the journal




fresh 48



How do I find a photographer that is right for my family? Is it even worth taking the chance to schedule family photos this year when I don’t know how my children are going to act? These are some common questions that my past clients have shared with me. I want to debunk some myths around family photography for those looking for family photos in Iowa City, IA.

>>Family photos have to be stressful.

Do you start feeling anxious or stressed just thinking about booking family photos? Insert all the negative thoughts. Do our outfits look ok?…Ugh I know I’m going to look fat…Will my insanely rambunctious 3 year old cooperate at all?…I really hope my husband doesn’t moan and groan the whole time…

There doesn’t have to be high stress in the air DURING the session. It is my job to help educate you and your family what to expect and help ease the entire process. Lifestyle family sessions are fun and interactive. It’s not your traditional portrait studio session (everyone making crazy noises and faces for the kid to look at the camera, with a 1 smile:10 min ratio).

A lot of the families I have photographed have commented on surprised they were that the session was actually fun for parents and kids alike. One of the best compliments I received was when a mama messaged me saying “my kids loved our session so much…they asked when we could do it again!”.

family of 5 having fun during family photo session

>>Family photos have to feel stiff.

Your family session will not at all feel stiff because it will be full of movement and activities. We will work together to talk about what your family enjoys doing together. I want you to feel like you had a part in creating your families art, because that makes it more personal. When you book an indoor session, we will discuss some fun activities to plan to help keep your kids occupied, engaged and interacting. Don’t worry I have lots of family photo ideas. Examples from past sessions include baking, dance parties, playing a game or a jam session.

If you are looking for outdoor family photos in Iowa City/Coralville area we have lots of options that allow movement and exploration. Here are just a few examples: mural hunting downtown IC (talk about a gorgeous urban setting!); exploring the water at Coralville lake/fossil gorge, Lake MacBride, or even your neighborhood creek. If your family loves hiking and forested or prairie areas, we could do a beautiful session right before sunset at Kent Park. Moving around helps everyone feel more loose and relaxed. You will find that you forget the camera is even there. It’s a proven fact.

>>Everyone has to look at the camera at all times.

No, no, no, please don’t. And if you do I will tell you not to, a lot. I will usually try to get the “Christmas card” shot done and out of the way. As much as I love candids, I still appreciate having a standard yearly family portrait. But come on-we can’t expect for these little kids to function like fashion models. I have seen how this pressure to perform “smile, cheese, look at the camera” is just entirely too much for these little ones, (especially if that is the expectation for the whole session). Most of the families I have worked with love it when they get photos in their gallery that feel authentic. Authentic expressions from children usually come when the child feels relaxed and is free to interact with their family and environment.

>>My kids are too crazy to cooperate for a session.

In my sessions, I consider you part of my team. I have found that my play-based and child-driven approach works wonders with even the highest energy little ones. “Prompts” (basically suggestions) and activities will help direct your interaction with your children. The best part? When your children are caught smiling or laughing it is because they are enjoying themselves and having fun. We always have plenty of time to give breaks or try something new within the hour.

>>My children are too young/too old for photos.

Even babies that cannot sit up on their own can be absolutely adorable being held by parents. And you will miss holding them! Teenagers may not always be enthused when they show up, but the connection between teenage children and parents is still beautiful and no less worthy of documenting.

>>A “mini” session HAS to be our best bet.

The thinking here is “the shorter the better” as in the shorter mini session will be the answer for the {insert adjective: i.e. “crazy” “active” “defiant” “shy”} child that parents may be worried about. I get that in theory, but it doesn’t always play out. The shorter session basically creates more perceived pressure for the parents which often times creates tension for the child. During a regular/full session, there is enough time for the child to come in and out of engagement. They get breaks, they even get to be more in charge. For the more reserved or slow-to-warm up child, the full family session allows for them to get used to the photographer and get more authentic images.

Click here to message me to start planning your family photos in Iowa City/the Corridor. I am always up for an adventure, and willing to travel! Remember you know your family best, so you are a valuable part of creating an authentic family session.

xo Jess


Family Photo Myths Debunked/Family photos in Iowa City, IA