the other side of posed pictures of my boys

So yesterday I posted the boys yearly pictures…all cute and looking like they had a great time posing. Most photographers post client sessions full of seemingly perfect pictures. The reality is with any attempt at getting young kids (especially 3 young boys) to pose for pictures the photographer most likely gets more “outtakes” than “keepers”. Though I wanted some simple ‘everyone smiling at the camera’ pictures of my boys I still consider the “outtakes” to be keepers. Between every “keeper” there were 20 “outtakes”. I was constantly begging them to come back and smile normal. I was chasing them. They are great kids, but they are also very typical 3, 5, & 7 year old boys. Posing for pictures is not very high on their agenda of fun to be had. Every year I remember why I only attempt this once a year. Here is a healthy dose of reality.


My oldest always has ideas of his own regarding what I should photograph. I promised him at the end I would let him take control of my camera and pose me the way he wanted. Here is what he came up with…I love being a mom.


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  • Anna Marie - Super cute! Glad you didn’t break it, Mommy! :o)

  • Alba - hahahahhaha! let me tell you that I prefer the above pictures.

  • amy - LOVE the last sequence πŸ™‚ and love where the boys are in the pen – now THAT’s a way to contain them πŸ™‚

  • Celia - HA… those are great and the last ones with you are too funny. So funny to see what the comments between ya’ll are. And the last one where you are pointing and saying stop…. classic! Loved these!

  • elizabeth c. - Thank you so much for posting these. I can photograph everything EXCEPT for my children. I get so discouraged trying to get a ‘hangable’ portrait. These outtakes look pretty much like mine πŸ™‚

  • giozi - Hi princess Ashley, πŸ˜‰

  • Jack - I loved reading this post Ashley – you describe perfectly my “posed sessions” with my girls!! You have a beautiful family.

  • andrea - i am laughing out loud! so glad you shared these πŸ™‚

  • Belle - These pictures are awesome. I think my favorite is the one of all your kiddos together. The look on Firecracker’s face is priceless.

  • Betsy C. - Loved these pictures…especially the goat poop and don’t say cheese groups! Poor Firecracker…I’m sure she wanted in on the fun. Oh and you’re such a good sport, swinging on the swing like that!

  • Heather Z. - Thank you so much for sharing the both groups of photos. I was so impressed with yesterday’s photos, but relieved to see today’s post. I have the same experience photographing my 4yr old son. “Mommy, why do you take so many pictures?” “Mommy, I want to take pictures now.” But it’s all good!

  • Alessandra - these are way much funnier!!

  • Michelle S - As a Mom of two boys..who won’t pose for me…this is priceless and I must say captures them for who they truly are…I will look at photographing my kids a whole new way now! Love it!!!

  • allison - Thanks for sharing those – they look a lot like my outtakes!

  • Sherry Cartwright - Those photos are PERFECT!

  • Sarah - Boys will be Boys! LOVE this post! I wish I had 3 boys to play with. I only have the one! Somedays its seems as though he makes up for the missing 2. Enjoy em!

  • Margie - I love the posed pics from yesterday…but I gotta say…I am a huge fan of the outtakes!!! So funny, and shows some real personality πŸ™‚

  • Phyllis - Boys will be boys! I LOVE those pictures!

  • Jenny Joy - I big ol’ pink puffy heart LOVE those pictures! All of them! But especially the pictures of you. No offense, but they’re even better than the ones yesterday!!! (And those were AWESOME!)

  • Belen - Tus niΓ±os me encantan posando y sin posar, pero definitivamente, me quedo con estas fotos, son PERFECTAS

  • MommaHen - perfect! I love how you decided to add these pictures too. It’s impossible to photography my family …I literally roll my eyes at the thought.

  • Kimberly - LOVE them! “outtakes” are so special sometimes=) As much as we LOVE them all looking and doing what we want “outtakes” can be just as good because it’s them being them! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Shannon Phillips - The outtakes are my favorites. They show the amazing fun personality of your family. Thanks for making me smile really big this morning.

  • Sarah - Love these! i think i love the ‘outtakes’ more than the ‘keepers’.

  • Loren - These are JUST as cute as your ‘keep’ pictures. You are such a talented photographer. πŸ™‚

  • amber - Plain great. My 3 1/2 year old loves to “pose” for pictures. Which is great, except, it’s not usually what I was thinking:). Those boys. Hilarious. Stop…hahaha.

  • Tracy O - I loved your yearly photos in the previous post, but I think I like these even better! I love how you really captured your boys…that is what they will remember. Who says a picture of 3 boys making yucky faces at goat poop make a photo wall? I love your style and thank you for your photo inpsiration.

  • Michelle D. - I’m so glad you posted these! It’s exactly what it’s like for me when I try to take pictures of my kids. Chasing, begging them to sit still and smile, way more “outtakes” than “keepers”. I tried last Sunday to get pics but I think they were all “outtakes”!

