A lot of parents struggle with the overwhelming task of choosing which photos to print for a photobook or for their walls. Whether they are looking at all of the personal photos sitting on their phone, or whether they hired a photographer (and received digital files only), the task often seems impossible.
While a photobook can include a large number of photos, we need to be a lot more decisive when it comes to framed prints on our walls.
How do you pick one cute photo over another? How do you keep some sort of balance between each child? What should be the most important factors?
Let’s hear Jen Ryan from The Scenic Route By Jen talk about HOW she made decisions went it came to selecting photographs from our session together, and I’ll end the article with a few of my own tips.
Written by Jen in early 2022.
1. Our Day-In-The-Life Family Photoshoot
We had the pleasure of working with Johanna in October last year to take part in a Day In Our Life photoshoot.
To say I was thrilled with the chance to do this would be an understatement! Ok – hands up – I’m a huge fan of photography anyway, having done two similar shoots previously with our two sons. But now that our daughter is here, six months old at the time, I was delighted to have a shoot with her in it, our little family complete.
Why do I love these shoots so much? Simply – they are surely the ONLY way to perfectly capture what life is like right now. Kids change so fast – just one photo can instantly wake up multiple senses – the feel of their little hand in yours, too small to wrap fully around your own hand at the time… the little pudgy dimples at their knuckles. Just a few months later, that same hand will be completely wrapped around yours, less pudgy by the day.
One photo of something as mundane as changing a nappy… why would I want to remember that?!
Yet those few moments provide such a gorgeous little slice of your day… getting to squeeze those gorgeous pudgy legs, kiss baby toes and hear the drooly raspberries getting blown at your face.
So when our day with Johanna was done, I was on a little countdown in my head to see the photos. There was no fanciness, no dressing up, no extra makeup or extra effort with my hair. The house was messy, the kids were noisy, there were the usual moments of frustration. There was no pretence, there certainly was no ‘stand still and smile!’ and that’s exactly what I wanted. US – just us, as we are, exactly as we are and how I know I will miss us when the kids are all grown up.
2. The Selection Process
When the message came in to say the photos were ready, of course, I was mid-chaos as most days are, so I decided to save it until I could grab a cup of tea and sit down and really enjoy them, and that’s exactly what I did.
My husband and I sat down together, a half an hour of “ahhhh look at that one!” and “wow I didn’t even see that happen!” and “ahh look at that little face” and mostly “how on earth will we narrow these down?!” because let’s face it, there are only so many walls in one house!
And really, narrowing down which photos to choose is truly the only hard part about this whole process.
So although I wanted every single one, I had to be ruthless.
As well as considering why I wanted them – I remembered that my aim here was to make one particular gallery wall, so I wanted it to tell a story – I wanted each photo I chose to represent something: the character of each of the kids, the memory of the day – chaotic and otherwise – and of course to capture the FEELING of who these kids are, right now.
So I decided on how many we would be choosing based on Johanna’s packages and pricing and from there, made little groups: time of day, the same amount of each kid, at least one of us all, both in portrait and in landscape.
- First, having decided how I was going to use the chosen photos and a “goal number”, made it easier to narrow the photos down.
- Then, I went through the whole gallery and added a ‘heart’ to my absolute favourites. That was about 70% of the whole thing!
- Then, I went back and decided between each group of similar images, which from that group was an absolute definite to keep.
- From the rest, my husband chose his absolute favourites, and the kids picked out their own favourites.
In the end, the final selection represented the story of our family, and captured each personality in their own right. Each photo evokes a feeling of who that person is on that one day in October – the smell of baby pudge, the feel of little arms around my neck, the sound of little voices playing the game that happens to be their favourite one at the moment.
And although I wanted ALL of the photos and would happily fill every spare space of wall – I really feel that what we chose fulfills everything I had hoped for from the shoot. It is only a few months since we did it and already the kids have changed, from that gorgeous little snapshot of that one day in October, the memories are preserved and awakened every time I look at any of those photos from our day with Johanna.
Your Way to Choose Photos for Print Might be Different
Jen talks about “personality” and “feelings” when it comes to choosing the photos. She wanted the different family routines to show in the selection. She also made sure that each child was represented equally and that there would be one photo of all of them together.
You may have a different approach! We’d love to hear from you in the comments if you’d like to share.
The key is to remember that getting a couple of photos on the walls that bring you joy every day is better than having 1000 on the cloud you never enjoy.
They may not be the “perfect” ones and you may want to change them in the future, but that’s ok! Be decisive, get some printed, enjoy them, change them. Overthinking = doing nothing by fear of doing the wrong thing :D
Extra Tips on How to Choose Photos for Print
I do know that choosing the best photos to print and frame for a gallery wall or have around your home, is not easy. Not only do you need to gather all of your images in one location, which would be enough to overwhelm anyone into giving up, but then you’re facing the impossible task to choose a favourite photo over another favourite photo.
Here are some of my best tips to make the process a little less daunting and more enjoyable. It’s not magic, but it has helped me greatly!
- Flag your favourite photos regularly
- Look at a small selection of photographs at a time
- Do several rounds of ‘tagging’, but leave a few days in between
- Do a bigger selection that will go into an album
- Decide on the number of photos you would like to print for your walls
- Choose with your heart, not your eyes
- Meaningful is better than pretty (For my walls, I pick photos that bring me joy or remind me of something I want to do more of.)
20 Photographs Your Children Will Thank You For Twenty years from now
Download this 10 page PDF with prompts and photo examples of what your children will find really meaningful someday.
Some you may have already thought about… and some you may not :)