There is a stereotype out there of Dads hating photo sessions. For some reason they got a reputation of being grumpy and displeased about working with a professional photographer, and it stuck. In my personal experience, there’s no real trend in guys being more difficult or unwilling. Dads, in many ways, end up loving the experience because they tend to like themselves in photos more often than Moms do (we, as women, tend to be a little pickier about our appearance).
But it’s always that first step of convincing Dad that this is, in fact, a good idea that can be challenging. Below are some of the common objections I hear about Dad’s reluctance in moving forward with a session or even entertaining the idea.. and some good ways to explain the process and yes, convince, Dad.
He feels you can take photos that are just as good
Yes, you probably can! iPhones nowadays take great photos and right now, the iPhone 8 has a 12 megapixel camera on the back. That’s the same number of megapixels as my first professional DSLR that cost $3,000! But what does that mean in reality? While the megapixels are the same, the quality of the photo is NOT. Optics and the quality of the sensor equate to either stellar crisp images or muddy pixelated ones, even if the actual dimensions of the photo are the same. This might not matter much if you’re looking at pictures on your phone, but the moment you go to print them at a larger size, they fall apart pretty quickly. And if you want beautiful framed prints of your family on the wall or an heirloom family album, you can’t use your everyday iPhone shots without seeing a noticeable difference in quality.
The biggest issue here is to hire a photographer who actually IS better at taking portraits than your phone.. and I wish I could say that everyone who calls themselves a professional would fall into this category, but that’s sadly not the case. Many photographers who are just starting out are usually still learning their equipment and all the other aspects of photography and can’t yet produce a result that is all that different from shots you can take yourself.. so do yourself a favor, and hire someone who is an expert in their craft, so you actually CAN see the difference.
The other part of this, of course, is the fact that whoever is taking the photos is never in the pictures themselves. So whether that’s Mom or Dad, sometimes it’s nice to have the whole family together in one shot.
He doesn’t like being photographed
This objection isn’t unique to Dads, but it’s certainly worth addressing. Very few people actually LIKE being photographed. We are used to hating photos of ourselves as we are caught mid-sentence, with a double-chin, and in horrible lighting. This is exactly why having someone take your portrait who knows what they’re doing makes a lot of sense. And having someone who understands the discomfort people often feel and can put you at ease is another really great trait to look for. This takes experience and training and quite honestly not everyone will be a great fit (exactly how not everyone you meet becomes your best friend). This is why it’s so important to have a phone conversation with the photographer you’re hiring, otherwise you have no idea if you’re a good match or not. Personally, I don’t take on a Client unless we’ve had that consultation on the phone, because I know how important it is to make sure that I’m the right fit for the family.
It’s too much of a hassle
When the burden of setting everything up, getting everyone ready, and doing all the planning falls on the family, a photo session can definitely balloon into a huge stressful time suck. It’s so important, when working with a professional, that the person you’re hiring is able to take care of the process to make it easier for everyone. There is no reason why you should be trying to figure out what everyone is wearing or dance around to try and get your kids to smile for the camera. Simply put, that’s the photographer’s job.
This is the reason why I work so closely with my Clients before the session. We have an In-Home Styling Consultation that, in one fell swoop, we select all the outfits, figure out the colors, style of the session, and determine what products we’re photographing for. I have flexible scheduling (more on that below) so it’s never a hassle to actually find the time. And you walk away from your experience with finished products so you’re not spending months trying to get some photos printed or putting that album together late into the night. Simply put, I take care of everything. And I do that so you don’t have to.
It’s too expensive
Yes, if you’re hiring a seasoned photographer who knows what they’re doing and is providing a quality service experience, it will definitely be expensive. But how expensive is it, really? After all, if you were to purchase the camera yourself and invest time/money in photography education, you would certainly end up spending more. Just the sheer amount of time it takes to research and produce quality prints is astounding.. not to mention learning how to use the camera, buying lenses, and figuring out lighting. You save money, and lots of time, by hiring someone to do all that for you in the end.
it’s Too hard to fit into the schedule
Kids nowadays have tons of activities going on. And I get it, who wants to give up precious weekend time to go and do a family photoshoot? It’s important for me, when working with busy families, to schedule their session based on their availability. That’s why I work on weekends (yes, even Sunday) and open up the entire day for a session, so my Clients can select the best time for their family. When photographers schedule clients back to back, there’s never any flexibility and yes, it becomes very difficult to fit a family photo session into a jam-packed weekend. But anyone can allocate 1-2 hours within a day for something this important, if those two hours can be at a time that’s actually convenient.
