Moms, Time to Get in Front of the Camera!
June 29, 2011
A few weeks ago, a family friend called to purchase a gift certificate for a portrait session. It was wonderful to chat with her, but little did I know that by the end of the conversation I would be in tears and she would teach me a valuable lesson about photography. She would change the way I feel about being in front of the camera.
It was just a few days after Mother’s Day when we spoke. Her mom had passed away a few years ago, and I had forgotten how tough Mother’s Day must be for her. As I’m sure many of you saw on Facebook, for the whole week leading up to Mother’s Day, everyone was updating their profile pictures to show photographs with their Moms. She said that while it was painful for her to see all her friend’s photos, she really wanted to find a photo with her own mother to share with everyone.
But, she explained that like many of us, her Mother often shied away from being in front of the camera and getting into pictures. Maybe her hair wasn’t done, or she was not wearing make-up, or she just didn’t like how she looked at that moment, but she would wave the camera away and request not to be photographed.
Now, don’t get me wrong, her mother truly was a wonderful woman that raised an absolutely beautiful family. She was a fantastic mother, and I know her children loved her tremendously. She just didn’t like to be in pictures.
But unfortunately, now my friend is wishing she had just few fun photographs with her mother in them. She wants pictures of her with her mother, hugging, smiling, laughing, and just having fun. It wouldn’t matter the occasion or the day, just any photograph from any random day would be wonderful. She wants to remember her mother as she was every day, because her mother was beautiful. And it certainly wouldn’t matter whether her mother was wearing make-up or if her hair looked good, because she will always remember her mother as the most beautiful woman she ever knew.
As she spoke, I thought about how many pictures I’ve taken of my own children. I have a bunch of my daughter, son and husband together, but I’m always behind the camera. I always take the pictures, and I am guilty of not wanting to be in pictures because I didn’t do my hair, or I’m not wearing make-up, or because I want to lose weight.
We usually think that we are taking the photographs of our children for ourselves, for sharing with our friends on Facebook, or for the grandparents to show off to their friends. But we must not forget that we also need be in the pictures with our children. These images are for them to share someday.
When our children are 30 or 40 years old, they will want to look back and see family photos. They won’t just want to see how cute they were, but they will want to see how adorable their parents were with them. They will want to update their profile pictures on Facebook near Mother’s or Father’s Day to show pictures with their Mom and Dad.
As you can imagine, by the end of our phone conversation, I was crying. I wished I could give my friend a picture of her with her mom. But I also realized that I need to get into the pictures with my children. I want to ensure that they will have the photographs to remember how much I love them.
So, for me personally, I have a completely different way of looking at photographs. I’m not just referring to professional portraits, but this applies to casual photos on vacations, at birthday parties, or just a fun day at home. I make sure to hand over the camera and I happily jump in and hug my kids.
So, please, hand the camera over and get in the picture. At your child’s next birthday, don’t take the picture of your child blowing out their birthday candles, but pass the camera to a friend, and get behind your child and show them that you were there with them.
And don’t worry, in our children’s eyes – we always look good!
Updated February 3, 2021
I originally wrote this article for my blog in June 2011. But this one conversation, not only had a significant impact on me personally and how I approach opportunities to be in the photos with my own children, it also impacted my entire business. After this conversation, I focused on being a family photographer and not just a child photographer. I have spent years encouraging parents to plan to be in the photos with their children when they book a portrait session with me, and I truly love every family portrait we have created. This is my why - why I do what I do and why I love my job.