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Planning a family photo session

April 28, 2014

Gone are the days when you can make a family photo by traipsing into Wal-Mart with some presentable clothes on and pose for 10 minutes and come out with a standard but decent shot of whatever everyone looked like in August, 2004, right before your youngest went off to college.

That’s exactly what we did to get this photo. Wal-Mart special.


Fast forward ten years. No, make that slow forward ten years. So. Much. Has. Happened. Our family almost doubled in size in the last ten!! And I didn’t have to have any more babies.


But my daughters and their husbands did and one of them said a few weeks before Christmas, hey, its been almost 10 years since we took a family photo and its about time we did. How about if we give the whole family a photo shoot for Christmas as our gift to all of you.

Well yes! And thank you. Wonderful idea!

Striebig Photography & Design: Davis Family &emdash; Striebig-8224

Except, it took three acts of congress to pull it off. Wait, wrong example. It still wouldn’t have happened if we were waiting on congress.

After multiple tries of finding a weekend that would work for us and the photographer, the date was set for a week before Easter.

There were instructions from the patient and professional photographer, Bradley Striebig of Striebig Photography & Design.

Followed up by a raft of emails about what on earth we should wear that looked coordinated but not matchy matchy.

Then there were private photo albums on Facebook sharing some of the color scenarios we were imagining.


There was checking Pinterest boards to see what color combos others choose.

There were shopping trips, especially by grandma, to get the little ones something that looked coordinated but not matchy matchy.


There were shot lists sent by the photographer:
Do you want the following?: Family together, Grandchild alone, Grandchildren together, Grandchild & parents (each individual family), Grandchild (one) and grandparents, Grandchildren (both) and grandparents, etc. etc., Pets in any combination? We could agree on one thing: no pets in these photos. We’d have enough to deal with!
Striebig Photography & Design: Davis Family &emdash; Striebig-8386

One child decided to give up napping the week before the photo shoot, which meant a very worn out little boy who never the less soldiered through. And patient papas who soldiered through.

Striebig Photography & Design: Davis Family &emdash; Striebig-8295

Not to mention an awesome down-on-the-ground photographer who wasn’t afraid to get his knees dirty or set up so many lights it looked like a film set, even if we were outside and shooting in bright sunlight.Striebig Photography & Design: Davis Family &emdash; Striebig-8218


It took some effort, but it WAS fun (except for fussy babies, who, by the way and to their credit, took things in stride like o.k., this is what families do). You do have to wonder what goes through their brains.

I do know that the little one who was so tuckered out finally fell asleep in his mother’s arms. At last, poor tyke.


The best advice Brad gave us (but hard to follow) was “Remember the job of you adults is to be looking at the camera and smiling no matter what. I’ll worry about capturing the babies at the right times.”

Striebig Photography & Design: Davis Family &emdash; Striebig-8323

Striebig Photography & Design: Davis Family &emdash; Striebig-8271

The three sisters, on our porch swing: Doreen, Tanya, and Michelle.

Striebig Photography & Design: Davis Family &emdash; Striebig-8519

Now comes the hard part. What to purchase and print. I’m still very much of a print person.


My grandparents and great grandparents are preserved on prints from over 100 years ago. No matter what technology we have next, I hope my grandchildren and great great grandchildren children 100 years from now may handle real photos and marvel and figure out resemblances and treasure the family connections over the centuries.

So I’m glad for my prints. The one below hangs in our bedroom:

The original Davis Five, circa 1989.

FamilyPhoto2004 (2)Tanya, Melodie, Doreen, Stuart, Michelle

This one will be very special for many years to come.

The original Davis Five 25 years later, 2014.

Striebig Photography & Design: Davis Family &emdash; Striebig-8254Doreen, Stuart, Michelle, Melodie, Tanya


Do you print photos? Do you think people will still print photos 100 years from now (printing 3-D photos are next on the horizon). How do you store your photos?


When was the last time you had a family photo made? I know a good one!

Watermarked Professional photos courtesy of Bradley Striebig photos.

Striebig Photography & Design: Davis Family &emdash; Striebig-8536

We end every day like this. Ha. Our front porch swing, where we spend too little time.


