Picture Perfect Means What?

So, I'm sure you read the title, but do you have a good answer?

I'm not just referring to a photo that is symmetrical, color balanced, or "perfectly posed". Everyone says there is no such thing as "perfect", which I can understand, but I do think there is a "Picture Perfect" moment in family photos and I'd like to share with you what I mean.

{Keep in mind, I am in no way shaming any photographers who shoot solely posed images}

Let's start with the technical Definition of Perfect from the Merriam-Websters Dictionary:

1a: being entirely without fault or defect : FLAWLESSa perfect diamondb: satisfying all requirements : ACCURATEc: corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concepta perfect gentlemand: faithfully reproducing the originalspecifically : LETTER-PERFECTe: legally valid 2: EXPERT, PROFICIENTpractice makes perfect 3a: PURE, TOTALb: lacking in no essential detail : COMPLETEcobsolete : SANEd: ABSOLUTE, UNEQUIVOCALenjoys perfect happinesse: of an extreme kind : UNMITIGATEDa perfect bratan act of perfect foolishness 4obsolete : MATURE 5: of, relating to, or constituting a verb form or verbal that expresses an action or state completed at the time of speaking or at a time spoken of 6obsoletea: CERTAIN, SUREb: CONTENTED, SATISFIED 7of a musical interval : belonging to the consonances unison, fourth, fifth, and octave which become augmented or diminished when raised or lowered by a half step 8a: sexually mature and fully differentiateda perfect insectb: having both stamens and pistils in the same flowera perfect flower

Honestly, if you read through all of that, I give you a virtual high-five. I would have just skipped over it in hopes the author (me) would get to the point. Which is probably most of you reading this.

I'll lay it out like this. Picture Perfect is just an opinion. It is a way to describe what you see with your own two eyes. There is no general perfect, it is an illusion.

Many things can be Picture Perfect and I want to point one very important subject that is Picture Perfect no matter the time, day, year, weather, size, shape, amount of insecurity or any other excuse the human could come up with.


Oh Emma, you're crazy. I can hear every one pause and give me that look of WTF? How can I, a picky detailed photographer, think Family Photos are Picture Perfect?

Well, I'll elaborate.

The thought of family photos crosses everyone's mind at some point, even more than it use to because of social media allowing all the Nosy Nelly's to see how we ended up after high school. We see our friends and coworkers and neighbors all getting their photos done. Who did them? Where did you go? You look great! Oh, look at so-and-so's outfit! Your hair is gorgeous! GIRLL, your eyebrows are on point! I could go on, but you get the point. All the things that everyone else points out makes us feel better about ourselves. To get the approval of society.

I am still confused because I thought Family Photos were for YOUR family? Photos that your family will be able to reminisce on the "good times". When I was growing up (don't laugh because I'm only 25), but I don't ever remember getting my pictures taken much until I was 9 or 10. Even then, they were the Old Time Western photos you could get taken at the local Country Mart. {puke} It was always just me and the siblings.

Even though they were the photos that my Mother had paid to have taken of me and my little brother, they don't really bring back any memories to me. I was told I had a huge goose egg on my forehead. That goose egg was covered up by a huge floppy sun hat. It wasn't a holiday, or a birthday, or anything really. Just a spontaneous photo shoot from what I remember/was told. Granted we were cute little kids, but I'd never remember that moment without the photos. Sad truth.

Here is where I'm going with this, I don't think that photo made an impact on me because that is not how I remember my little brother or myself when it was just us two at home with Mom. When I think of us as kids, as a small family... well let's just say that the idea of us sitting still, side-by-side, cheesing would be the opposite of the reality.

What I do remember is the little moments like trying to make my brother have a tea party with me, acting like he was my little baby, and rocking him to sleep. I remember my mom as soft memories, the ones where you can barely see an image when you close your eyes, but that's as far as it goes. When my brother and I were getting older and playing out side, riding bikes or coloring with chalk my memories become stronger. We had many laughs and many arguments just like every other set of siblings. And like any other mother, Mom was constantly telling us to cut it out.

There aren't many pictures of me and my brother laughing and carrying on like we would. None of us playing tag, red rover or ring-a-round the rosie. No blanket parachutes or sheet tents. Hardly any photos of the three of us. Maybe a handful.

What there is, is a lot of me, my brother, and all my other siblings doing random things or all posed together. I'm sure it would be utter chaos to capture 10 kids interacting that range from 2-17 years old {I think}. I have found a few photos of me and my Mom. Not many from my younger years, but towards the end of high school to now I have made it a point to make more photos with her in it. She has always complained about her hair not being fixed, her nails that aren't painted, she doesn't have her face on, the wrinkles on her forehead or the outfit she is wearing when I go to take a photo. I'm blind to all those things, I just see my mom, my best friend, on the other side of my camera.

