When I was a kid, I often asked my grandmother if I could see pictures and hear stories about my Uncle Tommy. We’d go through the same small stack of photos over and over. I’ll never forget the time she said to me, quietly, “I wish I had more photos of him. I don’t remember a lot of things in my old age.”
I’ve been taking pictures for as long as I can remember. My mom, a photo buff herself, always had a camera I could use (with real film, and a flash cube!) and I enjoyed taking pictures of the things I thought were important, especially when we were on vacation. Looking back, I can’t imagine how much my parents spent on film and developing. I really appreciate that they let me snap away.
Throughout high school and college, I always had a camera in my bag. Usually it was a disposable, and I spent large portions of my work-study money paying for film and one-hour developing. When I graduated, my parents gave me a digital camera and I literally took so many pictures with it that I broke the shutter, twice. When Madeline was six months old, Mike and I invested in a DSLR, and a whole new world opened to me.
Because I always had a camera I was often the group photographer, and I have tens of thousands of photos of my friends and family to show for it. I have ridiculous and beautiful and amazing shots of Jackie, and my Aunt Kathy, and my friend Desiree, and of course, of Madeline. I love sifting through the photos and seeing happy faces and silly expressions. Sometimes staring at the little details of Maddie’s face can pull me out of a panic attack, or seeing Jackie’s face frozen in laughter can stop my tears. I treasure those photos.
I’ve heard the argument that nowadays too many of us live life behind the lens, and that we instead ought to preserve moments in our memories. That would be great if our brains were perfect, but they’re not. I often can’t remember what the story is behind some of my candid shots, but I know it must have been a good one if I’d pulled out my camera. When I fear I’m forgetting the little things about Madeline, I have my photos to comfort me.
Of course there is a balance, but I’ve found modern technology helps with that a lot. I rely a lot on my camera phone because it’s small and unobtrusive. I can snap a few pictures of my kids walking, or riding a bike, or pulling to stand for the first time, and still be able to catch them when they fall. Sometimes a picture or two is all that’s needed, and after decades of being the group photographer I often have to remind myself that less is more.
That being said, I’m thankful I have so many photos of Maddie. My grandma’s quiet wish for more photos of her son took on a whole new meaning after Maddie died, and that is always in the back of my mind when I have a camera in my hand. When Annie was a baby I took pictures out of fear something would happen to her. Now I take pictures because I appreciate what I have, and I’m afraid I’ll someday forget it. Without pictures, I don’t know where I’d be in the grieving process. I am comforted in knowing that when my memory hitches and falters like my grandmother’s did, I’ll have my pictures to help me through.
I, too, am the group photographer for my college and post-college friends. I am also the unofficial official photographer of many of my friends’ kids. I too get frustrated when people say “you are living behind the lens.” I am NOT! I remember when things happened because of my camera. I love my photos and so does everyone else (and they greatly appreciate them). I’ve also started learning “less is more” and moving more towards the camera phone, but whenever anything important is up I being my actual SLR. Love your photos, and I know you’ll keep shooting!!
Yes, I feel the same way. I’m very visual and the extra-step of looking through the camera lens has (for the most part) helped seal in a lot of memories.
Don’t forget to get in front of the lens every once in a while too! I take tons of pics of my kids but when looking back realized I wasnt in many of them. My online moms groups started theme photo sharing days, Mom and Me Monday and Together Tuesday. It forces me to make sure that I have a picture with me in it for every Monday. Together Tuesday is usually a picture of my children with my husband or other friend/family member. You should participate in MMM (Mom and Me Monday) since not only would your children appreciate pictures of you and them but your readers would love to see more of your smiling face as well!
I have made much more of an effort to be in the pictures with my kids, although I don’t usually post them here. I dunno, do people like seeing other people’s selfies? LOL.
I love to take photographs, always have. I’m blessed with a hubby who just smiles when I rave over some DSLR that I just HAVE to have. Underwater camera…heck yeah..the kids NEED to take pics of themselves in the pool. Which must mean, they are shutter bugs too. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Because one day..they’ll sit back and look at those captured memories as well.
Can I ask you what underwater camera you have, and if you are pleased with the photos?
I wish I had more pictures of Jake and Sawyer. Jake was in the NICU for his whole life and Evan and I did not think to take pictures. Luckily, the amazing NICU nurses reminded us and encouraged us to take pictures so we do have a few.
Sawyer was alive at home for 6 weeks and I did take some pictures but I so wish I had taken more. I am so thankful that the week before he died we did have a professional photographer come take pictures. My friends made me a photo book of these pictures and I always have it with me.
You are an amazing photographer and mother. I am so glad that you have so many pictures of Maddie (and Jackie!, your Aunt and all your loved ones). Keep taking pictures. Sending hugs and hope! xoxo
I’m so glad the nurses encouraged photos in the NICU. NICU nurses are amazing people.
I’ve been taking a picture a day since 1/1/2011 and it’s the best hobby I’ve ever had. My kids were 7, 4.5 and 2.5 when I started this and while I do have a pretty good memory, it’s amazing to me how many little moments I’ve captured…the every day life which is so much more than just the birthdays, ballet recitals, first days of schools, etc. Someone once remarked that I am going to have a wonderful gift for my kids when they are older, and while I never thought of it like that, it’s true.
Picture a day is the BEST! I have been doing it since 2012. So glad I’ve been able to pull it off!
I’m envious that you did it while pregnant and then with new baby. I figure that has to be a terrific way of documenting the baby’s growth.
Keep up the good work!