From → Family Life

  1. Caro-Claire Braund Wiles permalink

    What a lovely family you have and well worth all the preliminary preparations and the actual filming “fun” that went into getting the job done.
    I am sorry to say that even though we have lots of actual pictures, we have not had a professional family photo shoot done .
    However every year when we had the family for Thanksgiving dinner every one had to “humour the momma” and we would go outside for our timed group shot and some pix with the grandchildren and grandparents.
    They were threated that there would be no dinner served until this was done!
    Sadly this past few years there have been some changes with family dynamics and we haven’t had a full group shot done for a while.

    • Caro-Claire, Yes, the preparations were well worth it, and like I said, the actual process was more like just a relaxed family outing on our own acreage. The photographer was able to get some lovely landscape shots in the background. Taking a shot before a big meal is a great idea–everyone always soon spreads away afterword, for sure! It’s sad when family dynamics can get in the way but it is good to not let that stop family photos and just take whoever can be there!

      • Caro-Claire Wiles permalink

        As I got to thinkig more about family picutres , I should say that I am actually the family photographer and I have so many albums that I have a good record through the years in them.
        That was until I went digital with my camera and now i have almost as many in files that are not printed I still like to look though and album in preference to looking on the computer

      • I’m not sure whether photos are easier to find in digital files or in boxes & albums! If I were only more organized with my digital files.

  2. You-all did great. Wonderful photos–lively and not too matchy matchy.

    • Caro-Claire Wiles permalink

      My albums were very well organized before the move but I am still working on their unpacking since then.
      As for the digital one in folders I am also trying to get those ones in orde too..
      Definitly not an easy procedure !

  3. Thank you, Shirley. The babies did great. I look like I put 10 lbs back on (I was leaning in funny) but no one looks at grandma anyway. 🙂

  4. Athanasia permalink

    Very nice , but looks like took a lot of work. Are you going to end up buying all of them? We don’t do such organized things. We have never had an official paid for family portrait. We have a decent number of pictures as my mother always has a camera handy and is always telling someone to take pictures, then she makes copies.

    I like having printed pictures, but I also like the instancy of getting an unexpected emailed photo or browsing the children’s pictures on facebook and instagram.

    Wouldn’t you have had some family photos done at the weddings of your daughters? Why the 10 year gap?

    Most of my pictures are in boxes or still in the pack from the store when they were developed. I have never done a photo album, not even for wedding. Those are still in packet, too. I haven’t felt the need for an album; people just pull out what they want to look at.

    I don’t know about 100 years from now…I can not imagine it. I can barely comprehend how my cell phone works or change the time on my digital clock.

    • “I like having printed pictures, but I also like the instancy of getting an unexpected emailed photo or browsing the children’s pictures on facebook and instagram.” — you are right about that. I kind of feel sorry for those who are not online because they miss so much interaction including with more distant relatives that I haven’t seen or lived near in many years.

      And no, we won’t buy all of them. We will have them digitally but I will purhcase a few to hang in a few special places around the house and to share with a few relatives, mainly with my mother, who is NOT on Facebook at 89, except for when one of us helps her get on the computer with us.

      If the packet and box system works for you, I wouldn’t knock it or change it! Whatever works. Thanks for your fine comment from a slightly different point of experience!

  5. Your blog post today is a wonderful template for others who are planning a photo shoot with little ones, down to coordinating outfits. One big happy family – who could ask for more!

    Our last formal family shoot was 6 years ago when we were sure little Ian, a 2′ 5″ preemie would survive. Since then there have been hundreds of shots (well, make that thousands) digitally. I seldom print paper copies now except for a few special ones I have in frames on my desk or kitchen counter. Recently, I sent 4-5 prints to my mother in the mail. At age 95, she’s not into the electronic!

    As you can tell from reading my posts, I’m fond of images. Before I got a digital camera and later a smartphone, I would shoot and print photos. Right now there are more than 20 albums chock full of photos from our 46+ years of family history. Heart-warming post, Melodie.

    • Thanks! yes, that’s what I had in mind–a template for anyone else. I agree there is less need for paper copies except for a few special ones around. Photos bring those special persons to mind. I don’t think I could be Amish for that reason alone. You do great things with your images (I never got around to commenting on your “mother’s bedroom” post with chenille bedspread etc., but loved it.)

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