As parents, we all want to raise our kids to have confidence. I remember as a new mom obsessing over articles on the topic of children and self-esteem. But none of them mentioned the importance of family portraits. Like many new moms (and dads), I took countless photos of my son to document his growth and record our family memories. Until relatively recently though, I never realized the impact of family portraits on a child’s sense of self-worth. Did you know that research suggests that family portraits have the power to boost confidence in children?
It makes sense if you think about it. When our child paints a pretty picture or gets a good report card, we hang it on our refrigerator to honor them. This conveys to our child that we’re proud of their effort and accomplishment. Likewise, when we display images of our kids and family in our home, it sends a subconscious message that they’re important and loved. When a child feels a strong sense of belonging, they’re likely to feel more secure and confident.
Today, I love sitting on the sofa in my living room and seeing my family portraits on the wall. Having family photos on display and in albums has always been important to me. For me, it’s another way of expressing, without words, how important my son is to our family.
Displaying photographs of family for children to see regularly creates a sense of belonging, importance, and security, which can help boost confidence in children, according to research.
In 1975, Jerry Fryrear of Tulane University and Mary Ammerman conducted a 5-week study that explored the impact of portrait photography on self-esteem in a group of 4th graders. The children who participated in the experiment experienced a significant increase in behavioral self‐esteem.
“I think it is really important to show a family as a family unit. It is so helpful for children to see themselves as a valued and important part of that family unit,“ says Krauss, a licensed psychologist from Cleveland, Ohio.
Krauss is one of the earliest pioneers in using family photography and family albums to help his patients boost their self-esteem. He co-authored “Photo Therapy and Mental Health” in 1983, that is considered a founding text for the use of photography in therapy.
“For children, in particular, looking at photographs is part of the socializing process; learning who you are and where you fit into the family. By displaying photographs of our children at different stages of their lives, we are making a very public statement that we are proud of them,” says Professor Geoff Beattie, Head of School and Dean of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester.
A family portrait can give children a sense of security and belonging. Judy Weiser, a psychologist, art therapist and author says, “It lets children learn who they are and where they fit. When a child sees a family portrait with them included in the photograph, they say to themselves: ‘These people have me as part of what they are, that’s why I belong here. This is where I come from.'”
Weiser has spent more than 25 years using photography to assist in the treatment process of her clients. She’s considered by many to be the foremost authority on the emotional significance of personal photographs.
In today’s technological age, we all enjoy having images in a digital form. It’s easy to scroll through images on your phone or tablet and instantly share them with friends and family or post them on social media. Ordering prints, creating albums and hanging photos on your walls takes time and effort. Yes, even I get overwhelmed trying to keep up with making my annual albums and ordering frames for my wall. In fact, I’m almost two years behind in making my own family yearly books (sigh)!!
But do digital images have the same value and effects on self-esteem as a tangible print or album? NOPE! Not according to experts.
“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,” says Krauss.
Krauss also recommends having photographs of your child and family placed in your child’s bedroom. This way it can be among the last things they see before bed and the first thing they may see before beginning their day.
Other experts agree.
“There is something very powerful in touching your fingers to an actual print,” says Craig Steinberg, a licensed psychologist who works with children ages five through 13 in Oregon. “Touching the photograph where a face is smiling or the shoulders, it is the same thing as touching a book when you read it. There’s a lot of stimulation of the brain when you have that sensory experience. That is a bit lost in the move to digital.”
“Displaying photos prominently in the home sends the message that our family and those in it are important to one another, and we honor the memories we have experienced,“ says Cathy Lander-Goldberg, a licensed clinical social worker and a professional photographer in St. Louis, Missouri. “It says we love you and care about you. You’re important.”
Need more convincing? Check out my recent post on Why Printed Photos Matter.
Have you ever looked at a photo and felt a flood of emotions and fond memories? Pictures remind us and our kids of happy times together. This can be especially helpful during difficult or uncertain times in our lives. Now, more than ever, family photos can give us a sense of stability and meaning.
My family photos are among my most meaningful possessions. Having a tangible record of our memories, whether they are milestone moments or little everyday ones, helps us relive special moments. I love snuggling with my son and looking through our annual albums. It gives us a chance to reminisce and often sparks questions and conversation that allow us to connect. I hope that one day when he is grown, my son will enjoy looking through and sharing these photos with his family.
Creating beautiful wall displays and albums for families is a major part of the Debbie Camba Photography portrait experience. Whether you prefer an archival quality album, a wall collage of portraits that showcases your family’s story, or a single statement piece, I’m here to help you choose the perfect piece to fit your home.
Your family portraits don’t belong on a device or buried in a desk drawer. They’re meant to be enjoyed, and what better way to enjoy them than on the walls of your home or in an album. Imagine snuggling up with your kids and maybe some day your grandkids, while flipping through pages and reminiscing fondly about your beautiful memories!
Whether you take your own family photos or hire a professional, get those images off your devices. Print and display your photos in your home, either on your walls, or in an album. You’ll be so happy you did!
Need some inspiration for your own walls? Check out some of my Wall Gallery designs.
What are your favorite way to enjoy photos? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Show me your photos!
Ready to book your family portrait session? Get in touch HERE!
I can’t wait to capture your family’s memories!
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Winner of the 2020 and 2019 Most Loved Family Photographer award by Hulafrog, Debbie Camba Photography is a New Jersey Family Photographer based in Scotch Plains. She specializes in natural light, authentic and timeless child and family photography.
She photographs outdoors and in homes throughout Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Westfield, Mountainside, Cranford, Summit, Springfield, Madison and the surrounding area, including Union County, Morris and Middlesex County, and is available in other locations upon request.