Why Your House Doesn’t Have to be Clean for Family Photos

I hear it all the time.  Most families don’t want to get family photos taken at their house because they’re super worried their house is too messy, or too small, or not Sunset Magazine-worthy.  But honestly, guys, it doesn’t matter!  I’m hear to tell you why your house doesn’t have to be clean for family photos. I live in an old 1950s midcentury house in North Seattle with plenty of small rooms and small windows and dark spaces.  But guess what?  There are also other areas in my house that have large windows, a clean-clutter free area (don’t need much space, honestly), and beautiful light.  There are always these spaces!  Always.  I promise.  But, I thought I’d go a little further in this post and tell you, actually, to show you, that it REALLY doesn’t matter.

Example 1: These silly sisters share a bedroom.  A messy bedroom.  I walked down the hallway and saw the window light and curtains in there room and told mom I was going to take a few photos in there.  You should have seen the look on her face.  She was mortified, first, that the door was open and that I had seen inside, and second, because I actually wanted to use the space.  Before she started quickly cleaning up I told her to stop, and that none of that mattered. So see the before and after.

What the room looked like:

why your house doesn't have to be clean for family photos : example of messy room

How I photographed it:

why your house doesn't have to be clean for family photos : girls finger drawing on window behind curtain

Example 2:  I have a dear friend who lives in a beautiful remodeled house with her loving and sassy family.  She’s got a fantastic taste in shoes, clothes, and home furnishings.  She also does not really give a flip if her house is de-cluttered or not.  Especially her kitchen.  It would absolutely drive me nuts to have a messy kitchen.  So when I suggested we do her session at her house the first thing she said to me was, “Well crap.  Now I have to clean up.”  We laughed and I told her she didn’t really need to clean the whole house.  Who really does.  We are living here, after all, and with three busy kids and a large black dog, how often are we really living in perfectly coifed and perfectly styled homes free of dog hair, dust, stains, and straight photos on the wall?  Um, MAYBE once a year.

So I went over for the session, and she had cleaned the living room, the main area we would shoot, but when I rounded the corner I saw that she pretty much shoved everything that was out into the kitchen instead.  No problem.  I can deal with that.  Besides the kitchen, I brought a ton of gear that was scattered all over her living room by the time we started shooting at the fireplace.  I didn’t want to stop the session and move all my crap.  No biggie.  So below is an example of how I can work around the clutter through my shooting angles.  Easy peasy.

What the room looked like, with my crap camera right and a messy kitchen:

why your house doesn't have to be clean for family photos : family hanging out on fireplace with messy kitchen in background

How I photographed it:

why your house doesn't have to be clean for family photos : family hanging out on fireplace

Have I convinced you?  So please know, your home is the single best place in the world to take your family photos.  Your home is where you are raising your kids, and your home is where they are most comfortable, and most themselves with you.  Don’t worry about the clutter.  It’ll be beautifully you.



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Hi, I'm Kim Hildebrand!

Photographer & Online Business Educator

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Kim Hildebrand