Whenever I am invited into someone’s home, the first thing I notice are family photos. Be it I am a photographer and these are things I enjoy, but there is something about walking into someone’s home and getting a glimpse into their lives. When I see a wall full of photographs I can begin to curate a story, if you will, of the people in them. It creates a sense of wonder for me, and a sense of pride for the person who adoringly walks me over to their wall to explain who is who and why they are important enough to be on their wall. There is something so very warm about a house with photographs, and something I am seeing less and less of.
I grew up in a family, who just like anyone else my age, had parents who routinely had their family photos taken. I can still remember walking into Sears and JcPenny in my dress that was too small for me and hair that was done by my best friend the night before. Of course as a kid, this was not fun for me! Who wanted to sit around a department store and wait in line to get their picture taken? It definitely wasn’t me, and I was counting down the minutes until I could put on my shorts and roller-blades. But my parents were adamant about documenting our lives together; so there I was, a girl sitting in a dress daydreaming about the outdoors.
Looking back, I can see how important it was for my parents to have us included in these and they really allowed us to own how we wanted to look in them. Our parents urged us to pick out our own clothes, do our own hair, and when we were old enough, our own makeup. How freeing, right? It wasn’t until later that I realized how important this tradition was and the impact it would have on me.
- A sense of Importance: After our yearly family photo sessions, our family would sit together and we would pick out our favorite photograph. Once we all agreed, our parents would order the prints and proceed to hanging them on the wall once they were ready. I felt like my decision was important, and I felt incredibly special to have my face on the wall people walked in to see everyday. This is my family, and they make me feel welcomed.
- A Sense of Happiness: If my family were to choose digital images to house on their computer instead of printing the photos to hang on the wall, I’m not sure I would feel as though I had a place in their home. Seeing an image, touching a photograph, seeing the connection you share can have an immensely positive effect on the human psyche. Displaying images prominently throughout the house can convey “you are important and I value the memories we have shared together.”
- Boost Self Esteem: One of the most hidden aspects of photography is the fact that it may help boost a child’s self esteem. Creating a sense of importance and happiness all come together to create a confident and self assuring kid. David Krauss, one of the leaders in Photo Therapy says, “It is so helpful for children to see themselves as a valued and important part of that family unit. A photographer’s job is to create and make the image look like a safe holding space for kids where they are safe and protected. Kids get it on a really simple level.”
Family photos are important for the development of confidence in your child and for a sense of place, but they can also be fun. One big thing I learned early on – no department store sessions! It is so freeing to be able to have a day of adventures with your family at the park, at the nearby beach, or walking in the city. I am just there documenting your day. Family photos should be real and represent who you are. At the end of it all, let the family photo session be an excuse to get out with your family and love on each other.