I know a lot of you are thinking, “A family photo session in my home!?”
If you follow my work then you know that I often talk about having a family photo session in the comfort of your own home. You may have heard of these referred to as lifestyle, documentary, journalistic, candid, or storytelling photo sessions but I like to simply just call them, family photo sessions at home. :) However, I know the initial thought of this makes most Mom’s think, “No way!”.
Well let me tell you, this is also exactly what I thought! Although we live on 90 acres of beautiful farmland with fields, woods and three ponds, the house we reside in is a little farmhouse that is over 125 years old. It is full of imperfections, bad lighting and did I mention that it is small!? But you know what, even with all of its imperfections, I also love this tiny little farmhouse. We have lived here for over nine years, and those have been nine amazing years filled with memories! Memories that we have created right here within the walls of this little old totally imperfect house.
And you know what else, I miss the other totally imperfect houses that we called home and I wish I had more photographs of us in them. We brought our three baby boys home to three different houses, before we moved to the farm. My oldest came home to a small, one-bedroom apartment that sat on the third floor of a big old house. My 2nd son came home to 100+ year old duplex that we briefly rented before we bought our first (also very old) house, which is where our 3rd baby came home to. I always felt like that not one of our homes were “photo-worthy” but the memories that we made in them were very worthy of being photographed. They were all imperfect and quirky but we lived our memorable lives inside them.
I also wish I had more images from the many homes I lived in throughout my own childhood. When I was a kid we moved a handful of times. There was the house I was born in and the house I moved out of when I was 21 and a handful of homes in between. Each home we lived in holds memories of my childhood and I only wish I had more images inside and outside of those houses to help me remember the memories that are fading fast as I grow older.
I know us Moms are guilty of comparing and we often compare our homes to pictures of other homes that are not reality. Maybe it’s the pictures we see in a magazine, store catalog, Pinterest and Instagram, but guess what, most of that is not reality! A home should look lived in and not straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog! Our homes help tell our story! The objects lying around our homes play a key role in storytelling. The coffee mug that Mom embraces each morning while she greets sleepy-eyed children and the basket of favorite toys and the leaning stack of favorite books are all part of our story. So are the piles of laundry that seem to gather everywhere and the random sippy cups stashed around the living room. These are literally our real-life props!
Not long ago I asked on social media what concerns you may have about having a photo session at your home. I heard most of the same objections that I hear when I suggest to clients to have photos taken in their home. Guess what, I totally get ALL of these reasons to not want to do it but perhaps we can get past these “fears” and realize capturing your real-life moments are way more important.
These are the most common objections that I hear when people ask themselves about having a family photo session in their home.
“My house is too old/dark/tiny/cluttered/messy.“
I have photographed hundreds of families in hundreds of homes and I have yet to be in a house that I thought was “too old/dark/tiny/cluttered/messy”! But, if you are still convinced that this is true, I promise that there are ways around it. You can either toss all the clutter into one room and say, let’s just not go in there OR you can just accept that your home is well-loved and LIVED IN. Accept that your home does not look like the page out of an Ikea catalog and that it is beautifully unique to you and your amazing family. Also, when I am photographing your family I have a talent for keeping the “clutter” out of the frame.
If your home is not well lit with natural light, you can open all of your blinds and curtains and let more light in. Besides, did I mention how dark my house is? That does not stop me from documenting my kids in my home.
I have also heard: “let’s wait until we get the new carpeting/flooring/paint the walls/new sofa/remodel the kitchen/move into a new house, etc., etc.,…” Ummm, to this I say no. Really. Let’s not wait. You and your kids are not getting any younger. Let’s embrace your home and your family the way it is right now.
“I hate to be photographed”
You’re preaching to the choir here. I have yet to meet another photographer that is comfortable on THAT side of the camera. But guess what? Our kids do not see our roots, gray hairs or extra pounds. Seriously, all you have to do is remember that this is not just for US, it is for THEM. It is also for our possible future grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We are our own worst critics and no one else sees the imperfections that we see when we look in the mirror.
I have zero regrets about the times I had a photographer photograph my family. Also, the right photographer will make you feel comfortable being photographed. And having a session in your home means you will feel more relaxed and calm in your own environment.
“We’re not very interesting/boring”
I promise you that your family is not boring! Your family may not do super exciting things while you’re at home but your family is unique and your story deserves to be documented.
What if my kids…act like kids…
This is another one I hear often: “My son hates to be photographed”, “My daughter will never sit still for photos!” or “We’re in the middle of the terrible two’s/three’s/four’s!”. Did you know that I have three kids? I totally understand this fear. And if we were doing a regular portrait session I might be a little concerned but when you have a documentary-style photo session at home, none of this matters. Let the kids be themselves.
My husband hates to have family photos!
Oh Mom, believe me when I say that I one-hundred percent understand this. My husband is one of the MAIN reasons I do these kinds of “real life” sessions. Ask me about the time I dressed him in too-small khaki shirts and a too-large white polo for our first family portraits and he had the nerve to say it was all “phony”. Long story short, he was right. The photos are gorgeous but I am not sure who those people are in the photos. I promise that Dad will enjoy this kind of photo session. He can wear what he wants and he can just be his awesome dad-self.
I have no idea what we will all wear!?
Oh, this one is super easy. Wear what you love and what you are comfortable in! This goes for you, your husband and your children. Yes, you will let your three-year-old wear his favorite shirt with the superhero cape and yes, your daughter can most certainly wear that tutu and crown. Please be yourselves. It’s as simple as that.
I also think it is so important to get photos of your kids in their bedrooms! I love to get an environmental portrait of them surrounded by their favorite things! And I know some families put a lot of thought and time into decorating bedrooms so let me capture that for you!
Also keep in mind that if the weather allows for it, we can take photos on your front porch and in the yard! I love to capture these kinds of images for families! These are the photos that you’re children will want to see when they are older, especially if you move!
I hope that if you are asking yourself, A family photo session in my home!, that this may have you think about it differently! However, if you are still not comfortable with it, we can most definitely still meet up at one of your favorite parks or other locations!
Are you on Instagram? I’d love to connect with you over there!
~All images by Mary Beth Miller Photography ~
Mary Beth Miller Photography specializes in newborn and family photography in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas.