Family pictures are very interesting to me. I feel like they can reveal so much about the stage of life a family is in. When my boys were little, I remember pictures being so stressful. My smile was fake and they were usually crying or trying to get out of the picture. But when we would get them back, everyone looked flawless and in their assigned place. I really wanted that “perfect picture” of my family.
One particular day, I decided to do pics of my boys on my own at a studio in the mall. What was I thinking??? They had cute props like cars and scooters and little boats for the boys to sit in. Surely this would be fun for them, right? Wrong! They fought over who was getting in what vehicle, and neither wanted to sit together. (There went the brother shot). It took 2 hours to get the pictures done and I was literally sweating by the time it was over. Drenched, exhausted and left with two whiney toddlers, I began dreading taking family photos. For years after that we didn’t take them…. and then came the girls. Once the girls were born it was a necessity…. and the whole perfect picture scenario resurrected itself.
After years of torturing myself and kids with professional pictures, I began to realize something: The frustration of the pictures didn’t occur because of the process, but because of my expectations. I wanted to have a picture of my family that made people say, “Oh, what a sweet family. Look at those handsome young lads! And those girls…. what beauties they are.” It was the appearance I was going for rather than the memories. (Mistake #1) I also wanted my kids to act like adults and sit still to make the picture look perfect. (Mistake #2)
The truth is, those “perfect pictures” do not reveal an accurate story of what our lives looked like then. My husband and I were a young couple trying to keep it all together… Our marriage, parenting, jobs- everything. Our lives were far from perfect. But you wouldn’t know that looking at those pictures. They hid the insecurities, the hurts and the craziness that comes from having a family of multiple kids. It was a facade.
Today, after being married for almost 19 years and having 5 children… these are my favorite pictures. My definition of perfect has drastically changed over the years. The perfect picture now, captures who we are right now. Not that I don’t like the sit down, look at the camera shots- they just aren’t my favorite. My absolute favorite is the black and white of my girls. To see my Sophia belly laughing is such a true picture of who she is…. fun, spunky and entertaining. I realize now that I don’t want the “picture perfect” family. I want my family, flaws and all! I want that portrayed in the photos. Ten years down the road, I want to see the personalities of the people in that picture. I want to look back and remember who they were, not who I wanted them to be.
What do your family photos reveal? Are you looking for that perfect family shot? I challenge you to try the fun shots. Some of our favorite pictures have come out of letting our kids be kids. (And sometime letting the adults act like kids!) Ask yourself why your taking pictures. Do you want just a cute shot of the kids? Do you want to be able to look at them in the future and reminisce? Picture day doesn’t have to be stressful. If we can loosen up our expectations, we can find it to be a fun memory rather than an exhausting event.