Whether or not you are photogenic or “enjoy” being in front of the camera, everybody wants photos of their family (typically with you in it as well).
Perhaps not today. Today, you don’t really care if you have a photo or not. BUT… 1 year, 10 years, 25 years from now, you want a photo of your family. And so do your children and their children.
I grew up in a household full of family photos. We had shelves filled with photo albums of every year since I was born. We also had shelves of photos before my time. Photos of my parents and grandparents when they were younger. I would often sit on the floor to find one photo and end up spending hours sifting through as many albums as I could pull out. It’s hard to put into words what it means to have a glimpse into your family members lives before you knew them. It is something that I am beyond grateful to have as I know not everyone has this opportunity.
I have always said that if I could have a super power, it would be to time travel so I could visit my ancestors. How incredible would it be to observe similarities you share with your family members? I’m not just talking in the physical sense, but in mannerisms and opinions on the world. But alas, my time travelling super power has yet to materialize within me, so instead I have photos (and some video) to spark my imagination.
I am inherently biased towards candid photos. They are the photos I prefer to take because they are the photos I prefer to view. You can learn a lot about someone by a photo taken of them without them noticing.
OPTION 1: THE SELF-TIMER
My family had our photos done by a professional a couple of times, but for the most part – we were the self-timer family. This was largely due to the fact that my Dad had a knack for photography, and eventually, so did I. As a result, do I feel like my childhood was improperly captured? No – because my parents are excellent at documenting as much as possible. We make a point to take photos. It may be annoying in the moment but you always appreciate it later on!
While camera phones make it easy to take photos at any given moment, not everyone does. Or at least, they don’t take the kind of photos to truly capture you and your family. Or, you are always the one taking the photos and never actually in them.
The Self-Timer is great if you and your family are comfortable in front of the camera and willing to spend a bit longer to get some great, somewhat candid photos. It is not a good option if you are not super comfortable in front of the camera, and hoping for lots of printable options. I would also suggest against this if patience runs thin in your family. Trust me on this one.
OPTION 2: THE PROFESSIONAL
If you are not so handy with a camera, and don’t have one beyond your phone, then this is kind-of-super-in-a-not-pushy-way really important. You should hire someone. They are a professional and will know how to make everyone (even the most camera shy) comfortable and looking great. It does not need to be every single year as that may be unrealistic, but every couple or every 5 years, you should absolutely make the investment.
Not sure who to hire? Talk to your friends and family for references and always check out their work online to be sure their style is what you want.
OPTION 3: THE DOCUMENTARY
There is a growing trend in the photography world known as Documentary family photos. This entails a photographer spending half to a full day with your family to capture a day-in-the-life. Personally, this is my favourite and worth every penny. Expensive? Generally. But not when you consider it as a lifetime investment vs. a disposable purchase. (And yes, I do offer this! Get in touch if you are interested.)
At the end of the day, choosing to hire a professional photographer vs. setting a camera on a tripod with the self timer comes down to the type of photos you want. As a photographer, I am naturally inclined to recommend hiring someone. However, at the end of the day if the memory is there, then it was a good choice.