Every year my family holidays in Adelaide with my parents, which is where I grew up until High School. We always stay on the beach in Glenelg (which is the only time we go to the beach!), and this year I wanted to get a family photo shoot to celebrate our holiday together in a place that is very special to us all due to all the memories we’ve created there. I’m part of an amazing photography community called Click Love Grow, and through there I knew that I wanted my photographer to be Michelle Crush Photography as I wanted her to capture those candid moments and connections and I’ve seen that throughout her work. Even though I hate being in front of the camera (super awkward!), I also know how important it is to have those family memories. These are some of the things I learnt by having my own photo session:
Styling is Hard!
Especially when you’re trying to style for a family of 6, plus my parents. I knew I wanted to keep it light and that I wanted to include some pattern and texture, and that I wanted everyone to be comfortable. I was pretty sure of the outfit I was going to wear, so I based my colours around that. I ordered the clothes for the boys from Zara online – I wanted them to be similar but not ‘matchy’ – and in the end I decided to put Alby in the overalls to keep him looking a little different (and also because I love the texture of it and he looked ridiculously cute!). Alexi was originally going to wear a denim onesie, but then my mum chose a denim top with some gorgeous texture on it, and with Alby also wearing denim I thought it would be a bit of a ‘denim overload’ so found a feminine patterned onesie for her instead. My husband was the last on the list, but we found something in the wardrobe to tie in with everyone else. Basically I followed my own advice, and started with one outfit (mine) and then worked the colours for the others around that and added some texture and pattern. I also didn’t get the boys hair cut because I actually love their crazy locks – it’s a part of who they are and I didn’t want them to be all stiff and styled. I wanted them to be THEM! You can read my Styling Guide here and more Styling tips to help you plan your photo shoot here.
The stress is real!
Even though I wasn’t after the perfect ‘everyone smiling at the camera’ photo, I was still anxious about the kids moods before the photo shoot. I was worried about their sleep, and the fact that we’d be up well past their bedtime (sun sets in Adelaide around 830pm and the younger ones are normally in bed by 7pm!), and I was worried about them cooperating. These photos were important to me, as I know they are to anyone who takes the time to organise a photo session, and I wanted them to go ‘well’. Luckily I also had complete faith that my photographer would be able to capture something even if the kids were tired and not cooperating. Which leads me to my next point…
There is no ‘perfect time’ for photos
Don’t wait for the ‘perfect time’ for photos. There is no more perfect time than now. The kids don’t need to be a certain age, the weather doesn’t need to be a certain way, the time of day doesn’t matter (it’s one late night), everyone doesn’t have to behave a certain way, you don’t need to have the ‘perfect outfit’ or be the ‘perfect weight’. You just need to be YOU. NOW. YOUR FAMILY. There may be things that make it more stressful (young kids), things you’d prefer to be different (no gaps in their teeth), or other things that aren’t quite ‘perfect’. But when is that perfect time? There’ll always be a reason to stop you, a reason to make it harder or to put it at the bottom of the priority list. But who you are now is not who you’ll be tomorrow, and you should capture today. Look back on it in years to come and remember it – the good, the bad, the ugly. Life isn’t perfect, and neither are we – so don’t wait for that perfect time for photos. It certainly wasn’t the ‘perfect time’ for us in the sense that being out until past 9pm with an almost 2 year old is never going to be fun – yet that’s what our life is now, and I’ll remember that when I look back on the photos. And that’s real!!
A photo session should be done more than once
I’ve actually never had a family photo session (Shock, horror!) aside from capturing my birth with Alby, and then his newborn lifestyle session. But I’ve never had a photo session just for my family and this experience has taught me that me taking photos of my kids and occasionally handing the camera to someone to ‘grab a quick one of me too’ is just not enough. It’s taught me that I plan to do way more of these photo sessions – I want to capture my family all together at least once a year. I want to capture the connections and the changes, and us interacting whilst someone else observes. I want to see us through the lens and keep those memories precious for my kids, and for me.
It’s way better than a selfie
I can’t even explain to you how emotional I actually felt looking at these photos of ME with my kids, and even with my mum and husband. A photo beyond a selfie, or beyond passing the camera to someone. It felt like I was glimpsing into my life from the other side – I was seeing the cuddles from Louie and his little hands around my neck – I was seeing the way I bend down to talk to Alby and all those other little moments. These photos mean a lot to me, because as much as I love taking photos of the kids, it’s only part of their story when we’re not in them too. Seeing us in the photos too, seeing me in them, made their story feel more complete.
The investment is worth it
And yes, it’s an investment. I know how much time goes into a photo session before, during and after the session. It’s way more than just ‘clicking the camera a few times’. Yes, anyone can ‘take a photo’ but not everyone can create a beautiful image or capture a beautiful moment in an artistic way, and if you want someone to do that for you, then it’s an investment which is well worth it. Frame those photos afterwards, put them in a photo book. If it’s important enough, there’s always a way to make it happen and invest in some precious memories before everything changes again.
A huge thank you to Michelle Crush Photography for her amazing skills, patience (grumpy toddler/resistant 8 year old), and for delivering me some beautiful memories that I’ll cherish always. If you’d love to create some beautiful memories of your own family, I’m more than happy to help you out! Check out my Family Portfolio and Contact me here.