In most (not all) cases, when it comes to getting new family photos done, one of the parents is less than thrilled to be giving up an evening to tromp around the mountains with their family for pictures - 90% of whom have most likely been bribed in some way or another to "smile" and "be good." And I get it - it's not so much the act of taking the picture that makes them want to drag your feet. It's more so just knowing how it'll wind up their partner and they'll be stressed about the outfits, the kids, hair, makeup, the weather, and literally everything else that goes into planning family pictures. Plus, they're always so focused on you or the kids that they hardly have time to step back and enjoy the process of getting their photos taken. - Have you ever looked at a picture and remembered that you were having the worst day, didn't like your outfit and didn't really want to be there in the first place? All those feelings on the backend can have a negative impact on how you view the photograph - no matter how great a picture it may be. The same thing happens for your spouse when they look at their pictures.
So what do we do about it? Well for starters, I have a few tips on how you can make family photos more enjoyable for them.
1. The first and easiest thing you can do is to complement them in photos. But like genuine complements. Things like, "I love your smile in this, it's so genuine!" or "you can tell how much you love me in this one!" It also never hurts to throw in how good their butt looks or if they're having a good hair day ;) And not just in professional photos. In all photos. Get in the habit of pointing out your favorite parts of them in snapshots and soon it'll turn into a habit and help build their confidence.
2. Teach them how to pose. (or have your photographer teach them how to pose.) There is nothing worse than being in a picture and feeling awkward and not knowing what to do with your hands, arms, etc. If you show them like two or three poses they can alternate between they'll be golden. (This is also something your photographer can help you with and should be directing you on, but sometimes they're so wrapped up in the kids looking at the camera that the parents get pushed to the back burner.) My family always makes fun of me because I do the "Whitney pose" as they call it. (The arm closest to the camera bent and hand on hip, front leg bent and popped up on my toes, head tilted up.) If you start looking at big, group family poses that I'm in, I do it in like 95% of them. Why? Because usually I'm the one taking the picture via tripod and remote and I have so much going on in my head with settings, poses for the rest of the family, my own kids, etc that it's easiest to revert back to something I know I look good in and is something I don't have to overthink. Your spouse can use their arsenal of poses that they feel confident in and know they look good in for snapshots, pro photos and anything else.
3. Tell them how much it means to you. Hacks aside, this is the most important and impactful one. Tell them how much it means to you to have family photos taken. Help them understand the importance they hold to you. By not only "going along with" photos and "showing up" they are showing their love for you as a form of service - which, depending on your love language could be a pretty big deal. Having an honest conversation with your partner will help make the event more enjoyable for everyone and less of a chore, more of an experience. One of my favorite family pictures was when we woke up before sunrise to drive to Mantua for the poppies. In the days beforehand Danny helped me tell the boys of the "magical poppy field" we were going to. That narrative evolved into looking for fairies and playing during the whole session. It was the most stress free family shoots either of us had ever had and is now what we strive for every year when it's time to update our pictures.
Family photos don't have to be something that cause contention in a relationship. In fact, with the right mindset, they can do the complete opposite and provide a tangible way to show your love and admiration for each other in a way that is captured on camera for you to look back on whenever you want.