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Capturing Your Legacy

The immeasurable value of investing in a family photographer to carry your family’s story into the future.

My son’s clear blue eyes and his incredible disposition come from her. His gentleness defies the nature of an eight-year-old boy. His thoughtfulness constantly delights and surprises me. The way he tunes into the feelings of those around him mirrors how she made everyone feel seen. Though my incredible mom passed away less than a month after our son was born, so much of her lives on in him. I talk about my mom often, not just with Everett, but also with my two girls who sandwich him on either side. We keep her memory alive by making her special yogurt pancakes, pausing on hikes with our eyes closed to “just listen,” and noticing the beauty of God’s creation all around us. In addition to these little remembrances of the amazing woman who raised me, I’m particularly grateful for the photographs we have of her. They are some of my most precious possessions.

Not surprisingly, family photographs are some of the first things people grab when having to evacuate their homes. Fire-proof safes guard portraits. Wedding photos get passed down from generation to generation to find homes on the walls of grandchildren. Pictures tell our story and root us to family members who have passed. The value of family photographs surpasses most other material belongings. Therefore we protect them, care for them and are wise to invest in them.

Sarah Schierkolk, local family photographer and owner of Sarah Dawn Photography, constantly has her eye behind the lens, capturing the seasons of her own children. “Candid photos are amazing!” she shares, “Take tons and enjoy them!” However, photos from our smartphones, though often posted online, don’t usually become valuable family heirlooms inherited by our children. We take a plethora of them and most stay somewhere on our computers or in “the cloud.” Alternatively, professional family photos become art on our walls, remind us daily of past seasons shared, touch our friends as Christmas cards, and greet grandparents on personalized coffee mugs. When talking about personal photos vs professional family photos, Sarah encourages people to, “Do both!”

There are lots of reasons why people don’t invest in professional family photos. “I might not like how they turn out,” “We will look staged and awkward,” and “My kids (or husband) won’t cooperate,” are some common objections to hiring a family photographer. But a good family photographer has a bag of tricks and tips to avoid these mishaps. “I always send a questionnaire to families before a shoot,” Sarah explains. “I find out things like their goals for the shoot, their kids' interests and passions, and if the family has a special place they’d like to be.” For example, if a young child has a favorite movie character, sometimes Sarah will go buy that little figurine. She’ll do a shoot in the neighborhood park where they spend lots of time or capture them playing together in the mountains. “This isn’t a JCPenney portrait,” Sarah laughs, “I try to capture the essence of the family’s connection in all the little moments.”

Sarah loves getting to know each family on a personal level. “I’ve made friends with the families that I’ve gotten to photograph year after year. I get to see these kids grow and change and watch their personalities come out,” she reminisces. Even clients she only gets to film once, for example with senior pictures, bring her joy as they share who they are and who they want to become. During shoots, Sarah likes to have fun with her clients, make people laugh, and capture genuine joy. As a mother herself, she also understands that moms who are often taking the photos at family gatherings or children’s special events, rarely make it in the photos themselves. “I like taking the stress and responsibility of photography away from Mom, and letting everyone actually enjoy the moment. I capture images that they can cherish for years to come.”

Each season passes by in the blink of an eye, and we don’t get a second chance to relive them. In five years, you won’t regret investing in professional family photos, you’ll only regret not having them. Photos leave a legacy long after we’re gone. They root us to our past and carry our stories into the future. 

"Photos leave a legacy long after we’re gone. They root us to our past and carry our stories into the future."

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