Fall is officially here!
That means sweaters, pumpkin spice everything, lots of raking, and of course, family pictures.
I mean who doesn’t want to dress their family up in coordinating outfits, pose really close together in awkward positions, and end up hating each other by the time you’re done?
I’m just kidding, but doesn’t getting the perfect family picture sometimes feel that way? It tends to involve a lot of directing (and re-directing) children, a lot of “get away from there” and “come back here,” and by the end, you’re usually so convinced that you didn’t get a single good shot that you’re just done and ready to go home?
I know that’s how a lot of people feel about family pictures. And I get that. We had a family picture session that started and ended with almost everyone in tears. It was rough.
But now that I’m older, have more kids, and am more used to motherhood, I don’t feel that way about family pictures anymore. I don’t stress about getting the perfect family picture, because I have a different view of what the “perfect family picture” entails.
I love pictures that are beautiful and staged and could be in a magazine, but I also recognize that’s not how real life is. Most of the time, my daughter’s attention is elsewhere, my two-year-old has food on his face, and my oldest rocks an Alfalfa-style cowlick. My kids are usually all over the place and seeing them all smiling and looking in a perfect family picture, while impressive, just isn’t reality.
Last year we had family pictures taken for the first time in three years. We went down by the Mississippi and had a photographer friend snap some pictures of us walking around and playing. She had us pose in a few places, but about half of the pictures she took were just pictures of us being us.
My favorite picture she took of us, she actually sent to me as a joke. It shows my husband looking flustered, my oldest son clinging to his dad, our daughter being her crazy self, and me completely focused on our toddler in my arms. It’s such a perfect snapshot of our family and what life was really like for us in that moment that I almost put it on our Christmas card last year.
That “perfect” family picture wasn’t planned or posed, and it looks like only our daughter knew it was even being taken. But it’s my favorite of all the ones our photographer captured. And that’s why I don’t stress about getting the perfect family picture.
The perfect family picture will look different for everyone, but it’s not something you need to lose sleep over. When you look back at your life in 10 or 20 years, what are you going to want to see? For me, I’m going to want to see the real-life moments. The ones that summarize what life was like at this stage of life. It’s messy, crazy, chaotic, loud, stressful, joyful, and full of love. And while they’re beautiful and nice to look at, the posed, clean, “perfect” family pictures don’t show that.
When you schedule your family photo shoots this fall, try to relax and remember that all you really need is one good picture, and you’re bound to get that. Let your kids hold sticks in the photos. Don’t worry about fixing your hair in every shot. Tell yourself that it’s okay if not everyone is looking at the camera.
Because that’s real life, mama, and it’s perfect.