Mama, get in front of that camera!
I received a lovely direct message on Instagram recently from another mama, I don't think she really knows the impact in which her simple message made. Her kind message was to pay me a compliment, I'm not writing this to big myself up, sharing any kind of feedback or private messages I receive is not something I normally do however the counteract of her simple message is this blog post which I hope will reach some of you in a positive way. Her message was to say she loved how I dressed initially and pay me a compliment for my style, however she followed it with a line about her admiration for how much I stand in front of the camera too, she told me my children will have evidence of our memories forever and that she wishes she had done the same! In that moment I felt touched but also a little sad. Touched because another woman could be so kind, touched because she recognized the memories I try to capture with my children but sad that she felt that moment had passed for her and sad that perhaps others may go on to have the same regrets. She said she only has a hand full of pictures of her with her children who are now grown up to look back on.
Self confidence is a battle for most of us, I know its not just women that can suffer but for some reason it seems to be the women and especially mothers that give ourselves a hard time. Mum tums or mum buns, whatever it is that stops us getting in front of the camera seems such a legitimate reason. We have undergone huge changes, physically, mentally, emotionally and been shaped into another version of our self. Now this may take longer to learn to love, in fact I'm not sure I even recognized myself for the first few weeks following Oakley's arrival and although I have the odd selfie of us both those first few months were filled with me making excuses as to not have my picture taken. I even found myself asking Daniel to remove photos from his phone if they weren't flattering, now typing that out made me feel a little sick and I actually want to hit the rewind button so I can slap myself in the face. Those precious pictures had my baby in them, perhaps I looked awful but he sure as hell didn't and I would kill to have them back now.
Of course Its going to do absolutely no good to dwell on that, I'm lucky enough to have had this revelation only 3 short years into Motherhood so there's plenty of time to keep asking for my picture to be taken but I thought now was a good chance to talk about my previous fears and how stepping away to look at the bigger picture has given me a new outlook for what I want my future to look like.
I used to feel so silly, I would wait until passers by had walked on past before I would take my picture, in fact friends and family would often joke about how I photographed EVERYTHING and I would get embarrassed about it. I used to be the girl with the disposal camera at school, then that evolved to a digital camera on nights out and now I have my Olympus Pen permanently around my neck and my Iphone in my back pocket so I can capture day to day life with my family. Whats even remotely embarrassing about that?!? I don't want to miss a thing, I want to remember the good, the bad and the ugly because I have suddenly come to realise just how important it ALL is. Those days of all shapes and sizes are just us growing as a family, I learn more and more about Motherhood each day, my kids do something new most days and even on the days that have been hellish there will be at least one smile so why not capture it. I appreciate the people that believe living in the moment is more important and of course when you say it out loud I would probably be urged to feel the same, but what I would say to that is that I am still there. It takes only a second to press a button and then I get to relive that feeling over and over each time I look at that image.
"The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do." Andy Warhol
Did you ever used to get the family albums out with your family? It was/still is my favourite past time, I love to see my mum and dad being young parents just like I am now. I have pictures of our holidays, big moments like the first day of school or my ballet exams etc Those are such precious memories, but I guess the world of technology has moved on and millennial mamas have taken over with 'Day in the life' style content on Youtube & Instgram which is what Inspired me to be more aware that we should utilise this digital diary we have at our disposal and share more real day to day life along side the big things. It gives me an opportunity to get creative with my photography because Its more commonly enjoyed now without judgment. Will our children love having their lives across the internet? I cant be sure of that, hence why I don't upload raw images but a more filtered version. I'm under the impression that when my children want to look at the 'family album' it will be a digital one, which is probably more handy than when the only copies we used to have were printed & left in the loft to get damp and damaged. Hard drives practically hold an unlimited amount of images so start snapping.
"Photography is a love affair with life." Burk Uzzle
I know that when I look at old pictures I don't see what my mum looks like (well perhaps the dodgy perm, Sorry Mum) but I see way way more than that. I see memories, I see stories that need to be retold and I see love because every picture has a family story to tell. I'm going to run the risk of sounding morbid right now but I know one day they are all I will have, I know that when those images are all I have left that I will treasure them. Now my parents were never into photography the way I am, I still photograph EVERYTHING as my family would say In a mocking tone but (and I think its the artist in me now) I often take images that to me are more representative of a feeling than they are of a visual. I can only hope that Oakley and Olive will have that same experience when they are old enough to appreciate good photography and they can too revisit our time together and see how loved they were on all those days, the good the bad and the ugly because no one takes a photograph of something they want to forget.
More importantly I want them to see me, Its easy as the one behind the lens to forget to switch roles with Daddy and be the subject from time to time. I am actually learning to love this, so my self confidence may need some work and I may on occasion ask Daniel not to upload that double chin hes caught just right but I WONT make him delete it instead I will have confidence in the knowledge that my kids wont see it, they will see SO much more.