Not only did I have the opportunity to photograph Jen and her family of 5 in Portarlington, Co Laois, but I also got to ask her a few questions before and after the photoshoot to help you decide whether a documentary family photography session is the right choice for you.
I can tell you a hundred times how great these sessions are, how relaxed the photoshoot will be and how amazing the photos will turn out and that all you have to do is “be yourself”.
But I know that nothing beats hearing someone else talking about it. Someone who were in FRONT of the camera and not behind it, because, Johanna let’s be honest, it’s not the same at all :D
Jen has also shared some insights and behind-the-scenes in her IG Stories and grouped them in a highlight, and yes, I’ll put a direct link right here.
What are parents biggest concerns before a documentary family photography session?
Some of the biggest concerns from parents (and especially mums) when it comes to having documentary family photos taken in their homes are:
- Feeling awkward “acting normal” with a photographer in their home.
- Their house not being “picture-perfect”.
- Not knowing what to do together.
- Their children not behaving or acting out.
- How they feel about themselves / their appearances.
Let’s hear what Jen has to say about some of these concerns while also enjoying photographs of their beautiful family.
Family photos as a way to remember fleeting little moments with our kids
Here is how Jen describes what photography means to her and I couldn’t have used more perfect words.
“I have so often wished I could bottle and keep little parts of the kids, like the feel of pudgy baby legs, or the sweet smell of drooly milky baby cheeks.
One photo can capture a moment and make me remember the sound of my son singing to his favourite song, or the squelchy sounds of flooded wellies that went a bit too deep into the water! The feel of little arms around your neck, or how they snuggle into you while you read a story.
The one and only way to capture these moments, and keep them with us as the kids grow out of these amazing, fleeting little moments, is through photography.”
For me, this photography shoot is something I am so grateful to have, and will absolutely treasure. The hard bit will be the impossible task of choosing which ones get put on the wall! We are going to need more walls :)Jen
What does a family photoshoot with me means to you right now?
Now that our family is complete with the arrival of Dara, it means so much to have the opportunity to capture some precious moments as a family of five. Also, it’s usually me behind the lens so it’s a great chance to be on the other side for a change!
I’m hoping to see the ordinary little moments that turn out to be the extraordinary ones that I’ll remember when they’re all grown up. Something as simple as kissing baby toes when changing a nappy.
Ordinary moments of family life are as simple as wiping messes, cooking dinners, bribing whingy kids to leave the movie and come for a walk in the woods!
In 5 years from now, what will likely come to mind about today?
When they hold your hand and you notice how tiny it is and yet it feels like it was even smaller just a week ago.
Little arms wrapped around your neck, burying your face into baby pudge and sticky drooly hands the noise!!
The joy when you close the door at bedtime and finally get some time to yourself.
Why opt for a documentary/candid family photography session?
To capture the raw emotions, the magic moments, the natural way we are, all the imperfect things that make every day perfect, even the mess, the tantrums, the state of my hair / face / weight.
Kids don’t see those things and neither will I when I have candid moments to treasure.
I stayed and photographed your family’s real life for 5 hours. Can you describe your overall experience?
It felt so comfortable. Beforehand, we wondered if it would feel a bit weird having a photographer in the house, and maybe for the first few minutes we felt aware that you were there but then we basically forgot about it!
It was like we had known you for years and I could tell immediately that the kids were comfortable around you and felt relaxed too.
What would you say to someone worrying it will be awkward having a photographer following them around for a half-day or full-day?
At first, you are aware there is a photographer in the corner.
But honestly, you quickly get sucked into the normal day-to-day stuff that you simply forget Johanna is there. It’s funny really how that happens, but before you know it you’re just doing your normal stuff and yet somehow Johanna captures all the things that remind you of the amazing little moments you just can’t capture, without you even noticing.
It’s not at all awkward.
How did you FEEL when seeing the images for the first time?
As soon as I knew the slideshow was ready, I wanted to really savour the moment of watching it, so I decided to save it until the kids were in bed, made a cup of tea and we both sat down to watch it together. That took A LOT of willpower by the way!! But we were not disappointed.
We felt so happy watching the slideshow, big smiles on both our faces and plenty of ‘awww look!’ comments. I felt happy, proud of our family, and so grateful that we had this photoshoot done and I know we will treasure the beautiful moments captured, our precious little family, just as we are.
What kind of images are your favourite?
My favourites are the ones of the seemingly ordinary day to day moments. The photos of little hands will remind me of the feel of them in my own hand. Drooly messy faces will remind me of that feeling of burying my nose into a pudgy baby neck for kisses, inhaling that gorgeous baby smell. Or the smiling happy faces of my sons, full of mud and dirt after a walk in the woods. They will make me think of the wind blowing curly little heads, or of ‘good sticks’ being discovered or lost.
The kids loved the photos with their favourite sticks in the woods, and splashing in the puddles :)
Do you think these images are a truthful representation of your family life at the time?
Yes! Absolutely. Grumpy faces and all! It is exactly everything I hoped you would capture.
Want to see the rest of the session? Keep scrolling for a lot more photographs.
I just couldn’t narrow them down. You can click on each image to enlarge and flick through them.
What do you think? Is a day in the life family photography session in your future?
It is a worthwhile investment for your family legacy. It will bring you joy in the present and future. It will be fun.
About Jen and her family
Jen is a mum of 3 who has shared her IVF journey for years on Instagram on her account @thescenicroutebyjen. She has also shared about a lot of other things! Her highlights include stories about: embryos, IVF cost, FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer), C-sections, hospital bags, car seats, baking, family dinners, watercolour, period pants, and more.
This is why Jen is so popular and has 6000+ followers. She is so generous with her time and so gentle too. I also need to mention her podcast Under The Motherhood (@underthemotherhood), an Irish Parenting Podcast hosted by Jen and her friend Joanna where they talk all things Motherhood & beyond!
And here is the rest of Jen’s family described with her own words:
“Gavin is my husband and he’s always doing something and rarely sitting around. He’s a great role model and a great Dad, and makes a damn good sandwich!
Rian is 6, almost 7 now, and is in 1st Class. He loves his ‘animals’ which is what we call their collection of Schleich toys. He loves doing whatever I’m doing basically! He enjoys drawing and recently learned to cycle his bike.
Alex is 4, turning 5 at the end of October. He just started Junior Infants and has the most amazing imagination. He LOVES Toy Story!
Dara is 6 months and – I think – the cutest baby ever. She is absolutely adored by her two big brothers.”