Whether you want to believe me or not this summer is going to fly by- it already is! Soon we’ll be buying new school supplies, cozying up watching football and watching the leaves dump all over our lawns. So before fall hits us like a freight train I want to start talking to you guys about the annual family photos- the ones you’re not even thinking about yet because “it’s summer!” And also probably because it’s something that you and your family dread every year. Does it feel like a chore? Is it like pulling teeth to get your kids and husband into their nice outfits (you say nice, they say “itchy,” “awful,” and sometimes just “NOOOOOOOOO!”) Do you so desperately just want to take nice photos but walk away every year stressed out about the whole thing? Or maybe you haven’t done them in years because of this very reason. Well, we are here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 3 ways to create the perfect family photo shoot that leaves you with beautiful images, happy memories and none of the stress and awful cheesiness of forced smiles in uncomfortable poses. 

1. Think Ahead
This is an important step that I think often gets overlooked because people get busy and somewhere around Oct 15th think “oh yeah, we should have some fall photos taken.” They hire a random photographer, they go to a local park and have their stressful hour and go home exhausted hoping there’s at least one good one in there….or at least some heads we can swap together to make one good one. Instead, we suggest you think ahead. Think about it now. Think about what you want. Think about the end goal- do you want a new photo for the mantel or a photo for the Holiday cards? Maybe you want to do Christmas photo gifts for the grandparents or you want to document this stage of life with an album you can look back on.

Think it through and open up that discussion with your photographer. If you want beautiful late summer sunsets while you’re still a sun kissed bronze then the end of August and through September is the best time to book. If the perfect “fall” Boise photos- as in fallen leaves and vibrant colors- is what you want most then you’re going to want to book your session for right around the 2nd or 3rd week in October (it’s a very very short window). And if you want more of a winter shoot with snow you may want to wait until the last week in November and make a trek up to Bogus or even places like Sun Valley and McCall. Making these choices early helps us to plan and time it perfectly so your dream session can come to life.

2. Find Meaning
While you’re thinking ahead about what you want, we want you to plan with intention and find meaning in this photoshoot. It shouldn’t just be about getting an annual photo- it should be about documenting your life. Your REAL LIFE. Where do you go as a family? What do you like to do? What brings you joy? Do you spend a lot of time running in the foothills like this family? If you answer YES then taking photos at the Foothills Learning Center and exploring the area with your kids or going for a hike on the trails might be the perfect scenario for your family. If your answer is NO because you never go to the foothills and hate hiking…..then why would you have your family photos taken there? If you spend all winter long up on the mountain then lets go to the mountains! If you like to hunker down at home, cook meals together as a family and want to document life as it is right this very moment then perhaps the perfect location is in your very own home. Does your family attend the county fair every single year without fail? Or maybe you never miss the spirit of Boise balloon festival or going to Linder Farms to pick out pumpkins. Whatever it happens to be- Treat your photoshoot as an opportunity to document these moments and adventures as a family.

Find meaning in what you’re choosing in all aspects of this photoshoot from the time of year to the location or activity and also in what you’re choosing to wear. If your daughter is a total tomboy and can’t stand wearing dresses, don’t put her in a dress. You’ll only end up with a sullen upset girl who really doesn’t want to be there having her photo taken in “this stupid dress.” Allow your kids to have some input in what they’re wearing and what you’re choosing to do- let them get excited about the photo shoot with you. You might be surprised at the ideas they come up with when you let them take some ownership in the planning. Every family is different and the more your location or activity choice reflects you the more you will love your photos 20 years from now.

3. Commit. 
Ok, you’ve thought ahead and you’ve envisioned that perfect photo session- now commit to it. Don’t phone it in. Buy the new outfit, get your hair and makeup done, find the perfect location even if it’s an hour+ away, bring Grandma or
 
 even the family dog. And hire a photographer who understands your vision and wants to help you achieve it, not just hand you a disk of images and never see you again. The photoshoot should be so much more than that 1 hour of actual shooting time. The planning and coordinating is a massive part of a successful and stress free shoot- and the planning and brainstorming is fun! Let’s daydream together and figure out how to make you feel comfortable and allow you all to have fun. Don’t spend money on a photoshoot that isn’t you and ends up forgotten in a drawer or on a card that gets tossed into the trash as soon as the holidays are over. Spend money on images that matter. Get them printed, hang them on the wall, actually send out the Christmas cards. We promise you won’t regret it. 

Alright, so your homework is: 

1) Think about what you want for your next family photoshoot and begin to plan it with intention 

2) Envision where and how you’re going to display those photos (and please please don’t say on a CD in a drawer until that day in the future that you maybe will print one or two)

3) let us know when you’re ready to commit.