so, I do my best to make sure everything is in focus. I’m learning terms like iris, shutter speed and the ever-popular “awww, c’mon guys, sit still.” But for the most part, I’m just trying to grab Brock’s sly little smirk or capture the way Jack’s smile lights up his entire face. I crouch and bend every which way to get that perfect shot of Joey, sitting still for that split-second, eyes down, soft smile, her absolutely absorbed in the moment before it’s gone, and she’s gone, running after her brothers, leaving me unable to adjust and catch anything but a pink and purple blur.

Lucky for me, I’m persistent. Lucky for you, I’m aiming for facial expressions.

Cropping, in particular, has become an art of sorts when it comes to photos of the Barta children. And that’s all because of the backwards nature of the way in which my boys dress. Or, rather, undress.

Pants or no pants? Kind of hard to be sure with those devilish little grins.

I thought the steadily dropping temperature would help to remedy this problem, but it hasn’t. The boys are more than happy to put on extra layers to accommodate the chill in the air. They’ll merrily pile on the sweatshirts, slip on the socks, even don a hat. They simply refuse, however, to wear pants … or underwear. Exactly the opposite of what you expect in the sequence of undressing. Or, in their case, of simply being dressed, considering this is how they prefer to be.

Which, as you can imagine, complicates family photos.

Until I get ahold of the cropping tool. Which got me to thinking. If only there was a cropping tool for life. No more bad hair days, unflattering jeans. No more loss.

Just like there’s no more half-naked children on the Barta Family Christmas cards (never thought about that, did you?), there would be no more unsightly times in

Not exactly one of our finest moments, but it's still one I want to remember.

our lives.

But because what lies below that crop line, underneath the beautiful smile or perfectly posed family photo, is perhaps unsightly – or in our case inappropriate – it is also part of our story and is our life.

And the people who understand that are the ones truly living. They are the ones accepting the photos for what they are, raw and unedited. They are, perhaps, the bravest of us all.

It's can't-miss moments like these that make all of the crop-worthy ones worth it.

This column was originally published in the October 26, 2011 edition of the St. Maries Gazette Record.