So here are my observations and insights as someone who, just today, was on the other side of the camera for our own family photos. With all the prep work that I went through, all the organizing and planning, all the importance I placed upon these photos it got me thinking… I should probably do a post about this stuff.

Now, my opinion of family photos is coming from a slightly different angle than most… or maybe not. As a photographer I rarely get IN the photos with my kids and hubs. While yes, all of THEIR lives are beautifully documented, they will probably be able to count on one hand the number of photos they can actually find mom in. So, every year for the past few years when family photo day rolls around it becomes a sacred holiday in this household. And because of this, I realized from day one that the moment I feel stressed-out the whole family feels stressed-out and stress does not equal good family photos.

I know when I think back to my own family photos the day was spent with Mom yelling or getting mad because we weren’t doing exactly what she wanted and those same stressed and anger feelings only transfered over to the cheesy portrait studio where everything was magnified by 300%. And I know I’m not the only one who remembers similar crazy family photo days growing up…

I’m grateful that I have this unique perspective to be able to see from both sides of the camera lens and I can tell you I know what works for my family and what might just work for most others, too. First off, if you’re gonna be stressed at all, keep it to yourself. The moment I start barking out orders to my family (i.e. do this, do that, don’t pick your nose, always smile at the camera, don’t frown, act like you love me, etc.) then inevitably my family will do the opposite. If I’m worried about everyone’s outfit, or my make up/hair, or if my son is going to be a punk then I keep it to myself. In fact I do my best to act to the opposite, but not in a passive-aggressive way, but more in a ‘I believe it so it will happen’ kind of way.

I honest to goodness want my kids to view family picture day as a fun day; a goof off and have fun day. Therefore I have found that the day needs to be conducted as such. We have to plan fun activities around picture time – before and after and it can’t just be a threat or bribe, kids need to know they have something to look forward to. Besides, now-a-days we all want those candid moments of our kids, but are we willing to create an environment where kids can be themselves…or us parents for that matter? What I usually do for about 2-3 weeks leading up to picture day is I talk about how much fun we are going to have, how we get to run and jump all over dad, how the biggest or craziest smile wins a prize, etc… anything to help get them anticipating the day with excitement.

As cliche as it may sound I have learned to embrace all that is crazy and wild about my family and absolutely want my family photos to reflect that. For instance, if at this point in time my son’s favorite thing to do was to pout all day, everyday for no reason then I absolutely want to see that documented. It sounds weird, I know, but just think… there’s a near 99% chance my son is going to grow out of that phase by next year and move onto something else and as hard as it is to appreciate or realize that, it’s who he is at this exact moment in his life. Some day I want to be able to look back and say ‘yep, that’s my boy…I remember him being just like that’ because all we’re really talking about here are holding onto little bits of memories. I, for one would much rather have an honest representation of who my kids and family are than some stiff, forced smiles that are only masking their distain for photos or worse, me for being stressed-out and/or getting mad at every little thing.

So the point of all this rambling is to remind us all to just have fun, enjoy this time of someone else documenting your family interactions, view family photo day as a good thing and treat it as such with the kids and they will feed off of your energy and excitement. Because let’s face it, if mama ain’t happy, then no one’s happy… am I right, or am I right?!

PS… I’ve got a fun little announcement that’s gonna hit the blog tomorrow… check ya later!