Yes, even a photographer's family photo session is stressful!
(Our first family photo at Persimmon Lane - taken by Michelle Croson Photography, 2015)
Can I be honest? Yearly family photos are stressful for me! And yes, I use professional photographers too! I spend days or even weeks looking for the perfect outfits for my family just like you do. I try to use what we have but apparently we don't dress nice often enough because my oldest son only seems to own that one token button-up shirt! That's just not gonna work! None-the-less the outfit choosing is just the beginning! It continues with, "my husband is 6'4" and I have NO clue how to shop for his long lean torso. It's even more fun because no matter what I pick for my teen daughter, she'll still hate it. It's not even her fault, because that's just how being a teenager works! Will my little boys get their shirts dirty before we even start? Of course they will! They have to have new shirts because they don't even fit the same clothes from last year, and not that I would ever allow our family photos to be taken in a repeat outfit, but you get what I'm saying - it's stressful man! Once I am able to check outfits off that list, there's the scheduling! Who needs to leave work early? Do the kids need haircu
ts or can we just gel their hair to an acceptable oblivion? Do kids need to be picked up early from school (are there tests they'll miss?) What time is sunset? How will I have time to cook dinner - should we just eat out? If we eat out should we change clothes first, or go in public all dressed up (as if our server at Bob Evans would even be impressed)? Scheduling is just the worst! I hate it and I am grateful I only force my family into these sorts of things once...okay twice a year! (family in the fall, kids only in the spring + obligatory first day of school pics!) So the day of my session arrives! Let me outline some REAL scenarios that have happened on our family photo day so you don't feel like your family is THE WORST.
Spent the night prior in the ER because my daughter broke her ankle falling down the stairs (I was on a photoshoot when this happened)! So the day of the shoot we had to get her cast put on. Not only did she not have ANY pants to fit over her cast, but she also chose a BRIGHT orange (I mean like construction cone orange) cast with yellow glitter. Getting her to smile - yeah, no. NOT happening.
Husband announced that he had to leave for soccer practice. No, he didn't play soccer but he was the coach and the other coach was absent. Our photos that day were extremely rushed and I should have bought the photographer a new
Mercedes for putting up with that circus! We got about 5 minutes out of my husband before he rushed off!
Once arrived to find the family scheduled after us waiting. This meant that we felt stressed and rushed BEFORE WE EVEN STARTED! Even though we were on time, they were early - this resulted in me feeling like I was doing something wrong and all I could think about was being watched and judged! I was using my batman voice on my kids the whole time to get that painful experience over with fast!
And then there was the "I'm a photographer, I can just shoot my own family"! Well, let's just say that was the dumbest thing I've ever done. Teens don't smile, toddlers don't listen and husbands? They were over it the minute they saw the plaid sweater and loafers. Oof, what was I thinking?
Another time I had to plan our family photos the day before. Our cat had to be put to sleep the next day, and we made the plan to get our yearly photos with him in it. Of course I didn't hire anyone and it was such short notice that I slapped a camera in my son's 21 year old friend's hand and hoped for the best. Thankfully I only really wanted one family photo and all the praying worked because we managed to get the photo. I also only spent about 20 minutes buying outfits that afternoon. It's amazing how much less you agonize over the details when you're out of time to plan!
All in all, I still love all my images! I love them so much and I look forward to sending out our Christmas Card every year! Or better stated - failing to send the cards I ordered! Getting them out is even more stress! However, if you've been lucky enough to receive one you know It's always the same pose - sitting in the same order, in front of our home - and we even include our dogs and cats! (another whole set of stress). But still, as a photographer I know what to do to make things easier which means...dear client...you've got it way harder than I do!