A Love Letter to Mothers Who Photograph Their Children
I’m not sure anyone really knows how or why certain artistic mediums call to us--choose us as a way of sharing parts of ourselves with others. Since I was a little girl I have always felt drawn to photography as a method of capturing the details of my life that I find to be beautiful. Maybe it was watching the adults in my childhood capturing memories so easily with their cameras--rendering a tangible moment in time-- a memory you could physically hold.
Although I consciously chose not to pursue a fine art degree in photography in college, I promised myself that photography would remain a big part of my life. I now see that I am making good on that promise as I am striving to fulfill the role of family historian for my own little family.
In the last few years I have grown and learned, started a business like many others--only to learn that I love to photograph and document for myself. The most important thing I have learned to date has nothing to do with the technical or artistic aspects of using a camera and it caught me completely by surprise the last time we visited our favorite park.
I decided to brave the mid afternoon sauna-like heat and take the kids to the park for a pre-dinner play session. I decided to take my camera in hopes of breaking out of a creative rut and document the three of them in their element on the playground equipment.
As we entered I noticed the crowds were dwindling and then I saw her--a fellow mom with her camera strapped around her neck photographing her children. The thoughts and feelings that followed took me completely by surprise: comparison, insecurity, and competition. Where the heck did that come from?! Was it from once owning a business and imaging each family was a potential client--salivating like one of those old cartoons where one looks at the other like a juicy hot dog or steak?
Before I could continue in this mental ugly mom moment a thought came to mind…
“Who am I to judge what she thinks is beautiful in her own life? Why can’t she photograph her children the same way I do, preserving her treasured moments and memories?”
The answer quickly followed--I can’t and I shouldn’t. I felt so ashamed that I had such a critical thought cross my mind. Of course she wants to photograph her children as she intuitively recognizes these moments are worth remembering. These are memories they will cherish one day when her babies, like mine are not so little anymore.
I get it, I really do! The moment your baby is born and you fall in love in a way you never expected or thought possible, everything about that sweet bundle is perfect and beautiful. Despite the whole body recovery process, the exhaustion due to compounded sleep deprivation, and now meeting your baby’s every need-- you find yourself staring at every feature in detail for hours on end. I found myself reaching for my camera constantly throughout the day to document every detail--every milestone, desperately trying to not forget.
People tell you that time passes so fast and you believe them partially--until that is you begin to experience it for yourself. The pangs of sadness, guilt, and bewilderment surface as you see that your babies are somehow not babies anymore. In those moments you resolve to photograph them more, take more videos of the sweet and funny things they do which melt your heart, to be more present in the everyday.
So to mothers everywhere I urge you to use whichever camera you have in that moment and make the effort to cement that memory. Photograph your family and your children, their favorite outfits, toys, and little quirks they do. Don’t be afraid to educate yourself and improve your images while at the same time don’t hesitate to hire a professional. Someone that will take creative control with confidence and in return present you with some beautiful photographs with you in the frame.
Time is fleeting and unfortunately, it’s not on our side--it is a commodity which we never have enough of. It’s not your educational background that deems whether you can pick up that camera with a heart full of love in order to document your children--it’s the title of mother. Since that day at the park I feel I’ve had a change of heart. I no longer feel threatened when I see other moms with their cameras in tow. I hope if you have found yourself in a similar situation that you will extend some grace and quietly cheer each other on and keep photographing the beauty to be found in your everyday.
Much Love Ladies,