It happens at every single family photoshoot. Often, parents ask me to capture that elusive photograph of their family together, looking at the camera. Or an image of all the kids together, smiling.. and looking at the camera. As you can imagine, the "looking at the camera" is the hard part.
And more often than not, it doesn't actually happen!
It doesn't happen for many many reasons. Most of all, it doesn't happen because we're photographing little children with very short attention spans and a strong tendency to wiggle. And I always tell the parents that I work with, "I am going to be taking LOTS of photos". That's because in the end, I am usually able to combine 2 (or sometimes 3) photographs together to create that one perfect shot.
Which brings me to the other question I always seem to get from parents: "Can I see all the photos from the session? What is there is one that I like better than what you pick?"
And the answer if simple. There is never a better photo than what I pick. Because very often, the photo I did pick (or, rather, created), didn't even exist to begin with!
When photographing children and families, the best image is pretty clear. It's the one where the child isn't making a silly face. The one where they are actually looking at the camera. I select the calm or happy expression, and not the confused one. With more than 1 person, the image that is picked for the final editing process is usually the ONE shot where everyone looks good (once again, even that one shot often doesn't happen). And in the rare case that there are two images where one isn't a clear winner, I will edit and show both! So you never have to worry about missing out on a great photo, and you also don't have to sift through hundreds of images to pick the one that's actually good (that's part of MY job, btw).
And that whole process - the selecting, combining, and professional editing of photographs - is why you hire a photographer to begin with. Most people don't have years of experience with Photoshop in order to seamlessly put together several images. Being able to cull (or narrow down) images is also a skill that takes time to develop.. one that I have been working on for many many years.
So in the end, you get a much higher quality product. Once again, it goes beyond having a fancy camera. A lot of the magic happens after the fact.. and requires a little bit of expert knowledge that goes a step beyond the basics.
And of course, the most surprising thing for most parents to learn is.. perfection doesn't actually exist! :)