Family pictures… what’s the point?
Have you ever found yourself wondering this exact thing as you contemplate putting yourself through all the stress of finding the perfect photographer, coordinating outfits, and then hoping and praying that all your kids decide to cooperate at the same time on the same day so you get just one good picture of everyone together?
I know I have, and I’m a photographer! And because I’ve felt this exact same stress and spend a lot of time trying to persuade other people that family pictures are totally worth it, I’ve spent a lot of time considering this question.
What is the point of family pictures? Are they just something that’s become expected, so we do it? Are they just for a social media post or Christmas card? Or do they serve a deeper purpose?
Here’s a hint: it’s definitely something deeper. And I’m about to tell you why. Here are 10 really good reasons to take family pictures that you’ve probably never considered.
1. To Document Growth
Okay, you’ve probably considered this one. In fact, this is probably the ONLY one you’ve considered because this is how most people answer the question “why do you get family pictures?”
We do it to document growth. We like to measure progress and look back and see how far we’ve come. Especially when our kids are little and change what feels like hour to hour sometimes. Regular family pictures are a great way to document how our families grow from year to year.
2. To Decorate Your Home
Family pictures are the best home decor investment you will ever make. You will never regret them, never get tired of them, and they’ll never end up in the donation bin.
In a digital age, it’s easy to get your family pictures, go crazy posting them on social media, and then let them sit on a hard drive… and rot there.
Don’t do it!
Don’t pass up this amazing opportunity for incredibly personal and totally beautiful home decor that you will LOVE to see every time you enter your home.
And it’s not just about looking good, keep reading because I’m going to share some life-changing benefits that come when you print and display your pictures in your home.
3. To Remember
Family pictures are a great way to remember. Sure, they help us remember how little our kids used to be, but they do so much more than that. Family pictures help us remember that silly way baby girl used to run, or the sound of her giggles when you spun around in circles. They help us remember the feeling of chubby baby hands on our cheeks and slobbery baby kisses. They help us remember that special relationship between two brothers and best friends.
And I hate talking about this part, but I have to because I’ve experienced it first hand. They help us remember after someone is gone in a it hurts to look at because I miss them so much but I’m so glad I have this picture kind of way. Life can happen at any moment and, believe me, family pictures are everything in that moment.
4. To Create a Family Memory
Wait, didn’t I just say family pictures were about remembering? Yup, I did. But your family portrait session is also a great opportunity to create a family memory, especially as documentary and lifestyle photography have become more popular.
My favorite sessions, the ones where the magic happens, are the ones where we just play. We play games, splash in the river, share secrets, and express love. Family pictures should be about creating a family memory, one I just happen to be there to capture.
5. For Family History
There was this one time I was visiting my grandparents and my grandpa turned to me and said “You look just like my Mom.” His mom, my great-grandma Ella Rhea, someone I never met. Suddenly I felt a connection and all I wanted to do was find a picture of her.
We don’t often think about taking family pictures so one day our great-grandchild will know what we looked like. But maybe we should.
6. To Heal
News flash! Life isn’t easy. Okay, that’s not news to anyone. Life can really suck. We all have our own roads to travel, usually uphill both ways, and hopefully, at some point, after we wade through all the crap, we reach a place where we can finally feel peace, hope, and whole.
Pictures can be an important part of that journey.
Like this mama who shared her story after their most recent family portrait session.
“Comparing our family pictures from last year to this year, I see so much growth, healing, and hope.
When we took our family portraits last year I had just hit rock bottom. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the pictures. I was really good at pasting on a smile and hiding how I was really doing. I didn’t want anyone to know or worry. I honestly dreaded waking up almost every day. I hated being left alone at home with my son. I thought there must be someone who could do my job SO much better and I hated myself for it. I had thoughts I’m still coming to terms with.
A few months after that first photoshoot I finally asked for help. I was diagnosed with moderate to severe postpartum depression and anxiety and fatigued adrenals. I started going to counseling and taking herbal supplementation and, miraculously to me, began to feel normal. After about a month I had the first glimmer of hope that I would one day feel like the wife, mom, and human being I once was. It took time and continued treatment, but life is so much better now!
I finally feel like myself, I enjoy life, being a mom, and feel empowered because I have the tools to counter the depression and anxiety I still deal with.
