Decent Family Pictures With My Toddler Are Rare

16 months.

Good family pictures are hard to come by; whether self-taken snapshots or professional portraits taken in a studio.

And with a toddler, well… you don’t need me telling how difficult and frustrating it can be to try to get a toddler to cooperate with that.

There are very few pictures of our family including all three of us. In the ones that do exist, my son usually isn’t looking in the same direction as us.

But we’ll settle for those ones as long as his head isn’t turned facing the complete opposite direction; as the majority of them are.

It’s either my wife or myself taking the pictures most of the time, so often the picture ends up being of just one of us parents with our son.

I always thought it was weird how we’re supposed to smile in these pictures where we break the 4th wall.

It’s like, “Oh, you just happened to catch all of us when we were having a family moment; all smiling.” Yeah right.

A realistic family picture for us, at best, would probably be like the one featured on the right:

I am attempting to take a picture of any potentially photogenic moment of my son and wife. So to capture a true image of my family, it would include me with the camera.

The last time my sister visited us in Nashville, she took a lot of pictures of my wife and I interacting with our son. She explained:

“There are a lot of them the way you like; where no one is actually looking at the camera.”

I laughed because she was right; yet at that point I had never really thought about it before:

When I share a picture with anyone, I like for it to be as natural and “in the moment” as possible.

Sure, we do smile a lot. We have a lot to be thankful for.

But to assume those smiles are always real for each person in the picture; well, at least speaking for myself, what I am really thinking most of the time when having to pose for a picture is, “Hurry up and take the picture already!”

When I take pictures of my family, I just want to capture that real life moment, when possible; whether it’s an official portrait or a very amateur snapshot on a lazy Saturday morning when I’m wearing a $9 Muppets t-shirt from Target.

So while I’ll always accept a random stranger’s offer to take a picture of my family and hope it turns out halfway decent, my main concern in regards to taking pictures of my son and wife is not that I am in the picture too.

Because honestly, the image of the three of us is always in my heart and mind. I don’t need too many physical reminders of that.

Here’s a real, legitimate portrait of my family for Christmas 1986; back when my sister was a toddler and I was a Kindergartner. This is definitely “in the moment.”



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  1. by Stacey

    On April 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Love this! It is really hard to photograph our entire family…very rare to have all of us in the frame!

  2. by Nick Shell

    On April 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Thanks Stacey! You just have to take what you can get when it comes to family pics.