Like you, I am always the one snapping the pictures! I literally took hundreds and hundreds of pictures of my oldest while he was in the NICU, I needed to document every moment. I still take WAY too many pictures now, but I love having all these memories, and still find myself wishing had had more pictures of family who are no longer with us. Last year, my husband lost his father, my kids their grandfather. I made each of them their own, small photo album of pictures of just them with their Pop, and I found that it comforts them. When they feel sad they cal pull out their album and remember the happy times, and how much he loved them. One day, my hubby keeps promising me, I WILL upgrade to DSLR. God, I hope it’s soon!
That’s so sweet, what a great idea!
I am the family/church photographer so I can relate. Like Jodi said, remember to get in the pictures too! At church, one lady took a picture of me at a fellowship because as she said, “I wanted others to know you attend here too!”I don’t have a cell phone with a good camera-sure wish I did!
Beautiful post. I am grateful for the camera on my phone too–I wouldn’t have nearly so many pictures of my children otherwise. Unlike you, I am always the mom who forgot her camera. My trusty iPhone helps make up for that!
I leave my DSLR at home or in the car the majority of the time right now. It’s just too hard to lug it, and the baby, and the baby gear, etc. Thank goodness iPhone cameras are so great!
I can totally relate to looking back with gratitude to my parents for supporting my love of photography when I was a kid using film and having photos developed. I love having a camera on my phone now so I can easily carry it anywhere (and shove it in a pocket fast when I need to do something for my 3 year old).
My beloved grandma died two months ago, and I can’t get enough of seeing photos of her, and of me (and my daughter) with her. I remember one time I visited her years ago – my now-husband and I had said goodbye and walked out to our car to drive back to the airport. J realized he hadn’t taken any pictures of me and my grandma together on that visit and insisted we go back in to snap a photo. We’d already had a drawn-out goodbye and I was worried about being late to the airport, so I hesitated, but I’m so glad we went back in. I love having that photo – my grandma’s face flushed with happy surprise that we popped back in, her willingness to pose with me even in her bathrobe … I only wish I had more photos.
Sort of off topic, but every time I read Jackie and not Jackie! it makes me tear up a little bit. I’m so sorry for your loss and glad you have so many pictures of her smiling face to remind you of the good times.
Oh Lisa, I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother! And yes…I really hope that someday soon, I’ll feel like I can put the ! after Jackie’s name. It’s there in my heart but for some reason, I just can’t write it yet. It makes me too sad. xoxo
There’s nothing like pictures, I too was always the photographer. Digital cameras have made life so much easier. For my grand daughters 6th birthday my daughter made her a book of her life up until then. She loves it and is constantly looking at all the pictures. For my other grand daughter who is 19, I made her one for Christmas of her life and she cried. She will always have this book to look back on her growing up years. You will see your kids will really appreciate all the pictures you have taken.
michele bertolini says:
So comforting to see how many of us amateur photographers relate! Been taking pictures since I received my Canon AE1 back in 1984. I have been named the team photographer & slideshow creator for my kids’ teams. I love to share my photos with my friends & family. A year before my father-in-law passed away, he reminded me to have someone take my picture with the kids & myhusband…and my hockey moms. Keep up the great work Heather, of preserving memories!
I’m a professional photographer. I used to take my camera everywhere and shoot EVERYTHING. My friends and family just expected it. Then I realized that always being the one behind the camera was preventing me from actually experiencing things. Now I put it away most of the time. I want to EXPERIENCE life, not just capture it to look at later.
Beautifully written. First of all, it was so nice to finally meet you in person at little Mimi’s birthday party. I was the one that came down the escalator with my husband and little girl, Abbie Is it weird that I sort of felt like we should have hugged like friends when I saw you? LOL. I’ve been reading your blog for so long that I feel like I know you! Anyhow, I definitely take pictures but you remind me that I do need to do it more often. I have hundreds of photos of my daughter’s first year but I need to pick up that camera again every chance I get. Time flies by. Thank you for the reminder.
It was WONDERFUL to meet you, thank you so much for introducing yourself and your beautiful daughter. Snapping photos of her gorgeous little face would be easy easy easy. Hope to see you again soon! xoxo
I can relate to this post since I’m our family’s unofficial documentarian. Lately I’ve been really ramping up my efforts to back all my photos up, to both an external hard drive and the cloud. I’ve also started finally printing out lots of photos to share with our family. No sense in keeping all those images to myself. I also think my daughter must be one of the most photographed children on this planet ever. But maybe that’s just me.
We have many photos of our precious daughter when she’s alive, but I avoid looking at them now. I don’t know why. It just brings so much pain. There is a framed photo of her in our living room, and I find myself avoid looking at that area every time I pass there. We also have her urn sitting in the corner of our closet, and I feel strong pain every time I open the closet.
My dad always took pictures of us growing up and I grew up with a camera in my hand as well. Yes, back with the film and cube flash. Love LOVE pictures and the memories. When I break out my Nikon everyone teases “here comes the paparazzi”
My older brother died a day after he was born. My parents have 1 picture of him that is in the safety deposit box in the bank. Mom let me see it once so I could see that I look very similar to him, dark hair and eyes. She had said “I wish we took more pictures of him when he was alive.”
Do we live behind the lens? I don’t think so. There are often times I think “Damn I wish I took a picture of that.” I use my camera phone a lot too. Small, easy to use, and not bulky. And I think these days the phone companies are aware that this is what we’re looking for, so the camera phone is becoming much better at snapping that great picture.
Keep taking your pictures Heather. I think you take the right amount and you will never regret it.