Family Portraits: Why I Disagree With My Clients All The Time

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Lucinda’s portraits were going to be all about the kids. She was very clear on this point. She didn’t want to be photographed, and wanted me to focus on the children. I made it very clear that I completely accepted her perspective, but that I disagreed, and I would definitely be photographing her whole family – her included.

This is a common conversation I have with families. Many of my portrait clients would much rather I focus purely on their children, and leave them out of the portraits altogether. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as:

“I need to lose weight.”
“I hate myself in photos.”
“It’s not important to me.”
And so on.

This is where I disagree with my clients regularly. I believe it is critically important to have your whole family photographed.

Here are a few scenarios to explain why:

One day, you won’t be around any longer. Your children will only have their memories, and yes, their photographs, to remind them of how you looked and what kind of parent you were. Your family portraits give them the visual reminders of how you looked, and the emotional cues of how much love you felt for them when they were younger. Your family portraits become anchor-points for your kids, to understand who they are as people, and where they’ve come from.  

One day, you’ll have a bad day at work, or you’ll argue with your partner, or you’ll be mad at your kids. In that moment, you’ll need something to remind you of the love you feel, and the good times you’ve had. Your family portraits are your salvation in those moments. They remind you of the love and joy you feel for those children who just smeared play-doh through your carpet, or the husband or partner who is driving you crazy right now. They are a living, breathing celebration, hanging on your wall, to remind you of all the good stuff about your family.

One day, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and think: “Wow, I was so young, and so gorgeous!” And you’ll look at yourself in the mirror and think “What happened to that young, gorgeous person? What on Earth was I so worried about at the time?”

One day, your children will have moved on with their lives, and you’ll be left with nothing but memories to comfort you in an empty house. You’ll want the safe embrace of a family portrait, transporting you back to a beautiful moment with the people you love, to keep you warm and cosy, and to help you remember those special moments from your past.

 

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Here’s what I know to be true, after ten years of photographing families and dedicating myself to understanding the philosophy behind family portraiture:

Your children and your partner love you exactly as you are. Not  “when you’ve lost weight”. NOW. They love you right now, just as you are. It’s up to you to embrace this, and celebrate who you are for the people in your life, NOW.

In years and decades to come, your kids will need photographs of their whole family to help them understand what kind of environment they were raised in as kids. Were they loved? Did their parents care for them? By not wanting to be in a photograph with them, what kind of message are you sending them, both now, and in the future?

When life is busy, we don’t remember everything as clearly as we should. Having kids is Busy, with a capital B. Our memories are imperfect, and we quickly forget how much we have changed, and how much our children have grown and developed in such a short space of time.

When we’re busy, time passes quickly. Too quickly, when it comes to the people we love. Before we know it, our kids have grown, years have passed, and we’ve aged. For all of these reasons, it’s vital to have your family – your WHOLE family – photographed professionally on a regular basis. And by regular, I mean at least every 4 or 5 years, but preferably more often than that.

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I’ve gone through some very challenging life experiences that have taught me the value and importance of the family unit. It is this new and unique perspective that greatly informs how I work.

So, when I ignore your pleas to just photograph your children and insist on photographing your WHOLE family, please know it’s because I’ve been doing this for over a decade, and I truly understand the reasons why family portraits are so valuable. I’m doing it for your own good, and the good of your children.

When I ask you to be kind to yourself when you appraise yourself in photographs, and when I forbid negative or deprecating comments about yourself at your viewing and purchasing appointment, it’s because I know first-hand the value of recording moments of love and joy with our most important people. I want you to focus on the love, the emotion, and the connections I’ve captured for you, not “I have a double chin.” I know that as time passes, your petty worries about your appearance will fade into insignificance when compared to the love you feel for your family.

(And – for the record – everyone has a double chin when they laugh or smile at the people they love. EVERYONE. It’s a mechanical fact of how our jaw works. So let it go. Now.)

Lucinda’s words about her portraits:

Thank you so much for our beautiful family photos. You have captured us in such a happy way, and we are very grateful. You have presented your products in stunning packaging too. Many thanks!

 

If you’ve never had your family photographed before, RIGHT NOW is the perfect time. Let’s face it – we’re the youngest we’ll ever be again, and our memories of right now will only fade as time goes on.

To have your family photographed by someone who truly understands the value of family portraits, please phone or email us today to make a booking. Call Israel or Dorothy on 02 9665 0800 or email us at info@https://https://israelsmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/pexels-ben-mack-5707559-LR-1.jpgsmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/00716_0004A-1.jpgsmith.com.

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