There’s a common misconception that children's photography or family photos contribute to making toddlers or children self-absorbed or vain, but in reality, this belief couldn't be further from the truth.
The science is in: professional family photography actually boosts your child’s self-esteem and sense of belonging – two main components of emotional growth.
That’s because the captured moments and shared experiences in professional family photos often serve as affirmations of love, hope, and connectedness, providing children with a tangible sense of their place within their family unit and the world around them, enabling them to grow emotionally.
Of course, family photography is not the only factor, but you can leverage it to foster a sense of belonging and create a loving home environment where your children can play and see their photos displayed on the walls.
Imagine being a child and running around the house, surrounded by family pictures that convey the message, “You are loved and cared for. You are part of this family.”
Which is exactly why, in this article, we argue in favor of professional family photography:
- It develops creativity and enhances cognitive development
- It strengthens the family bond
- It builds up your child’s self-image (along with confidence & self-esteem)
Also, if you’re from the Dallas/Fort Worth Area, you may book a family photo session with Stephany, an award-winning maternity photographer. Stephany and her team offer a fine art photography experience that will surely be a fond memory in your child’s growth.
Without further ado, let’s discuss the first component of emotional growth.
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is a child’s overall sense of worth or personal value and describes how a child feels about himself or herself. A child’s self-esteem is established by age 5, according to studies in experimental social psychology.
Low self-esteem is a negative self-conscious emotion, and the signs of low self-esteem in children are evident from an early age. Kids are overly critical of themselves, sensitive to criticism, and have trouble accepting compliments or expressing needs. Low self-esteem is also linked to insecurity, meaning kids might be afraid of trying new things, making mistakes, disappointing others, or making new friends.
Kids with higher self-esteem feel liked, accepted, and confident. They’re proud of what they can do and think good things about themselves. In contrast, kids with low self-esteem criticize themselves and doubt they can do things well. They feel they're not as good as other kids and think of the times they fail rather than when they succeed. They question their self-identity and sense of belonging.
How professional family photos impact emotional growth
Here are three science-backed claims in favor of professional family photos:
1. Professional photos encourage creativity
Professional family portraiture encourages creativity through storytelling. It encourages kids to think of new ideas and new perspectives as they look over their beautiful pictures. That’s because when you take a photograph, you are literally framing the world as you see it:
Plus, family photos also enhance communication skills. Talking about what we see in photos allows kids and teens to communicate thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Photography is an extension of how we communicate. Let’s take an example:
When spending quality time with your toddler, you might go like this, "Look! Here's a magical moment frozen in time. This was your very first birthday, where you, as a tiny farmer, were on a mission to explore the wonders of a cake. Oh, the joy in your eyes as you smashed that cake! You were the star of that sweet, messy adventure. This snapshot holds a chapter of our family story, where you, my little one, are the brightest, most cherished character."
So, your now-older boy can ask questions or even make up his own story:
“Once upon a time, in a land filled with colorful cakes and sprinkles that sparkled like magic, there was a little farmer. That farmer was me! I had my special suit and my cake was the most gigantic cake in the whole wide world. When I smashed it, it made the cake fairies and all the farm animals happy, singing sweet songs. My laughter was so loud that it made the cake crumbs dance and the table giggle!”
The stories can be goofy, cute, or curious, but what matters most is the communication and imagination. Your son’s story might incorporate elements of the child's imagination, mixing real memories with fantastical elements, creating a delightful and charming narrative around their cake smash experience.
Again, creativity and storytelling are two powerful tools in cognitive development.
2. Family photos increase your child's confidence & self-worth
Family photos can help get children started on a path to higher self-esteem than they would have had otherwise, especially if they are old enough to pitch in with their own themes or ideas about poses and photoshoot props.
One study (2020) found that photography offers a safe, relational, and respectful approach to exploring experiences while engendering hope, especially in older children and teenagers.
Family portraiture develops a child’s self-image. Displaying your children's portraits can be an essential part of how they develop their identity and self-image. As kids learn to socialize, seeing themselves lets them know they are part of the family unit. Even better, when they see portraits of their milestones at different ages displayed in your home, it makes them feel valued and seen.
An article in My Child Magazine highlights how family pictures reinforce positive values, “Family portraits can help them recognize the important values they need to cherish in life, such as kindness, love, and respect. Children need to be reminded about the important values in life once in a while, and their family portraits could help them make good choices as they grow older.”
3. Family photography creates a sense of belonging & security
Psychologists, social workers, and mental health counselors agree that family photography fosters a sense of belonging, importance, and security—especially if these family portraits are displayed for everyone to see regularly.