I also make a point to allow my Clients to reschedule. Obviously it’s not ideal for anyone involved, but things come up and kids get sick, and there’s no reason why you should be penalized for something that’s out of your control. And for appointments outside of the photo session (like your Styling Consultation and the Ordering Appointment), I schedule them at any time of day, even 8pm in the evening, because I know that’s often the best time busy parents have available.
Feels like he Needs to lose 10 pounds first
Dads do sometimes feel self-conscious about weight.. and we all feel that we should be more fit, more tan, and better rested before we can appear in photographs. But more often than not, that time will never come. Good posing easily takes 10 pounds off. Photoshop retouching can also fix anything that posing didn’t quite get to. If you’re waiting to get your teeth whitened before your photo session, guess what, that’s part of the standard retouching process every final portrait goes through. There will never be a perfect time. And you will never be younger than you are today. So why wait?
hates cheesy posed shots
I hate cheesy posed Studio portraits too! Which is why I don’t do them. Now, posing is important.. because you definitely want to look GOOD in your photos. But it doesn’t have to be stiff and contrived. It’s part of my process to make sure everyone looks their best, but them allow natural movement and variation within the pose. Real expressions will always be better than holding a smile for 2 minutes straight, which is why it’s so important for a photographer to have experience and knowledge of how to work with families specifically (because, let’s face it, kids present their own special challenges). So if the phrase “Studio Portraits” makes Dad want to run for the hills, be sure to mention that we’ve moved past the 80’s glamour and the Sears portrait studio and that there are photographers out there who hate cheesy posed portraits just as much as he does. Be sure to show him the photographer’s work and ask for his opinion.. you might be surprised at how willing he is to move forward.
But what if he still ends up hating the result? I provide a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee with every session just for that reason. I have no interest in taking my Client’s money unless they are buying portraits they absolutely LOVE. I feel that it’s important, especially if you’re working with me for the very first time, that you’re happy with the work.. and if you’re not, then it’s not your fault, but mine.
Hated the photography experience at the wedding
Often when I work with new families, their last photography experience was their wedding. And sometimes that isn’t a good thing. Photographers are all very different, and sometimes you end up hating the posing (or the lack thereof), hating the way you looked in photos, or simply having being told what to do on a day that’s supposed to be all about celebrating you as a couple. A family photo session is different. And realizing which parts of the wedding photography experience Dad hated will go a long way in making sure history doesn’t repeat itself.
I always ask my Clients how their spouse feels about photographs so I can make sure to customize the session for their preferences. If Dad always closes his eyes in photos, I will take extra shots and combine images in post-production if needed. If Dad hates spending hours at the Studio, we can keep the session moving quickly and get him on his way ASAP (or if there’s a game he’s trying to make it to). And if Dad simply feel awkward in front of the camera (btw, I 100% relate to that feeling), I will work with him, tell him exactly what to do (we often feel uncomfortable because he have no idea what we’re supposed to be doing), and taking the focus off what’s actually happening (hey, distraction works for magic tricks, so why not?).
If we want to be completely honest here, it usually falls on Mom to make all these arrangements. And then she has the slightly challenging job of trying to convince her husband that he should participate in a family photoshoot.. something he often has absolutely no desire to do.
But here’s the biggest reason why Dads should get in front of the camera with their kids and wives.. because portraits MATTER. They will be what we have left, many years from now, of our time on this planet. And while taking shots on the iPhone is extremely convenient, it’s not the same as investing in beautiful photography products that won’t fall apart in the few years (you can read my post on archival-quality printing here: https://nlalorphotography.com/blog/is-it-archival-photography-printing-explained).
And who knows, maybe Dad will really like doing the family photoshoot in the end. It’s an experience the entire family can enjoy, not to mention the portraits that can be appreciated for many years afterwards.