One of the most common things I hear when I tell people that I’m a photographer is “You must take so many photos of your daughter!” To that, I simply laugh and respond with “Not really.”
I have a confession, I rarely take photos of my daughter, besides the usual birthday and holiday photos. This may sound horrible to some, but I do not take a lot of photos, because I have no desire to. I’m one of those moms who you’ll see at my kid’s school concert with her iPhone. I felt ridiculously guilty that as a photographer, I am there among other moms who take out their DSLRs and point and shoots, and here I am with my dinky Camera app. Sad, but true.
I recently took a business workshop in December, that ended up being more about me, and the WHY of me, and how that can make me a better business person. It wasn’t therapy, but it was definitely therapeutic. I discovered at this workshop, that I feel like once I put my camera up to my face, I immediately have this wall go up, and I become an observer, someone who is removed from being an active participant of what’s going on. I think my having no desire to photograph my own child puts this wall up between us. I want to be in the moment with her, right then and there. I want her to look around the room at that school concert, lock eyes with me, and know that I am there for her. I cannot do that with my big camera in front of my face. I am envious of those moms who capture those moments all the time, but I am simply not one of them. I can accept that now. What I learned from this workshop, is that is perfectly okay to feel this way, and maybe there are other moms out there who feel the way I do. I no longer have the guilt of being without my camera for everything, but instead I capture things that I want to remember, and that I want my daughter to know of her childhood when she gets bigger. That is what’s most important to me.
I don’t have many photos of my childhood. Actually, I can count them, I have twenty. Twenty pictures that tell me of my childhood and my adolescence, as awkward as it was. But I hold them very near and dear to me. I have this one photo of me, when I was about my daughters age, and I’m carrying around a huge teddy bear. I didn’t remember that bear until I saw a photo of it, and then the memories flooded back. That bear was bigger than me. I could barely walk with it, I would stumble, and it would break my fall every time. I loved that teddy bear. That picture is what prompted me to take photos of my daughter with a few of her favorite toys, so that I have something for her years later, that tells her of her childhood.
My daughter’s first word was not “mommy” or “daddy”, but “baby”. She called everyone “baby”. She loves her baby dolls, and at almost four years old, every time she gets a new stuffed animal or toy, she prefaces their name with “baby”. Baby Lamb. Baby Ballerina. Baby Gorilla (or how she pronounces it: GAWrilla). Baby Gorilla is a very special one to her, he has been with her since she was one, and has gone all over the place with us. He’s also taken quite a few rides in our washer/dryer, especially after being slathered in my night cream once. I will remember that stuffed animal, because I made sure to take a photo of her with it. I will remember that time when I caught her in the bathroom, smearing moisturizer all over him, just because I have this one picture of her with Baby Gorilla. She will always know that her first word was “baby” and that she named all of her toys “baby”, all because I took these photos. That is what I want her to remember.
I realized that it doesn’t matter if you take a thousand photos, or twenty. Ask yourself, what do you want to remind yourself of when your children get bigger? What memory do you want to protect for them? There is nothing too small or insignificant. And if you’re like me, and don’t take a lot of photos, be sure to hire someone who will for you. You are preserving their childhood, in any way that you can.