At the end of my 20th (that is right TWENTIETH!) photo session with Sara Rose—or Miss Sara as she is known in our house—I asked my sweet friend if I could share a few things I’ve learned along the way. Its funny, you set out with one task in front of you—take beautiful pictures—but you end up with an entirely different outcome. Don’t get me wrong, we have taken some INCREDIBLE images over the last 5+ years. I mean the kind of images that make me cry happy tears whenever I look at them. However, I have learned even more about the kind of parent I want to be through these photo shoots. So from my heart to yours, here is what I have gathered…
1. Stop trying to look like someone else.
Early in the game, I would go to the mall and pick out perfectly coordinated outfits for the entire family. I would start with the babies… And then color match their garments with a top for my husband and a dress for me. I would be a cranky mama after pushing my tiny kids around the mall looking for the perfect photo looks.
During the shoots, I would be worried about angles. Does my post-baby tummy stick out in this pose? Don’t shoot behind my or you might capture my behind!!! Etc. Etc. Etc.
And then I did a mama-and-me photo shoot with just my littlest girl. The big sisters were at school and daddy was at work. I stayed in my tank top and jeans and baby sister was naked for 90% of the shoot. I was absolutely blown away. My hair/makeup/outfit wasn’t perfect but I looked so happy. I mean it. I was more focused on playing with my girl than posing and the images that came out of that session show the true love of a mother and daughter. That is priceless.
Do I still like to look nice for a picture, yes. But now, instead of my perfect dress and hair, I wear ripped jeans and tanks.. Because that is how I look every day. And why would I want to document a dolled up version of myself that isn’t what my babies and husband know, love, and think is most beautiful?
What I’ve Learned: Just strive to look like yourself. If your hair is curly, leave it curly. If you are a casual person, keep the pictures casual. Make it so that when your babies look back on these images in years to come, they recognize the real you.
2. Keep it simple and fun
Picture days can be pretty eventful in my house. My girls get SO EXCITED when Miss Sara comes over that they wear themselves out with anticipation before she actually arrives. At one point, I had three kids under the age of four and inevitably, photo time was during someone’s snack/nap/diaper change/nursing time…. And now imagine trying 5 different backgrounds, four poses, and three outfit changes. Um, NO!
Over twenty different photo sessions, I can honestly say that the candids are always my favorite. The shots that I didn’t even know Sara took end up framed in our house. Don’t torture your tots—and Hubby!—with lots of outfits and poses and pinterest-worthy ideas. Just be yourselves. Enjoy each other. Love on each other and you will be stunned with what comes out of Sara’s camera.
What I’ve Learned: I can’t micromanage tots. Not at a photo shoot, and not in life. I am a better parent, spouse, and friend when I stop aiming for perfection and just embrace the beauty of realness.
3. TRUST SARA
When I am tense and worried about getting a good shot, my kids can sense it. It is like they can smell my anxiety and then they go haywire. That is usually when Sara says, “Lets stop and just play for a little bit.” When I let myself go and listen to Sara, I actually start to enjoy the moment with my kiddos. As soon as I release my tension, they release theirs and photographic magic takes place.
Sara is a child whisperer and has the patience of Job. She will stay with your fussy baby until they are laughing harder than they have ever laughed before. So just go with it! Let the kids play. Let them pose themselves. And most importantly, TRUST SARA ROSE. She will not stop until she gets the shot. So let her manage your crew.
What I’ve Learned: When I hire an expert, I need to let them do their job. Sara is the best of the best of the best. In 20 sessions, I have never been disappointed and neither will you.
4. Stop treating it like a “Do or Die” situation
I realize that I am incredibly blessed that our family has had the privilege of working with Sara as often as we have. I totally understand that not everyone can or would do that. Even if you only ever do one photo shoot, I beg you not to approach it from a FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) mindset. If you do, you will try to cram every prop, pose, and outfit you can find into one session. And you will be miserable. Your husband will be even more miserable. And your kids will be crazy.
What I’ve Learned: This is probably the biggest growth area for me through all of our photoshoots. In motherhood, there is always this fear of missing out. I’m always afraid that I will regret something or miss something. I mean, every day they are a little bit older and their baby rolls are a little smaller and they are one day closer to packing up for college and leaving me forever (insert bawling emoji). As a result of ALL THESE EMOTIONS, I tend to overanalyze, over-schedule, and over-worry. But something magical happens when I get my slideshow back from Sara. With her camera, she has the ability to actually stop time. I can forever have the moment of my first daughter as a newborn in her crib, or my middle daughter’s perpetual bed head, or my baby’s toothy-grin. I get to keep all of those moments forever. Something about this reality makes me relax, breath deep, and cry happy tears. I can actually let go because I know that these girls’ childhoods are not slipping through my fingers. I have them forever in print… And if you ever wanted to know the real reason why we have invested so much time and money into photo sessions with Sara Rose, well now you have it.