Tip #10 is super long, but it is an important point for us all as photographers to remember, so please take at least 5 minutes to read this if you have a moment!
To put this simply, do not assume you know and see the entire “picture” of the family unit for the full 2 hours you are with the family. You also should remind yourself to give extreme grace to all people you are serving. Remember, you are the photographer. Even though I have seen it all, and even though I am a parent myself, it’s not my job to parent and/or judge how another parent parents another child. However, it is my job to love everyone who I encounter at my sessions, and it is my job to be as gentle and patient as possible with everyone involved with the session. Let the parent do the parenting and the disciplining. The only exception would be if you witness abuse. In that case, call the proper authorities. (Thank God, I have never experienced this.) I have seen so many children act out, and I always allow the parent to intervene because they know what is best for that specific child.
Still, I have gently reminded children to “use gentle hands” or “use kind words” if they are hitting or being unkind to a parent or another sibling, but I always do so with a smile and quietly so they understand I’m not angry at them. Some kids will be aggressive and will not listen to me the entire session, and that is okay; it is not your job as the photographer to wrangle them and make them listen. You may experience entire sessions where a certain child is not listening because they are having a bad day, they are fighting with another sibling, or they are normally just grouchy (everyone has an Oscar the Grouch in the family)! After working with families for over ten years, I have learned that not all sessions will go as planned, and that’s okay. You can always reschedule, or you can go with the flow and see how things turn out!
The biggest piece of advice I want to give to other photographers is this: respect other people’s kids, speak gently to them, and try not to judge other parents because you do not see the whole picture! Do not be harsh with them, do not raise your voice, and always treat children with kindness. Family photography is not for everyone because of how unpredictable children (and sometimes parents) can be, but I love working with children no matter what type of temperament they have. At the end of the day, they are children, and they need so much love, nurturing, and care in their lives so that they can grow to become confident.
Speaking of seeing a child have a meltdown in the middle of the session, it is also not your job as a photographer to go and immediately tweet, text, or even post to your photography group about a difficult child “you had to deal with”. You all, that is extremely unprofessional and just plain rude. Let’s say that someone who may know the family is in the same photography group as you and tells the family what you are saying about their kids behind their backs. That is not only hurtful towards that family, but that burns any potential bridges you were hoping to build for future sessions with the family and that family could have also recommended you to other clients but since you were gabbing maliciously about their child, that may leave them feeling both degraded and hurt so they will not want to do business with you in the future and they will tell others not to do business with you either.
In recap, you need to be respectful towards other people’s children and allow those parents to parent their child. The only time you need to speak up is if there is abuse happening. Speak gently to everyone, even the children, regardless of how chaotic the situation is. You do not know the entire story of each family you are interacting with and they may have had a bad day, bad weekend, or even are dealing with some unseen health issues or some personal issues. Your job is to serve, be kind, and deliver some timeless images they can cherish in this season of life. After the session, no matter how hard or difficult the children were, please reign in your tongue on social media and never talk badly about any family sessions because I promise you, that is both unprofessional and it will come back to bite you. Personally speaking, I have only had four absolutely rotten family sessions in my ten years of family photography and no one would ever know because it wasn’t my place to even talk about it on social media. Now that I am married, I just come home and share with my husband my experience with each session and then move on from there.
I know tip #10 is a super lengthy post, but I just want to drive home an important point: be respectful and courteous as a photographer to the families you are working with. If you come back from each session wanting to verbally bash the families you served on social media, perhaps working with families is not for you. If you are a parent/family looking to work with a trusted family photographer, make sure the photographer has experience working with children of all ages, has great reviews, or comes recommended from your friends/family. To end this series I want to share a photo of my son, because if I knew of someone speaking badly about him (based off of an interaction with him as a baby) after a photography session (or any type of professional service) my heart would break and be full of embarrassment and I know I would be full of shame and convince myself that I am the worst parent ever.
Be kind. Be gracious. Be as generous as possible as a photographer serving families.
Photographers, I hope the last 10 weeks have been a helpful resource for you as you continue to serve families and deliver gorgeous images to them! And for families, I hope this has also been a helpful resource to you as you prepare for your family sessions!
INTERESTED IN HAVING A RADIANT AND JOYFUL PHOTOGRAPHY EXPERIENCE THAT WOULD BEST CAPTURE AND ILLUSTRATE YOUR FAMILIES UNIQUE STORY? I WOULD LOVE TO WORK WITH YOU! PLEASE CHECK OUT MORE INFORMATION HERE
If you are an expectant mom-to-be and are wondering what a maternity family experience looks like, click HERE for an example!
As always, thank you so much for keeping up with my family & photography adventures! I love serving you all through photography and I love sharing my stories and experiences of being a family photographer with you all! It is truly a blessing that families entrust me with the opportunity of getting to capture portraits that best illustrate their family’s unique and fun story! Now that my 10-week summer series for family photography is over, I am going to be working on a WEDDING series for both brides and photographers very soon! Stay tuned! I always post every Monday about my most recent sessions, and I will try to keep the theme of education for Wednesdays!
Have a blessed week you all!
DOLLY DELONG IS A WIFE TO A SUPER CUTE COMPUTER NERD, MAMA TO A LITTLE DROOL MACHINE, AND A DESTINATION WEDDING AND FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER BASED OUT OF NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE. EVEN THOUGH SHE LOVES ALL THINGS SOCIAL MEDIA, DOLLY WAS BORN IN THE MID-80S, SO SHE LIKES TO STRESS TO PEOPLE SHE IS NOT A COOL MILLENNIAL, AND SHE REMEMBERS DIAL-UP INTERNET FROM WHEN SHE WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL. WHENEVER SHE HAS A SPARE MOMENT, SHE ENJOYS WATCHING TV (I.E. SURVIVOR), SHE EATS WAY TOO MANY SWEETS AND LISTENS TO PODCASTS WHILE RUNNING OR WALKING. TO WORK WITH DOLLY DELONG PHOTOGRAPHY LLC, PLEASE EMAIL HER AT THEDOLLYDELONG@GMAIL.COM OR FILL OUT HER CONTACT FORM HERE.
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