Things are finally beginning to warm up outside, and our phone is starting to ring with people looking to have new family portraits made. Meanwhile, you keep seeing all the pretty pictures on Instagram and Facebook, and thinking maybe you should jump on the bandwagon. You look up at your wall and see the smiles of kids now carrying two or three or four more years on their faces, and then think maybe you’ll look into that tomorrow. But tomorrow is busy, and so is the next day, and then there’s a new episode of Modern Family, and at some point you and the hubby, or wifey, really need to enjoy some alone time.
Hey, cut that out! Come Christmas time, you’re going to be standing in front of a picture on your wall, surrounded by family and friends, and someone’s going to comment on how big the kids have gotten, and you’re going to quietly cringe a tiny bit inside.
Okay, okay, I’m mostly joking here. Life for a family is complicated, and between clubs, practices, summer camps and everything else, getting a fresh portrait is competing with an awful lot of things that also really matter; both in regards to your time and your money. Well, today, I’m here to make a case for why making the time and funds available to do this is worth it, and worth doing right now.
And just to be clear—while of course, we’d love to be there to create these images for you, we don’t care how you do it. The family portrait is worth your time, and money and looking back, you’ll see them as a valuable part of a life well lived. Lets get in there.
#1 Your kids eventually see it as evidence of how much you love them
I remember being a kid when my father was a hobbyist photographer. The vast majority of the images that exist of me from my childhood were taken by him; pictures playing in the back yard, the family in front of the Christmas tree, and special moments like graduations. There was no shortage of photos of my sisters and I. But mom and dad still took us to Olan Mills for a ‘real’ portrait every couple of years.
Human beings often credit hard work, even when it isn’t perfect, and getting us all to the studio for a picture we could all be in together was definitely hard work that they wouldn’t have done if they didn’t love us, and who we were as a family. While pretty much none of our favorite pictures came out of that studio, they are some of the few experiences where we can actually remember taking pictures together, and the memory of that experience is one of love, in spite of (if not because of) the effort that was necessary.
Even a bad photos can point to a good experience that becomes a treasured memory, and that’s a good reason to get right onto the family portraits.
#2 Kids are home from school, and it’s something (else) to do
Speaking of experiences, summers for kids these days involve a whole lot more screen time than they used to. Short of extreme measures, there’s not much of a way around the screens kids are so easily glued to. The only way to really effectively limit screen time without driving yourself crazy, is to fill that time with something else.
A portrait session is definitely something else. If you have young children, they’ll love all the attention. And if you have older kids, a portrait session just might distract them from their SnapChat long enough to make some meaningful memories together.
#3 Keeping up with the Jones’ might not be too important to you, but they definitely did call us
(Sorry, I’m feeling a little cheeky this morning with the subheadings.) Of course, we can’t advocate you go and do something just to impress the neighbors, but the truth is there are lots of good reasons to want to ‘fit in’ besides just stroking your ego. It gives you something to talk about with your kid’s friends parents, gives you common experiences to fawn, or commiserate, over. And, it helps signal that you are of some kind of like-mind, and that family is a priority for you.
I mean, if none of that is true, well then don’t do it. But it may be helpful to know that the near ubiquity of quality photographers means that if you opt not to do it, you’re probably the odd-one-out. That’s okay if that’s what you decide, but ‘deciding’ is probably better than ‘discovering’ here.
#4 Next time you think about this, you’ll wish you’d just done it
If you’re like a lot of parents, you’re probably thinking about this because you just remembered how you didn’t do anything about it the last time you thought about it, even though you wanted to, and a slight tinge of frustration caused you to click or search or whatever.
Like literally everything you want to do, you just have to do it or it’s never going to get done. Sure, if you hang out with your family at the boardwalk for long enough, maybe some photographer will come up and ask to take a picture, but it’s a long shot. If you don’t hit the go button, it’s not gonna happen. The best way to avoid future disappointment is to do something about it right now.
So, if that’s you and you’ve been meaning to do it, just do it. If you can’t afford it, that’s fine, ask the most talented person in your book club, or find someone cheap on Facebook. Frankly, doing it is better than not doing it, always. (though, of course, we’re hoping you’ll circle back around one day and give us a go at it).
#5 There are adventures to go on, and a portrait session is a great excuse
Life passes you by. I see this more clearly with every passing year. It might be hard to get the family out for an adventure and a shared experience, but maybe it’s easier to get them out for a portrait session. Some park you always wanted to explore? A national monument? A city? A portrait session can make an excellent excuse to get out and do it.
Almost no one regrets having shared experiences, even lackluster or crappy ones turn out to be good when there is family bonding involved. But, at the same time, almost everyone hesitates to go out and get those experiences. So many of us in the western world are perhaps a little overly focused on ‘goals’ and ‘purpose’. In addition to creating images that last a lifetime, a portrait session can draw you out into new places, doing new things, and that may just be priceless for your family.