I am a perfectionist. At home, I have expectations of how everything should go. I might just be a bit of a control freak, too (there is a right way to load the dishwasher). However, when it comes to family photos when children are involved the best thing I can do is to let go of any expectations - unless I expect my kids to be crazy. I admit that may not seem easy, and in fact, I shared how during one of my own family sessions I made mistake after mistake in a blog post called Lessons From My Personal Family Photo Session.

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But I want to explain what happens when you let go.

Magic happens when you let go of expectations for family photos.

Now that may seem a little dramatic. But I promise, it is like magic when you let go, when you relax and just love on your family. Your children feel your stress, but they also feel your joy and excitement. So when you’re just happy, excited, and ready for some fun without any idea of what exactly that will look like, the result will be magic.

This family session last fall was one of my last for 2018 and mom and dad were amazing to work with. As we walked towards Gold Creek Pond on a beautiful, sunny yet snowy day, I gave my pep talk. “Just love on your children no matter what. Let me worry about the photos, you just enjoy this adventure with your children,” I say. The way they nodded I realized they did not need the chat at all, they were already 100% on board and ready to make magic.

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You will surprise your kids.

Kids have expectations too. If they have had family photos in the past they may be expecting you to be stressed. They may be expecting to be bossed around, or that they are having to do something that will be boring and hard. However, when you show them you are relaxed and ready for playing at the park, they will let their guard down. So show grab them, show them you’re silly and ready to have fun. Their reactions (and your photos) will be extra special.

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You will leave feeling excited instead of overwhelmed.

When you let go, we don’t part ways hoping we got one good shot. Instead, you know we did (I mean, I always know we did). Instead of being fretting the gallery, feeling upset and disappointed, you leave knowing you showed up, you loved on your family, and you can’t wait to see the resulting images.

Again, as I hugged this mom good bye I told her how excited I was for her gallery. “We created some truly beautiful images today,” I told her. Her response was cool and easy, “Oh I know you did.” There was no apology for kid behavior, no “I hope so,” she knew there was magic made in the snow.

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You will set the tone for next year’s family session.

So many times families will leave a session and dad will say to me, “that was actually fun!” They are so surprised at the experience. And you can only heighten that experience by letting go of expectations. Then next year when you suggest it is time to book family photos, you won’t be hit with quite so many moans and groans from your husband and kids.

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Now, I realize I may sound like I’m having unrealistic expectations asking you not to stress at all. I’m a type-A, perfectionist, so I get it…..it’s not as easy as Elsa says to “Let it Go".” But going into a photo session with the goal of relaxing a bit can help tremendously. If all else fails, remember that I have four children and been a family photographer for over 9 years. I have seen it all, so you have nothing to worry about.

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