6 questions to ask yourself around your family photographs

As adults, we’re often set in our ways, acting out the patterns that work for us day in and day out. When we’re in the middle of those patterns and routines, we rarely do anything to stir things up.

Every once in a while it is good to stop and ask yourself some questions, so that you can step out of those patterns and do something extraordinary – like hire a documentary family photographer. (That’s me!)

Jokes aside, I’d love to invite you to take a bit of a break, and do some soul-searching for a few minutes.

Maybe these questions will spur you to take different photos than you usually do, to ask your partner to take some photos with you in them, or to hire a photographer to capture your extraordinary ordinary:

#1 How often do I see my favorite photos?

While most of photos now remain forever-digital on our devices, you can choose to have some treasured ones printed so you can see them every single day. As a coffee table book, as wall art – seeing them will keep reminding you of those good memories, of why you do everything that you do.

#2 How do I most enjoy looking at pictures?

A couple weeks ago I dropped off some pictures for a family with three girls. The mom and I talked a little bit about how looking at digital photos is just a quick scroll or tapping process, while holding physical photos is a completely different thing. You pause, and you’re pretty much able to touch those memories – they’re just so much more REAL than anything we could pull up on a screen.

I’ve always been drawn to paper – I can’t for the life of me make digital notes when I attend a class or read a book, I *need* the paper. The connection to paper is what makes it real.

Research shows that if we pay for purchases with paper money, we feel physical pain as we part with it – while paying with a card doesn’t have the same effect (which leads to over-spending). I think something similar is happening with photos – they are so much more valuable tp us when they are physical keepsakes versus when they are bits on a hard drive somewhere.

#3 Do my kids see themselves in our home?

We did not display family photos in my childhood home, and I remember thinking that it was a bit odd. Why did all my friends’ families have photos *everywhere*? My parents took a lot of photos and there was a whole cupboard of slides from all of our adventures, but none of the photos made it onto the wall or into frames.

Later in life I became a child psychologist, and started to see the reason why I felt envious of all the photos of my friends’ families:

Photos remind every member of the family that they are part of a unit and that they are important enough to showcase.

#4 How do I want to remember this season of life?

The days might seem long while the months and years race by quickly – and while we might feel like we won’t forget a second of it, we do unless we have reminders. Do you keep a journal, do you snap some pictures? What are the types of moments you want to look back on?

#5 How do I want to be remembered?

When you think of my favorite pictures of my mom or dad, do you care one bit about their appearance?

Or do you care more about how the pictures bring back memories of their laugh, their sense of humor, their gentle touch, their smile, their patience? How hard they worked as a parent, how much they loved you – while they probably were exhausted at times, too.

Would you like photos of you show what you are like, not just how you look?

#6 If something happened to me, would my family have access to the pictures I’ve taken over the past few years?

It is crucial that you not only keep backups of your pictures, but that someone is able to access them. And if your partner for some reason is not available to access them, how will your kids? Photo books, albums, and prints are tangible keepsakes that your family can have at their fingertips, even if technology gives them a hard time.

I would love to hear in the comments, what your biggest A-HA moment was while thinking about these questions?


Something fun happened as I shared this blog post – other photographers decided to write replies to it! Find them here:

Little Island Photography, Belgium

Katie Jett Walls Photography, Washington, DC

Anna Holden, Connecticut, was inspired to come up with another set of questions to ask!

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Documentary newborn and family photographer serving San francisco Bay Area, San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and surrounding areas