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4 Pieces of advice for taking family photos

img_7849jpg_33674136085_oWe live pretty close to our state capitol building, which is famous for the pathways lined with cherry blossoms that surround it. For a few short weeks in the spring (or less, depending on how crazy the weather gets), the walkways around the capitol are exploding with beautiful, pink and white blossoms. Since Hannah is a photographer, she has had multiple photo shoots there over the past few weeks. While editing all the pictures of other families at the capitol, she decided that she wanted pictures with her own family in the blossoms, so she called up another photographer and set up a trade. Hannah would take pictures of the photographer’s family, and she would take pictures of ours.

You’d think that with Hannah’s experience of seeing so many families go through a stressful family picture experience, we would be able to avoid the most common pitfalls when preparing for our own photos. Not the case! With only 10 minutes before needing to head over to the capitol, we were still scrambling to get everything ready.

Our minor fiasco of an experience made me realize that there are some things I think everyone should keep in mind when they do family photos, especially when small children are involved.

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1. Expect for everything to go wrong.
After multiple outfit fiascos, wardrobe malfunctions, and stress about packing enough in the diaper bag (a constant struggle), we made it out the door. Hannah was stressed, I was stressed, and Lydia was not in a good mood. The typical start to a family photoshoot, right? Despite our last-minute scrambling (or maybe because of it), we lost one of Lydia’s shoes on the way to the car, and we forgot to do her hair once we started taking pictures. The temperature also ended up being much colder than we’d thought it would be, so we were all quite chilly as we got out to take the pictures. We should have been much more prepared, and had at least one backup plan for when things didn’t go as expected.

2. Attitude goes a long way.
Although it was fairly easy for Hannah and me to get over the craziness from a few minutes earlier and put on a decent camera smile, it was much more difficult for Lydia (I’m sure having only one shoe on in 40-degree weather didn’t help, either). I think if we’d made a more conscious effort to manage our stress, Lydia wouldn’t have been so worked up, and we all would have been happier.

3. Let loose and have fun!
We did our best to be silly, jump around, and make funny faces and noises to get Lydia to laugh. Not all pictures have to be super serious ones that you hang up on your wall or send out for formal Christmas cards. We love the candid ones that depict us having a good time and being ourselves.

4. No matter what, you’re preserving a family memory.
We like taking pictures because we love our family, and we think that every moment in time is worth preserving. Sure, this wasn’t our best attempt, and it’s probably more worthy of “Awkward Family Photos” than it is of Pinterest, but who cares? We had a memorable experience, caught it on camera, and made it a point to say we love our family enough to put forth the effort and document it. I think that’s even more important than the pictures themselves.

Despite this photo shoot not going as planned, or turning out as pretty as we’d hoped, I’m still glad we did it. I doubt any of the photos will ever be framed or hung up in our living room, but I’m sure they will be used enough to be well worth the stress we went through to get them. This most recent experience won’t deter us from trying again and again. If anything, it will just make Hannah a little more sympathetic the next time she takes family photos for someone else.

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