April 10, 2020

The power of photography on our kids’ self-esteem

“It’s really important that you get family photos taken! Time passes so quickly!” Phrases like this are thrown around a lot and it’s easy to dismiss as another photographer peddling their trade. However, I wanted to show you why photos have a far deeper value in my eyes and the potential power of photography on our kids’ self-esteem in a world that tends to pummel our self-esteem daily,

My son is only three at the time of writing, but loves photos (unsurprisingly?!) and spends hours flicking through albums of his younger life. This ‘unconscious memory’ filling is an important part of my love of photos as it is shaping his early life in his mind. Despite him having no memory of being a newborn, he will proudly tell you stories about being born and meeting his Mummy and Daddy etc.

child looking at family photo album

But it’s so much more than him telling cute stories! Have a read of these three great reasons to get your kids in PRINTED photos, as backed by scientific research:

1. The sense of belonging and reassurance

Professor Geoff Beattie, Head of School and Dean of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester says:

“We cannot underestimate the power of photographs to keep us feeling linked to others and belonging. They cement us into our networks. For children in particular, looking at photographs is part of the socialising 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.”

Children learn very early on about family units and a sense of belonging. This has long been critical for survival, but is now part of social survival. As we all know, children learn visually from their environment long before they are verbally able to understand the genealogy of the relationships they see in photographs.

Not to mention seeing photos of themselves delivers the subconscious message to children that we are proud of them. While I’m sure that we all feel pride in our children and deliver that message about their achievements, the basic, unspoken message that we’re proud of their existence is a powerful one to hammer home day in and day out.

take your photographer on holiday from St Albans

The above photo was taken on a family trip to Portugal that the family took me on with them. Want to read more about why you should take your photographer away on holiday with you? Or want to see more adorable photos of other families – this could be your updated family gallery!

2. The positive effect on our kids’ self-esteem

In 1975 there was a study (The Murfreesboro Study) done with a group of 10-year olds. The study picked out children with below average self-esteem scores. Over a five-week period the control group did no different activities. The second low self-esteem group of children was provided with Polaroid cameras and assigned tasks (various poses, compositions and emotions that they had to photograph themselves in). They then had to create scrapbooks with the prints once a week. When repeating the tests at the end of the five-week period, there was a 37% increase in their self-esteem scores. 37%! Just from seeing themselves in photos for five weeks! Imagine the power of your child seeing themselves in photos every single day in your home?

child looking at family photos

Not to mention seeing photos of themselves delivers the subconscious message to children that we are proud of them. While I’m sure that we all feel pride in our children and deliver that message about their achievements, the basic, unspoken message that we’re proud of their simple existence is a powerful one to deliver day in and day out. 

David Krauss, licensed psychologist and author of “Photo Therapy and Mental Health” says

“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. A photographer’s job is to create and make the image look like a safe holding space for kids where they are safe and protected. Kids get it on a really simple level.”

family cuddles on a rainy day

This is a great example of how relaxed family portraits can be! The rain was pouring and we found a bit of shelter and played some games with this gorgeous little munchkin. How often are you existing in photos for your kids? I can help you with that! Check out my family photography information pages and definitely drop me a line for your own family photo session.

3. The benefits of phototherapy

Phototherapy is therapy using people’s personal photographs (and the feelings, thoughts, memories, and beliefs these photos evoke) as catalysts to deepen insight and enhance communication during their therapy or counselling sessions, in ways not possible using words alone.

Printing your photos and having them in the home isn’t phototherapy, obviously. But isn’t it possible that some of the benefits might exist for children? Especially in the timeframes before they are able to express themselves fully with words?

“Touching the photograph where a face is smiling, 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. You are touching a keyboard, mouse or a touchscreen but you are not touching the image.” says Craig Steinberg, a licensed psychologist who works with children ages five through 13 using phototherapy.

displaying family photos for kids self esteeem

Get printing!

So, if I can offer one bit of really inexpensive advice, get printing your family photos. Hang those snaps loud and proud. And if you don’t have any family photos, let me rectify that for you.

I can’t guarantee that printing photos will improve your kids’ lives but when the science is pointing towards the power of photography on our kids’ self-esteem and it’s such an easy (and gorgeous) thing to hang on your walls and your fridge, isn’t it worth a punt?

If you haven’t got up to date photos of your own family then I can definitely help you with that. I’m a family photographer based in Hertfordshire but travelling all over the UK and further afield when requested. I photograph families of all shapes and sizes with kids of any ages to give them happy, natural and relaxed photos that capture a slice of their life exactly as it is now. If that sounds good to you, just drop me a message below.

Not got up to date family photos?

You're missing out... I can help with that!

Check out more photos

About Tori

Hi I’m Tori, welcome to the home of all things happy! Here I reckon you’ll find some of the happiest photos in Hertfordshire…I love being around love so I was made for photography. Your wedding, your family days, your passion projects; they all give me the grins. Anything you want to chat about, I’ve probably seen it so get in touch because I love a good natter. Plus, maybe we’re friends that just haven’t met yet, who knows?!