A bold claim, sure. But this is something I have thinking about for a while, and maybe not something I even understood until I had my own tiny human. Your wedding day is a BIG deal. I still shoot weddings and having them documented professionally is something I’m very passionate about. It’s a once in a lifetime event and you want to be able to remember all those special moments with family and friends. However there is something fleeting about family sessions. We are too busy, it’s too expensive, I want to lose 10lbs first, my husband hates having his photo taken, my kids are too wild. I COULD GO ON. Documenting your family as it grows is so, SO important. We all have great phones with cameras now, maybe you are even pretty good with a camera yourself! But it’s just not the same as having a professional view your family creatively and capture these moments that are slipping through our fingers as these little people grow. I also cannot tell you how many moms are in almost NO photos with their kids- it just sort of happens (myself included).

Photos by Jill Coursen Photography

For our family, we are in a roughly 6 month rotation of having our photos done. This will vary for what feels right for you. We’ve made it somewhat of a tradition to have our family photos done in the same location every year around my son’s birthday. It’s a very special spot for us, down in the river valley surrounded by horses and the water. It’s where my husband and I went for the worlds longest lunge-walk to “get this baby OUT of me” as I put it. It worked- Evan arrived the very next day! I want to have these photos to remind me of those tiny details that we forget about over time, like how my kid looks like a blonde Norwegian child born to two dark, thick haired parents. Or how he had two tiny adorable teeth.

Photos by Sara Coulter Photography

It’s something I’ve made into a priority for our family. Something that I value like a vacation or a big purchase for our home. I want our kids to be able to look back and have this crazy special time in our lives captured, and captured well! I will let you in on a little secret, my husband may have a photographer for a wife but he does NOT like doing photo sessions. To be blunt, I don’t enjoy being on the other side of the camera myself! That’s why I work with amazing people that I trust, and honestly view as friends. When we do our photos it isn’t this big awkward thing, it just a casual wander capturing us and what we are like in that moment. Sometimes a reluctant husband can be enticed by a mini-session, or a promise of post session beer.

This post from Kelsy Neilson Photography has stuck with me over the years. I can’t put this any more perfectly than she does:

Last week I had a client come over to view her family portraits. She let me know that she would be ordering no images of herself because of her “horribly huge arms”. That meant no pictures of her with her children or grandchildren, no pictures of her laughing with her husband. I heard those words and it hurt. It hurt because my mom died earlier this month after a brave battle with cancer. It hurt because right now all I have is pictures of her and my memories. I look at each image of my mom and it brings me back. I remember how soft her skin was, the beauty of her laugh, and the ways her eyes wrinkled when she smiled. Each picture takes me back to a different moment; it’s my personal time travel to happy times. I am so grateful to have had a momma who never hid from the camera, even when her hair wasn’t perfect or she wasn’t wearing make-up. She never refused a picture because she thought she looked “fat”, even though I know she was never happy with her body. She always jumped into a selfie, asked a stranger to take our picture in front of tourist attractions and she even bought the silly theme park snapshots when we forgot our camera. And right now I am SO grateful for that. I am grateful for every funny picture and every posed portrait. I am grateful every time I see her smile, even if now it’s only in print.

I can PROMISE you that after you are gone your family will never look at a picture of you and notice what your arms looked like, or if your hair was perfect.

They will only see you.

And that will make them happy

Photos by Jill Coursen Photography

So if you are still reading this, I ask you to think about making it a priority to capture your little family. Maybe your family doesn’t have tiny humans, maybe they are furry family members. Maybe it’s just the two of you. All of these things deserve to be captured and cherished. Preferably in hard copy and not just sitting online! We truly never know what could happen in our lives, and it’s extremely important we capture the ‘right now’ for our loved ones to have for years to come.