Looking at our pictures from last year, I want to cry knowing the pain and despair I felt then. But seeing how I feel now, no pasted-on smile, the truth of how I really feel in our family photos, they mean so much to me.” – Sharyti (28)
7. To Communicate Belonging
You know that innate desire most of us have to fit in? It doesn’t serve us well in junior high but eventually, we learn it’s not just about fitting in, it’s about knowing where you belong, that place where you will always be loved and accepted no matter what.
Guess what. Kids have that desire too. And even though we try to show them that their place is in our family every day with hugs and kisses and time spent together, a family portrait is one of the best visual tools to communicate it.
Take, for example, a blended family. As two families merge together it can be hard for kids to know how and where they fit among a new parent and siblings. Now think about the powerful statement a family portrait of everyone together is to each member of the family, especially when hung in a place of prominence in the home. It says “We’re a family; you, me, all of us. And we belong together.”
8. To Build Self Esteem
I’ve experienced it on a personal level. Growing up I always thought of myself as fat and therefore ugly. Want to know what finally changed my mind? It was my senior portraits. When my photographer delivered the images from my session I could hardly believe my eyes. Who was that beautiful girl? It was me. I couldn’t think of myself as ugly anymore because I had concrete proof that I was beautiful. It changed everything and began my obsession with photography.
Pictures, especially when printed and hung in the home, are an easy, but powerful way to communicate to kids “you are loved, we care about you, you’re beautiful, we’re proud of you, and you’re important.”
9. To “Rose-Color” Your Life
Did you know that it’s easier to recall bad memories than good? It’s called “negativity bias” and not only does it make us remember the bad stuff, it makes the bad stuff affect us more than the good or even neutral stuff.
It’s really unfair! The radiant 5-star moments in our lives get overshadowed and undervalued by the 1-star bits. Pictures literally save the day! They tip the scale back and give the positives more power by helping us remember them more clearly.
For this mama, maternity pictures were about choosing what to focus on after an extremely difficult pregnancy.
“Pregnancy sucks. During my pregnancy, I tumbled off a rock, passed out at work, basically lived in my bathroom for 7 months due to the unrelenting morning sickness which also resulted in several trips to the hospital because I couldn’t keep anything down. I felt so defeated. I felt like I lost myself and was seriously depressed for the first time in my life. Writing all that down breaks my heart.”
“In my third trimester things finally started looking up and I started to feel like myself again. I got the morning sickness under control and started to enjoy being pregnant. Best of all, I felt like I was finally bonding with the little life growing inside me.
Pictures have always been important to me but they had become absolutely crucial. I wanted to remember and celebrate my journey to motherhood and see the beauty of being pregnant that I didn’t feel for so many months.
I’m so grateful to have these pictures. They make me feel powerful and confident in the mother I will be and remember this journey and smile.” – Kelsea (28)
10. To Save Your Family
I hope by this point I’ve convinced you that there is power in family pictures. How much power? Well, when families are documenting growth, can see healing, are communicating love and belonging, and building self-esteem through home decor, and focusing on the positive… a better question might be what don’t family pictures have the power to do? Family Pictures have the power to hold families together when they might otherwise fall apart.
My mission at Maren Elizabeth Photography is “to strengthen home and family through the use of photography by documenting with authenticity both extraordinary and everyday moments that serve as a reminder of what matters most when life feels overwhelming, and inspire courage when you feel like giving up.”
Family pictures are so much more than social expectations, once a year social media posts, or a checkmark off your holiday list. Family pictures are life-changing.
HEY THERE! I’m Maren, the heart and soul behind Maren Elizabeth Photography and total photo nerd (just in case this post didn’t already tip you off). I’m a grad-school wife to my wonderful, hard working husband Matt, mama to my beautiful three-nager Emi, and puppy-mom to our 4-year-old mutt Rego. Most days you can find me on an imaginary animal rescue safari with my daughter who finds an alarming number of Rhino’s with bunnies stuck in their ears. When I’m not on safari, taking pictures, or journaling the adventures of motherhood you can catch me snuggled up in a cozy blanket reading, sniffing all the candles at target, working on a puzzle, or planning our next family adventure. If you’re ready to change your life with your next family portrait session I’d love to work with you. You can get in touch with me on instagram, on my website, or email me directly at [email protected]hotography.com.