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Why is family photography so important? - English Photoworks Bath family photographer

Why is Family Photography Important?

In this age of selfies, smartphone pictures and a seemingly endless stream of online images, people sometimes ask what's the point in paying to have professional photos of you and your family.

This slightly battered and gnarly picture is one of my all-time favourite photos. It's me and my brother, Jamie (that's me on the right, sporting the Milky Bar Kid locks). I think it was taken in about 1979, when I was five and Jamie was four - we spent the first few years of our lives in Saudi Arabia, where my dad was a university professor in Riyadh. I'm pretty sure it was taken with dad's old Yashica film SLR, and the telltale shadow on the wall behind us means we'd probably had the flash blasted in our faces. Good job it's a black and white picture, or I'm sure there'd be some terrible red-eye.

There are quite a few pictures of me and Jamie like this, taken through the late 1970s and early '80s - virtually all of them taken by dad, and almost none featuring my mum! Like many mums, she hated having her photo taken (still does) - always 'too this' or 'too that'. Lots of mums will identify with this: 'my hair looks awful today', 'I need to dress better' or 'I could lose a few pounds, then the pictures would look better'. I do it too - I much prefer to be behind the camera.

But in 30, 40, 50 years, pictures of our family members might be all we have left, suddenly they become incredibly precious, and take on so much more significance.

Don't be invisible in the family pictures!

No-one looks at pictures of their parents and thinks about bad hair, cellulite, double chins or any of the other stuff that people worry about. They just see the parents they love - much more so if they have lost one. I don't know what the numbers of photos going online every day are - millions every second, no doubt. In spite of this, much of the good stuff goes undocumented amid the noise, cat pictures and so on. That's why it's so important for life's special moments not to go unseen and for the 'forever memories' to exist in photographs.

  • Family photography freezes a moment in time, and tells your family's story;
  • Printed pictures provide a tangible link to your family's past;
  • Photography helps us remember our loved ones and to find beauty in our everyday lives;
  • Good photographs capture our personality, and show how unique we are.

If you ever need to feel the value of a portrait, just look at your own legacy (prints of the people you love). I feel immensely proud to be able to do this job and to document families' stories. I will even try to feature in more of my own family's photos!