A few years ago Allison Tate wrote a piece for the Huffington Post entitled “The Mom Stays in the Picture”.
I’m everywhere in their young lives, and yet I have very few pictures of me with them. Someday I won’t be here — and I don’t know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now — but I want them to have pictures of me. I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them. I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother.
Tate’s article struck a chord with women and quickly went viral, spawning confessions from many other mothers who avoid the lens and challenges to get back into the frame. I read the article when it was published and saw myself in it as well.
Every year I would end up with thousands of photographs of our family and about 20 of them that included me. Part of this is because I’m the photographer in the family and usually the one behind the camera, but I’m also guilty of evasion. Like a lot of mothers I’ve usually got a reason for not getting in the picture: I have bags under my eyes, my hair is a wreck, I’m still wearing the exercise clothes I put on 8 hours ago.
Maybe this you too? If so, here’s my Mother’s Day gift to you: 5 tips for getting in the picture.
1. Ask your partner to take more photographs of you. Have you said “no” so many times that your partner is trained to not take your picture? Or maybe they just aren’t used to being the one behind the camera because you usually do it? Say something. Tell your partner about your intention to be in more family photographs or ask in the moment.
2. Set that timer, baby! Your camera has one, your phone has one. Learn how to use it, set up the shot (tripod, table, stack of books, whatever) and jump into the frame. You’ll be glad you did.
3. Take a selfie. Quite honestly, selfies aren’t really my thing, but they have their place. When I’m cuddling with my son I’ll sometimes snap a selfie because one day those cuddles will be the last thing on his mind and I’ll need that photograph of us smushed together.
4. Hire a photographer. A good photographer will know how to make you look your best so you’ll end up with beautiful, flattering images. Not only that, but you’ll have nothing to organize or be in charge of. Think of how relaxed you’ll look when it’s someone else’s job to wrangle the kids.
5. Let your vanity go. Your hair is messy, your shirt has yogurt on it and your jeans feel tight. Guess what? Your kid doesn’t care. Get in the photo. In 10 years you’ll be exclaiming how young and beautiful you look.
The bottom line is your kids are going to want you in the pictures and you will too. You’re there every day tucking in, giving hugs, playing Paw Patrol, cleaning up unmentionable things. You are likely the biggest, most important part of your young kids’ world and dammit your photographs should document that!
So… whatever you do, quit hiding and get yourself back in the picture. You (and your family) deserve it.
If you’ll excuse me I have to go dig my tripod out of the closet now…