Our Family Had A Non-Traditional Photo Shoot, And It Was Amazing


Before having kids I thought I’d have albums chock full of posed photographs. Parents want to capture every first tooth, first day of school, and milestone — and dammit we want our kids to hold still while looking at the camera for a hot second.

It doesn’t seem like it’s asking too much, but it is asking too much according to every child who has had to suffer through a photo session.

I had no idea the price I’d have to pay for a posed picture, but I also had no idea how unnatural it would feel to sit there as I tried to get my kids to be perfect statues when they are anything but.

While posed pictures are fine, they in no way represent our life. My family is messy, chaotic and imperfect — not to mention we all hate sitting still.

My kids crave unstructured days and color and feeling things, even slimy paint.

They need action and movement, they like to be busy, and they sure as hell don’t want to pose.

Not surprisingly, my children don’t love having their picture taken. They never have and now that they’re teens, it’s damn near impossible to get a picture of us all together. The years are slipping away from me and I don’t have nearly enough memories captured.

So when my friend — who also happens to be an amazingly talented photographer — suggested we have a paint fight in our backyard and she could document the epic mess through photographs, I thought it was the most brilliant idea I’d ever heard.

I headed to the craft store and got washable poster paint in a bunch of colors, which we also mixed together to make our own. Then I got a package of white T-shirts for us to wear, some clear plastic cups, and clear squeeze bottles.

For an afternoon, we all got to go rogue and squirt and flick each other with paint (just watch out for the eyes). And I got memorable pictures out of an afternoon we will never forget — not to mention it was a bit of a release for me too.


I mean, how many times have we wanted to throw something (a very soft something) at our kids to get their attention and make them behave?

And the cherry on top was my kids didn’t complain once. They got super into it and genuinely had a good time — I have the photos (and the memories) to prove it.

(Side note: Clean up was pretty easy too. After a wash in the hot cycle, the paint came out of everything.)

Next summer we are planning a cake fight photo shoot and I can’t wait to capture all the joyous moments in pictures.

Non-traditional photo shoots have become a new tradition in this house — we get to throw things at each other and have it recorded for us to keep forever.

So next time you are fed up with trying to get your kids to pose for the freaking picture already, break out the water balloons or the paint or the pies and throw things at each other.

I promise you will all have the time of your lives. And you might even get a few amazing photos in the process too.