Since 2017, I've had a goal in mind - to take fewer pictures of my family.
Yes, I know...this isn't really the kind of goal that parents usually set. Infact usually, it's the opposite - I'm always hearing about how people want to take more photos of their kids, more photos of them together as a family, more photos of them in on the action with the kids (admittedly, this is something I want to do more of but let me finish...)
So why would I want to take less?
After all, we have a huge collection of lovely family photographs from the last four years - enough to fill probably a hundred photo albums. Every major moment, birthday, holiday, every day out - all captured in some lovely images that we will treasure forever.
So why would I ever want to take less?
Trust me, I have my reasons.
I've mentioned before on my blog about how my perfectionism can get in the way of things, and how I have annoyed myself (and my family!) in my endless pursuit of lovely photos...because the thing is, I love taking pictures. I love looking back at them, I love completing a photo project, I love having family moments to share on social media and my blog, and I love the idea that I'm creating lots of memories for the children to look back on when they're all grown up...and I want to learn more about my camera and how to use it properly. It's an interest of mine and one that I am keen to explore.
But what I don't want is for my desire to have these moments for us to look back on to get in the way of actually living and experiencing that moment - and not just for me as the one behind the camera, but for the kids too.
Let me tell you about something that happened recently.
A few weeks ago, when we were on holiday in Disneyland Paris, my partner accidentally dropped my camera. And it broke.
Just an accident, these things happen - and sure it's probably normal to be a bit annoyed at him for being so clumsy (not least of all because it was the second time he'd done it in as many weeks and we'd only just had it back from being repaired the last time!) but what I don't think is normal, is the LEVEL of panic I felt at that moment.
I didn't just cry...I almost hyperventilated, I had to hide in a little hidden corner of Disneyland whilst all the happy families walked past me as I sobbed, and basically got myself into a complete state.
Over a camera.
Because at that moment, I was heartbroken at the thought that I wouldn't be able to capture these memories of our lovely time in Disneyland.
How would the kids ever be able to look back and remember what a lovely time we'd had?
How would I be able to look back on it during a bad day and remember how much fun that time was?
How would I be able to show my friends how great it was there, and all of the fun things we'd done?
But there was nothing I could do. The camera was broken, and that was that.
It wasn't until my partner, in an attempt to console me, reminded me that I could still take photos on my iPhone that I eventually started to calm down.
But by that time, luckily, the realisation had already hit me - that it wasn't right to be THAT invested in getting photographs. And that even if we couldn't take any, it didn't stop us from experiencing the magic of Disney and having the most wonderful time anyway...
That the kids would be able to look back and remember it the old fashioned way...using just their memories and our reminiscing chats about it as they get older.
That WE would be able to look back at it in the same way...without the use of photos.
No our memories wouldn't be as crystal clear as a nice high res photograph, but maybe...just maybe they'd be a little bit more authentic. Because we wouldn't only be remembering the glossy, edited, perfectly posed smiles but also the reality that went along with them - like how seconds after we met Jack Sparrow on our first day Noah had burst into floods of tears and refused to look in his direction again. Or how poor Gepetto had to spend such a long time talking to chatterbox Tyne at Cafe Mickey that Goofy ended up bringing a chair over for him.
The Disneyland episode has stayed with me since we got home, and I've become so much more conscious of how often I have the urge to pull out the camera and take photos of the boys at various points during the day. Of how often I grab my phone to record something for Instagram stories. Of just how present in their lives my various recording tools are.
And I feel as though its happening too often...for my liking at least.
As a blogger, it's difficult to find the right balance between private family time where there are no cameras involved and moments to share publically.
Infact it's something that seems to have infiltrated the lives of most children, even those whose parents are not bloggers - everywhere I go there are kids being asked to stop playing for a moment to smile for Mummy, to turn their attention away from the lion they're watching at the zoo and turn to look at the camera instead.
And sure, it's a normal part of childhood to have that happen occasionally - all parents want photos of their kids particularly on hard earned days out or holidays that they've spent a lot on, we all want the memories to keep forever.
But I don't want my childrens overriding memory of me as a mother to be that I always had a camera in their faces, that I was always interrupting their fun to get a nice picture...that I was always pausing our family day out to set up my tripod and get a family shot.
Yes family photos are priceless, yes I want to have some to treasure - but I want to start being more aware of how often these photos are taken and I want to stop forcing them to happen at a certain time or day because I "need them" for a blog post.
My eldest child is almost 4 and he is very intelligent, he knows his own mind and what he wants - and for the past few months at least he has told me in no uncertain terms that he hates having his photo taken, and that he doesn't want me to take my camera when we go out for the day.
So obviously my photo-taking isn't only an issue in my own mind, it's something that he HAS noticed and that is already bothering him.
And I feel like that's something I can't ignore.
I'm not saying I'm going to stop taking photos altogether, that would be crazy - I want to have them to look back on, I want shots of us as a family, of course I do - but I don't want getting a photograph to always be so much at the forefront of my mind as it is right now.
January was the first time in two years that I didn't take part in the Me & Mine Photo project ...previously I'd always made sure, no matter what, that we went out and got a nice photo specifically for that photo project...even Jon knew when the monthly date was and that we HAD to have the photo by then.
But last month...I decided to skip it....and do you know what happened? Nothing!
The world kept spinning, the blog kept ticking over, and we carried on being a family - just one who didn't have a photo from January!! It wasn't a big deal. It was all in my head. Of course I knew it was, but I needed to stop joining in to prove it to myself. To show myself that it really didn't matter how often we get these or any other photos.
These things should be done for fun...they shouldn't be something that gets in the way of a day out or something that I stress out over.
When the mood strikes us and the kids are happy to have a photo taken, then fine...we'll take one (And it will be one or two, not them waiting around while I take 20 or 30 different shots incase they don't turn out how I want them to!)
If a month or 2 months or 3 months passes without one...that's fine too.
The world will not stop. And thats what I needed to realise.
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