If there’s one thing I hear from moms who come into my studio, it’s “I’m never in any pictures,” or “I’m always the one behind the camera.” The truth is, moms are typically the least photographed member of the family, and there are two reasons for this in my opinion:
One, they usually bear the primary responsibility of being the memory-preservers in the family. At birthday parties, family vacations, sports events, and simple everyday moments, it’s often mom who holds the camera and records those memories – which means her presence is conspicuously absent in the visual record of their life. I remember once looking through dozens of images from my child’s birthday party, and realizing I was present in none of them. I realized that years later he wouldn’t be able to see me as part of that celebration, even though I was fully present and participating — and that stung. I made sure to ask my husband to take the camera more often so I can be included in the memories more.
Aside from this, some moms also avoid being photographed due to their insecurities. Whether it’s their weight, wrinkles, messy hair, or other worries, moms are notorious for being hard on themselves and avoiding the lens.
But there are many reasons why it’s important to let those fears go and make the effort to get in front of the camera, and here are a few of the most important:
Let’s face it, moms typically put themselves last. We sacrifice our sleep, sanity, and self for our children in dozens of ways each week. We sometimes feel bad spending money or time on ourselves, but don’t hesitate to spend money on our family. We clean up everyones’ messes and keep track of doctor’s appointments and parent-teacher conferences. We get dinner on the table, walk the dog, manage carpools, and make sure everyone has clean clothes to wear. Even with a supportive and helpful partner, we often bear the heavier weight of responsibility caring for everyone in the home — and that leaves little time and energy for ourselves. We are worn out and stressed out.
But we DESERVE more. Mom, you are so incredibly important, to your family, but also as a human being. You bring a unique set of skills and talents, interests and energy to your family. You deserve to spend time and energy on yourself. You deserve to be the center of attention from time to time, to have someone else care for you for once. And you deserve too exist in your family photos. Not just for your children, but for yourself too! You have incredible value, not just as a mom and a keeper-of-all-the-things, but as a person, just as you are, right here and now.
I didn’t think about photographs from my childhood until I became a mother myself. Once I had children of my own, I started looking for those photos of my own mother because I could finally relate to her experience and I wanted to see my relationship with her reflected in the portraits. I loved seeing the images of her kissing me as a chubby baby, or pushing me on the swings as I grinned in delight. But will our children have a totally different experience? When they look at the images from their childhood (if they can even access and read those images with whatever technology is available 15-20 years from now), what will they find? Will you be there, existing in the digital record of their childhood, flaws and all? Will they see your love for them reflected in your eyes? Or will you be conspicuously absent, either because you’re always behind the camera or your insecurities keep you from stepping in front of the lens? This is exactly why it’s so important to prioritize including yourself in family portraits. It might not seem like a big deal now, but when your children are grown and looking for these images, it will be too late. So make time for portraits WITH your children, now. There will never be a better time to create lasting images that your children and grandchildren can cherish long after you’re gone.
Many women hate how they look in photographs. We are hyper-critical and hone in on the things we are insecure about. Whether it’s a double chin, wrinkles, grey roots, or a little extra weight, we can always find something to nitpick and that often keeps us away from the camera lens. In reality, most people aren’t great at taking a flattering image… and phone cameras make this even more difficult. The wide angle of the lens tends to distort the images and emphasize our most unflattering features. So every time we see a bad photo, we assume it’s us who is photogenic. In fact, good posing, lighting, and angles determine how we look in a portrait. Where you are relative to the light, the quality of light, how your body is positioned… all of those details make a tremendous difference in how the final image turns out. So it’s not you! I promise! Work with a photographer who knows posing and lighting and you’ll be amazed at how much more you like your images. And remember – your children don’t care one bit if you have an extra wrinkle or a few extra pounds. We can tend to fixate on details like this but your kids just want to see YOU — the mom who holds them when they’re sad, plays with them when they’re happy, kisses their boo-boos and is there for them no matter what. They want to see your love for them reflected in a photo, NOT a picture-perfect supermodel. So don’t be too hard on yourself; you are perfect just the way you are and you deserve to exist in photos with your children.
This is a tough topic to broach without sound morbid, and I understand. It’s uncomfortable to think about a time when we might not be here with our families. But whether that day arrives sooner or decades from now, the one thing our family will have to remember us is the photos and videos we leave behind. Portraits might not be something you’ve prioritized until now, but it’s not too late. It’s easy to overlook the importance in the hustle and bustle of the everyday grind. But in my years of experience as a Philadelphia maternity and family photographers, if I’ve realized one thing, it’s this: The millions of things on your to-do list today won’t ultimately matter in the long run. But leaving a photographic legacy behind after you’re gone? That’s something that’s truly important and always worth the time it takes.
First, hand the camera or phone to someone else regularly and jump into the picture with your children. Do this when you’re at the park, baking cookies, or out on a walk with your family. Don’t stress if the results aren’t wall-worthy images. Just capturing those “mundane,” everyday moments is a precious gift to your children.
Then, consider that selfies aren’t going to be enough. It’s important to get in front of a professional’s lens regularly so you actually love the resulting portraits. Remember that a photographer’s eye can help emphasize your most flattering features with good attention to lighting, posing, and expression, so it’s worth it to work with someone who knows what they’re doing. I’d be delighted to help you with this — reach out through my contact form and let’s talk about creating some beautiful portraits for you!
Next, print your photos. There’s no telling what technology will look like in 20, 30, or 40 years from now. If you want to be sure that your children and grandchildren can see images of you, make sure to get prints and keep them safely stored. Print through your professional photographer so the colors won’t fade and the paper won’t warp and you’ll be sure to have beautiful, vibrant colors years from now.
Lastly, don’t put this off until it’s too late. Showing up in the visual record for your family can only happen if you put effort into it regularly. And consider the types of images your children will want to have — be sure you get traditional, posed portraits, but also aim for more candid images of you with each child. When they look at a portrait and see you laughing, smiling, or cuddling with them and their siblings, they’ll remember just how much you love them!