This year, as I was sitting down to work on my annual slideshow-style movie for my daughters’ joint birthday party, I came upon a startling observation… I was barely in ANY photos!
Now to be honest, the fact that I wasn’t looking at myself in the video was not what bothered me (after all I’m MORE than content to be the one behind the lens 99% of the time…thus my work as a photographer!). What DID bother me, was that aside from the select memories kept deep within our minds, MY involvement in the memories would become quickly forgotten. Furthermore, when my daughters would look back (as they are likely too young to recall such memories), they would never see their mom in photos.
As I scrolled through the 10,000 photos I captured in one year (thank God for smart phone cameras)… I realized that every 5 photos (or so) there was a picture of one of my daughters with someone else. A picture with their father, a picture with their grandparents, a picture with their great grandparents, a picture with a distant relative, a picture with a neighbor, a picture with a friend… you get the idea.
However, 5, 10, 15, 20, 40, 50, 70, 100 photos later and STILL no photo of them with their mother (a.k.a. me).
It was at that moment, with that observation, that I vowed to make this reality a thing of the past.
Surprisingly enough, after only a few short discussions with fellow moms, I realized this “phenomenon” is far from unique to me. In fact, there is nothing short of a pandemic going around of moms not being photographed in their child’s lives and I was determined to find a cure.
The main reason moms aren’t photographed.
Chances are you’ve likely heard either yourself or another mother state, “I’m never in any of the photos because I am the one always taking them.” Chances also are that you would be correct… most of the time.
It is true, as a mom we always seem to have a camera (or our phone) ready to go so that we never miss a single occurrence in our precious child’s life. First tooth, first steps, first day of school, first sporting event, first award, first school dance, first significant other… you better believe that you can find us with a camera in hand!
What is also true, is that it is super easy for us to then say, “Hey Dad, jump in the photo!”, or “What a precious moment with Nana, let me take a picture.” Unfortunately, with this truth comes more truth. I’m sure “Dad” or “Nana”, would also be the first to admit (if they were being honest) that they gladly hand over all photography responsibilities because they know that you (as the mother) have it covered. What they then unfortunately fail to realize, is that this means that “Mom” is never in any of the photos.
We can’t pass all the blame.
While we may wish to put the blame on others for never being included in any photos; the other part of the truth is that often times we decline being in them.
Our hair isn’t done, our makeup isn’t on, or we wouldn’t be caught dead in those horrific sweats on camera.
Trust me, I can relate to the above statements and definitely would be the first admit that I’ve made every one (and more) of those excuses.
However, I’d also encourage you to trust me when I say “don’t let them stop you!”.
My wake-up call.
When scrolling through my year of photos (as mentioned above), I stumbled across some photos that my husband captured and sent me. They were candid moments that I perfectly remember saying, “Oh my gosh, delete that! Oh my goodness, my hair!” However, for some reason, something told me to save that picture. And you know what?… I couldn’t be more grateful that I did!
Looking back on those pictures, I didn’t even notice my messy hair or my tired eyes (at first anyway ;)). What I did notice were all the memories that flooded in my mind when staring at the photos.
One photo in particular was the “you need to stop making excuses” wake-up call I needed. It was my first day back to work after maternity leave and I was in my daughter’s nursery rocking her after I just finished nursing her to sleep. My husband entered into the room with his phone in hand, ready to take a picture. I clearly remember putting my hand up in a gesture to say “stop” and noted, “No thanks, I look ridiculous” (I had just washed off all my make-up, put on my glasses, and threw on old sweats.). However, he replied with “just one, you can always delete it”, and I hesitantly agreed. Afterwards, he showed me the picture and I perfectly recall saying, “Oh my, delete that photo!”. Yet, something told me to save it. Now, when looking back on this photo, I can smell her scent, I can feel her in my arms, and I am taken back to the overwhelming relief I that felt having been reunited with her after our first day apart. That one picture means the world to me… that one picture that I had told him to delete.
So, why is it that we take photos?
If your answer is to capture a moment in time, or to have the ability to look back and reflect on the occasion years from now, then I’d say you were correct.
Photos help fill in the gaps to the times we would have otherwise forgotten. Photos help show emotion and surroundings. Photos bring you back to an exact moment in time and allow for others to story tell to younger generations.
While not every photo is a “framer”, every photo has a story. Good, bad or indifferent, these photos will someday be all we have left of a specific time in our child’s lives and our lives.
After my somewhat heartbreaking wake-up call (after all, I will never be able to go back in time and be a part of the photos that I missed)… I decided to challenge myself to be present in more photos.
Instead of the VERY few photos I was a part of for last year’s birthday slideshow, I was determined to have a minimum of 52 photos to choose from. How? By challenging myself to one photo a week. Not that hard right?! Considering I took hundreds a week on my smart phone… what was ONE photo that included me?
While it is true, I’m not loving every photo of me in it (In fact, I’d say we are working on a 25% success rate about now ;)), speaking from experience, I know that the flaws I see now, will be blessings in no time.
Take the “Mama’s Photo Challenge” yourself!
Could you have written this post yourself? Do you find yourself in barely ANY photos? Are you wanting to take this challenge on? Well, you are in luck!
I have created a free printable that can be downloaded, printed, and hung somewhere you will be reminded by daily.
The challenge is broken down into 52 weeks, with each week providing a different prompt. Candid photos, your significant other’s choice of a photo, community event, selfies, your child’s choice of a photo (trust me, they will LOVE having a say), photos without your kiddos (so often we fail to capture any photos with just our significant other once we are blessed with children), etc.
If a specific weekly prompt doesn’t work for you, feel free to switch it up a bit. However, always remember to capture at least ONE photo a week (bonus points for more than one)!
By the end of the year, you will thank yourself for it. PROMISE!
To download, simply enter in your address below. Afterwards, you will receive access to Simply September’s “Freebies” collection where you can find this download and endless others!