Family Matters – Taking the Anxiety out of Family Portraits

It’s the perfect time of year for family portraits with the leaves starting to change colors and the air becoming cooler. As we head on over to Pinterest and do a search for family portraits to get ideas, suddenly panic and anxiety sets in. Everyone looks perfect! Everyone has coordinating clothes and is looking straight into the camera. How on Earth can our families measure up? Guess what? Letting go of this Pinterest type of ideal family portrait, and any other preconceived ideas we might have is a good place to start.
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Connie Wunder of Wunder Photography tells us how to take the anxiety out of the family portrait.
If there is one thing all of us with children have in common, it’s that we share the knowledge that time is passing by too quickly. Years seem to go by in the blink of an eye and suddenly we find ourselves watching in disbelief as our little baby marches off to their first day of Kindergarten. As we stand there watching them walk timidly up the stairs to school, we suddenly have visions of them going off to college and panic sets in.   We repeatedly ask ourselves year after year, “Where does the time go?” We promise ourselves that we will do a better job of documenting this special time in our life so we don’t forget a single thing.  We arm ourselves with our trusty cameras (or digital devices) and anxiously snap away, but when it comes to having professional family photos taken we tend to get cold feet or put it off for years!
Chances are you know how invaluable family photos are, but everything associated with it may make you nervous.  We often find ourselves stressing over picking out the perfect outfits and the very thought of having our children sit and behave for photos can be exhausting, to say the least. However, I want to share with you some secrets on how to get the family photo of your dreams without all the stress!
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First and foremost, you need to let go of the preconceived idea of what the perfect family photo should look like. We’re constantly bombarded with images of families perfectly posed, with perfect outfits, perfect hair, and smiles. That’s simply not realistic.  Who wouldn’t feel a little intimidated when we think that’s what we have to live up to? In fact, that’s often the reason we put so much pressure on ourselves to look and play the part of “the picture perfect family.” We think “perfect” is necessary to get a beautiful family photo, but it’s not! In reality just being who you are is exactly what is needed to get the best photos of your family.  The most beautiful and memorable photos come when everyone feels like being who they are is enough. If your children hate to sit still for photos, don’t! If being serious isn’t your thing then take silly photos, do what comes naturally to your family. I promise you’ll be much happier with the results if you don’t try to be someone else’s idea of perfect. Just be yourselves, I’m confident you’ll have more fun that way.
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My greatest piece of advice is to try your best to let go of the insecurities you have about yourself. Your insecurities are just that, yours, they only bother you. I can guarantee that you have never looked at a picture of your parents and thought “Gosh, they really should have lost 20lbs before they had this picture taken!” In fact, the things we dislike about ourselves aren’t even a factor in the eyes of our children.  For instance, my son could care less that my hair is standing on end when I wake up. He would literally let me leave the house like that without a second thought. Regardless of what you think about yourself, your children will simply be happy that they have a picture with their parents. They’ll love the memories captured, no matter “how you think you look” in the photos.
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Another recommendation is to choose a photographer like you would a friend. I recommend talking to potential photographers on the phone or better yet in person. See if you have a real connection with the photographer. Chances are if you don’t feel comfortable with them over the phone or in person (regardless of how great their work is) you will not feel comfortable in front of their lens either.  While you’re talking with them, take note of how they make you feel and if their personality agrees with your personality and your families.  I believe that having a photographer with whom you have a connection with has a real impact on the overall outcome of the session as well as the memories associated with it. If you take photos with a photographer you like and who likes you, it’ll payoff tenfold!
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Finally, before you have your next family portrait session, take a moment to consider what you want your photos to say about who your family is at this moment in your lives. Do you want to look back and laugh about how goofy your boys were or do you want them to convey how tight knit your family was? Will the photographs show how silly your daughter was and how her main objective was to make you and your family laugh? I promise you, just a bit of forethought in this area will go a long way in helping you achieve the heartfelt family photos you’re longing for.  Be sure to share your vision with the photographer you chose, because it will be instrumental in completing your vision and result in quality photos!
I believe these suggestions will aid you in becoming more confident, stressing less and achieving the kind of photography that suits your family best. Whatever your family’s story, know that it’s authentic to you and should be documented in way that showcases that beauty and uniqueness.  Life is precious and so are the people we share it with, so promise yourself you’ll take action now and make it a priority to be photographed with your loved ones more often. I promise the memories you have captured today will be one of your greatest treasures in your family’s future!
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Thank you, Connie for your inspiration and words of wisdom. If you would like to see more of Connie’s work you can visit her web page HERE.  
The Villatoro family ended up getting a 12×9 hard cover photo book from AdoramaPix for their family photos. We think it turned out beautifully!