  • Jen - I love the ones Biggest Brother took of you. Cute! Oh, and all the pictures I take of my boys look like your outtakes. πŸ™‚

  • Nicole - Ridiculously cute! Secretly glad I’m not the only one ‘herding cats’ to get posed photos of all my kids together!

  • Renee Schick - I love these kind of shots! Even more so than the “keepers” (even though those are amazing as well)…of course when they are your children, it’s hard for all of the photos to NOT be “keepers”. So amazing. You are truly talented. I appreciate all your posts and so glad to see firecracker is home…uncomfortable…but home! πŸ™‚

  • erin - i agree…outtakes are many times the best because they capture their true personalities that you don’t want to forget! fun shots!!

  • Kat - I think I love these more than the smiling ones! That last sequence is great too, what a great idea!

  • Rebecca - I can see why these are keepers. They’re great.

  • Mindy - LOVE this post. It is funny to see other photographers behind the scenes. It seems they are all alike. πŸ˜‰

  • Abigail - Haha!! Love it πŸ™‚
    And middle & little brother look SO much alike!

  • the whyte house - hahahaha!!! those last shots are hilarious. is that princess camera driving you mad yet? i hear “how wonderful!” in my sleep now. hate that thing. haha.

  • Roxana - so great. these are the ones they’ll love looking at when they’re grown up and have kids of their own.

  • Karin Griffin - Oh they are precious! I think I prefer these lifestyle shots! They are so fun!

  • amanda torres - His pictures are awesome! One of these days he’s going to remember you’re a gymnast and ask for a back flip off that rope. I can’t wait for that picture!

  • karen - yay! i <3 the 'outtakes' more actually πŸ˜€

  • lyn - Those are perfect!

  • colleen from alabama - Truth be told, i really don’t like posed pictures. The “outtakes” are always my favorites. You see who my kids really are, their personalities, age, and temperaments. That is what i want to remember, who they were, are and are becoming. It also always reminds me to not take life so seriously. I LOVE that picture of your boy in the firetruck. I would blow that up and hang it in a prominent place! Brings a smile to my face!

  • jenny - I personally LOVE the outtakes! They are sometimes my ( a lot of times) my favorite shots. Your kids are so cute! πŸ™‚

  • Dena - HIL ARIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ruth Abel - Haha, your 5 year old makes the best faces! These are all great. I am always so tempted to clean out all those “outtake” photos, but what moments they capture! They feel more like frozen slices of time then the posed ones that turn out perfectly.

  • natalie - Just this morning @ breakfast my Indian husband made a comment about how they could never market Cocoa Puffs in India because they look so much like goat poop. Thanks for this imagery. What a fun photo shoot!

  • Jess - You are a good sport! Cute outtakes! Your boys are handsome little guys!!!

  • Emily Langston - These are so great!!! LOVE your shirt, and he’s right… you are as pretty as a princess.

  • Tess S. - i happen to love the outtakes. for real.

  • Molly - I agree the outtakes are keepers too!!!

  • mary - i’m so glad!!! my photo shoots with my boys are SO LIKE THIS! ha! and by the way, please tell me how you manage to shoot with your hat on. i sooooo wanna wear it all of the time, and on shoots when it’s bright, but my bill gets in the way. advice? (other than “don’t wear a hat…”) πŸ™‚

  • Courtney Henson - Oh my gosh! These photos are STILL fabulous! That is the difference between my outtakes and yours…yours are crisp and beautiful and mine are fuzzy and dark! Really cute…and I love the ones of you swinging from the rope..your son apparently has your talent!

  • Zee - Haha, you are fun! These are super cool photos. I love it! The type of images to keep forever, for sure.

  • Jenn - I look forward to your blogs every morning. Thanks for sharing:)

  • Rhonda Steed - hahahah love these JUST as much as yesterdays!!

  • Andrea - I love the pictures of you! You seem like such a fun Mom!

  • mosey - haaha THAT was GREAT! I love it… It looks like a typical session with MY kids which is why I only try it about once a year too!!! πŸ™‚ LOVE the shots he took of you!

  • Midwest Magnolia - Melissa Lewis - Ashley, all of these are too adorable. And the one’s you shared yesterday were fabulous. What do you do with ALL of these photos? Do you print them out and put them in albums, digital albums, file boxes?

  • Desiree - I love the pictures your oldest took. “You’re as pretty as a princess.” How sweet!

  • Chelsea in MO - Your photographs are so beautiful Ashley! I LOVE this post, it made me smile and chuckle. Your boys are AWESOME! I’m still thinking about sweet Firecracker and hoping she’s good as new asap! : )

  • Cassandra - Ummm… I sort of like these better than yesterdays!

  • Ranee - even better than yesterday!

