The Reality of Family Photos

photo by Morgan Moon Photography

As soon as Old Navy, Gap, and J.Crew start dropping chunky knit sweaters and flannels in fall-colored hues, moms around the world collectively think: FAMILY PHOTOS. 

Are you with me?! Moms just want to get a decent photo of our family that we can post on social media, put on holiday cards, and maybe print on a new canvas to hang on the wall. Shutterfly and Smallwoods…do you hear us knocking? We’re coming for you!

What’s not seen in the photos is the hours shopping, the coordination of haircuts, the fussing children, and the sweating husbands wearing flannels on unseasonably warm October days. If your household is similar to mine here’s what your car looks and sounds like on the way to your family photo shoot: 

Your husband is sweating (thanks to the flannel) and wondering exactly how long this photo shoot will take. In the back of his mind he’s wondering if you realized it was football season when you booked this photo shoot. Let’s hurry this along; his team has kick-off in a couple of hours. But ever the supportive husband, he stands in solidarity with your children fussing about the button-ups. He reinforces that the quicker they smile, the quicker they can rid themselves of their uncomfortable attire. 

Your children are squawking for a snack. You fib and say you don’t have any – nobody wants fruit snack teeth and Goldfish dusted jeans captured in eternal memory. Instead you bribe with the promise of an ice cream cone or a gas station treat on the way home. They sigh and shift in their car seats, tugging at their collared shirts.

And you? You’ve got the AC on full blast hoping you aren’t sweating off your makeup or leaving stains on your outfit. You let everyone know this won’t take long, and if they smile and listen you’ll be done quickly. In the back of your mind you picture your bathroom and bedroom. They are in complete and total disarray, thanks to the last minute shuffling of outfits since you (if you’re like me) picked out your husband’s and children’s outfits ahead of yours. You’re really not looking forward to cleaning that mess later since you will definitely be all sorts of exhausted after this ordeal. 

Despite the time spent preparing and the grumbles from our children and husbands, this is something we seemingly repeat year after year.

Why do we do it?

For me, nothing means more than when a photographer can capture the exact way my child looks at the age of 4, or the way my husband and I have aged another year in our marriage. These photos will help me remember the exact size of my son’s hand as it rests on my leg and the summer freckles still lingering on his nose. They help me remember when my son was small enough to sit on my lap, but wobbly enough that he still needed my support around his middle.

Even though these family photos may be a pain, they are priceless. So mamas, button up your family in flannel and know that in years ahead, you’ll be happy you smiled. 

Emilee Brisel is a wife, mother, and Iowa native. She and her high school sweetheart are raising their two boys in their hometown of Newton, where she teaches first grade. In Emilee’s spare time, you’ll often find her in the kitchen creating recipes for her resident taste testers. She enjoys reading and exercising and looks for ways to make the every day extraordinary for her family. You can read more from Emilee at: Bread with the Brisels.


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