Leah O'Connell

client tips, families

How to feel confident for your family photos

I'm Leah!

I’m obsessed with stories of family, creativity, and simple joys.  A nostalgia nerd, educator, wife, and mom of 3, I believe life’s most fun when you’re dreaming big and having kitchen dance parties. 

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woman in family photos with confidence

When I polled my Instagram following about their concerns for family photos, 70% of people said that they were concerned about their own appearance. It’s natural to be concerned about how to feel confident for your family photos, but I want to see this roadblock of self-deprecation break. Over the years, I’ve heard all of the following phrases from women, mostly moms, about their hesitancy to schedule family photos.

  • “I want to loose weight first”
  • “I’m so awkward in photos”
  • “I just want this to be of my kids, I don’t need to be in them”

And then I got this message in my DM’s and it hit a nerve.

Obviously, I feel strongly about this from a theoretical standpoint.

But let’s say that even if you’re on board and you’ve set up your session, you’re still feeling nervous. That’s fair! Here are 3 things you can do before your session to make sure you feel confident for your family photos.

1. Leave enough time to get ready.

Rushing breeds stress, so don’t plan a bunch of activities for the same day as your session. Put some music on in the house, have your outfits already picked out, and enjoy the process of doing your hair and makeup! You don’t have to be glammed up, you just need to feel good.

2. Wear something you feel fun in!

Most photographers will tell you to wear something you feel confident in, which is great advice, but because our session s are active and full of interaction and play, I feel like fun is the real goal with your outfit. I feel confident in high heals, but I’m not gonna rock those for my family session playing at a river. Choose something with a vibe that makes you feel flirty, playful, feminine, happy. Something you put on and it feels like you can spend all day in it – comfort is key!

3. Channel the people in your life who love you

Look in the mirror and push all the negative thoughts aside. Put on your 5-year-old daughter’s eyes for a sec and see yourself from her perspective. And remember that your attitude is what makes you shine.

As Audrey Hepburn famously said: “Happy girls are the prettiest girls.”

Not saying you have to be happy 24/7 – but beauty comes from the soul. Do that work and it will show.


One last thought on the WHY

Last spring, I had an extended family book a session— grandparents, their children, and their grandchildren all together at the grandparents’ home. Our session was set for about a month and a half away, but before we could meet, the grandfather suffered from a sudden heart-attack and tragically passed away.

I’ve also had 3 sessions in the past 2 years where the mothers were recently diagnosed with cancer.

These kinds of stories are gut-wrenching, and I share it not to be a downer, but as the brutal and important reminder that we are not on this Earth, with these people we love, forever.

It’s this kind of story that reminds me how much I treasure photos of my own grandparents and parents, even. And how one day, I will be that person to another generation.

How I am that treasured person right now— even if it’s hard to see in the mirror.

The truth of the matter is, you are your child’s’ mother, your husband’s wife, your mother’s daughter.

No matter how old you are, what size your pants are, or how many well-earned laugh-lines you have on your forehead, you are IMPORTANT.

It’s my job to help bring out that perspective, to reflect the joy of your soul back and put it in front of you. Every day when you walk by those photos on your wall or your shelf, I want you to be reminded of your values, your happiness, and the love surrounding your family.

Family photos are about more than pretty pictures.

With every session, it’s my goal to prove it.

You may also like:

The Firefly Style Guide – 5 simply steps to plan your outfits
The best way to have fun with your outdoor summer family photos

What to wear for outdoor summer family photos

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Hi, I'm Leah.
Family photographer, writer, educator.

I’m  one of the first to meet your newborn baby, the one who won't judge your clothes baskets and unmade beds, and the one who can capture the way your husband looks at you with a twinkle in his eye after 12 years of marriage. I believe in honoring people and telling stories.

I believe art has the power to light up the world in dark places, starting at home.