When you hire a photographer to come out and take photos of your family, what do you usually expect?
Well, if you have young kids, you’ll probably expect (perhaps even dread) the fact that you will have near-zero control over how your kids will behave. You’ll fret about whether their shirts will stay tucked in and whether your outfits match or if (gasp) they match TOO closely. You’ll mentally and verbally cycle through your emergency checklist of rewards and threats, generally breaking every parenting rule you’ve ever staunchly defended, except in times of dire need. (Giant jawbreaker — check! “Triple-scoop, non-organic, ice cream sundae with whatever toppings you want, Johnny!” “If you ever want to ever have TV privileges again, you’ll smile. You’ll smile BIG!”) You’ll flinch and grimace every time your kid brushes against a car in the parking lot on the way to your photo shoot location, slightly trips on his own feet while running too fast, or gets his fingers/face/shirt/pants/face dirty when he inevitably picks up a fistful of dirt/sand/leaves/worms while you’re not watching. Or… you’ll expect your kids to give you a mixed bag of ridiculous fake-smiles, “I found a booger and I’m hiding it from my parents” goofy smiles, half-pout-half-laugh smiles, and full-cry non-smiles.
If the above sounds anything at all like you, fear not. First, you’re not alone. Second, I apologize for bringing those feelings of panic back up to the surface. Third, and most important, it’s all going to be okay. Your kids will be kids, and if they realize they’re allowed to be themselves, they will have loads more fun. And the more that we as adults enjoy the fact that our kids are allowed to have fun at a family photo session, the more relaxed we can be. Honestly, wouldn’t you want your family photos over the years to be a documentation of real life, with real fun and real mayhem?
Below are a few of my favorite moments from a recent family shoot with the Price family at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas (formerly known as Quail Botanical Gardens).
This says it all. Little Luke running away from us…