There’s one simple thing every parent can do to ensure their family portrait session is a success.
Of course, there are a few things you can (and should) do to prepare for your family portraits, but doing this one thing matters more than all of those put together.
Don’t criticize your kids.
Don’t say a single negative thing to them as you’re getting ready to leave the house, as you arrive at the session or as I’m photographing you.
It sounds easy, but it happens all the time.
I understand, you want your session to be perfect. You’ve invested time and money into finding the perfect outfits, clearing your calendar for the session and planning for the wall gallery that will soon grace your living room wall. And more than that, you just want your photographs to be as good as the ones you saw online. Maybe you’re worried your family isn’t quite as photogenic as other families.
So you start to pick.
“Pull that shirt down, I hate how it’s riding up.”
“Stop doing your picture smile. Come on, I want you to smile your real one.”
“How did you manage to get grass stains all over your jeans already. Honestly!!!”
“Why is your hair all funny like that. Fix it.”
And on it goes….
Incidentally, the “stop doing your picture smile” voice? That’s mine. I’m guilty every time.
But it doesn’t do any good. It makes things worse.
Slowly the smile starts to droop on the little boy who was running around the field with a grin from ear to ear. And the girl, who was feeling really great about her new outfit, is now a little more self-conscious, awkwardly tugging at the bottom of her shirt the rest of the session.
Those words? They deflate the session. They take the shiny, happy edges off our time together.
You don’t want your family portraits to reflect moments of perfection, you want them to reflect moments of love and connection.
If you’re a perfectionist, join the club. I’m right there with you. And yes, I will fix bangs, straighten shirts and look at all the other little details. But that’s my job during your session, not yours. Carrying on….
You want to look at your family photographs and remember how good things are. You want your daughter to look at your family photographs and remember that amazing uninterrupted evening you spent together, even if she did roll her eyes at having to leave her phone in the car.
Grass stains can be Photoshopped out of jeans, if you want them to be. But I can’t add the sparkle back into your daughter’s eyes when she feels like she didn’t get it right.
If you do notice that your daughter isn’t smiling her ‘real smile’ or that someone’s hair isn’t quite how you like it, pull me aside and let me know. I’ll take care of it.
You focus on loving your family the way only you can do. And think of how amazing your family portraits will be if, instead of using that time to bring your children down, you use that time to build them up.