I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this post for several weeks but it was Allison Tate’s recent Huffington post blog “The Mom Stays in the Picture” that finally spurred me into action.  If you haven’t already read it, I would encourage you to do so.

It’s Fall or what I affectionately refer to as “Family Photography Season”.  A lot of people have Fall photos and holiday photos on their minds, myself included.  People are worrying about trying to book a photographer.  Finding the right location. Choosing clothes that are flattering and your kids will actually wear.  Pleading with the higher powers that their kids are willing to participate because as beautiful as candid photos are most families want what I refer to as the “Grandma shot”: everyone smiling and looking at the camera.

I have been a photographer for 15 years and a full-time professional photographer for two.  By the end of this year I will have photographed just over 400 sessions in the last two years.  Since I’m a family photographer it would make sense that family photos are important to me.  That I encourage people to have family photos taken.  That I think hiring a professional photographer is worth the investment.  I see a lot of blog posts and Facebook updates from photographers about how important hiring a family photographer is; how important family memories are; and the importance of professional skill and talent when it comes to choosing your photographer.  I wholeheartedly agree with them and I also practice what I preach.

I’ve spent the last week gathering up shoes, shirts, and accessories for our family photography session, which is scheduled for this Sunday.

Am I nervous?  Of course.  Wrangling three boys in front of a camera, professional skills aside, is sweaty and exhausting work

Do I want to have my photo taken?  Not particularly.  I’d like to get rid of the veins on my cheeks, the nonexistent hairstyle (if it can even be called that), and all the baby weight (and more) I’m still carrying.

But I have still scheduled a session with another photographer because these moments with my boys are fleeting and they are growing up so fast.  I take hundreds of photos of them every week it’s not enough because even though I regularly hand the camera over to my husband it means one of us is missing from the photo.

When I tell my clients that ‘I understand” I really do.  I have paid for sessions: I understand the financial commitment.  I have gone shopping the night before a session 30 minutes before the stores close: I understand the stress of choosing the right clothes.  I have cringed (inwardly) while posing with my beautiful family because I don’t like how I look: I understand how self-conscious and vulnerable you are when you’re standing in front of the camera.  I will keep hiring and working with other photographers because these memories are precious to me and I also want my clients to know that I really understand what it’s like to be in their shoes (and on the other side of the camera).

This spring I had a maternity session with Stephanie of In Frame Photography.  Until recently she’s the only person who had ever photographed my family (aside from myself).  Not only do my kids love her but I trust her and wouldn’t have bared my pregnant belly for another living soul except her.  I get asked several times a month if I photograph weddings (I don’t) and when the question arises I send them to Stephanie.

I took my own maternity photos throughout the course of my pregnancy (on a weekly basis) but I wanted to have my own maternity session because I wanted photos of our family of four before we became a family of five.  I could have set-up my tripod and timer or remote but there would have been a lot of running back and forth and fiddling and it wouldn’t have been fun (for anyone) and believe it or not photography sessions can be fun (sweating and wrangling aside).  The memories Stephanie captured for us are all over the walls of our home because even though we’re now a family of five it was such a special time in our lives that I don’t want to forget it.

Everyone assumed that once my littlest was born I’d do my own newborn photos.

Nope.

Knowing I was having a c-section (and what the recovery entailed) meant that I wanted to hand over my squishy baby boy to another professional so that I didn’t have to worry about missing the ideal window of time or about all the editing and work that a newborn session entails (at least 10 hours).  I hired Melissa Morrissey of Melissa Morrissey Photography and when Colin was just six days old the entire family headed over to her studio for our session.

Melissa specializes in maternity and newborn photography and her work reflects that.  She is incredibly skilled and I absolutely love her photos.

There was still wrangling and sweating BUT my family was in her capable hands, which meant I could sit back and watch moments like this one unfold:

My husband was not popping Skittles s into my middle son’s mouth to keep him still.  Or maybe he was…

Colin managed to pee all over (drenched to the bone) his big brother’s lap during this shot but you’d never know from the final photo

Colin grabbed his big brother’s toe all on his own in this photo.  These two have had a special bond from day one.

Me in my white t-shirt (bought at 8:30 the night before) and possibly make-up (dug up from the bottom of the cupboard) snuggling my long-awaited third baby boy

Like Stephanie’s beautiful photos, Melissa’s also adorn several walls in our home.  I just ordered a 3 foot wide canvas of the photo of the three boys together because the enlargement I have just isn’t big enough.  I still get goose bumps when I look at the photo of my three boys together.

On Sunday my whole family will be gussied up for our session with Jenna of jsparks photography.  I approached Jenna for our family session because as much as I want photos of my family of five I also want breastfeeding photos and there are very few photographers in Ottawa who specialize in taking them.  Jenna’s fun and fresh style will be perfect for my boisterous boys and I’m looking forward to also having memories of my nursing relationship with Colin.

Please know that when you email or call with concerns about what to wear don’t feel embarrassed or that you’re wasting my time: when I’m the one in front of the camera I ask the same questions!

When your son or daughter doesn’t want to be part of the photo or isn’t smiling don’t worry about it: I have three kids and a slew of tricks up my sleeve for making your kids feel comfortable and involved.  I’ve also been the parent trying to coerce my 3 year old into sitting still for more than 3 seconds!  He’s 4 and still utterly incapable of not moving for more than a nanosecond.

When you are nervous about how you look or a part of your body you’re not comfortable with, please tell me: there’s a plethora of things I’m self-conscious about during my own sessions and there’s lots I can do to help pose and position you so that you show off your best side.

Thank you to all the wonderful families that I’ve photographed so far this year.  It’s been a fantastic ‘Family Photography Season’ and I can’t wait for the next three months of sessions!