I take pictures of a lot of little humans. Some are newborns and some are celebrating graduating from high school... but these kids all belong to someone. And they have parents. Specifically, moms. So when I am shooting, I make the moms get in at least 1 picture with their kids. Whether they are holding back tears during the sheer exhaustion and joy of bringing home a new life, or holding back tears as they watch their child, who is no longer a child, emerge as growing adults, it is so important to get in the picture. And it's always under protest. "I don't look right." "My hair isn't done." "My makeup is wearing off." "I look so tired." "I'm fat."
I get it. I struggle with weight and confidence issues. I take pictures of other people and I hate being in front of the camera, so I understand, trust me. I go to the gym but my tummy still jiggles from enjoying one too many cookies... but here's the thing. This is important, so hear what I'm saying... it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter now and it won't matter in 50 years.
Photos have changed in the last 50 years. Pictures of even my childhood were taken at an event usually. They are from a school play, a Christmas morning, a family reunion, a special vacation. There was not a camera in every hand at all times, and film was not only expensive but a lengthy process to develop. And pictures from before this time were even more scarce. I have so few photos of my great grandmothers as girls.
The pictures I have of the women in my family are treasures. Pictures of my childhood are treasured memories: the softball games, the beaches, my pre-k graduation. I look at them and think, "Oh my, how young they look. I miss them so much." I see their beauty and it may have nothing to do with how pretty they were physically. They were amazing women who loved me, and that was their beauty.
I will bet that you do the same. You do not pull out pictures of your grandmother or your great grandmother, or in some cases, your own mother, and say, if only she'd lost the 5 pounds, or 15 pounds... if only she had changed her shirt... if only she had a better smile... if only. No, you look at these memories, the snaps of time and think, "I miss her."
To complete a school project, my son needed pictures of just him and I. It came to my attention that I have done a good job of hiding behind the camera and my children. I took him out that week and did a special shoot with each of my kids, some all together, and some with each child individually. I haven't lost the weight and my makeup should have been better, but it. didn't. matter.
We need to get in the pictures now so we are part of the memories later. No matter how uncomfortable in our skin we are, or how much we wished things were different in our lives. You are always your harshest critic. I hear my friends tear themselves down regularly. I wish I could show all these women how beautiful they are. I see them as strong women, confident women, those who are getting it all done and somehow managing a home and job and children. So I don't care if your hair is messed up, your butt is too big, or any other excuse you can come up with... You need to embrace your curves, your unwashed hair, your wardrobe that needs updating... and get in the picture anyway. Because this is who we are and where we are in time. And it's important to document it. Because one day, in 50 years, your great grandchildren will look back at these pictures and say, "I miss her. She was so beautiful." And it may have nothing to do with what you look like, but instead, the beauty and the memory that is captured.