As I evolve into the woman I am suppose to be, the more emotional I get when I think about the day I won't be able to call my Mom when the slightest inconvenience comes up. When that day does come though, you bet your booty I'll be gathering every photo I can find of her. Those will be all that I have left, besides the vivid memories I'll hold near and dear to my heart. My children will have more photos with their MeeMah than I ever had with her. I'll make sure her memory never dies and she isn't forgotten. I want my children to be able to look at the photos of them with their grandma and see how involved she was. See how much she loved them.

Having been in a position where photos weren't of a huge value when I was younger has only made me realize how much I need to be in as many photos as I can be with my children. I have sat and thought about all the excuses my mom would give me as to why she couldn't have her photos taken and I see/hear myself do/say the same things. I catch myself starting to shove the camera or phone away because I don't want my photos taken.

Here is a thought that every woman will be able to relate to. Why is it that we always take these cute photos of our spouse and children, while our spouse takes the more horrific photo of us? I swear they always choose the worst possible moment! Then I stepped back and thought about it, again. With a fresh perspective.

Those horrible photos what ended in "DELETE THAT" or tears from laughing too hard are the photos that will stick in our heads a lot longer than a photo of me cheesing at the phone or camera. Why? because there was emotion behind the photo. It's more than capturing a photo, it's capturing a moment of raw emotion and the wave of laughter. We all need to learn to laugh more. Love more. Smile more. The raw, unfiltered, unprepared photos usually bring back the most vivid memories.

When I took a leap of faith and began my journey of becoming a photographer, I told myself it wasn't just about taking photos, I'm documenting history and connections. Pausing a memory in a frame as it plays out in front of us.

Let me ask you something: What do you value?

Family is and always has been a huge part of me. I'll cherish the candid photos that we all take from day to day, but I couldn't imagine going years at a time and never getting family photos. Whether it's immediate or extended. I hear all the time, "I don't know when we could all be off work on the same day" or "we don't have anything to wear that is nice enough or matches" or "I hate getting my pictures taken, I'm so {fat, ugly, my hair needs to be dyed, he needs a hair cut, let me lose 10 pounds first}" To me that just sounds like a million excuses. This is who you are, this is what you look like, this is you, the raw human you were made to be. YOU are loved. Your family and your children LOVE you for YOU

​I promise, our children will be forever thankful that we stepped in and just got them done. I tell myself that my kids will hold the photos of me close when they are no longer able to give me a tight hug: to hold me close: I'll no longer be able to hold them. It isn't anything I want to think about, but I want them to have as many memories as possible to look back on when they aren't able to remember them themselves. Maybe they were too young or it's just a memory that got overran by a new memory. Either way, we have to admit that seeing an old photo can bring back so many smiles and tears and that warm feeling in our hearts. So much emotion. That single photo will instantly take us back to that exact moment that we thought was just another second in the day. That's when we are most thankful for taking the time to preserve memories. Those couple hours of getting ready and the two days of shopping for baby girl a dress and a nice button down for dad and brother seem minuscule compared to a lifetime. 

Adulting sucks about 85% of the time, but we do things like freak out over a drop of toothpaste on brother's shirt or rush around looking for the car keys that are already in the car JUST SO our children will have those memories when the option to create more is gone. Moments passed are moments you'll never get back.

When I shoot a family session, I am constantly on the watch for the emotions and expressions when my families aren't ready for the photos. In those seconds, you can see them relax and have fun making memories that they will remember in their hearts AND through a photograph. That is the beauty of raw, non-posed, lifestyle photography.

This isn't only about getting professional photos done, but some of my favorite photos are of me with no make-up on, hair a hot mess, no bra, my moo-moo, and my two favorite little humans snuggled up beside me.

In the end, you can be dressed for the occasion in a wardrobe approved by two family members, your best friend, and the girls in your favorite mom's group or laying in bed, half asleep, covered in baby drool. Either way, they are both Picture Perfect. Your children will not care how you're dressed or where the photo was taken. I promise you, they will cherish the images because YOU are in them.


I cannot stress that enough. You don't have to be perfect to make a photo Picture Perfect.

xoxo -Emmalee

Here is my favorite photo with my Momma. {I cry every time I see it}

One of my favorite photos of me, the little bro, and momma

Me and My Fam

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