The Family Portrait Tradition

Growing up I have strong memories of going to our local photography studio to get our yearly family portraits. With four kids under 10 years old, I remember some entertaining moments as my parents tried to get us all situated and ready to go. In particular I was always a problem with my long hair that would get so tangled from running wild outside all day that it was almost impossible to keep straight. Not to mention getting me and my sisters to sit still in new dresses. Particularly one year was an issue when my brother decided to give my little sister a homemade surprise haircut the day before family pictures, chopping her bangs and a big section in the back straight off. After years in this business, it amuses me to think of the photographer charged with the task of getting those shots.

Family Portraits are a Lasting Investment

When I go home years later those same portraits still line the walls of our house, telling our family story. Working with AM Studios as a traveling photographer, I had the opportunity to visit my grandparents in Bellingham Washington several times during photo shoots in the Seattle area. I had not been back to visit in a number of years, and I was once again taken back when I discovered those same portraits taken at least 25 years ago now, spread across almost every room in the house. No other possession I can think of has stood the test of time like those family portraits.

Family Portraits are a Window in Time

My parents and grandparents were not so fortunate to have the ease and availability of studio photography available that we had when they were growing up. My great grandmother had only one portrait of her taken during her lifetime, a portrait that my grandmother still holds onto dearly. One of my favorite things to do when I visit is go digging through those old black and white photos. Its a window into the past, and I listen as my grandmother smiles and talks about each picture that brings up a new memory or story that may have been otherwise forgotten.

A family portrait of three sisters at Andrae Michaels in Colorado Springs

The Big Picture (or Portrait)

After all these years I am very glad that my parents made the time to get us all cleaned up, sacrificed the time on a Saturday, rearranged around whatever dance, sports, work schedules that were going on at the time and took us in to get those portraits.

I again realized the importance of portraits a year and a half ago when my mom was hospitalized for four months and was in such a condition in ICU on Christmas Day that it was unclear which way the cards would unfold. As a photographer, one of the things that came to mind was regret for putting off having a professional portrait together in so long, in light of possibly not having another opportunity. I am glad to say that recently after a full recovery, my family was all able to come into the studio to take our first professional portrait in probably 15 years. Just like always, those photos now fill our house and have been sent to all our family, where it’s safe to say they will line the walls and inspire good memories and conversations for years to come.

A portrait of a grandmother reminiscing over a photo of her late husband

So when was the last time you had a professional family portrait?

About Ashley Fiora, Professional Traveling Portrait Photographer

Hi, I’m Ashley. I’m a portrait photographer with a heart for travel and the outdoors. Following my creative drive, I began working in the photography industry in 2011 and received my BFA in photography from Metropolitan State University in 2014. Since then I have found a home working as a traveling portrait photographer with AM Studios.

When I’m not traveling, I can be seen biking around my wonderful mountainous home of Boulder Colorado, running, experimenting with my film camera collection, gardening and spending as much time in the mountains as possible.

Ashley Fiora, Professional Portrait Photographer