The short answer: No, you do not need a perfect house to make beautiful photos. We can create incredible photos in the space where you are raising your family and creating memories.
A few months ago I was at a Tuesday’s Together lunch with a group of other amazing local creatives, and a fellow photographer asked me, “how do all of your lifestyle clients have such beautiful houses?!”
I’ve photographed a lot of families in a lot of beautiful homes. I photograph many newborn sessions and most of those photos are taken in the nursery, living room, or master bedroom. None of them have Pinterest-perfect houses all the way though. When our last baby was born, I would have been mortified if I thought a photographer was coming into our house to take pictures of us with our new baby, but I didn’t need to be.
When I walk into a client’s home, the first thing I do is take my shoes off and wash my hands. Always. Without fail. Every time. Then, I look for the best light. Do you know what I’m not looking for? What doesn’t concern me at all? Perfect decor. Clutter.
Living in a season of transition?
I photographed a family renting a pre-furnished home that was not at all their style (the collage below). They were new to town and buying a house. All their items were in storage as they waited for their closing date. Upon walking though their rental, the bedroom had the best light so we took down the tacky hotel style painting from above their neutral headboard and made 95% of the photos on their bed. I absolutely love each and every one of them.
I’ve photographed families who are welcoming their 5th baby into the home. I promise you, a house with 4 existing children cannot look like the house of a couple bringing home their first little bundle. Just last week I photographed Brock, Emily and their newborn son, Brooks. They were expecting a moving truck within hours after we finished shooting their session. They left a corner of the nursery set up, and their bed and nightstands in place in the master bedroom.
“I definitely don’t think you need a Pinterest perfect home. Obviously ours wasn’t! I actually like that most of our stuff was packed up and we didn’t have many decorations left out. I think having the room really simple allowed the pictures to focus on us instead of the room. To me, less is more when it comes to getting your house ready for a newborn session!” -Emily
The rest of the house was boxed up and ready to be loaded that afternoon. I photographed their maternity session and they were so glad to do their son’s newborn photos before moving. Of course, we took a few pictures amongst the boxes.
My clients aren’t perfect people with perfectly staged homes
…but it is my job to make it look that way. Full stop.
To be clear, I have no desire to paint an unrealistic picture of their day-to-day lives. My clients say they hire me because they like the photos they see when they come to my website. They like the connection they can see in the images and they want to remember the best parts of this season of their life. It’s my job to deliver their own family photos consistent to all the other photography they’ve seen from me, even if they don’t have a perfect house. No one does.
I LOVE what I do. I get to take the crazy that is newborn life and photograph it in a way that helps you remember the best and sweetest moments. It’s a lie that you’ll forget how tired you were with a newborn. I vividly remember the exhaustion that accompanied my babies early months (the first 6 months of my second child’s life are still a complete blur in my memory). I was so tired. You will be too. You’ll be too tired to tidy a house and too tired to decorate any more than what you did before that little one came home.
Making your photos look great is MY job
I just texted the mama of 5 in the next collage and asked for her input on the subject:
“Oh man, it’s such a blur! Trey and the older kids pitched in a lot as far as making sure it was relatively tidy. Honestly, we were going for good enough. Some of my favorite photos are the ones Sarah took of the boys reading their favorite stories, and the one of Luke on the rope swing ?- maybe make sure to pull out a few favorite things that will remind you of this happy season of life. Consider your favorite places in the home. I would also say don’t stress, Sarah makes everything look beautiful. She finds the light!” – Ginny, mama of 5
In talking about this with my fellow lifestyle photographer friend, Shannon Griffin, she said it like this:
It’s my job to create a space of comfort for my clients, even when everything else feels chaotic. Your home is “where homework, parties, tantrums, baths, and bedtime happens. 20 years from now you might not be in that same house, but you can see it in the background of some of your most cherished photographs of your family.” –Shannon Griffin, photographer
Update: Shannon has also written an informative article on this same topic. She too has insight that will put you at ease about booking photos in your home. Read it here.
How I do it
I use angles, corners of your house, windows and doorways to create pictures showing the best of your family in your home. If you have a beautifully decorated nursery or master bedroom, Great! I’ll photograph you and your baby in it. If it’s still a work in progress, I can move things. I can’t think of a session where I didn’t move a piece of furniture or clutter to clear a dresser top or table. “Things” are just a part of life and no one lives in those perfect magazine houses. I’m the mom of four children and have photographed many little ones and babies. I promise I’ve seen everything. Nothing will surprise me. Perfect doesn’t exist, not in people or in houses.
To reiterate, you do not need a perfect house to make beautiful photos. Absolutely not. We can create beautiful lifestyle photos in the space where you are raising your family and creating memories. That’s what’s important.
Contact me here if you’d like to talk with me about making beautiful photos of your family in your home or anywhere else. I’d love to help you remember the best of these days.
You have so much joy ahead of you,
Sarah Gray Photography is a natural, lifestyle photographer specializing in maternity, newborn, baby, motherhood, and family photography. To inquire about booking your next portrait session, please contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah provides lifestyle photography services in Tallahassee and along the Florida panhandle from St. Marks to Destin, as well as throughout south Georgia, and everywhere else in between.