The Importance of Family Portraits by Nico Nordström

austin family photographer

If you’re like most people, you’ve thought about family portrait photography but it just hasn’t happened. Too busy, need to have my hair done, roots are showing, when I lose 10 more pounds, it’s hard to get everyone together… We’ve heard it. Many times. If you feel any of these reasons, please go here, to this blog entry. It may help you see these reasons differently.

Here are three solid reasons family portrait photography should be an important part of your life.

1. Document Growth

All too often we forget about our past because we are so busy building our futures. Throughout your life, you will make many achievements, you will grow, and this goes for the members within your family as well. Having annual family photos captured will showcase the advancements you make in life each year. It can be all too easy to forget the characteristics that we possessed at certain times within our lives. What better way to remember such exciting events than through photography? If you have welcomed a new pet into your lives or just received a new promotion, photographs of your family bonding and celebrating together will certainly present heartfelt images that you can enjoy for the rest of your life, as well as remember the milestones and excitement that you encountered. Plus, our children grow up too fast! In the blink of an eye they are packing their bags and going off to college. When children are younger, having a portrait of the family done each year is a great way to document the progress each of them is making as they grow. And when they head out into the world and find their own lives and move away, how often will you get to see them? The days when family all stayed within a few miles of each other are long gone.   

2. Life Happens

We may not want to admit it but the make-up of our families can change without warning and loved ones may pass on. Family is such an important part of life, in fact, it may very well be the most important aspect within one’s life. From parents to grandparents and children to cousins, you most likely have many members who comprise your beautiful family, and with such gorgeous family members, you certainly want to remember each and every one of them! As time passes, you and your family will grow together, build bonds with one another, encounter great milestones within your lives, and overall, love one another. You never know when that last chance for a family photo will come, doing them annually or bi-annually will ensure you have plenty of memories of everyone.

What can we do to share our story with our grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and generations beyond them? You have built a beautiful relationship with each member of your family, and with the right photographs, you can relive the memories you have shared with one another, time and time again. There simply aren’t very many photographs of my or most of our ancestors floating around anymore. Given the nature of old photo paper, and the fact that it sometimes doesn’t pass the test of time, makes any surviving photographs that much more special. For more info on photographs and digital images life spans, please go here.

3. Reliving Memories

I can’t really adequately express how meaningful it is to have images of my grandparents and parents from when they were little; to have pictures of my family growing up; to be able to pass them down for generations. It’s invaluable to sit years from now and relive all those amazing memories, by yourself or with your family and friends.

The emotion a photograph can pull from you is powerful, the fun of a day, a memory of a sweet time in the past, etc. They bring us back in time. They are also a part of our legacy. In years to come, grandchildren and great-grandchildren may someday ask to see pictures of the family, and wouldn’t it just be sad if there were few or none to share?

Don’t let life pass and look back, wondering why you didn’t take the time to have family pictures taken. Don’t make excuses or put it off any longer. You can’t go back in time for a redo, so avoid setting yourself up for an “I wish” situation. If you’ve been thinking about having a family portrait taken, do it. Do it for your children. Your children won’t notice the roots, a few extra pounds, a smile line or even a fading tan, but we guarantee they will be disappointed when they are older and there are no family photos to share with their children. Besides, we can perfect all of those worries with posing, lighting, and Photoshop.

Whether you have a family photography session annually or once every couple of years, your choice to invest in family photography does matter and it is important.  Your family portraits bring your family together. It reminds your family of its love for one another. Your family portraits bring joy. And, in hard times, your family portraits can bring comfort and healing.

Something happens to us when we see pictures of our families. We well up with pride and want to show people; we travel back in time and can see and feel details long forgotten; we’re reminded of what matters and how time moves too quickly, and to treasure the moments we have today.

If you are interested in learning even more reasons why family portraits are important, be sure to continue reading:

Studies over the last 30+ years show that having your family portraits displayed prominently in your home can increase your children’s self esteem.

David Krauss, a licensed psychologist and author of Phototherapy in Mental Health, says, “I think it is really important to show a family as a 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.”

“My personal and clinical bias is, there is something very powerful in touching your fingers to an actual print,” says Craig Steinberg, a licensed psychologist who works with children ages five through 13. “Touching the photograph where a face is smiling or the shoulders, it is the same thing as touching a book when you read it. There’s a lot of stimulation of the brain when you have that sensory experience. That is a bit lost in the move to digital. You are touching a keyboard, mouse or a touchscreen but you are not touching the image.”

“Displaying photos prominently in the home sends the message that our family and those in it are important to one another, and we honor the memories we have experienced,“ says Cathy Lander-Goldberg, a licensed clinical social worker, and a professional photographer, and the director of Photo Explorations, which offers workshops to girls and women using portrait and journaling for self-reflection and personal growth.  

Dr. Krauss recommends placing the family portraits where it can be among the last things they see before sleep, and the first thing they may see in the morning. “It says we love you and care about you. You’re important.”

Our generation generally takes photographs to share with our friends and family, and the idea that images will survive beyond our lifetime typically slips our minds. Will future generations of your family have your iCloud password? Will your digital storage devices even last that long? “My bias is very simple. I think the family photographs should be on the wall,” says Krauss. “I am very conservative about self-esteem and I think placing a family photo someplace in the home where the child can see it every day without having to turn on a device or click around on a computer to find it really hits home for that child's sense of reassurance and comfort. They have a certainty about them and a protecting quality that nurtures a child...” says Krauss.

Pictures, like memories and stories, are part of our legacy. We hold them close, we pass them down. It’s a gift to be able to share a visual of moments, details, people, places and things to those we love, so that they, too, can feel even a glimmer of the joy we feel when we reflect on those times.