Your Family is Not a Pinterest Family, and That's Okay.

December 8, 2017

Go to Google images, or Pinterest, and search for any combination of "family", "sunny", "autumn", "beautiful", "cute", "smiling", "trendy" and "photo ideas".  You will start to pick up on a couple of themes: one, there are no ugly people on Pinterest.  Two, you can't have a proper family photo without a golden almost-sunset (Golden Hour, for you in-the-know people) streaking through a rich forest canopy, or perhaps bright sunshine perfectly back-lighting a pair of siblings as they frolic through a wheat field.  Lately, you'll also have a plaid-wearing crew laughing in front of a rustic barn, shot straight on at about knee-level, gently toned with blue and brown shadows.


Now, I'm not trying to downplay the technical skill and objective artistry it takes to make those photos.  There are plenty of AMAZING photographers out there - most much better than me - and they absolutely deserve to have their work shared by clients and emulated by lesser photographers.  The point I'm slowly driving to is this: these Pinterest families are not your family, and that's okay.  (Unless, of course, you've actually seen your own family photo shared by strangers online.)


I have no issue looking through other people's photos and getting ideas for poses, colors, props, backgrounds, etc.  That's all fine, and I encourage my clients to do so.  What I do have a problem with, though, is when we try and chase a certain look, or certain 'feeling' of a Pinterest photo.  Let's try those poses, or try for those backgrounds, but let's get a photo of YOUR family.  Let's get a goofy photo of your family that captures the personality and character of your kids.  Let's get a photo of you guys laughing and playing together, because in 10 years when you look back you won't care that your posing isn't perfect, or that your toddler was too preoccupied with his feet to look at the camera.  


As your photographer, I want to produce the absolute best photos of your family that I can.  I want you to share them all over your Facebook (and tag me!  I need the Likes!) and print them out to put above the fireplace or mail to relatives.  But more than that, I want to deliver photos that capture what your family is all about, not photos that just get lost in the sea of overexposed smiling faces. 


I guess the point of all this is: don't sweat it.  If you want cooperative photos of your small kids, let's do those first before they get bored.  Once we have those, let's just let your family loose, and work with what we get.  I guarantee that the improvised, in-between shots will be the ones with the most meaning as you look back on them years from now.  


(Why the photo at the top of this page?  Well, it may not mean much to those that don't know my family, but for us it totally tells the story about what was happening 3 summers ago.  Sure, my sons' head is partially out of frame and nobody is actually looking at the camera.  But the dumb look on my face as I try to keep my little girl from crying reminds me how difficult those months were when she had very few happy days.  My little guy has a remote in his hand; it's the remote for my camera that I gave him because he wanted to help his daddy with taking pictures.  It's these little details that make me and my wife love this photo, even if we'll never see it shared on someone else's blog or on a Pinterest board.)


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