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Go With Happy

I was determined to take advantage of the wonderful fall temperatures and said to the girls, "I need a favor. PLEASE let me take some photos today so I have some for the holidays." This feat is proving to be more and more difficult as they age. Now young ladies at the ages of 9 and 10, it's a little more of a struggle to get them to agree on what they'll wear, and whether or not it'll coordinate.

So, we marched up the stairs with a mission: find clothes in the closet that everyone can agree on, and get to the park before sundown. Easy, right?

It has been my observation, and in collecting anecdotes of friends and family, that there are two things that prevent people from taking family pictures. First, they can't find time in their schedules, and second, the very thought of coordinating an ensemble of Pinterest perfection is stifling, if not paralyzing and time consuming. If only a Pinterest-Perfect life were that easy. Sure, it can be fun, but it's a lot of work.

I digress, back to our mission: we marched up the stairs and we pulled out dresses from a wedding we attended just a short month ago. In my head, I'm thinking, 'Perfect. Already coordinated. We'll be out the door in no time.'

Wrong. Both of the girls GREW. Ugh. Back to the closet. Then, it called to me... I found a cute little black dress, and things are looking up. "Daughter A" loves this dress, and it's a perfect fit. One down, one to go.

Now for "Daughter B." She must've put on five or six dresses - just anything in the closet that would go with the little black dress. I mean, this should be easy. But it wasn't, because with every dress we try on, there is a deeper struggle. With every dress, there was something not right. I was focused on the dress, and not the daughter.

So I stopped. What is her style? What outfit is going to make her smile her biggest smile because she's happy, and not just because her mom is asking, "Say Cheese." What should she wear, so that when I see this picture 10 years from now, I think, "Oh, that is so her!"

I reached for the pink Minnie and Mickey Mouse skater dress and a pair of black boots. It's totally her. And I noticed a shift, and could see that she felt great wearing it. She loved her entire look. No, it wasn't the picture-Pinterest-perfect look I had in my mind's eye, but it was perfect for her and perfect for our family. And nobody cried, which says something.

We had a frantically-fun time racing the sun as we scurried through the park and snapped as many photos as we could. We laughed, we skipped and we posed. That's what I'm going to remember. And I hope that's what they remember too.

Three Easy Steps to Planning your Kids Outfits for a Photo Session

Three Easy Steps to Planning your Kids' Outfits for a Photo Session:

1. Go with Happy. What is the outfit that makes them feel so happy? Go with that.* See number 3.

2. Pick one color. If you have your heart set on that coordinated look, then limit yourself and pick just one color; naturally, everyone coordinates.

3. Black and White. If you are at a crossroads, just accept the fact that the photos will not be perfect this time, and just can always change your photo to black and white in post. So what if you aren't beautifully and vibrantly coordinated? *So what if it's a team jersey and a pink tutu? What you really want are the smiles, and black and white will make them dramatic.

Amanda DePhillips is a Minnesota girl, married to an Iowa boy. She loves her two girls and holidays, Up North; she's a promoter of memorable experiences, and a collector of great moments. She is also the owner of Ready Set Plan, a planner of experiences: events, travel and photography.

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