Photography has changed more in the last 5 years than in the past century. It’s easier to take a photo and definitely easier to share a picture. Think about it, most kids will never know the effort previous generations put into sharing images with each other – digging up negatives, trekking to the store to fill out forms, returning to the store to pick up prints, then mailing copies to friends and family. Of course, there were other steps like going to the post office to ensure there was sufficient postage to get those photos where they needed to go.
Formal portraits were actually a bit easier to share, and still are. A professional photographer is also a bit of a personal assistant. A good portrait studio will help you order the right number and sizes of prints and get them ready for you.
Still, people today will take so many photographs of themselves, it’s important to ask (and answer) the question, Why have a formal portrait taken?
The biggest answer is picture quality. A professional portrait photographer uses cameras that can produce a quality photo that can be blown up without loss of resolution. That same professional also brings years of experience to the table, to relax the subject, pose the people, and wrangle the kids into a form that is pleasing to the eye. Many non-professional photographers rely on the numbers to get a good photograph. If you take thousands of shots, one of them will be worth hanging on a wall in your home.
Tradition is another answer. True, kids may scoff at this word but there will come a day when they want to compare how they looked at a young age with how their parents and grandparents looked. It’s tough to compare a professional portrait to a selfie and come away with a real appreciation for the subjects.
That brings up a very real answer. Humiliation. Many of the fun pictures that people take today are not the photos they want to have shared tomorrow. A formal portrait is really one’s best side. It can reflect favorite hobbies by putting accessories or sporting equipment into the frame or just feature the face of the portrait subject. It will not be a goofy look or out of focus.
Memories is the best answer. A photograph is only as good as the memories it can evoke. A formal picture has its own cache and can elevate the person in the frame to a special status when family and friends look at it.