When it comes to family portraits there are 5 stages of a family. In each stage there will be special things to consider when planning family portraits. What stage is your family in?
Stage 1 – The Building Stage
If you have just found out you are expecting your first child – congratulations, you are starting the building stage of your family. During the building stage you are continuing to add members to your family. Generally you children are fairly young and are growing fast. Many people get confused in this stage because their family is changing so quickly that they get confused at what to do about family portraits.
Our Recommendation: Just like changing the oil in your car every 3 months or 3000 miles we recommend having a family portrait at least every two years. Then on the years you do not do a family portrait to get the children’s individual portraits taken. That way you have a current picture of each of your children in every year of their life. This would be our minimum recommendation, however, it can be nice to do it more often as well.
Stage 2 – The Completed Stage
Once you have your last child you then enter into the completed stage. Usually at this stage you have children who have started elementary school and may have a few who have entered into a junior high or high school. This is an extremely important stage in your families development that normally gets forgotten. Many families at this time feel a sense of relief that they get a break from family portraits for a while because their family is not changing as quickly. This is also the time when I hear families say “it has been at least 5 years since our last family portrait.”
Do not let this happen to your family. There are usually only a few short years until your family begins to leave home. You will regret not having regular family portraits if you neglect this time of your family. This time of your family can be a wonderful time where you become extremely close and it is good to have those memories last forever.
Our Recommendation: The recommendation is the same as before – minimum of every other year plus individuals of the kids each year. Also don’t forget to get pictures or the two of you as a couple. Those are just as important.
Stage 3 – The Transition Stage
The transition stage can be an extremely frustrating time for family portraits. This is usually the time when people regret their neglect of stage 2 because it is so hard to get your family together. The transition stage usually begins shortly after your oldest child graduates from high school. He/she will leave home soon to school, marriage, mission, employment or military. As more and more of your children enter this phase of your life the opportunities will be increasingly difficult to manage.
Our Recommendation: It is very important to maintain your consistent schedule for family portraits. Most families (even those who have very faithful at regular family portraits) will get thrown off by this change. If you maintain a schedule you will have more success than if you just try to get everyone together when it is convenient. Your family will start to look at family portraits as a tradition just like Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas.
Stage 4 – The Grandparent Stage
The grandparent stage happens as you become empty nesters. All of your children have moved out of the house. At this point you may even have several grandchildren already. It is important to understand that your children are now probably looking at having their own family portraits separate from the whole group. It may work best to not try and get all of the individual families and let your children do their individual families separately. You may also run into issues where some of your children’s spouses do not understand how important this is to you. Be patient but be persistent. It will get easier with time.
Our Recommendation: Your success in stage 4 will be greatly influenced by you diligence in keeping a regular schedule in stage 3. If you have created good habits with your family in stage 3 it will be easy to continue the tradition in stage 4.
Stage 5 – The Great Grandparent Stage
In this stage you influence is diminishing quickly. The chances of getting 4 generations of your family together in the same place at the same time will become harder and harder. Many people at this point just give up and say it will never happen. It is probably true that you will now have fewer family portraits than you did before but that does not mean you can’t have a whole family portrait ever again. You now know all of the stages and can see where you family is in those stages. If you want to get these family treasures you must be proactive and look for opportunities. Holidays is usually a prime time to get these kinds of groups together.
Hopefully this will help you understand your family and help you have regular family portraits done. I have never had anyone tell me they had too many family portraits. The reverse is true, however. Good luck in your efforts to create a family legacy that will endure into the future.