When my kids were younger, I took thousands of photos. I have pictures of my family at home, on vacation, and enjoying various activities. They are all neatly stored in physical or online albums.
Periodically, my kids and I like to go through the photos to reminisce. On one of those occasions, my son repeatedly flipped through our stack of albums and asked, “Why aren’t you in any of the photos?”
When Dad is the Family Photographer
I grabbed the albums and found out he was right. If you looked at our family album, you’d think my wife was a single mother.
I’ve always loved photography and having children gave me an excuse to buy new equipment and lots of film (yes, I was a film guy). Of course, I became the designated photographer for all family events.
When people suggested that I get in the photo, I brushed them off because I was usually disappointed by their photos. They were blurry or crooked or tarnished by someone’s eyes being closed.
How My Attitude Changed
At the time, I didn’t realize that my desire for control was cheating my family out of precious memories.
My attitude changed after one of my friends had a serious health scare. Linda was notoriously camera shy and refused all requests for photos. Facing her mortality, Linda agreed to allow her kids to photograph her in the hospital. The pictures showed her vulnerability and her love for her family.
“That experience was freeing,” she said. “I wasn’t worried about the way I looked. I just wanted to make sure that my kids had some pictures to remember me by.”
Since then, Linda’s health has improved, and she’s always willing to pose for the camera.
But it was when I built a family tree for my children that I became fully convinced to step in front of the camera. After many months of searching, I found only a handful of photos of my parents and grandparents. My family’s history seemed non-existent because there were no photographs to document it. (My mother also didn’t like to be in pictures. Even when I begged her to let me try out my new Polaroid camera, she refused).
The Beginning of a New Photography Tradition
So, I started a family tradition several years ago where my kids and I pose for a photo on Father’s Day. One child holds a sign with the date and the year, and we all do something silly for the picture. These photos mean so much to me. It’s great to see how the kids have grown over the years. Most of all, it’s a great record of a good father moment—me having fun with my family.
And, I’ve developed a habit of randomly grabbing my children for impromptu selfies. I annoy them with this practice, and they know what’s coming when I approach with my camera app open.
“Please, Daddy,” they groan. “Not another picture.”
But, I ignore their complaints, pull them close, and SNAP. I’m making up for lost time.