Three Ways to Get Your House Ready for an In Home Photo Session
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” ~ John Lennon
Do you love the idea of having meaningful and genuine moments of you and your children captured for you, where you really live, but you’re worried that your home is just “not quite ready” yet?
Your home is the backdrop to the life and love shared between you and your family. Choose to love the stage you’re on. Choose to love the stage you’re in. Here’s how…
1. Forget about finishing that “last” renovation project
Our homes, like our lives, are a work in progress. You may always feel like something is not done, but if you were ever truly “ready” would there be anything real left to capture or remember?
Last year, we moved into a house that had been renovated from top to bottom, but there’s still walls I want to paint, fixtures I want to replace and a furniture layout that just doesn’t seem right somehow. Have you ever felt that way about your home? That the list is never ending?
What I’ve come to learn, is that during the time we wait and look toward the day when all the renos are done, life moves on. While we wait for that wall to be painted, or that hole to be patched, our children grow up. So much of what could be preserved and cherished in years to come passes and will never come again.
Six months ago my daughter was just starting to sprout golden curls around the sides of her bald little head. Today she is constantly pushing those gorgeous locks out of her eyes. I’m not ashamed to admit I have trouble remembering last week, let alone half a year ago and I don’t want to miss a single milestone, if I can help it.
This is just a small example of the moments we sometimes take for granted, and can lose, while waiting for the “right” time. Allow yourself to feel at home, because the magic of your now will not wait for you.
Let me share a personal example of why it’s O.K to love your home and let her be your backdrop just as she is…
In my parents home, this glass panel has been missing for about 25 years. When we were little, friends, cousins, siblings and I, all peeked through that missing pane at one time or another: Who’s coming? Who’s going? What’s Mom cooking for dinner? Family pets have taken quick flight from rambunctious toddler hands through that escape hatch.
That touchstone, my daughter keeping a minor tradition alive like that, is priceless; not only to me but to my parents, who have loved and lost as the years went by. Who could know that an imperfection could mean so much?!
Think about your own childhood home. If you’re lucky enough to have had some special moments documented on old 4x6 or 5x8 photos, look at them. Which ones speak to you? Which of those photos brings you back to the sights, sounds, textures and most of all, feeling of those you loved and that helped to make you who you are?
Are those pictures dear to you in spite of the weird paint choice that was supposed to be sea green but ended up looking like celery gone wrong, or because of it? Would you really go back and edit out the old couch with dents in the cushions from kids jumping on them and making forts?
When it comes to remembering the joy of sharing your life with your partner and your kids, when has “making it perfect” ever really made it better? Imperfection, personality, that’s the good stuff.
2. Forget about the mess - the moments matter more
My clients are usually a lot like me. One or more toddlers, a messy house, cleaning every room, every day doesn’t exactly, “spark joy”. Sound at least a little familiar? Well, I will choose to take the picture and save the moment in a messy house every time. Have a look…
(provide some examples - hand prints, toys everywhere, dishes not done - but with little moments and memories that speak more clearly in the photos - client and personal photos)
Homes get messy, oddly enough even more so when people really live their lives there. Your kids, your partner…you. This is where the action is, own it!
Homes that look “clean and organized” rarely are, and rarely stay that way. Have you ever tidied for company by shoving the clothes under the bed? Do the kids toys get rammed into a closet you just hope will stay closed? Ever hide the dirty pots and pans in the stove? I have. It works great until one day you forget that’s what you’ve done and you melt the plastic colander… true story.
My husband’s great grandma used to tell everyone not to wipe down the handprints the children left behind; she loved every one of them. For her, they were a reminder that her grandchildren had been there with her, having fun. For her they were proof, that perhaps, she’d made a mark on their lives as definite as the mark they made on the window.
Your family is living and changing and making memories on a floor that might not get swept every day; with marks on the wall and toys on the rug. For me, I’ll take those memories as they are.
I’d like to show you why I think the mess doesn’t matter and may in fact be an important part of your family story…
A week after we moved into our new home, my husband was working the longest hours of his life and I was tackling much of the unpacking myself. There were boxes EVERYWHERE. In an overwhelming mess, many of Elizabeth’s favorite things were still packed away. It was stressful but we made the best of it. In the maze of boxes we played hide and seek. For a time, discovering the “prizes” inside each box was her favorite game. If you want to remember how you felt about popping bubble wrap for the first time, you just need to move house with your kids! I’ve kept a drawer filled with it since that day.
If I’d only taken pictures of a house that was unpacked and organized I would be denying myself the memory of a somewhat trying time that my daughter and I worked through together, and even managed to have a little fun. If I only allowed myself to present our lives as we’re told they should look, I wouldn’t be able to share the experience of making our mark and turning our house into a home.
The house may be a bit messy, but it speaks to the stage of life your family is in now. A house of genuine life and activity is not something you’re likely to find in a magazine. Really, how is that mess going to change in a few years? Lego on the rug and crayons in the dryer give way to sports equipment on the floor and hair products on the vanity.
Whatever mess you’re dealing with now won’t be forever, but it is a part of your family story and that story matters, mess and all.
3. Forget about being “fancy”
It can be easy to feel critical about our homes because they don’t look like a professional home stager (with an unlimited charge account) just left, with your family hiding in the basement, afraid of staining or breaking anything. Maybe you’ve felt self-conscious about not having the latest shade of accent wall, or any carefully curated art.
Don’t get me wrong, I really love some of the ideas on Pinterest and renovation shows. Who doesn’t aspire to have nice things? The truth is however that those presentations are largely pulled together and shown before anyone lives there! Yes, these are beautiful spaces but many of the decorating and furniture choices would not be practical for a family with young children.
There is no way I would subject myself or my daughter to the stress of a $10,000 white wing back arm chair or delicate table arrangements. What happens when that chair becomes the casualty of a glass of orange juice? Can I laugh it off when those glass decor pieces go crashing to the floor? I just don’t think I could call my house a home for my daughter if she’s not allowed to touch ½ of what’s in it!
So, I’m proud to stick with our sturdy fabric chairs which can be cleaned or covered. I’m happy to have shelves full of family photos and toddler art. I’m not overly bothered by a forgotten snack or empty juice cup. My table is a welcoming space for Elizabeth, with durable plastic bowls filled with fruit and veggies for her to snack on as she likes. I can’t help but come back to the idea that it’s not the things in our home that matter… It’s the people and the memories we make.
Maybe, you’ve started to think this way and that’s why you’re reading this post. Maybe you feel grateful for the life, love and family under your roof. If so I’d like to help take that feeling to the next level and capture some of the joy and togetherness you all radiate.
Having un-staged, spontaneous family photos done can help us preserve the time and season in our lives that happens only once, with the people we love, in the place we feel most comfortable, our homes. My passion is helping you to share those memories with your children, friends and extended family in a way that is meaningful to you.
Here’s how you can take action: Consider pushing that “last” renovation project aside for a day, forget the mess and don’t obsess on the Pinterest details you don’t have. Look around and love the nuances in your home that will help you remember what your life looks like today. Those details and imperfections are part of a story that always moves forward and are worth documenting.
Your home is already the perfect location for your next family photo session! I’m ready if you are. Contact me HERE to get started!