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The best family photo advice you never hear

Let’s talk about family photos for a minute. I know its not the most important thing in the world.

It’s just pictures.

You may never even print them, they may never see the light of day outside of your instagram feed in fact. But here’s the thing. I think photos matter. I know we live in ‘a pic or it didn’t happen’ world and it sometimes can be a little (or a lot!) excessive but don’t let that belittle the good part.

I have 6 year old Christian right now. He has knuckles where dimples once were, he says all the words properly now (except bazania instead of lasanga- I’m holding on dearly to that one!), he was yelling for me at the park the other day by my full name!
But photos? They bring me back my 3 year old. The one with curls falling into his eyebrows and a mater permanently glued to his fist. With photos aiding my failing memory I can have the best of both worlds. I can see my babies grow and celebrate every milestone and STILL have them captured forever in every stage before that.

I don’t take photos all day every day because I want to enjoy my moments too and I know I’ll never look back at a million images, but I will look back at a choice few. Which is why family photos do matter a lot to me. But I’ve noticed that sometimes the family gets lost in the photos and sometimes the photos sessions turn into a marathon and a headache. I asked Jessica Janae (photographer extraordinaire) what her advice was for avoiding those pitfalls and she helped me give some good ideas and perspective!

  • Perfectionism might ruin your family photos.
    The biggest issue I see when getting mama’s ready is how stressed out they seem. Are the outfits all good enough? Is everyone having a good hair day? I wish I’d gotten a spray tan… and of course I’m breaking out! Why won’t the kids cooperate!? Where is my husband?….
    Here’s the thing to remember. If mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Unhappy people are not photogenic. Unhappy kids are especially un-photogenic. If you think about it you probably care more about documenting the love you have for each other, the personality and stages of your kids, their quirky expressions, the dynamic that your family fits in at this very moment that will never be quite this way again. That’s what I want to see when I look back, that’s what I want to remember. SO don’t get too stressed about the details. Most of them won’t matter to you 5 years from now.
  • Harbor loving happy feelings.  Spend some time thinking about your family. Why you love them, what makes them special? Loving feelings shine through a photo so bright, it can’t be faked and even if it could you’re probably not a professional actor so leave the fake stuff to the pros:) Focus on actually being happy, then looking happy will come easy!
  • Plan an event for after the photos. Getting ice cream? Going to chuck -e-cheese or even having a little movie night. Something everyone can look forward to as a reward for being so cooperative (we hope:) If you make this a traditional it might even help make “family photo day” a looked forward to day around your house. Rather than a day of fighting and rushing that will be dreaded.

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  • Don’t lose your cool. Jess told me the biggest mistake parents make is worrying about the kids too much. She says if the parents will stay pleasant and posing she can handle the kids. My trick to not freaking out when my kid is freaking out is to have a sense of humor about it. I really subscribe to the idea that laughter fixes most things. I have always found that if I don’t get upset, they won’t stay upset for very long. Above all don’t get angry!  Tension spreads like a disease and if you lose your cool the photoshoot is as good as over.

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  • Be flexible, go with the flow. If one kid refuses to let you help them with their hair or another keeps grimacing instead of grinning, just see the humor in it! This is them after all!
    We’d all but given up on Billy posing happily for a single second at this point (don’t let those photos up there photo fool you he was yelling not laughing 🙈😂)

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    but then we let him look at the phone and we got the cutest photos of the day. Did I want an iPhone in my photo? Not particularly, but it’s still cute and this is about the only time this boy will sit still and let me snuggle him so..its an accurate portrayal of us.

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I hope this helps some of you and I really wish you best darn family photos this season!

PS I know this isn’t actually a family photo shoot! At this point we are really *hoping* to be able to adopt our youngest but in the meantime I can’t post photos of him. It might seem silly but it just feels wrong to take family photos without him in them (don’t worry we are still taking them just not posting them publicly:) So it was just me and Billy for this one:)

Sweater | Free People
Boots | Free People
Leggings | Lululemon
Necklace | Five & Two 

cara

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48 Comments

  • Reply
    Jordan
    October 19, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    After having experienced so many stressful family photo sessions, I finally figured out something that works for us. I have our babysitter (who is basically part of our family now) come with us to the shoot. She helps straighten up the kids’ hair or clothes while I’m doing a last minute lip in the car and it keeps my hands free, which is the majority of my stress at that moment. She stands by the photographer and does silly dances and sings songs and it makes us ALL crack up laughing. Then I have her get in one of the shots with the kids and I have it printed on canvas for her Christmas present every year. Win/win!

  • Reply
    Marie
    October 20, 2016 at 3:28 am

    Coming from a blended family and having to step out for their “real” family photos, it makes my heart full to hear how you don’t want to exclude the baby you’re trying to adopt. These are great tips! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Reply
    Kiss & Make-up
    October 20, 2016 at 3:40 am

    We never had a professional family photo shoot with our family. I think it’s just not really a European/Belgian thing.

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      sarah
      November 14, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      Hi,
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  • Reply
    McKenna Lister
    October 21, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    I love this!! We just did family picture Wednesday night to celebrate our one year “GOTCHA day” from adopting our first two kids and had our foster son in all of our pictures! I want to plaster them all over social media. But it will just have to wait. Blah. I hope everything with his case is going well! (Hopefully better than our ha ha)

  • Reply
    Miki Nyckel
    October 23, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    This is great advice! Thanks! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sarah Gondek
    October 25, 2016 at 11:17 am

    The photos are gorgeous, Cara! Those booties though! How is the fit – the taupe appear to only be available in whole sizes, and of course, I’m in between. It doesn’t look like my local FP has this style, and neither does Nordstrom, so I’ll have to order!

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