Sometimes I’m really blown away that we have the power to preserve something so intangible as love, connection, and joy.

Seriously. Think about that. Your designer jeans won’t be your legacy, neither will the car you drove or the bag you carried. But the people you loved – the family you made – the friends you cared for – they’re all threads in the tapestry of your legacy. A legacy that can be captured and celebrated in photographs that will be passed down for generations.

Mamas? I want to talk to you for a minute. I see you there with your iPhones, your fancy DSLR’s, trying to capture every moment hoping to share it, look back on it, not forget. But if you’re like me, when you scroll through your camera roll, you’re just not in any family shots. Oh yes, there’s the kids. There’s even a shot of your spouse, and maybe a selfie of the two of you. But where did you disappear to? It’s not selfish or vain to want to be in these pictures – it’s an actual need that your children have for you to show up. Your children may not remember all the times you rocked them in the night when they cried. All the times you fixed their scraped-up knees and broken toys. All the playing tag in the yard. Leave them evidence of a life well loved. 

A few years ago, a beautiful blog post went viral called “The Mom Stays In The Picture.” The author, Allison Tate, talks about how mamas everywhere go unseen – we’re not as young or skinny or perfect as we’d like, so we shy away from pictures til we “finish” perfecting ourselves. But what will our children have of us when we’re gone? Where is the evidence that we loved our children to the verge of insanity; that we played with them; that we held their hands and kissed their cheeks? This absence is not okay. This is near and dear to the heart of my passion – to put the mom (and the dad!!) back in the picture. So whether you book a session with me, bribe a neighbor kid with cookies to snap a pic of your family, or use the reverse-camera option on your iPhone – GET. IN. THE. PICTURE. Do it for them.

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Emily Lapish is a lifestyle photographer in Chattanooga, TN specializing in all things family-related. She spends her time fending off wild animals raising three boys with her husband, and enjoys long walks through Target while cradling a hazelnut latte. 

To book your birth, beauty, or family session, or to schedule a free consultation,click here

 

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Sunsets and downtown Chattanooga and families — a perfect recipe for a session. <3

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Emily Lapish is a full-time photographer, wife, mom, and crazy person. She is tattooed, pierced, and also a responsible adult person with a full time job. Likes include long walks through Target while cradling a latte, and taking off on spontaneous adventures. She is fueled by passion for restoration, grace, and also by obscene amounts of coffee. 

To book a free consultation or inquire about a session, click here.

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I really don’t make a secret of the fact that I love my job. A lot. Running a business is not exactly a joyride in a convertible on a perfect fall day down a tree-lined parkway…but the good, heart-swelling moments FAR outweigh the stress of accounting and record keeping and time tracking and networking. Every photog has their favorite things to photograph; their favorite moments that keep their creativity aflame. For me, it’s these:

1. Watching a newborn get her hair washed for the first time

If this isn’t something you’ve had the pleasure of witnessing before, watch this. Typically in a hospital birth, the nurse will give the baby a bath around 30 minutes after she’s born. Last to be cleaned – the baby’s hair. And OMG they LOVE. IT. It’s the dearest thing to watch.

2. Kids being real

 

When I see pictures of kids that are posed perfectly with a polite smile pasted on their face, I gotta be honest, it makes me sad. Kids aren’t paper dolls, they’re pure bottled energy coiled up like a jack-in-the-box, bursting with creativity and mischief. And yes, in case you’re wondering, this drives me crazy about 78% of the time in my own kids. But watching other kids in other families expressing their uniqueness really keeps it fresh for me. It reminds me of the beauty of “normal” life.

3. Daddy bonding moments

Not to gender-stereotype, because I really hate that, but dads are typically a bit at loose ends during a photo session. In my experience, it’s usually harder for a dad to relax and enjoy the moments when there’s a camera/professional photographer in their home than it is for moms and kids. But when those moments happen, and a father and his child can enjoy each other with abandon, my heart swells like 3 sizes.


4. Honest family moments

Y’all know that my heart is families, and authentic interactions. I watch for those moments when my clients’ internal monologue goes from “smile and act natural, there’s a photographer watching” to “holy crap, my kid is ADORABLE right now” – and THAT is the money shot. That’s the moment I want to capture and make into a family heirloom for my clients.

5. Watching parents see their child for the very first time

Birth photography blows my mind. Every time. It doesn’t get old or rote, no matter how many (many!!) births I’ve photographed in the past 7 years. It’s other-worldly, mystical. Indescribable. 

That’s what lights my heart on fire, friends. Those are the things I will continue to lean into hard for the rest of my journey as a photographer and family documenter. Because to me, those moments are everything.

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Emily Lapish is a full-time photographer, wife, mom, and crazy person. She is tattooed, pierced, and also a responsible adult person with a full time job. Likes include long walks through Target while cradling a latte, and taking off on spontaneous adventures. She is fueled by passion for restoration, grace, and also by obscene amounts of coffee. 

To book a free consultation or inquire about a session, click here.

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What? Stop laughing, IT’S POSSIBLE. The first step to having perfect kids is the most important:

  1. REDEFINE YOUR VERSION OF PERFECT.

When you think of a perfect family portrait, what do you see? If you’re like most Americans, you see a family dressed all in white, not a hair out of place, posed perfectly, with Crest Toothpaste-ad-smiles perfectly plastered on their faces; everyone is looking at the camera, looking mildly at peace with the universe. Now take a step back from that picture in your mind. It’s a lovely picture, but what story does it tell you about that perfect family? There isn’t one. There’s no story, no personality. Just a pretty picture. It could be a stock photo from a frame in a store.

