The Dreaded Family Photo

First off, I want you to know that you are not alone.

Millions of people around the world dread the annual family photo day. I don’t know where I came up with those statistics. I basically made them up which means they are definitely not verified.  But I think they’re probably somewhat accurate.

And if we count all of the dads  who’d rather be watching football than putting on a color coordinated sweater that will look good with the shades of orange in the trees and leaves, I think I’ve hit the mark.

You are not alone.

Even us photographers go through it. Especially me. So let me tell you a story about how my family’s most recent photo shoot went….

First, I had a kid with a head cold. I told her we could reschedule but she insisted. She is a ham. Which makes sense since those also happen to be her initials, in that exact order. Who knew.

My son REFUSED to get a hair cut. Notice that I underlined it. That is pretty much how he told me. He wanted to grow it out so it would be long. His Aunt told him about hair growing pills (without my consent of course), so he came home asking to buy some. After a long discussion, where he made some very fine points for an 8 year old, we made a deal. I agreed to buy the “hair pills” If he would grow it just like Joe Dirt.

Please tell me you know who I am talking about…. I showed him a picture… and guess what? He agreed.

Sigh. I really thought I was going to win this one. But a deal is a deal.

So I bought some different sugar coated gummy vitamins. He was none the wiser. And vitamins do help your hair grow. So don’t judge me. 😉

It was 104* on the day of our shoot. Shannon, our wonderful photographer for the day, was happy to reschedule given our sick kid, but I knew better. If we didn’t do it then, my husband (like many other husbands) would take her up on that offer and doing a reschedule would be impossible with his crazy work schedule and his lack of desire to do it to begin with. I also know her time is valuable so we pushed through.

We endured some feisty and fast crawling ants, sweat, a run down a hill that turned into a fall down a hill that resulted in some blood and now a small scar, kids that did not want to touch each other let alone hug during our session, some scolding, a threat of getting grounded and so on and so forth. Sound familiar?

This is our life. And if I were a betting girl, I would venture to say that it sounds somewhat like yours. I know because I am at your family session and I hear you apologize to me profusely for the behavior of your kids or their lack of excitement. But I want you to stop apologizing.

Because I get it. We get it. We have been there.

We are just like you. And just because we do this for a living doesn’t make us exempt from the reality of a photo shoot. We are right there with you.

Did you know that I drove to the mall and picked our outfits 3 hours before our shoot? Yes, I did. Three of us wore tee-shirts. And I’m not even embarrassed to type it.

And guess what folks? I loved every single image from our session. Even after the chaos that surrounded our shoot day, I loved them so much that I couldn’t pick my favorites…. So I picked them all. Even the one where my son was trying to flick my daughter.

Family photo sessions aren’t about perfection. In fact, I hate the word “perfection” – with a vengeance.

But, there is profound importance in remembering who you once were. For the people who knew you and loved you and for the people who don’t even exist yet who you are leaving your legacy for. That is who these pictures are for. They adorn your walls and you display them proudly, or not so proudly. But you should be proud because that moment that has been imprinted in your heart and printed on a piece of (hopefully) high quality photo paper…. Well that moment, is your life.  You and your family are a story full of life and experiences and the people who come after you will want to know you. They will have passed down stories, but they will also have pictures and they will know better because of them.

And one day, you’ll laugh about every mishap. You’ll already be laughing about your wardrobe selections and probably your hair 20 years from now… That stuff is so fleeting. So who really cares at this point?

We have to stop making excuses.

Just put something on and show up. It’s all that matters.

All photos by Defining Details Photography –









One thought on “The Dreaded Family Photo

  1. So good Ashley! I love it. It’s true and I need to get on doing photo shoots with our kids again. And not waiting for the “perfect day” at this point, it’s never going to be the same again because kids are already moving out due to differences or graduating school. We really do need to treasure the moments we have now. Thank you. I’ve been saying for too many years “THIS YEAR we’ll do family photos”. It’s time to just do it.

    Liked by 1 person

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