Most families walk into their portrait session with high expectations. They have visions of their children with wide beaming smiles, with everyone’s arms wrapped around each other in a warm hug. It’s the kind of idyllic photograph that we all know is a rarity in your actual real life. True, the love is always there- you would think it can be coaxed out easily for a single photograph. In actuality the idea of getting every single person in your family on the same page is a challenge.
Everyone has off days. We all have moments when maybe we are too hungry or too tired to feel like sitting next to our sister and ignoring her shoulder poking in our side with a bright smile plastered on our faces. Maybe sister was irritating that morning and we aren’t feeling it. Maybe we woke up with a headache. Maybe we really wanted to spend the day doing something else but we have absolutely no control over the schedule.
I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.
As a parent, it’s natural to expect everyone to forget hungry tummies– or irritating sisters or other things we’d rather be doing– to sit and smile like hanging out in the grass of some strange park is the most amazing and fun thing ever and we can’t contain our joy! But it’s not realistic to catch this mood on absolutely everyone at the exact same time.
Sometimes, we don’t have smiles for portraits.
I’m not saying we can’t coax the smiles out eventually, but honestly it’s these photos that are not only the most real, but the most meaningful to me. This is the true bond of unconditional love. When you are feeling out of sorts, and maybe you don’t even know why but you just aren’t happy, all you want is your Mom to wrap her arms around you because you KNOW without a doubt that it will make it all better. That is where you need to be, and no where else is acceptable. Isn’t that the most beautiful example of love? In this photograph, you can clearly see how deeply this sweet girl adores her mama.
In the moment, it’s easy to get frustrated. Just smile. For one second. Forget you are sad and just smile. That’s easier said than done, isn’t it? It’s okay if not everyone is 100% thrilled with the change in schedule today. The beauty is right there, in your real life, and how you choose to see it. Not in the fake smiles with everyone staring at the camera in a desperate hope for a trip to Dairy Queen on the way home.
You don’t need smiles to find true beauty and love in your portraits.