What the what? Family photo sessions suck?

They certainly can, can't they? BUT, they DON'T have to!

I've been there. I've done that. You're so busy with the overwhelm, all of the:

  • Where?
  • When?
  • How to dress?
  • What to do?
  • How it looks to others? (social media comparisons be damned)
  • & do we even want to talk about the behavior of our kids.... (and, dare I say, partner)?

Family photo sessions can be so freaking overwhelming! Trying to get family onboard for the idea and you're so busy planning all of the details and worried about it all... that you forget to have FUN! You forget the real reason, the real meaning:

The WHY!!!

Let's get into it...

A family of four sitting with their dogs in their patio doorway


Me: "At your house."

You: "Sabrina, you're kidding me! My house is a mess!"

Me: "Yea, so is mine (bet you don't even see it in all of the photos I share). So is theirs, theirs, theirs, not theirs, but theirs."

You: "It isn't complete, it doesn't look like those homes you see in magazines."

Me: "It is complete. It houses the people you love. It houses the pets you adore. It is a collection of your life and tells your story, hide the mess and pull it out when I leave if you'd like."

Okay, so I don't just have to photograph you at home, I know of some awesome locations around Charlotte, or you can bring me to your favorite Charlotte stomping ground, but your home, your backyard, tells the story of your family. Kiddos LOVE to show me their rooms. Partners enjoy being relaxed in their space (sometimes with a beer). Pets in the photos without worrying about the leash and where they are. Moms can know that their family is in their safe space where they can be themselves, the space she has worked hard at creating life.

No worrying about if it's going to rain (unless you really want backyard photos), if the location will be crowded, if there are snakes in the field (my BIGGEST freaking fear), etc. You get it.

Just you, your family, your story.

Young girl sitting on a garden cart in a Charlotte Lowe's Home Improvement store


Fall is over-rated! There, I said it! Don't @ me..... or you can, but it is the busiest season and the most rushed. Your holiday cards do NOT need to be of your family in a field you've never been to, having booked photos at the last minute because you NEED them for cards, filled with forced smiles and intense memories that maybe don't make you or your family feel so good when you look back.

Raise your hand if that's you... Guilty. Me. That's me, I'm so guilty of this in the past.

Yes, some of those photos are lovely, but I look back and think... why did I do those, they aren't us. There is a photo on our wall where my kiddo asked me why I was dressed fancy in the woods. Good question. She didn't remember us taking the photos either. The photo hanging next to it is from the same year and it is of her sitting on a garden cart in Lowe's with her rain boots on. Now that photo she remembers. She can tell you how many bags of mulch we put on that cart and how she got to sit on them even though it made me nervous. Those are the memories I want to remember. Those are the ones that make me say... this is us.

Now, let's bet back to the "when"... anytime! Newborns choose the time, but other than that, spring is lovely, summer is under-rated(!), winter has beautiful white light that shines in the windows. Any time is a good time to tell your story, mindfully, and with intention. Your family love story is so worthy.

Parents sitting with their son in their Davidson, NC front yard

How should I dress?

Like yourself of course! I've covered that on another Blog Post HERE. I do have some families that get dressed up. Some that dress in their everyday wear. Some even sport their pajamas. Whatever makes you most happy and comfortable because that is what makes a great image and tells the story.

Children painting with watercolors on their back patio

What should we do in the photos?

Here's another one I've written a BLOG post for, but there are so many things you can do and as your kiddos grow up and as your home changes (or even if you're in a new one), there is always something fun to do and document. I bet your kiddos can come up with amazing ideas

  • Family Game Night
  • Painting
  • Swing Set
  • Sprinkler
  • Balloons
  • Indoor Forts
  • Making S'mores
  • Dress Up
  • Make Believe
  • Reading Together
  • Making a Meal

Woman tossing her toddler in the air laughing at Top Sail Beach

My husband took these photos... I don't have a lot of style, but I do have a lot of love. :)

Woman holding her child at Top Sail Beach, NC

How it looks? Social Media be damned!

You are beautiful. You are loved. I believe it. I know it.

I find so much beauty in everyone I have ever photographed. I find amazing crinkles in laughter, warmth in hugs, stillness in looks, generosity in spirit.

I am guilty myself of not getting in the photo because of weight, because of hair, because of self doubt in being deserving of being in the photo. I don't "look" like all the "beautiful" people. But, F*ck it! I am my own kind of beautiful. The kind of beautiful my kids love. The kind my husband sees. The kind that my friends appreciate.

Let go of the self doubt. Your child doesn't see all the negative you think you see, nor should they. Nor should YOU. One day you won't remember how they hugged you a silly way or how they kissed your eyes when you laughed or how they blew raspberries on your cheeks... one day it will stop. One day, if you allow yourself the privilege of these photos, you'll remember. They will remember. You will laugh. You will cry happy tears. You will see all the good in your story, no matter what you look like.

Children making fun faces and parents smiling on the front porch of their Dilworth home

Coolest parents and kids ever, we had so much fun!


I've seen it all at family photo sessions. I've seen anger, the most uncomfortable kind. I've seen tears. I've seen laughter. I've seen happiness. I've seen sadness.

Do you know what all the ANGRIEST sessions have in common? The one where I see less repeat clients? The photo sessions that weren't at home. The sessions that don't take place in their favorite park. I have actually cried in my car after sessions where parents were so angry at their kiddos for not smiling. I've never shared that before, so there's that out there. I can't look back at those photos, I sometimes wonder how the parents feel about those. Does that mean I'm a bad photographer or I can't manage people? No. It has everything to do with all the built up stress about the expectations of family photo sessions.

Let go of the expectations.

Do you know what the HAPPIEST sessions all have in common? The ones where husbands have said, "that was actually really fun." The ones where kiddos ask me, "Do you have to go? Are you coming back tomorrow?" The ones where parents open up more and actually flirt, hold each other, and kiss without any prompts needed. The ones where moms email me later that day about how much fun everyone had. The ones at home. The sessions that tell the family story.

Family cuddling on a couch while two little sister kiss noses

Do family photo sessions have to suck?

No. Not at ALL. Just remember the real reason you do them. The WHY.... your WHY. Your story. Their story. Your family love story.