Why I Force My Family to Do Yearly Photo Shoots

I couldn't be more excited that it's (finally) Memorial Day, the unofficial start to Summer and one of my very favorite weekends of the year. My family's tradition is to travel back to my hometown in Indiana, where we attend the city's annual art fair, visit with friends who look forward to the Indianapolis 500 all year (I might lose my Hoosier card by admitting I've never gone), and take advantage of the services of a seriously excellent local photographer. It's the latter that tends to cause just a bit of drama in my household. You see, I have somewhat of an obsession with getting my family's photos professionally taken, and I'm definitely the only one who wholly enjoys the experience.

My husband is a confirmed photographer avoider, my son thinks all outdoor experiences should involve eating dirt, and my daughter, a ham for sure, doesn't really like to share the spotlight . . . or wear clothes. So it is not always smooth sailing at our family's photo sessions, but there are four main reasons I force the issue time and time again.

  1. I am terrible at remembering to take photos. I love professional photo shoots because it forces us to stop and capture a moment, which I rarely remember to do in my own life. I am not the girl who suggests a pic during a dinner out with friends or family, and there are whole vacations, birthday parties, and months of my kids' lives that have been totally undocumented. I'm OK with this, as I like to think that I'm actually living my life instead of observing it through a lens (or, let's be honest, an iPhone screen), but I like the idea of stopping at least once a year to record where we are in our lives. Of course, it helps that we've found a couple of photographers who are not only talented at capturing the best version of my family but also don't mind doing a little postshoot Photoshop work.
  2. It's the one day I can get my daughter to wear clothes I like. Getting my daughter dressed in size-appropriate, matching clothing is a daily struggle, and it's one that I've mostly given up (hence why she's currently at school in a dress so short she's surely flashing her giraffe-printed underwear while I write this). But, for some magical reason, she's willing to wear pretty much whatever I want during our photo shoots. So the Crewcuts and Lilly Pulitzer dresses that she refuses to wear in her daily life? At least I'll always have them documented on film.
  3. My kids refuse to stop growing. It's rather annoying that my 16-month-old son just keeps getting bigger. He's my last baby, he's now 31 pounds, and by next week, he'll probably be bigger than his 4-year-old sister and talking in full sentences. I am not a big "baby person," but even I am alarmed at how quickly he's turned into a little kid, who's currently obsessed with shoes, cleaning windows with baby wipes, and hitting his sister. I have a real need to freeze time, and a gorgeous, professional image is pretty much the only way to do that.
  4. Our life isn't perfect, but it is beautiful. Life with two small children isn't easy (duh), and there are many days that I feel defeated by sleep deprivation, temper tantrums, teething, constant requests . . . the list goes on and on . . . and on. I, like most moms I'm sure, have moments of thinking, "What possessed me to sign up for this?" I used to have energy! And fun! And no stretch marks! But the truth is, I wouldn't change a thing about my current life, as crazy making as it often is. And when a photographer gets a great picture of my kids, one so lovely that I never would have been able to take it myself, one that perfectly captures their sweet, silly, wild little souls, I have a lifelong reminder of the beauty that fills our current life together. While our photo sessions might be stressful, and admittedly, they aren't cheap, that to me is completely worth it.