  • angelica - I LOVE these! I do photography when I have the chance and I really believe these are the photos our children (and we’ll love) years down the line. These are real and what life with kids are all about! Thanks for sharing these. =)

  • Amanda - LOL! πŸ˜€ Love it. Sounds like the time I tried to get the photo for the Christmas cards one year…

  • Joy Frameworks - I think the outtakes are my favorite! Love it!

  • Kristi - Okay now that makes me feel MUCH better becuase Aidan just does NOT cooperate when it comes to taking pictures!!

  • Jill E. - to good! these outtakes are amazing.

  • Melissa W. - Awesome, my favorite is: “Go back and pretend to land.” Gotta love boys! πŸ™‚

  • cynthia - I love these and more real than the perfectly posed ones. I still have issues getting cooperation out of teenagers! πŸ˜‰

  • Kae - Haha! i really enjoyed this post. more! more!

  • heather - loved this post!
    you are the cutest, by the way.

  • Stephanie George - Love the “reality” shots. You HAVE to put this picture collage in your yearly photo books right after the beauty shots/keepers. There faces are precious, and it really is a clear window to their personalities!

  • Lisa Box - Ashley, I don’t know you, but I have two small boys (11 months and 2.5) and you’re my hero! These pictures make me SO happy!

  • Amy - I think I might like these better than the posed pictures! πŸ™‚ I LOVE how full of life your family is!

  • Vicki - I love this post. I have had this same problem for many years…and just to warn you, it doesn’t get any easier. I still have trouble getting the 22, 19 & 17 yr olds to stand still and not fight with sticks:)

  • Emily - LOVE every minute of this. Have I mention you make me want more boys?

    Unrelated, and I’ll check your FAQ’s, but I LOVE the layouts, particularly the masking-tape labels. Where do you find them?

  • Kimberly - This is one my all time favorite blog posts that you’ve done!

  • cailan - Good night, Ashley. These are even cuter than the “cute” ones from before. I just want to wrap up those boys and put them in my pocket, and that sweet girl with the pouty lip. Way to go being an awesome mom to adorable kiddos. πŸ™‚

  • Laura - LOVE THIS.

  • Megan - i read allllll the time and never comment…a stalker, i guess!
    i just want to say that you are awesome! you inspire me everyday to be a better mom. thank you for that!

    absolutely LOVED the outtakes….they made me laugh. I hate to tell you this….i older kids…picture taking actually gets WORSE! they stop being silly and have ATTITUDE..annoying!

    quick question…how do you get the “tape” to hold your photos. how do you do your picture layouts? picasa??

  • Yanet of 3 Sun Kissed Boys - Yep, they’re keepers! “You’re as pretty as a princess.” What a ham!!

  • Marie-Claire - bahahaha! These are the best pics…the real stuff is awesome :-). Love the comic strip featuring you and can just imagine a final one after that with you saying “no, really I mean it – stop” (and this time with no smile on your face)ha!

  • Jeannette - Thanks for sharing, makes me feel better about my attempts at pictures of the kids – except my “keepers” are more like your “outtakes”!

  • Morgan - I recently discovered your blog and I love love LOVE it! I, too, am a mom to three boys and a baby girl My boys are 6, 5, and 3 and my daughter is 16 months.
    These pictures are classic and so perfect!

  • Shari - Do you use templates to post your pics on here? I LOVE how these look!!

  • Shari - I forgot to ask where you got all of that great masking tape too?? So cool!

  • marisa - must. have. your. shirt. where can i find/steal it???

    long time reader. i find you as a source to look up to. bravo.

  • Kassie - I think i like these more than the others! So sweet, and your son is talented with the camera πŸ˜‰

  • Heather - I get the same “cheese” face when I say that.. Lol. Love the other side of your pictures! These are what most of my pictures come out looking like πŸ™‚ thanks for sharing!

  • able mabel - Love these ones so much more than the “posed” ones.

  • Mirys from Brazil - Can I say that I just LOVE your family, LOVE the way you see life, LOVE your pictures… love, love, love!!!

    Lots of love for you this weekend, hΓ£?

    Kisses and blessings.

    hopping someday I can post pics like yours… and see a comment from you in my blog… Who knows?

  • Lydia Velarde - fantastic.. love it! I have one boy.. grown now but still fun!

  • Lydia Velarde - I love how he called you a princess the best

  • Kelly - I LOVE the sequence at the end! HILARIOUS stuff you!

  • natalie allen - absolutely adorable and so much fun.

  • Heidi - First time commenting…:) These pictures are awesome. I’m pretty sure I like these WAY more than posed photos!

  • Kenna S - I love these pics! You have a beautiful family.

  • Erica - I love these! Do you remember what lens you shot it with? Must be something longer or low aperture b/c it has great DOF. And these are tack sharp! Considering adding to my arsenal of glass, and when I see pics like these, I must know with what gear they were shot! πŸ™‚