While out walking my dogs yesterday, my neighbor stopped me on the street for a quick chat. As our conversation progressed, she asked me about photographing her 3 children. So I asked her when her last portrait was done with her kids, I was surprised to hear her say what every young mom I come across says: "I want the memories of my children and I'm not good in front of a camera, I don't like how I look!" Now, she's in her 30's and amazingly beautiful, with NO fat on her long legged body; so imagine my surprise! Here is what I told her-
When my youngest daughter was getting married we went through crates (yes- a lot!!) of photographs to put together the story of her life for the wedding. As we went through these images and relived each day of every one of them, she looked at me and said: "Wow Mom, You did an amazing job of documenting our lives, but you're not in any of the pictures!! She was right-I always thought that I would "loose 10 lbs first" or didn't like whatever it was about myself and dodged the opportunity to be photographed with my children. But I was so wrong!
She then proceeded to scold me and let me know how her memories were of all of us and she wanted the images to go along with them! I can still hear her words: "Mom, do you see how selfish that was?" "We love you and want you as you are!" How could I argue with that? How could ANY MOM argue with that?!
We kept digging though photos and eventually she found a shot of me that she loved. There are 3 things I learned from my daughter because of this, that I want to share with you:
My Beautiful Family
Giving away our Baby Girl
This is what I got from my daughters-I believe they speak on behalf of all daughters to their mothers!
1). You are never more beautiful than you are today. And today is really all you have. You are their mom, and they love you no matter what your ideals of yourself are.
2). Your family portrait is about your family. How your children adore you, how you look at each other, feel about each other, live and have fun together. It is also about how your children will remember their childhood. Eventually they will tell their children (your grandchildren) about their memories, and if you've done your job well, they will have lot's of photographs to show them.
3). How you feel about yourself will affect how they feel about themselves. If you are timid due to the way you look, they will become timid with the way they look. This point she made sure to let me know about!
But also, let me give you this to consider: This is why you hire a Professional Photographer. I spend a LOT of time on my education and continue to educate myself though conferences, webinars, books, professional associations, etc.. I spend so much time (and money) on the study of posing people to show relationship, and emotion but I am always focused on how to hide the insecurities most women have. I invest in the training because I was one of those moms who didn't like the way she looked-and I want you to be in love with that portrait.
Someday when you are older and your children are gone, you can sit and smile at the beautiful images that are hanging on the wall, that tell your family's story. Then you'll laugh and remember how wonderfully chaotic and completely filled up your life was when your children were growing up; and all that photograph will show is your beautiful self surrounded by your beautiful family!
So what are you waiting for? Celebrate your life, celebrate the lives of your family, the love of your spouse and the love of your children. Get in front of the camera and keep your mind thinking about how much you love them while you are doing it. Because then, this is what the portrait will be about!
Ninja thought for the day: "Sometimes life is completely complicated, but you decide to make it simple because you accept to be beautiful and it means that your choice is to be happy" -Ky Vanchhay