They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and if that is the case, have you taken enough to fill the book of your family’s life? I know I am guilty of not always taking pictures of my kids, there have been long stretches of time that we didn’t have a camera so we relied on others to document our memories. This year I have taken it upon myself to take more pictures of us, not just of special times, but of candid moments doing absolutely nothing.
For us there seems to be a pattern. We buy a camera, hide it from the kids so it doesn’t get ruined, and then when the moment comes to take pictures we have no idea where to find the camera, or the moment has passed. Personally, I have a bad memory so pictures are an important tool for me to trigger those happy days. I can spend hours on the computer going through our picture folder and shedding happy tears, and I do so every 3-4 months.
We don’t just owe it to ourselves to take pictures though, we owe it to our children as well. They will not remember all of the special moments that they have had, but if we take the time to take a picture of their memories, they will have something tangible to hold onto in the future. They will love to look at the photo albums of their childhood when they are grown up, share their pictures with their partners and children, and remember a time when they had no worries and the world was their oyster.
This year, for my 29th birthday my mom and sister gave me the best gift I have ever received, a photo album of all of my childhood pictures for me to have. This album has maybe 130 photos, that is all that I have from the age of 0-18, 130 photos to document 6570 days. In those days it was harder to take pictures, there was film, no digital camera’s, and yet those pictures are a window into my life as a child. They show me days that were filled with laughter, adventure and love. I want my children to have thousands of pictures, not 130, and I want to make sure they are of little successes not just special days. I must remember life is not special occasions, it is days that quickly turn to weeks, months and years. Very quickly our children grow before our eyes and we will never have today again. Tomorrow they will be another day older, wiser, and closer to being adults themselves.
So I have put together a list of things that I can do to make documenting their lives in pictures easier:
- I am going to organize all of our best pictures by years (2008, 2009, etc…) and I will go to a online photo book printing site such as Shutterfly or even Walmart (ready in 1 hour) and print our hard cover photo books. This will be time consuming and costly at first only because I have 6 years to do, but if I stay on top of this task and start a folder for future books now, it will be a beautiful way to have our pictures available to be seen by all. No more crowding around the computer or scrolling through our phones.
- I asked for and received a Canon Rebel SL1 for Christmas, and since this camera is fairly large I keep it right by my front door in the shoe closet, so I can reach for it whenever I want. I take pictures almost everyday with it, they quality is amazing and now that I am in the habit of taking pictures candidly of my family, I don’t even care if they’re posing or not. I find that some of my best shots were taken when the subject was oblivious to my presence, they were comfortable and their true beauty showed through the picture, and no fake smiles.
- If I am feeling in a rut about my picture taking I will go to the World Wide Web for some inspiration. Pinterest is my favourite place to find cute poses and backdrops for pictures. When I first got my DSLR I found great tutorials and how-to’s on Pinterest. Now I have a boards all over to gather inspiration from, although I am finding it easier to be content with taking pictures of toes, or milk shooting out of my daughters nose when she laughs. Doesn’t have to be perfect, just has to be.
- This is the most important for me: I will try to take more pictures of me. I find I am the one behind the lens and never in any pictures myself. I have a bad habit of deleting pictures of myself that I don’t like, and at the end of the day, if something happens to me my kids will have no pictures of me. This has to end. I have always made excuses for not taking pictures, such as needing to lose weight, no make up on, or just not in the mood. But at the end of it all, I don’t want to be a memory in my children’s minds only, I want them to see that I was their enjoying their lives with them, not just documenting them.
I have a long and heavy to do list to tackle, and I will reap the rewards for many years to come, do you have any tips on how to document your children’s lives? Is their any advice you can give to us that are struggling to illustrate the stories of our lives?