According to Jaclyn Gulotta, Ph.D., a licensed mental health counselor, when children grow up seeing photos of themselves proudly displayed around their home, it says to them, “I am a valuable and important member of my family. I matter”. Children brought up in a home with family photos displayed can have a strong sense of, “I know who I am and where I came from. I know my family was a strong unit, and it shows in my family pictures,” Dr. Gulotta says.
David Krauss, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist working with neurodevelopmentally atypical children, is a staunch believer in family portraiture. Family photos “have a certainty about them, and a protecting quality that nurtures a child. It lets them know where they are in the pecking order and that they are loved and cared for.”
Such statements and testimonies abound. This is why you should consider opting for a family photography session this coming holiday season. Better yet, consider a family photo shoot with your extended family for your next family reunion.
Printed or digital photos?
Short answer: printed photos are better than digital ones. But if you’re going for digital, go for digital frames. Wall photos, paintings, or family portraiture on display trump everything.
Printed photos, which can be touched and held, have a more significant impact on a child's confidence than those stored digitally. It’s also simpler for a child to flip through a scrapbook than to access a computer and navigate the endless folders to find those cute family photos.
Do check our offer on custom memorabilia artwork, such as heirloom albums and keepsake portfolio boxes—your child will want to flip through the pages and ask you all about those sweet memories.
Having said that, Stephany’s family photo shoot package does include digitals. (Please contact us for a short phone consultation to explain the process and pricing in detail.)
How about wall photos?
Even better, psychologists weigh in about the best medium. Dr. Krauss states, “My bias is very simple. I think family portraits should be on the wall. I am very conservative about self-esteem, and I think placing a family photo—someplace in the home where the child can see it every day, without having to turn on a device or click around on a computer to find it—really hits home for that child this sense of reassurance and comfort”.
Remember that wall family photos make a statement about what's important to you. Without asking, visitors are aware of the value you place on familial relationships. The display also provides them a more intimate look into your life they may otherwise never encounter.
We’ll make sure your home has those art pieces that your family and friends will find unique and luxurious. Your home will look like an exquisite gallery: opt for custom wall artwork, such as modern acrylic art pieces, museum-quality handmade canvases, framed wall art, wood art pieces, and wall collections.
What does self-esteem look like in children?
Adults need patience and persistence to help their children develop healthy self-esteem, but the outcomes can be very rewarding. Children with high self-esteem will have the confidence to try new things and believe they are worthwhile people who can succeed at reaching their goals.
Parents play a vital role in helping children develop healthy self-esteem. If children feel good about themselves most of the time, they will be more likely to try new things, make friends, and deal with problems they come across in their lives.
What else can I do to improve my child’s self-image?
Family portraiture is just one practical example. Here’s a handful of others you can try:
- Let your child decide between safe, toddler-friendly options, like which toy to play with or whether to have jam or butter on their toast. This gives toddlers an exciting sense of control, which helps to develop their confidence and sense of self.
- Praise your child for their efforts, not just their achievements. This helps them to understand that it's not just about winning or being the best but about trying their best and doing their best.
- Encourage your child to try new things, even if they might fail. This helps them to learn that it's okay to make mistakes and that they can learn from them.
- Help your child to set achievable goals and celebrate their successes, no matter how small.
- Spend quality time with your child, doing things that they enjoy. This helps them to feel loved and valued.
Is it too late to build my child’s self-esteem?
No. It is never too late to build a child's self-esteem, even if they are teenagers or seemingly stuck in their ways. Apply some of the practical ideas outlined above, and results will show in time.
Also, don’t worry if you haven’t had the chance to take professional photos yet. It’s never too late to schedule a family photo shoot either for the holiday season or an upcoming birthday.
Generally speaking, taking family photos can be a positive experience for children; here’s how to ensure it does not cause stress or anxiety.
- First, choose a photographer experienced in working with children and can read their verbal and non-verbal cues to know when it is okay to proceed or take a break.
- During the photo session, relax and calm down, as children can pick up on feelings of anxiety, nervousness, or stress.
As for the first part, don’t worry. Stephany is great with kids and even infants—she has taken plenty of newborn safety classes, and she is certified by the Accredited Professional Newborn Photographers International (APNPI) in newborn safety.
To restate, there is no evidence suggesting that family photos can make a child self-absorbed. On the contrary, when you put up family pictures in your home, it helps your child feel good and grow in a positive way. Indeed, professional family photography is a great way to capture memories but also a tool to promote a child's emotional growth and well-being.
By developing creativity and enhancing cognitive development, strengthening the family bond, and building up a child's self-image, professional family photos can positively impact a child's emotional growth.
Consider investing in professional family photography as a way to create a sense of comfort, reassurance, and security for your children and help them establish their identity and sense of self.
Our luxury photography team is dedicated to making you and your family shine. From props to a fantastic experience, we've got your family covered! Ready to plan your session?