In an age where most parents have almost constant access to a camera, we and can (and do!) use photography to document their children’s lives more than ever before, us mom’s especially. But even with the dawn of this photo saturated age where we try to capture every moment and memory, we are failing to capture our children’s most beloved and vivid memory: ourselves, their Mom. The importance of mom’s being in photos with their kids is becoming more and more apparent, especially due to worthy viral blog posts like this:
This article and ones like it are so compelling. I remember reading this one a couple years ago and agreeing with it so deeply. It cut straight to my heart. I was not only convinced: I was convicted.
Come hell or high water: I’m going to be in photos with my kids!
But then came the tricky part: how?
Maybe for some moms all they need is a good talking to, like a solid blog post, and they put on their big girl pants and just get in those photos. They boldly ask friends, partners, and even their own kids to take their photo and then share it to their social media or save it to their album folder on their phone without a care in the world.
But not me. As much as I want to be okay and know I need to be okay and “just do it” when it comes to getting in photos with my kids I struggle so so so hard. Its not as simple as “getting in the picture”. It just isn’t.
And I know I’m not alone. As much as we may want to, for some of us having our picture taken can be physically painful to do(which incidentally makes for an even worse photo! Irony at its worst). We try the cold-turkey, grin-and-bear-it confidence and then spend too long crying and/or feeling depressed afterward. For us it is like taking one step forward and three steps back. And suddenly we are in even less photos than before.
Which begs the question: After spending 2, 8, 12, 20?, however many years avoiding the camera like the plague, kids or no kids, how do I get back out there? What can I do now to make sure my kids have images of me in years to come?
As luck would have it, this has been something I’ve been actively working on for a little while now (with varying degrees of success) and here are some steps I’ve come up with:
How to get in front of the camera with your kids:
Step One: Selfies
Say what you will about the selfie but I say that selfies are awesome and truly the best place to start getting photos with your kid. It gives you some exposure and control over how you look in photos, which will naturally build your comfort zone and confidence. It’s your chance to share not only how you view yourself but also a chance to practice kindness and acceptance towards yourself. It’s not cheating or selfish or vain: Its progress! Not only that, it’s a great excuse to snuggle up with your kiddo—it can create a genuine moment of closeness and beauty that you both will be happy you took years from now.
Step Two: Follow Body Positivity.
Take time to find people online who are a little further down the road than you are and follow their social media. Bathe your brain in all the goodness they have to share in their images and posts. Not only will this help you grow and accept yourself but it also serves as a helpful reminder to stay focused and keep moving forward toward your goal. Take Step Two to the next level and unfollow accounts that tempt you to compare and make you feel less than worthy. You don’t need that in your life right now.
Step Three: Find a Trusted Friend.
Now that you’ve followed some feeds and spent some time thinking about this topic, you should know for sure: you aren’t alone in this, right? If you are struggling in this way, chances are you have a friend (or many!) who are too. Have a sincere chat with a friend and see if she is willing to work with you during a play date or an outing to grab a photo with you and your kid that you like. She will likely know the same selfie tips and tricks you do to grab your best self with your kids, and will be willing to keep snapping until you find something you can enjoy.
Step Four: Hire a professional.
I see what you are doing here, Heather. Very sly, trying to plug your business on the blog…
Listen, while I can see how there might be a conflict of interest here, I will always be the first person to say “Hire a photographer—it doesn’t have to be me!” I’m not the only Kitsap County, photographer who can take great photos of you and your family—I know plenty of others who I am happy to recommend and who would literally jump at the chance to work with you. So hear this as an impartial friend: a professional photographer can help so much capturing the best in you and your family.
A true professional portrait photographer can hear your concerns and understand your goals for your session. She can study images of you that you actually like (be sure to share them with her!) and not only see you at your very best, but capture that very look in you and your child, together. Whether it’s a maternity session, newborn session, family session or even your birth(!) having a professional there can transform your photo-taking experience into something truly positive.
(stay tuned to an entire post about why you should a professional for your birth photos!)
And if a professional session is still too much to swallow: hire someone to do your hair and make up for the session, or ask your photographer to hire someone on your behalf. Go all out mama—you deserve it. And so do your kids. They deserve to have images of their mother they way they saw her: the very most beautiful and comforting sight; their warmest memory.
To be real: this fourth step is where I’m at now. Next week we are having our family portraits done for the first time since my youngest was born (FOUR AND A HALF YEARS AGO! I told you I struggle!). I found a photographer I trust and someone to do my hair and make up, searched and found an outfit I feel comfortable in and I’m going for it! And even with all this mental and physical preparation, Am I afraid? Um…actually yeah. But at this point my fear of not having those photos is 100 times stronger. I’ve taken enough selfies and friend pics to know that I can do this: I can have photos taken with my kids and my husband and have hope that not only will the world will keep turning but that I will actually be able to have photos that my kids not only cherish, but that I will also look on with kind eyes and see beauty there too.
Bottom line: do whatever it takes to get in those pictures with your kids—and start now!
Maybe you are decades into motherhood or maybe you haven’t had your baby yet and are feel like you are 27months pregnant—don’t wait another day! For you it might be as simple as jumping in, relaxing and just smiling at the camera. Or you might need to ease in, and take steps toward being a natural, fear-free mama in front of the camera. I know it can be hard, but I promise that it’s worth it.
What are some steps you’ve taken to get in more images with your children?
Written by Heather Clement, Mother Bird Photographer
Kitsap County, Photographer