Take a scroll through your photo collections, chances are there will be thousands of pictures of giggles with Daddy on happy little faces, birthday presents being ripped open and Grandparents laughing as they dish out cuddles without limit. What you are unlikely to find in these pictures is the one person responsible for capturing those special memories, mum. If she does appear, there may be an attempt at tucking behind someone else in the group or an awkward look that shouts ‘I don’t like having my photo taken’. It is something that I have had to make myself overcome. The reason? I actually want my children to known I existed during their childhood.
Ask yourself honestly, are your children going to be disappointed when they look back and have very little of their mum to see? How she wore her clothes, how her smile was infectious and those hugs that no one else can give, where will the que to those memories be for them?
In my work as a family photographer I struggle to think of any clients where there wasn’t an attempt to get children and other family members to pose in a certain way, sit in a particular fashion or be organised in an all too familiar pattern. The main culprits in this micro managing…mothers and grandmothers.
My aim in writing this post is not to bash women, its the opposite in fact. I am imploring women to ditch this behavior, images you see in the media are not what you actually want on your living rooms walls. Making everyone stand in the same way and then hiding yourself at the back, instructing the photographer to make sure you don’t look fat, you make us want to cry in frustration. Suffering from BED and GAD I understand this area is particularly hard to broach, you would like to get them over with and bolt out the door. When I do hand my much loved product over, I know you will be scrutinising every image for proof of how awful you feel and I guarantee when you do this, you will find it. Not because you look hideous but anything will serve as proof if your eye is only looking for the negative. Give that same image to a family member and they will reel off lists of your beautiful qualities, listen to them and let those words penetrate. They are not lying to you, the BED is!
Posed photos have their place and if that’s your preference, that is what I will shoot for you. It’s not what I would recommend for families and especially those with children. Sure chuck in a few fun ones where the family dive together for a hug but what you ask for and what you want aren’t the same thing but you don’t hear my careful chosen words to guide you and the shoot. The same clients that are shouting out directions and have hands on shoulders moving people about so concerned that these images be perfect, well they are the same one’s who on being presented with an album are wiping away tears and in love with the shots I take when no one knows. Those free play moments, surrounded by their favourite toys, random glances mum and grandmas made in a brief rest. Those are the photos that hold true emotion, they are beautiful and moving. Do you know why, because they are true and natural because they are just YOU!
We all need to remember, whether you have BED / GAD or not, how you see yourself is not how the world sees you. When I look at images I have taken, I see happiness, love and magic created by a family. Really when your old and wrinkly, will you give a shit that you had flaws or will you be happy to relive past events and feel those emotions again? Don’t let the anxiety and eating disorder rob you of these gifts.
When you look back at pictures from 5 or 10 years ago, do you feel that familiar pang of ‘what was I worrying about?’ Hang onto that when you feel nervous seeing a lense head in your direction. I made sure I asked for pictures of my kids and me to be taken this weekend. After seeing so many people go through shoots missing the whole point of them and feeling so sad that trying to look like others rather than be them, I will do my best to not scrutinise pictures of myself again.