Guest post written by Dan Thomson. Maddie’s husband and the official family jokester, encourager, and writer.
Hey, I’m Dan, nice to meet you. You may be taking pictures with my wife, Madison. We probably don’t know each other, but there’s a good chance after the session she will excitedly show me a shot of your family while gushing about the light, or the colors, or your beautiful children. And let me just say, go ahead, rock the beard. It plays great on the camera.
So, can we be real for a sec? If I had to guess, you’re probably not all that jazzed to be taking family pics. Honestly, I get it. Tell me how many of these thoughts have crossed your mind:
“Why are we doing this? Let’s get the kids together and snap some pics on the iPhone and send it to Nana directly!”
“It cost how much to hire a photographer?”
“We seriously have to spend an hour doing this?”
“The kids hate this! They’re just going to be whiny and mad!”
“Wait, we also spent money on the clothes?! AND you got your hair done?!”
Or maybe just “Taking pictures is boring and stupid.”
Dude, I get it. The ironic thing is–given my marital status–I hate taking family pics. And because my lovely wife has chosen this profession, we get to take pics at least once a year, usually multiple times a year. Pic swaps with other photographers. Trying out a new camera. A new lens. A new location. The geese are flying south. It’s a Tuesday. It appears photographers do not need a reason to take pics of their own family. So, big fella, I know we just met but before you throw an adult temper tantrum, do you mind if I share some of the things I’ve learned? Let me save you some heartache.
Lesson 1: We know you don’t want to be there, no need to remind people. Your wife probably knows you don’t want to do this. She knows you are mad about the time and the money. She knows you hate the process. She knows what you’re thinking. She’s your wife. You gave her that super power when you got on a knee. She knows all that. AND SHE STILL BOOKED THE PHOTOGRAPHER. Mopey body language and passive aggressive comments weirdly are not going to convince her otherwise. And by the way, the kids will know it too. You don’t want them to feed off that energy. Oh yeah, and you know who else knows? The photographer. Now, I am not saying my wife has divulged any confidential client experiences, but, I will say there’s only so much Photoshop can do, to fix an Oscar the Grouch in editing.
Lesson 2: So here’s the minimum, smile as genuinely as you can and follow directions. Honestly, if you had to ask your wife, she would probably say that is the baseline expectation. I cannot stress this enough, friend. No matter what happened leading up to the session, or on your way to the session, or in the session, smile and follow the freaking directions. There will be consequences, and it’s probably not worth it.
Lesson 3: Go the extra mile. Ok, player! You decided to enter the game! Here’s how you do it: Be enthusiastic, but not too much that she thinks you’re making fun of her. Subtly drop one of these into a conversation the week of the pics. “Oh yeah, we’re taking pics this week, right Babe? How can I help us get ready for that?” Here’s another winner: have an opinion, but not too much that you override her careful planning. She’s spent a lot of time thinking of color options and putting out colors. She bought and returned at least 3 outfits for your four year old, alone. So when she asks to pick between your blue shirt and your other blue shirt, do this: pause, look at both options, play both out in your head, and pick one, and then give an asinine reason why it would. “Oh the stripe compliments your blouse.” or “We’re going to be outdoors, right, well this might pull in the color from the brush.” Whatever, like Castanza said, “it’s not a lie if you believe it.”
Lesson 4: And last, and maybe most important, set this up for your advantage. If she has gone through this whole process, it means a lot to her. It also doesn’t mean you can’t benefit as well. If you legit go the extra mile, you can start asking for the new set of clubs? or the powertool? Maybe a guys weekend? Your favorite dinner? But if you barely meet the minimum or worse, NONE of this is available to you.
Listen, I know you are not excited about this. And no one expects you to be. That is why this is such an opportunity for you. You could walk out of this proposition a king or a pauper, and the choice is completely up to you. Good luck, trim that beard. And I’ll see you later. You look great, by the way. I’m proud of you.