Every new parent wants to document as much as possible when they have a new baby. But at some point, everyone seems to stop scheduling family photos.
Don’t make this common mistake as your children grow up.
Families get busy, schedules become jam-packed, and life falls into “routine.” Before you realize it, another year has passed without updating family photos.
Here’s one piece of advice as a parent and a photographer: Schedule yearly family photos.
If you don’t think your kids are changing very much from year to year, especially once they grow beyond those adorable infant and toddler years, then think again. They are always changing.
A Perk of Scheduling Annual Family Photos
There’s a level of comfort that comes with working with the same photographer year after year. Trust has been established, so it gets easier and easier for everyone.
With repeat clients, family photos feel more like a casual hangout with friends. We’re on a first-name basis, and everyone knows what to expect during the family photo session.
The Lam family knows exactly what I'm talking about. I’ve photographed this family for three years in a row now. As you'll see in their photos, we get silly and have fun. That’s part of the perks of working with the same photographer (and family!) each year.
The Lam family loves being outdoors, so we went to some of their favorite parks for their family sessions. We went to Highbanks Metro Park in Lewis Center, Ohio, and M.L. Red Trabue Nature Reserve in Dublin, Ohio.
Children Don’t Stop Growing Because We Get Busy
It’s no surprise that people have family photos taken yearly when their kids are young. Children change a LOT in those first few years.
But then something changes.
When children hit the ages of five or six, families stop scheduling yearly photo sessions. (Hard truth: this has even happened in my home, and I'm a photographer!)
Why? I've seen a few common reasons.
Life and schedules get busy.
Parents don't think their children are changing "that much."
Life gets into a comfortable routine - and photos take a back seat.
Kids are usually in school by this point, too. Parents may think school photos will capture the yearly changes in their children. While that’s true to some extent, school photos don't show your family together.
School photos don’t show the family growing and changing together. They don’t show how much taller the kids grew over a year. And they don’t usually show much personality.
But here’s the thing - children don’t stop growing because we get busy.
Kids are changing every day, even after the age of five. The middle years (elementary to high school) are as important to document as the younger years.
And those middle years are when the personality starts to shine. Their clothing, their hair, their smile, all of it changes so much during those middle years.
When families don't have yearly photos taken, they end up with a gap in their family photo albums. Those "middle years" are gone forever.
Benefits of Photo Sessions with Older Kids
I’ve been in your shoes.
As a parent with young kids, I know family photos can be challenging. We have to find coordinating clothes for everyone. We have to work around nap schedules and hope kids cooperate for family photos.
I get it.
But here's a secret you might not know.
Family photos become easier and - dare I say it - more fun as kids get older.
Older kids follow directions more easily and can hold a pose. They can look at the camera without much guidance (or bribery). And my personal favorite, I can tell some of my dad jokes to capture those genuine smiles.
Parents Need Yearly Portraits Too!
Children aren’t the only people that change. Parents, you're changing every year, too.
I know aging isn’t usually what we love to think about (let alone document in photos). But it’s important to have at least one portrait taken by yourself every year. It's quick, painless, and you'll appreciate it afterward.
More importantly, your kids will appreciate it even more, especially when they're older.
You can use the portrait of yourself as a new profile photo or a new headshot for business. But most importantly, your portrait will serve as a reminder of what you looked like at this moment.
I encourage my families to have one photo of each parent by themselves (without the kids). I always suggest that we get a portrait of the couple together and each parent individually.
Are you one of the couples that say, “The last time we had our photos taken together without the kids was our wedding day!”?
Don’t let this be your narrative, too.
A Gentle Nudge and Encouragement for Parents
I’ll be honest with you. Nine times out of ten, moms schedule family photo sessions. Moms are usually behind the camera at home, snapping photos of their families. This means they’re taking the pictures, but not always IN them.
With this family, I had recently taken photos of the dad by himself for a project I worked on called “Be a Man.” Our recent family session was the perfect opportunity to get photos of mom by herself during their family photo session, and Greg (dad) was totally on board!
With a bit of persuasion, we convinced Kristen to take a few photos of herself - and guess what? She loved the final images, and Greg loves having a portrait of his wife.
Just as important, now their boys have a photo of their mom, their dad, and their family as a whole. Who wouldn’t love to have a portrait of their mom by herself or dad by himself?
Don't Forget The Middle Years
The Lam boys fell into the category of “older” when we first started working together.
You can see throughout their photos how much each boy changed during these “middle years.” You can see how much taller they grew, too! In a few years, I think mom will be in front!
These portraits are a perfect example of why it’s essential to have family photos taken every year.