Let’s Talk Photos for Your Profile

“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author

If you don’t know it yet, here it is – my deepest desire and fiery passion when it comes to the books I create – I hope they not only share the life of a hopeful adoptive family, but that they also give life to the women who turn their pages.

I see these books not as an “advertisement”, but an opportunity.

An opportunity to celebrate families and share authentically who they are and what has brought them here, but also an opportunity to forever change the way a woman sees herself and the truth she walks in as she lives out the rest of her life – whether she chooses that family to parent or not. {I know that might be a bit of a mind shift for some, but I hope you’ll wrestle with it before casting it aside.}

This is at the heart of every book I create – every page I pour over, every word I pray into, every picture I place. Oh, that we might see how even this is a part of a much bigger story – not only one that matches you with your baby and his or her first family, but also one that {to use Chimamanda’s words} can empower, humanize, and repair dignity that has been broken.

I BELIEVE There are two main ways we do this:
through storytelling and the power of photos.

So let’s talk about some ways to get these “perfect” photos, yah?!

1.) Invest in a professional. Especially a professional with experiences in “lifestyle shooting”.

While you may have a slew of great photos on your iPhone or a friend who takes pretty good shots, I promise this is worth the investment.

First impressions are everything, especially when it might be the only impression you have the opportunity to provide. The first couple photos in your book just might determine if she keeps reading or sets it aside.

Plus, IT’S FUN!!! How many opportunities do you have for someone else to forever capture this season of your life on film?! Take advantage of it! {Our in-home lifestyle shoots are some of my most favorite treasures.}

*A few things to avoid: too many pattern, colors that clash, sunglasses/glasses that darken in the sun, hats.

*As a side note: when you sign on with For This Child, we give you a list of “required photos” for your photographer to capture. A couple of these are posed portraits that are simply necessary for your book. The rest, however, are suggestions to get you and your photographer thinking about how to capture the unique personality of your family.

2.) Remember this is different than your typical photoshoot; you’re not after a perfect family portrait but rather pictures that tell a story.

Use this opportunity to have a professional photographer catch moments around the house that often go unseen – your family watching a movie and eating popcorn on the couch, everyone gathered around the table for a meal or a favorite board game, you tucked in your comfy chair drinking a cup coffee and reading the Word, you and your husband having a “plank off” in the living room. Snap photos of you sitting with your kids and reading books, standing at the counter making brownies, getting ready to go on a run, painting in your art studio, playing guitar in the living room, working on a project in the garage, eating ice cream on the front porch, roasting s’mores over your fire pit, running with the dog in the backyard, holding a fishing pole…

You get it. The possibilities are endless of what a photographer can catch you naturally doing in your home.

3.) Try to work in a change of clothes.

It’s not like this is going to make or break anything, but it does bring a bit more diversity into your book.

Also, do think intentionally about your outfits. It’s not that we want you to be someone you’re not, but the eye is drawn to what is aesthetically pleasing.

My friend, Maddie Preschong {an incredible photographer in Sioux Falls}, has an awesome post about what to wear for family photos. If you’re struggling – or just want another perspective – check out her post: https://www.maddiepeschong.com/what-to-wear-family-photos/

4.) Think less about the kids and more about you.

So many times when I create books, I am flooded with photos of the kids. Even for the bio pages of the parents, almost every photo will have a child in it. Seems to make sense, right? This is about you potentially parenting another child, isn’t it? Yes! But…

Over and over again I hear from expectant and birth mamas that they want to know more than the type of parent you think you’re going to be. They want to know the type of person you already are.

Quite typically, I don’t even introduce your kids until halfway through the book. It’s not that they aren’t adorable or aren’t going to make the best big siblings; it’s simply that we want her to fall in love with you first.

You are the one she has to trust. You are the one she will get to know. You are the one she’ll build a relationship with. You are the one she is choosing to parent her child. Of course siblings will be a monumental part of the baby’s life, but you are the foundation.

*When I have asked mamas why they chose the book they did, almost without fail they have responded, “I could just tell that they loved each other…”, “…they enjoyed each other…”, “…they seemed like best friends…”, “…I knew they would stick together…” I’m sure these mamas wanted good parents and good siblings for their baby, too, but almost every woman I’ve talked with has seen a “potentially good parent” in a faithful and loving spouse.

5.) Tone down the intimacy.

So that means, take ALL the individual and couples pictures that you can! BUT, tone down the intimacy.

Unless you and your husband really do sit on the couch and gaze into each other’s eyes quite frequently, take a pass on this photo. Same with kissing. To be blunt, some of the mamas looking at your book are going to be coming from a place of physical / emotional / relational trauma, and photos like these can be triggering. We can honor her by avoiding these. Plus, there are so many better ways to show you love each other.

One mama told me, “You can fake a kiss, but you can’t fake the way a husband looks at his wife or how she laughs back at him.”

Mamas want to see eyes {they’re the window to the soul, after all}. They want to see personality. They want to see how you engage with each other. How you react to one another. What you bring out in the other person.

Be real. What do you do together? Show that.

6.) Think of how you can show the culture of your home / lifestyle.

Another thing I’ve heard mamas say is they want to know what life is going to be like in your family. Is there a lot of structure or are things more free flowing? Do you keep a clean house or are there toys scattered everywhere? Do you do a lot of things together or do you encourage kids to go do things on their own? Do you lead simple lives or busy ones? Do you spend a lot of time at home or do you travel all around?

It’s not that one is better than the other, but simply that they want to know (and likely pick one that is similar to how they might have raised the child or completely different than the childhood they had). Either way, this another way we can honor them – by authentically presenting who we really are and letting them be the judge for the type of home they would like their child to be raised in.

7.) If there is diversity in your family / church / community, show it.

You might not be thinking about this, but she is. {And if you’re not, I’d strongly suggest you START thinking about it very soon! But…different firey passion for different blog.}

If you are white and open to a child of another race, you need to show how that child will see images of themselves. I am not suggesting you take a picture of a random person of color. But if you have diversity in your relationships (or adoption in your church/community), show it!

And if there isn’t diversity in your family / church / community, a.) I invite to honestly wrestle with the ability of your home to provide racial identity and development (I’m sorry. I said it. And we can talk more about it if we need to.) and/or b.) begin to think about bringing and reflecting representation into your home [Read more about this here.]

8.) Represent these same things in candid photos. And provide a variety.

Not every photo in your book should be a professional one {even though when these professional photos are done right, they don’t look “professional”, they just look QUALITY.} Upload your every day candids, too. Not so much selfies, but again photos that tell a story.

Think traditions and holidays and things you do in the summer. Think snow forts and vacations and piles of leaves. Think the beach and the farm and grandma’s house. Think whatever is important to YOU!

9.) And can I end with this one – be completely YOU.

Maybe this feels like a lot of guidelines. And some that feel totally outside your comfort zone. If they’re only stirring up anxiety, FORGET ‘EM!

In the end, remember your book isn’t about being the perfect family for every expectant mama; it’s about being the best family for one mama. For one child. For the child and mama the Lord is going to lead your family into intertwining your lives with.

These aren’t tips to make you someone you’re not, but rather to showcase the uniqueness of who you are.

Have fun. Smile big. And remember you’re one step closer to your life being different forever.

Check out a few samples from other For This Child families below: