Why moms need to start including themselves in family photos
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About five years ago, when my youngest daughter was born, I decided to make an annual photo album with all of my favorite pictures from that year. I started making three copies: one for each of my daughters and one for myself and my husband. I hope when they are adults they will have a collection of albums that document all aspects of their life, a gift of memories carefully curated and wrapped with a cute bow.
However, after a few years of making these albums, I realized that I wasn’t as included in the photos as their father. My legacy as a mother was not documented. I had photographed the life story of my children from my perspective, leaving out one of their favorite characters.
This is something my mother also did when she documented the lives of her own children. When I sift through photographs of my past, pieces of the puzzle are missing. Stories that are not fully captured and can never be recovered. I know many hours have been spent on my mother’s lap and nestled in her embrace. I know there were many hours spent reading stories, brushing tangled hair, and having tea, but I can’t find any tangible “proof” of those times.
My mom was a stay-at-home mom who spent her days raising my two younger siblings and myself. From what I remember from our childhood, we rarely watched TV and were instead encouraged to spend our days sketching, painting and playing outside. My mom helped us with all of our school projects, never forgot pickup / drop off, and sat front row at all of our many sporting events. It was everywhere in our lives, but not very often present in our documented past.
“I know there were many hours with my own mother reading stories, brushing tangled hair, and having tea, but I can’t find any tangible ‘proof’ of those moments.”
I would have treasured a few great photos of the two of us, but there aren’t many. I guess this is because she wanted to be photographed when she was only at her ‘best’, something that so many mothers struggle with, myself included.
I want to document every special moment in my children’s lives, which means that I and most mothers – are often the one behind the camera. I want to capture every milestone and every detail so that I don’t forget a particular chapter in our history. It’s a lingering fear that I have: if I don’t capture it, I won’t remember it. I rely on these photographs to help fill in the pieces of my past where my memories have faded. So when the crackle of the feet is no longer heard through our house, I will still have my photos to transport me back in time. The photographs serve as tiny pieces of a larger puzzle; the puzzle of the story of his life.
I’m a photographer, so I often take my camera with me wherever I go to make sure I don’t miss a special memory. Even the mundane moments are important to me. I pride myself on my ability to capture our fun adventures well; It is rare that an activity or milestone is not documented in my house.
After realizing that I had also inadvertently left out my children’s past, I embarked on a personal self-portrait project with my children. I want them to feel the total love I have for them. I want them to be able to see the evolution of my journey as a mother. And most importantly, I want them to see all parts of this trip – the days when I’m tired or looking exhausted as well as those happy days. Because motherhood is full of ups and downs, and including both provides a more accurate portrayal that my kids deserve to see.
Most mothers want portraits to be professionally done, but I think it’s important for mothers to photograph themselves with their children, no matter what they look like, what they’re wearing or how they feel. that day. Capturing both the great and the less great moments is not only necessary for a more accurate portrayal of their life story, but it is reality as well. And it is a reality that is often not documented in its crudest form.
With this self portrait project, I capture various portraits of my children and myself using a tripod and remote camera timer. I photographed the quiet moments as well as the not-so-perfect moments in our daily life in order to document our life story in a more authentic way. And I want to encourage other moms to do the same – no matter their photography expertise.
I know deep down that these photographs of them with me are images that they will cherish more than the photographs of themselves. The many portraits of them that I have taken over the years, these are mostly mine… so I will always remember how little my children were once. But these photos of my kids with me… these are for them. Thus, they will always remember how much they were and still are very much loved.
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