I hear it way too often, “I’m never in any pictures”. Or “I don’t like the way I look in photos”. Or “I’m always the one with the camera taking pictures in my family”. The fact is, Moms are the least photographed out of all the family members, so it’s important to point out that effort needs to be made. Insecurities need to be put aside, worked on, and alleviated so we can get in front of the camera. And it’s important, read to find out why..
Your children will want photos of you
I didn’t care about photographs of my childhood until I became a mother myself. At 28 years old, I started looking for those photos of my own mother because finally I could relate to her experience. I loved seeing the images of her holding me as a baby, my chubby face next to hers. But will our children’s experience be completely different? What will they find when they turn 30 and ask you for photographs from their early years? This is exactly why it’s so important for you to exist in photographs. It might not seem like it right now. You might feel like you have more important things to do.. but when your children are grown and start looking for those photographs, it will be too late. So make some time for portraits, NOW. There will never be a better time than today.
2. You’re always the one taking the photos
Whether it’s with the iPhone or a big fancy camera, Moms are usually the record-keepers of their family. We seem to be the main proponents in capturing our children’s first year, taking travel photos, and recording our lives, mainly with our husband and children in the photos. And because we’re the ones taking pictures, we are never IN them. It’s a sad fact that we have to make a special effort to be in photos. To remember that we were, in fact, at our child’s 5th birthday party. And that we did go on that vacation (it wasn’t just our kids having fun at the beach). Just because you’re the unofficial family historian doesn’t mean no photographs should exist of you!
3. Hating the way you look is a terrible excuse
We all hate the way we look in photographs (or at least most of us). In reality, most people are just bad at taking a flattering picture with a camera.. and for some reason husbands are truly the worst at this. So every time we see a truly horrid photograph, we assume we’re ugly and/or fat. In fact, lighting, posing, and expression determine how good (or bad) we look in a portrait. Where you are relative to the light, how your body is positioned, the quality of light (harsh or soft), and whether that smile on your face is strained or relaxed makes a night and day difference. So really, it’s not you! Being photogenic is a skill that you can learn, so don’t use it as an excuse to avoid photos. Find someone who knows what they’re doing with a camera or teach yourself the core principles of how to look better in photos, so you can start getting some portraits of yourself that you actually like.
4. You are so important!
Let’s face it, Moms always put themselves last. We often feel bad spending money on ourselves, even when we freely spend money on our children. We clean up after everyone else. We get everyone to their after school activities, do parent teacher conferences, and make sure dinner is on the table, too. We wear ourselves out. And we never take time off.
But guess what? You DESERVE more. You are so incredibly important, to your family, but also as a person. You deserve to spend time alone, doing nothing. You deserve to buy things you want, even if they’re a bit extravagant. And you deserve to exist in photos. Not only for your children, but for yourself too!
5. Tomorrow is never a guarantee
This is not really something people want to think about. And I get it. Who wants to think about death? Or the possibility thereof? But I know way too many women who have battled cancer, both surviving and not, to ignore the fact that horrible unfortunate things happen in this world every day. And the number one thing we will have of our loved ones are photographs and video that we can look back on. Photographs might be not something we prioritize because we are just so busy with the everyday grind. Daily, we forget to reflect on potentially important things.. like what photographic legacy will I be leaving for my children and the people who care about me? But please, take a moment to think about what’s important. Truly important. Because it won’t be the million different things on your to-do list for today, that’s for sure.
Tips on how to exist in photos
Hand the camera to your husband and ask him to take a photo of you with your children. Do this on trips, when you’re out at the park, or any time you feel inclined to take a picture of our children yourself. Don’t worry about the result looking less than stellar. Have him take 10-20 photos and keep the best one.
Consider that selfies aren’t going to cut it. Take more classically inclined portraits (these will hold up with time), and have someone else take the picture, as mentioned above. Use the 50mm portrait lens on your phone (hit the “2x” button), but without the faux bokeh applied (the technology isn’t there yet).
Book a professional photoshoot for your family once a year.. and not just for your children. Get in front of the camera and work with someone who knows how to make women look good so that you actually like your resulting portraits.
Print your photos! We have no idea what technology is going to look like 20, 30, or 50 years from now. If you want to guarantee that your children and grandchildren have images of you, make sure to get prints and keep them safely stored away from heat and humidity. Print on quality photo paper with archival-quality inks, because everything else will fade within a few years. And yes, invest in proper photography if possible (whether it’s a buying your own camera, asking a friend who is a hobby photographer to take pictures, or hiring a professional for portraits) because iPhone photos look great on social media but fall apart pretty quickly when printed.
And most of all, start thinking about this stuff before it’s too late. Being in photographs can only happen if you put active effort into doing it every month, if not daily. And consider the types of images your children will want to have too - make sure you have portraits of you together with each child, laughing, playing, and smiling, so that they remember just how much you love them.