FAMILY - We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
As a mother, I don’t normally ask my family for too much, but I do always tell them if I had to pick one gift for Christmas, Mother’s Day, my birthday or any reason at all they would want to gift me anything – I always want it to be pictures of us together. For me, family portraits are a gift of time and memories which I believe are the most cherished things in life.
I know from my years of experience, if your husband or kids are not really down with the whole family photos gig, requesting it as a single gift can’t really be denied. Make it your number one mom request (well, if it genuinely is) and you will have those cherished photos on your walls in no time. Especially if it’s been awhile since you have had your family portraits taken. Or perhaps if you want new family portraits for a particular year as your birthday gift or anniversary gift.
I recently went through having my own family photographed and realized it really is quite a process. I wanted to title this “5 simple steps” that got our family prepared, but honestly, they aren’t really all that simple. And like everything else in life worth having, it’s actually a lot of work and commitment. Perhaps knowing that I understand it’s not so simple and I too have been there will ease your mind that you are not alone in the dread of getting your family ready.
After reminding my family of my heart's desire for family photos I began:
- I contacted my favorite family photographer to see his availability and make an appointment. (PJ Schlobohm, at Memories by PJ is not only often my second shooter, but he is kind enough to also be our family photographer.) I know he’s a busy photographer himself, so I did this a full month ahead of time. After working around mine and my husband’s full-time work schedules and our two teenage daughters schedules that include sports, school, and social life, I found a date my photographer was available and I believed I could make work. I realized someone in our family would inevitably miss out or be inconvenienced, but such is life and I believe this is just as important as anything else on our schedules. And of course, it was a special mom request after all, so I pulled rank.
- Decided on a location with my photographer. We chose Fort Monroe this year! I love the serenity of the area and the many options for settings.
- Planned our color palette, overall style and clothes. I find dressing everyone to be the biggest hurdle. Wardrobe choices with teen girls is always up for potential debate. I decided on a casual look and used a color palette generator to create a palette to work with. I chose fall dresses for my oldest and I, black jeans for my youngest and navy pants for my husband. Since my dress had tiny multicolored flowers, I wanted my husband to be completely dressed in solids. My older daughter wore a solid dress, so I added a scarf to her outfit and my youngest wore a textured sweater with tiny specs of color. I chose black as a basic neutral color and added that to my color palette to keep us all looking unified.
- I tried to head off any other possible issues. I made sure everyone’s hair was cut. (That also includes grays getting covered for me.) I made sure everyone had the necessary undergarments. (That means Spanks for me.) I discussed with my teen daughters the appropriate makeup for family portraits (since we are not all makeup guru’s like my oldest and can’t all show up looking like supermodels). I am crazy about half on nail polish so I made sure everyone either had no polish or freshly painted nails. And lastly, I ensured all our shoes fit & that we all agreed on them.
- Bribery tactics agreed on and the deal is made. This is the only real thing I can do to make sure this really happens! Yes, I bribe my family to cooperate, even with it being my special mom request, I do offer incentives for those smiles. My girls picked Starbucks as their cooperation reward and my husband picked County Grill for lunch afterward. (Yes, my husband too, everyone gets a cooperation reward!) I am not much on meat (ugh) but okay – DEAL. It’s on, I’m getting family portraits.
For full transparency here, I’m going to tell you that even being fully prepared and a seasoned pro at this – this is how our family photos actually went down:
Everyone still grumbled the night before. The morning consisted of oversleeping, disputes over if we should take the dog or not, burning the blueberry muffins, tears over makeup fails, all of this means we were running late and I reached crazy mom status and called it all off. Ahhhhhh yes, good times. My solid as a rock husband, who knows how much family photos mean to me pulled through as the hero of the day. He calmed all of us and managed to get us all out the door and for the most part, emotionally recovered by the time we arrived. I worried all morning over whether I had made a mistake trying to bother with our family portraits, but, after the fuss, it ended up being worth every bit of hassle. I love them!! I am incredibly thankful for my kind, talented friend and fellow photographer PJ Schlobohm, for the lifelong gift of our family portraits. Didn’t he do an amazing job making us all look perfectly calm and happy? A good photographer can do that, ya know?
I know family is hard and each family has their own kind of crazy – but that’s what makes them all special. I get it. But, I also know that each time I look at my walls I will remember that we are happy together and I wouldn’t want to give up a single crazy moment with these people.