Hear me now: there is nothing wrong with this picture. If that’s your style, own it. But a word of warning: aiming for this kind of photo may cause side effects ranging from extreme stress, meltdowns, hysterics, and tantrums (and that’s just the moms).

For my money, if I’m getting a family photo session, I want photographs that capture who we are as a family. How we love each other. What we enjoy about each other. The affection between us. The personalities unique to each of us. Even the meltdowns that happen. I want our real life – something that tells a story; something I can look back on in 20-50 years and say, “My goodness, yes. That’s exactly how we were, and it may not have always been pretty but it was real and it was good and it was ours.”

2. DON’T. STRESS.

Just don’t. Kids sense stress like bloodhounds and they respond with nervousness, worry, crankiness, and sometimes refusal to cooperate altogether (which is what makes that perfectly posed photo example such a landmine of disaster). Just relax and have fun. Let your kids be kids. If meltdowns happen – which they probably will – go with it. Keep smiling, keep laughing, keep playing, and give your kid(s) space if that’s what they need to calm down.

^^first steps, you guys. priceless.^^

2. HAVE FUN.

Fun looks good on you. I want to capture the best of your family’s connections and personalities, and the best way to do that is to get your family having fun together like only your family knows how. Don’t be afraid to be silly, to relax, to goof off.

3. BE AFFECTIONATE.

Love is beautiful & so are you. Visual affection reads beautifully in photographs – hugs, kisses, snuggles, etc. all speak volumes. Whether you’re holding your children or snuggling your sweetheart, relax and make it real. If you’re not sure what to do with your hands, make sure you’re touching one of your loved ones. That’s it. That’s all. Don’t worry about the shot – let me worry about it. All you have to do is relax and have fun.

Think you’re up for it? Click here to schedule a free in-studio consultation to start planning your session.

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Emily Lapish is a full-time photographer, wife, mom, and crazy person. She is tattooed, pierced, and also a responsible adult person with a full time job. Likes include long walks through Target while cradling a latte, and taking off on spontaneous adventures. She is fueled by passion for restoration, grace, and also by obscene amounts of coffee. 

To book a free consultation or inquire about a session, click here.

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I love large family sessions!! It’s priceless to have your entire family together, make memories, and have the photographs as family heirlooms forever. You can’t get that back.

Shooting an extended family session can be REALLY daunting. I get questions from other photographers all the time about how to handle one. Here’s one of my favorites of all time (because this family is AMAZING loads of fun!!), and I’ll break it down into easy tips for photographers. Two birds with one stone! Awesome!

First of all, you need one heck of a patient, amazing person coordinating everything. Anna Crew was that person for me. She coordinated her entire family’s schedules, and baby was that ever a hard job – it took us three months and several unsuccessful dates to finally get it together! Crew was awesome, patient, and so amazing to work with.

She also handled styling her family. Which was probably not nearly as hard as scheduling, because they all have fabulous style to start with. They went with a palette of cool blues and yellow – perfect for a light summery session. Seriously gorgeous to photograph.

Once the day of the session rolls around, here’s how I handle things.

I start by putting the family in a spot with a unique, simple background in open shade.

(I love this shot. It tickles me. Totally an outtake, but priceless.)

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Be sure to get lots of frames once everything is set up — someone will inevitably be blinking, and if you can save yourself a headswap in Photoshop, do. 🙂 For this set up, I used a giant reflector (a DIY project made mostly of insulation board from Lowe’s and costing approximately $12 as opposed to the “professional” reflectors that retail for $80+). It takes some fiddling around with the reflector to not totally blind your clients (sorry, Kinney family!!!), so make sure to find the sweet spot.

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There are a ton of ways to pose/group everyone for the shots of everyone together. In the shots above, I put Peggy and Eddie in the middle (since they started it all!) and their six kids surrounding them, grouped by family units.

Then come the shots of each individual family alone.

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Then the grandparents with their grandchildren….

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And just the parents with their kids.

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Mix it up. Use your surroundings. This location had a couple of grain silos (Silo Kinney, right Crew?!), a wagon, and some really random other fun stuff that we used. You’ll see. 😉

Just the girls:

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Just the men:

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And a random tractor with cow cars?! Don’t mind if I do! This shot was totally their idea, and I ADORE them.

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Don’t wear out your clients with a ton of posed shots. Nobody likes to pose for long (if at all!), especially if there are small children involved. S-t-r-e-s-s-f-u-l-l. The kids were total troopers for the posed stuff; they totally earned the right to go nuts and play. …The grownups did too.

So as soon as you get all the combinations of posed shots that you set out to do, let ’em loose and try to keep up. A million fun moments will happen – you just have to be watching for them.

Rubber duck racing (who knew it was a sport??):

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I’m a sucker for baby toes.

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…and sisters (um, HELLO GORGEOUSNESS):

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…And babies…

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…AND GIANT SLIDE TUNNELS BUILT INTO HILLS!!!!! WHAT THE WHAT?!?!

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This series makes me cackle. A lot.

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All they needed were little numbered judge’s signs.

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The end!!

Get your extended family together and give me a call! I LOVE shooting these precious sessions. To book yours, call the studio at 704-615-1311. 

*this post was originally published Jun 11, 2013

 

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