A vintage photo in a frame on a desk showing why family photos are important

7 Reasons Why Family Photos Are Important

May 24, 2024

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If you’ve found this post, odds are that you want to know why family photos are important. Growing up, it’s possible that you were shown old family photos from generations long before you, each photo telling its own story that a family member repeated to you. 

As a family photographer serving New Jersey and the New York City area, I’ve had the joy of photographing many different families over the years. Some want to create a legacy, while others want to share their heritage with future generations. Some document their family growing from year to year and use the images for holiday cards! Each reason is as valid as the next.

Here are some of the most significant reasons why family photos are important. 

Reasons Why Family Photos Are Important

Leave “proof” of yourself with a connection to the past

For the longest time, photography has allowed people to leave proof of themselves. Historically, this was one of the first times that humans were able to do that. We learn more about ourselves through the moments that our ancestors left behind. Even if we don’t have our own children, our imprint can and will make an impact.

Family photos showcase the lives lived in your family and the relationships that everyone has with one another. The photos give future generations a glimpse into the personalities and emotions that their ancestors had, and can even show off moments that might have been forgotten otherwise (for instance, if family photos are taken at a family reunion or other gathering).

Plus, these photos can also help to tell your family’s story. Future children and grandchildren will be able to see these photos and pick out any family resemblances or shared traits that they might have with your family today, allowing your future generations to continually connect with family roots.

Leave inspiration for future generations

One of the lesser-known reasons why family photos are important is that they can actually provide inspiration for sessions! For instance, if you look back on your own ancestors’ family photos, you might be able to remember the steps of your grandparents or great-grandparents. This can be a fun way to approach your family photo session and connect to your family’s lineage.

This inspiration can also come about in other ways, too. Looking at family photos can remind future generations that they’ve always been a part of something greater – their family’s ongoing story. This sense of belonging is something that we all aspire to have as humans! By taking family photos, you can make sure that your legacy will continue to inspire future generations to come.

Give your children a cherished gift

Trust me when I say that I’ve photographed my fair share of parents who are camera-shy. (I get it – I’m always behind the camera, so I feel the same when I’m in front of it!) I try to encourage them to realize how much it will mean to their children to have photos of them. This is such a driving force as to why momentarily overcoming some of that shyness is invaluable and an important, cherished gift for children.

Gifting your children (and your children’s children) photos of your family gives them the opportunity to learn about relatives they may have never had the chance to meet. They may also learn more about the youthful adventures that you had!

Non-biological family photos can also be incredibly positive for adopted children as they reinforce their sense of belonging and love within their adoptive family. These photos capture shared experiences, milestones, and moments of joy, fostering a strong bond and a feeling of security. 

They validate the adopted child’s place in the family and provide a visual narrative of their unique journey and the love that surrounds them. Family photos are a celebration of so many kinds of families! There never has to be a rule about what makes your family yours!

Strengthen family bonds

Family photos can also strengthen family bonds. They can serve as an actual representation of a family’s experience and history and preserve them for years to come, allowing those who look at the photos in the future to feel that connectedness.

This is also twofold! Actually taking these photos with your family today can be a great bonding experience. Your family members will come together and participate in the creative process (if they want to) for your family photos. 

By looking at these photos as the years go on, either during family gatherings or even just in albums in your own home, you can easily be reminded of the past and always remember the deep connections you have with those that you love, bringing a sense of pride in the family’s legacy. 

Showcase your family’s traditions and culture

Family photos easily showcase your family’s traditions and culture, which can be passed down to future generations. Think about it; photographs can show family gatherings, holidays, culturally significant events, and other traditions that your family may have. These can allow younger generations to really appreciate and understand their roots and where they came from. 

Help children understand heritage and family history

Family photos can easily help children to understand heritage and family history. They can learn about ancestors, clothing of the past, and even expressions that they might not do anymore. Truthfully, this can bring such a sense of identity and allow history to feel  more relatable

Offer comfort during times of loss or separation

Last but certainly not least, when it comes to why family photos are important, they can really serve as a source of comfort during times of loss or separation, giving a way to still feel connected to someone who may no longer physically be with us. In moments of grief, family photos can bring back warm and happy memories,  allowing other family members to process emotions without feeling as alone.

This is even true if a family member is on the other side of the world or even traveling often for work. Family photos can easily bridge the distance by keeping the faces of loved ones close by every day. There’s a reason why so many of us have a frame or two on our bedside table! 

But even when the idea of family brings a source of confusion, anger or sadness, heritage and family history can be a place of deeper understanding and resolve.

Tips for Family Photos

Now that you know why you should take family photos, let’s talk about some tips.

Plan your outfits in advance

When it comes to getting family photos taken, you want to plan your outfits in advance. Now, in the early 2000s, everyone loved being matchy-match for photoshoots. This isn’t really the best route to go anymore!

Try to pick clothing or outfits that work well together but aren’t 100% the same. You don’t all have to wear red t-shirts with denim jeans or even have matching t-shirts. Try to look like a unit without being 100% matching. This expresses each family member’s individuality while simultaneously showing you all as a unit. 

Consider the location

Next, be sure to take the time to consider the location. Would you rather have more posed images in a studio or photos of you all out and about doing a family activity at one of your favorite places in your town, city or neighborhood?

As a family photographer, I love helping my clients pick the best location possible for their photoshoots. If you’re ever in doubt about where to get photos taken, be sure to ask your photographer.

Bring snacks and water

This is one that you may have heard before, but really, try to bring some snacks and water. At the very least, each family member should have a water bottle. It  can take a lot out of you to smile and be present with all family members in a photoshoot! You’ll want to have snacks and water to re-energize, even if it is just a one-hour photo session for your family photos.

Pick some props (or toys!)

Sometimes, it can feel awkward in front of the camera, especially if you’re not used to it. To help ease the tension, consider bringing some props or even toys if you have younger children or family members joining you for the photos. Being focused on a prop can really help to put you at ease.

Remember, too, that your photos aren’t supposed to be perfect. They are supposed to show all of the nuances of your family exactly as your family is. 

Try to be comfortable

Last but not least, and I know this is the hardest tip to follow… do your best to be comfortable and have fun! If you are uncomfortable, it will show through in your photos. (I will, of course, be there to guide you and ease you out of any discomforts. But also keep this tip in mind…..picking clothing that’s especially comfortable is something I always recommend to my clients. 

Feeling comfortable in what you have on is the first step to a comfortable session. Don’t wear those new leather shoes that you thought would look good in your photos if they are uncomfortable. 

Final thoughts: Why take family photos?

As you can see, when it comes to why family photos are important, there are so many reasons for so many families and I hope that this article has helped to show you why you should plan to capture your family’s photos!

If you’re still looking for a photographer to capture your family exactly as it is to show your family’s heritage for generations to come, I’d love for you to get in touch. Click here to contact me!

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