I am horrific at taking pictures of my kids and tragic when it comes to taking pictures of myself. The reasons are deep-seated, pathetic, and I am vowing to try to get out of my own way and do a better job. It’s important and I’ll explain why.
Before we get into why it is important for us to be documenting our families with photographs, I want to explain why I suck at taking pictures. Let’s start with my issues with taking pictures of the kids. I would rather be in the moment then spending time setting up pictures of the moment. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes I am with parents who spend so much time capturing a perfect picture and they miss out on the activity we are actually doing with the kids. I always think, what exactly are you capturing here because you missed what we were doing and your kid was too distracted to fully participate. I know, I am ridiculous. I need to get over it, pull out my camera, and take the pictures. There are plenty of people who know how to grab a picture or two without being overbearing and I vow that I am going to try much harder to do the same.
So, even if I start taking better pictures of the kids, I know getting pictures of me and my husband is a much harder task. We both were cool with our pictures getting taken before kids. Why not? We were thin, our clothes fit appropriately, we had regular haircuts, and were well rested. Taking pictures was easy. Bring it on! I even have a nice documentary of my first pregnancy and a pretty decent picture of Cara’s first day home (I took a real shower that day while my husband held her and I even did my hair, as it was still in a style worth doing.). Now? I am ashamed to say that I just don’t want photographic evidence of what I look like now! I am heavier than I want to be, my clothes are just not as cool, my hair is usually in a pony tail. I’m not into it. My husband and I always avoid pictures and then cringe when we do see ourselves on film. It’s superficial and stupid. I am totally self-aware that I am being insane. Now let’s get to why Kevin and I both vowed to stop being so vain and start getting family pictures more often.
I recently occurred to me that it is equally important to document my husband and me as much as it is the kids. We are all living this life together. When we want to look back on this special time in our lives, we will want to see the girls as little kids, in their cute little dresses and hair bows, but they will also want to be reminded of what Mommy and Daddy were like in those days. I have a photographer friend named Lauren Naldzin who has done some beautiful pictures for me. She also reads this site and recently sent me this letter that a photographer friend of hers posted an a personal blog. She thought it would be a good idea to share with my readers. It stopped me in my tracks; here it is:
Today I am writing for a couple of reasons. I have some quiet time at the moment and need to get a couple of things off my mind. I will leave this for my husband to deliver to you when he is ready.
You photographed my wedding, you photographed my first pregnancy and my first baby. I contacted you awhile back to photograph my 2nd child and family. After getting prices and realizing I would want all of the pictures as we love your work – I decided against spending $500+ – which is what I normally spend for portraits and prints with you.. Please know it is not because I don’t value your amazing eye, or how much we love the experience.
That week that I decided to NOT do a session with you, this is how I spent some money.
On Sunday I called and cancelled our session. Monday I went out and got my hair cut ($39+tip), and colored ($65), Thursday I had my nails done ($24), my family went out to dinner at a somewhat expensive restaurant for no particular reason costing us $79 + tip. This was just 4 days since canceling our session, already totaling over $200 for un necessary things. My nails only lasted about 2 weeks, my hair is gone, and seven weeks passed when I got the phone call from our doctor. It was not something I expected and the cancer has spread very quickly. I will be leaving my husband, my 6 year old girl and my now 2 year old – not by choice. It is very hard for me to talk about it which is why I need to write you.
I watch your Facebook page and your posts about the value of a photo and if I could give back all of those things that I purchased this few weeks after I cancelled my session with you, knowing what I know now, and have that session, well… I would do it in a heartbeat.
Now my time is done and there are no more chances for me. The next time someone cancels a session – my wish is that you forward this letter to them. Time is fragile, it is gone before you know you had it. If you charged $200 for one print it wouldn’t be enough for what it is actually worth. I cringe to think that my priorities were a manicure over a memory to pass onto my babies and husband.
My love and thanks for what you have given us from past photos. I am so sorry that I did not see it as more than paper until now.
Powerful, right? I lost my mom when I was 25 and I just LOVE finding the far and few between pictures of me with her. She had the same phobia as me and now I only have a handful of pictures of us together. Even if she were alive today, I would love to see pictures of her with me as a child. Do you like seeing pictures of your parents from your childhood?
I know, I know…not everyone can afford to have professional photographers. It can be really costly. The point of the letter is simply to highlight the importance of capturing the present for you and your loved ones to enjoy in the future. Hopefully you will all be enjoying them together sixty years from now. You can do it from a cheapie camera you buy in the drug store, from a great digital SLR camera, or even from a professional. I have been lucky to get many professional pictures of my kids and rarely at an exorbitant amount. A couple times I used a photographer who does side work at a really reasonable rate, another time I used a friend who was just starting a photography business and did the pictures at my house for her new portfolio, another time I participated in a charity event that allowed me to get five fabulous pictures from a mini-session at a very reduced rate, and another time I just had a friend who is great with her SLR take a few pictures of the girls during a playdate at my house. I bet you can find creative ways to get great pictures too. There are ways to get great pictures at any budget. Now, DO IT!!!
What do you think of the letter? Do you take the time to get pictures of your whole family on a semi-regular basis? Tell us what you are thinking!!
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