Every year about this time I start thinking (and stressing) about my own family photos. I think about how much work it takes to find time in our schedules, I think about navigating the moods of two 8 year olds and a busy husband. I think about picking the "perfect" location, the "perfect" outfits and the 5lbs I really should lose beforehand. By the time I'm done I've almost talked myself out of doing photos all together. So I thought it might be a good time to remind myself why I put myself through this every year..and why I will continue to do so.
I am by nature someone who likes to document life. I've felt compelled to do so since I was a kid. I started making photo albums when I was 8 years old to keep a record of the milestones and the mundane. To me, photos are memory bookmarks. Without them I wouldn't remember where things happened, or who I was with or (God forbid) what I was wearing. There are times I look at a photo and am absolutely astonished that I had completely forgotten about an event or even a person that was definitely worth remembering!
So I hope you'll join me on my little trip down memory lane....
2014. Chris and I were just dating but I still wanted to get a photo of all of us together. I remember that this was the first time I picked out clothes for the kids. I was just getting started in photography and, although I cringe at the technical issues I see in the image, I love everything else about it. Brayden was going through that stage where his camera smile looked more like a pained grimace. Kinsley looks so sweet and so tiny on her daddy's lap. I remember breaking into a sweat setting up the tripod, framing the shot, prefocusing and then hoping the remote would work all the while trying to hurry before the kids lost interest.
2015. I had asked a photographer friend of mine, Tammy Zelez, to take our photos. Though I do have a certain pride in taking our family photos myself, I have to say that hiring another photographer is definitely the way to go! We took these images at 7:00 am on a Saturday at Scottsdale Civic Center, which means we were all up at 5 am. The weather was overcast and I was so disappointed because I thought that would ruin the whole thing, we've all been there right? I think this was probably the second to last time Kinsley ever let me put her in a dress. The kids were so incredible while Tammy did our photos, I remember being so proud of them and their manners. They kept coming up with different poses and ideas for photos, I loved their interest in the process. To this day this is still one of my all time favorite photos of our family.
Summer 2015. I was inspired by the new Mad Max movie and the fact that the summer seemed to be going on forever! I think the whole family thought I was nuts with this one, but they went along with it. I told them to put on their "game faces" (normally reserved for Bronco games). I did this image on a tripod with a remote in my hand. In the back of my mind I'm always thinking "this is never going to work"...but somehow, it always does. When you do photos yourself you have to want that image badly enough to put up with a high level of logistics, stress and impatience from the family. I guess I just want these images enough to always work a bit for them.
2016 started rough. This was the night before we had to put our dog, Jasmyn, to sleep. We were so sad and I wanted to make sure we had photos of all of us together. No one was in the mood for photos, but I just knew we would regret it if we didn't. I set up the tripod and we just started loving on our sweet dog and somehow we captured this shot of all of us laughing. It was probably because Marlie kept doing something silly, like putting her rear in the camera. Jasmyn was 14 years old and yet we didn't have one picture of all of us together, which makes this such a precious photo.
2016...again. I decided to hire Josh and Jennifer Koch, our wedding photographers, to do our family photos in a citrus orchard near our new home. This was the first time I'd actually gone shopping for outfits for photos - of course doing so the night before in a blind panic. It was fun and weird to be on the other side of the camera. The night was so absolutely beautiful, Josh and Jennifer were fun and fast. I loved not having to be photographer and subject, that I could just have fun with the family and not worry about lighting or focus or hiding the remote. We took the kids to Peter Piper afterward because they were so great during the session.
2017 was the year that got away from me. I had incredible intentions of really digging in and being present during the holidays. I was going to make all the traditional family treats, have the perfect gifts for friends and family, host get-togethers with my precious neighbors, use that damn elf-on-the-shelf to teach the kids essential life lessons, be more fun, be the perfect co-Mom, take the most perfect family photo and send out cards well before the end of the year.... And then all of a sudden it was December 20th and I had done nothing except agonize over that unchecked list of "to do's" and I was running out of time. I remember the feeling of urgency as I shopped furiously for the perfect holiday PJs (which had been clearanced off the shelves weeks prior). I threatened and bribed and pleaded with the kids to do what I wanted in order to capture the "perfect" family photo...and we got it. The perfect representation of our family in that moment.
So yes, family photos can be stressful, but they are so worth the trouble. I will continue to make a nuisance of myself to my family every single year to make sure that we get that memory bookmark that will remind us of where we have been and how far we have come.