Picture This

by Kim on November 7, 2012

I hate that nagging feeling I get anytime I’m at an event or doing something fun with family or friends-I’m constantly hearing that little voice that says, “you should be taking pictures of this.”

camping  Group photos: never really as effortless as they look.
(This is us camping this summer with friends/wearing goofy hats. We’re in the far back left.)

I’m sure a lot of us feel the often burdensome responsibility to document things. So we grudgingly disrupt whatever’s going on to wrangle people together, make them hold awkward poses in public, and insist on retakes when the flash does weird things. Everyone puts up a fight and gets all self-conscious, but we assume they’re secretly grateful for the captured memory.

It sucks.

Then, when you have a kid, this whole phenomenon totally explodes. The kid is changing so fast that every day is practically an event in his life. The responsibility is huge: these are THE ONLY baby pictures your kid will ever have, and it’s YOUR job to take them, or the memories will be lost FOREVER.

raccoonmase

What’s up, PicMonkey!

At least babies aren’t self-conscious.

I read a couple articles and blog posts lately that got me thinking about this. First was this incredible Huff Post article by Allison Tate, which discusses the importance of getting moms in pictures.

Most moms think: well, the kids are cuter, and it’s easier to just zero in on them all day. Plus, we moms get a whole new set of things to feel self-conscious about after having babies, and we aren’t always dying to get those things immortalized on camera.

But I know that when I look at my own baby pictures, I’m almost more interested in seeing the rare images of my shockingly young-looking parents than of my fat-legged, drooling self. In the videos of us kids at Christmas, I’m always thinking, “Pan to Mom! Pan to Mom! What did she look like then?”

As Allison says in the article, “We really need to make an effort to get in the picture. Our sons need to see how young and beautiful and human their mamas were. Our daughters need to see us vulnerable and open and just being ourselves-women, mamas, people living lives. Avoiding the camera because we don’t like to see our own pictures? How can that be okay? Too much of a mama’s life goes undocumented and unseen.”

maseandI2 Our first photo together

Allison goes on to say: “When I look at pictures of my own mother, I don’t look at cellulite or hair debacles. I just see her-her kind eyes, her open-mouthed, joyful smile, her familiar clothes. That’s the mother I remember. My mother’s body is the vessel that carries all the memories of my childhood.”

Wow.

So now, the pressure is not just on me to take pictures of my son, but to take pictures of my son AND ME. Which is never easy, for one of two reasons: 1) I’m home alone with him a lot and am not proficient with self-timers. 2) I feel like such a dork handing the camera to someone and saying, “Will you take a picture of us?”

But I have to learn how to get around both of those problems, because I owe it to him to have pictures of me, and of us together.

maseandI The awkward self-shot, in which I end up looking creepy and, approximately 100% of the time, he does not look at the camera

Those of you don’t have kids aren’t off the hook, either. :)

I also read a couple blog posts by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, that brought up a few more good points about photo documentation. In this post, she talks about how she wishes she’d done a “photo diary” of her everyday life while living in San Francisco. Her advice is:

“Instead of taking photos of unusual sights, take a photo of the most usual sights. In the future, you’ll be a lot more interested in seeing a photo of your dorm-room closet or your laundromat than seeing a photo of the Louvre.”

I know that, at some point, we’ll move out of our current house. But before we do, I really want to make a point to run through it and take pictures, or maybe even do a video walk-through. Think about how cool that would be to see in 20 years.

nest

Places can be just as powerful for capturing memories as people are.

Gretchen also wrote a fun post about taking tourist photos of her romance. She took pictures of the staircase where she and her husband ran into each other that one time, the bench where they held hands for the first time, and the restaurant where they had breakfast together. I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull that one off-it would require a lot of travel, for one thing, since the beginning of our relationship unfolded in a couple different cities-but I love the idea.

And while we’re talking photos, a few bloggers I follow are doing something called Project Life, where you create these beautiful easy-to-assemble albums that house photos, trinkets, and stories representative of your daily life. The idea is to make a new spread each week. Check out the amazing examples on Elise’s blog and Sarah’s blog.

I’m going to wrap up with one more quote from the Huff Post article, since Allison is about a thousand times more inspirational and articulate than I am:

“Someday I won’t be here-and I don’t know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now-but I want [my kids] to have pictures of me. I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them. I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother.”

Ok. Where’s the camera.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky November 7, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I loved your post Kim ! Actually I had also read Allison’s article and it really hits home. It’s one reason I had commented to you about including youself in the picture with Mason and the pumpkins, remember ? :) Keep up the wonderful writing and photography.

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Kim November 7, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I do remember that! And I was thinking the same thing! Funny that you saw that article too. :)

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Jenny November 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Excellent post. I’ve thought about some of these topics before and you do articulate them very well. I adore seeing photos of my parents and other friends and family from years ago, even though they tend to be few and far between. I love the idea of conciously taking photos of yourself and surroundings both for your children and you future self.

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Brent Krueger November 7, 2012 at 11:06 am

Great post! I really enjoyed reading it. Gave me a different perspective on pictures, and why we take them.

And yes, people are secretly happy that someone takes the initiative to take those photos. It’s very handy to have someone in the group who is willing to do that!

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Kim November 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm

You’ve been doing pretty good with busting out the camera lately. :) We just have to make a real effort to get ourselves in the shots too.

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sarah @ sarah learns November 7, 2012 at 11:04 am

i love this post! i agree, it’s so much fun to have the everyday life details captured that only the “special” moments. they’re all special! your son will love having those photos with you some day.

thanks for the shout out, too. :)

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Kim November 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm

You’re welcome! I’m always inspired by your blog, Sarah. :)

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