As a parent you want to photograph every little awesome thing you child does. Is this popular trend healthy or are you creating a parenting disconnect?
My dad once joked that i would take 50% less photos of Gabriel because he was my second child but he wasn’t worried as i had a million photos of Ben so i’d still have a decent amount for Gabe.
Haha, very funny! … It did get me thinking though… Was i spending too much time behind the camera? Was i being less “in the moment”. Would i regret recording moments instead of living them? Would my kids remember me as an annoying stalker that forced them to stand side by side and “SMILE LIKE YOU MEAN IT!”
I am happy to say that all these years later i am very much at peace with my choices. In fact I’ve come to realize that photography is the reason we did many of our best adventures!
So here are 3 examples of how photography made me a better parent and why it can do the same for you!
1. Photography helped me be patient and attentive.
Toddlers love doing the same things over and over and over and over and… you get it… little adventures out of the house, like going to the park, never got boring for me because I would bring the camera along and wait for interesting opportunities. There’s a mud puddle, sure you can step in it! You wanna go down the slide again? Can you make a weird face on the way down? Awesome! Yes I absolutely am watching you! Monkey bars? Yup! Upside down this time? Cool!
My boys and i went to the park often and they got to stay longer than we would have sans-camera. I didn’t get distracted by chatting on the phone or impatient because of boredom. They felt I was interested in them above all other things. And I was! The best part is that I now have amazing candid images of them, of our simple extraordinary lives.
2. It fueled so many Adventures we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
I find it immensely challenging to leave the house. I have so many projects, chores, plans, obligations to fit into my day that the weekend feels like it’s over before it starts. So the idea of stepping out to do anything other than groceries seems…. inefficient! Then I remind myself that all that stuff will still be there but soon enough my kids will be all grown up.
So I made a deliberate effort to create family adventures for us all to enjoy the great outdoors and each other’s company.
In Victoria we are certainly spoiled with outdoor splendors. Though it’s tempting to keep visiting the same spot repeatedly, I made it a goal to discover as many new hikes, parks, trails, beaches, secret access roads as possible. I would take a look at the map, find open spaces and if not private, I’d check it out. I also let the boys pick some of our new locations. It helped them understand maps and feel more engaged with our adventure. We have all been able to enjoy this city so much more because of it. You don’t need a passion for photography to do this but it was my motivation for starting this habit. We are very glad of it!
3 . It taught me to notice details. To pay attention to the small stuff & slow things down.
On lazy hazy summer days when it’s so hot you don’t even feel like moving I would just watch the kids explore their yard. Though I had great intentions of sitting back with a good book I would end up being fascinated with Gabe’s capacity to find endless interest in every little thing. The texture of wood, bugs of every shape and size, pattern in leaves. Even dirt, sand and blades of grass seemed to capture his imagination. I would inevitably drop my book, fetch my camera and follow his journey through the miniature and microscopic world.
I started noticing his little fingers holding delicate creatures gingerly, his light blond lashes fanning his cheek when looking down. The tiny little summer freckles spreading across his nose and cheeks. The way his blond curls ( in all these example my kids were helping me be a better photographer too)
Another benefit has come from printing my photos. Being able to look back at our adventures and everyday moments helped me recognize the specialness (i like to invent words I feel should exits) of our life. It reminded me to appreciate simple cuddles, quiet gestures of kindness that would otherwise have been missed in the daily hustle and bustle. It’s in my photos that I am reminded of how much I love and am loved even though some days I feel like the worst parent ever my photos say otherwise. They say “the kids are happy, safe and loved”. Nothing matters more to me!
Here are a few other ways photography helped me be a better parent.
– I photographed the kids art projects, favorite toys, Lego creations and science experiments. At the end of the year i printed them in a book so they could each revisit their progress. It has taught them to let go of things instead of hording because they know they are keeping a piece of their effort alive.
– Bath time memories are some of my favorites moment. The boys loved telling stories or making up whole worlds. They would line up their little figurines all along the back ledge and have epic adventures. Many times I shirked my chores just to let the boys have a middle of the day bath. As you can imagine, a bathroom full of water wouldn’t be the idea place for a camera but my need to remember these precious times was too strong… a super cute wet hair Mohawk or a funny soap beard and poof camera just appeared like magic!!! I am so grateful now that I took the time to photograph and video these adventures because I honestly would have forgotten 90% of it. It’s only when I pull out a photo album that I am reminded of the details and it fills my heart with joy especially now that my sons are taller than me!
– Cooking is a messy adventure if you are doing it with kid’s. Still… I find its a really fun activity to photograph. Especially if you are making something fun like Xmas cookies. You can then send a little photo story board or bookmark along with the cookies you’ve made as gifts.
Regardless of your skill level or your camera quality, being the family photographer can be a burden and a blessing. I just want to reassure you that it is a worthwhile effort for which you will be rewarded in ways you can’t yet imagine. Pat yourself on the back for shirking your chores, ignoring your to do list or making a mess because spending time with your little ones is something you will never regret!!!!
This is proof of my shirking housework in favor of photography simple and special moments.