After my children’s spring school photos came home from school a couple days ago, I felt compelled to do a personal post about the meaning of photos to me… and how I treasure their little personalities shining through.
This week the kids brought home a preview of their school photos for us to view/purchase. Our school uses a big chain school photography service. Our kids get standard portraits in the fall against a solid background and then the photographers come again in the spring for ‘fancy’ photos that feature a wide array of ‘scenery’ to choose from.
We opened Drew’s package first. He is our 9-year-old. Full of personality, very silly and likes to be in front of the camera. His school photo, however, shows him mouth closed with a hint of a smile and stiff back, knee up, elbow on knee. It is completely out of character for him. I wish I could show you the photo but I wouldn’t want to infringe on copyright laws. Here is a link to a video I made (before I had decided to do this blog post) that shows Drew describing what the photographer told him to do. It’s pretty cute.
Henry’s photos weren’t any better… our freckle-faced happy-go-lucky guy was again shown with mouth closed, hint of a smile, stiff back, knee up and elbow on knee. The exact pose his brother had. We teased him about the scenery, one of which showed him on a cliff above the ocean. We asked him “Henry, were you scared up there on the cliff?” He was rather confused
Last was Will. Our ornery 3-year-old who is ALWAYS smiling and having fun. He actually DID show a smile in his photo, but in Erica’s words “It looks like a dental exam photo”! He had his bottom teeth stuck WAY out in front of his top with the OBVIOUS “cheese” escaping at the same time. It was probably one of the WORST photos I’ve ever seen of him.
Honestly, I don’t even dress my kids in fancy clothes for picture day at school because I know that Erica or Jennifer will be doing their milestone photos and they will be much better. But, when I saw these particular school photos I was struck by this feeling of… WHAT IF this was the only ‘professional’ photo I had of them for the entire year? Would I remember their personalities at this particular age? Would the photos spark memories of silliness and orneriness? I want photos to remind me of the memories of moments in my life, not to give me a fake and not very cute view of how they looked on picture day.
Then my thoughts turned to all of you, our beloved, dedicated clients. Many of you have heard me say “Choose photos for your wall that EVOKE EMOTION.” The traditional sit and look at the camera and smile photos are cute, and there is definitely a place for those in your home. But the photos you won’t tire of, the ones you’ll want to look at in your home for years to come… those are the photos that remind you of something you love about your children or your family. Maybe it’s a silly face one of the kids does when they get embarrassed. Or maybe it’s their serious look that you see all too often. It could also be the kids wrestling in the grass because they wouldn’t cooperate for pictures (just like they don’t cooperate for half the things you attempt to do with them together at home). Whatever it is, it’s meaningful and timeless.
Some of you do amazingly beautiful family sessions each fall so you can get your Christmas card photo or updated family portrait. In addition to that session … I can tell you from personal experience that doing a milestone session focused on just one child is much EASIER and it really allows them to have time to shine:) I do this every year for each of my boys (in addition to our family photos/sibling photos) and each year I am so thrilled to see that their true personalities really are portrayed in the photos.
I have to put a plug in here for our FREE birthday session and our ALL ABOUT ME session. The FREE birthday promo session really is the PERFECT easy way to get better ‘school photos’ or ‘milestone’ photos of your kids. The session is completely free, then you come in about a week later to view/select digital files. It’s so simple, not much more expensive than what you would have spent on school photos… and they are WAY cuter! If you’re looking for something more, we have clients that do our ALL ABOUT ME session every year and some that do it on certain years (like 2,5,10,etc). These sessions are basically a PREFERRED PORTRAIT SESSION focused on one child. The end result is an ADORABLE keepsake album. Many times it includes fun information about your child at a particular age. It’s the ultimate keepsake and the photos from these sessions are typically bursting with personality!
I hope you take from this a realization of the importance of capturing the true spirit of your children each year. It may not seem like they change much, especially as they get older, but they really do. Whether it’s an expression, a haircut, their height, their feet… they are ALWAYS changing and you’re going to blink and they will be all grown up.
What kind of milestone photos will you have to look back on?
I will leave you with a series of Drew’s yearly milestone photos starting at age 2…. check out all the personality shining through!