The holiday season is upon us, folks, and while I am a lover of all things Hallothanksmas, I find that if I don’t make an effort to protect myself from the forces of mistletoe, turtle doves and plaid, I get really burnt out. Maybe you feel this way too, or maybe you are the type to satisfy every nagging, sparkling holiday family and work request with another round of spiked eggnog. Either way, let’s talk for a moment.
This time of year is particularly overwhelming because not only is it so busy, but it can be incredibly high pressure in an emotional way. Moms are stressed about clothing choices, dads are resisting the urge to hide from the camera. It is what it is. The pressure is on to create the “perfect” family photo, and sometimes, clients set some high expectations that are completely out of my control.
Once, someone asked me to Photoshop wind. I still have no idea what the **** that means.
In the past, I got frustrated and had super high anxiety about the fall season. But I’ve learned over the years around this time that my wonderful, wonderful clients are not doing this on purpose. Pinterest, in-laws, and the cray cray expectations set by Minted and Target ads, are doing this to them.
This year, in the midst of saying “yes,” to everything, you have to decide what you will say “no” too. I plan to say no to several things this year: Hallmark movies portraying desperate female leads, pumpkin spiced candles, Christmas themed hand towels, cranberry sauce, and stressful family portraits.
This year, please, just try this.
Allow yourself and your children to be imperfect. Those perfect holiday photos are fake, just like the snow in them.
Allow your kids (and your partner) to get a bit dirty. A little bit of dirt never hurt anyone and never ruined a portrait. Photoshop exists for a reason— that reason is boogers and stains on shirts. Sit on the ground, make a snow angel, throw some leaves at each other, dribble hot chocolate down your dress. I really don’t care as long as you’re having a good time.
Allow your family to be goofy. Let your kid make whatever face they want. The smiles will come, and they will be bigger and brighter than anything that comes from forcing them. If you find yourself practicing smiles with your kids, google “photography headswap” and have a glass of wine with that “CHEESE!”
Allow yourself to enjoy the creative process. Something I continually say to all my clients: It is not just about how the photo looks. It is about how that photo makes you feel.
Allow yourself to let go of the images you have in your head of the Jones’s family portraits— no two families are alike. If you want a photo like the Jones’s, ask them if you can tag along next year. Let me capture YOUR family and mind ya business!
And finally, allow yourself to see the beauty in YOU. There will be so many pictures taken of you, and it can wear on your self esteem if you are not viewing them with the right mindset. View a portrait session as a chance to capture a bit of love for your children, for your spouse, for your parents. Try not to view your photos looking for the best one for social media.. I know it’s really hard, but that’s not the point. The point is to put some love on your walls, to freeze a little moment in time of your family— how you look at show affection NOW, not how you wish you looked and not how you’re comparing yourself.
Just a thought from your friendly, tired, holiday photo family photographer.
My heart was so full during this beautiful family session. These really embody everything I want when I go into a portrait session— little Norah lost her pants several times and mom and dad probably wished she wasn’t so obsessed with having leaves thrown at her face. But take a look at these. Thank you so much O’Neill family for letting me have fun with you and remember what this season is all about.