Get in the picture (and receive a prize!)

As a mom, we take so many photos of our kids. But when our kids look back at all the images of their childhood, will our presence simply be represented by the fact that someone must have taken the photos.

I loved the recent article that has been passed around all over the internet, The Mom Stays in the Picture. It really got me thinking. And this except from a post on my sister Saydi’s blog(she’s a great photographer) took some of the ideas in that article a bit further. Saydi writes:

I’ve tried to get over how lame I feel when I hand someone else the camera and ask them to take some pictures of me with my kids. I want my kids to see me with them, see me laughing and smiling, sitting in the sun. I want my motherhood captured. I want to stop looking at my flaws in the pictures and start looking at the love and happiness that’s the subtext, the background for these photos. When my kids are grown and I’m old and they are doing what I’m doing now I want them to see me doing it. Being there, in the moment. But I also want to take pictures with my children because it gives me a vision of the life I’m trying to lead, the mom I’m trying to be. It helps me to see the big picture of what I’m trying to accomplish.

As a photographer I always insist on taking pictures of moms with their children. The moms are always the ones behind the camera. Sometimes the moms protest, but I push it. As I edit the photos I’m overcome by the love that spills out of the images. I find them stunning and am always surprised when I view them with a client and they cringe. We moms have such a hard time looking past what we don’t like about ourselves in pictures. Why do we do that to ourselves? I love what she says in that article, our kids don’t see our love handles or the double chins or the big noses. They just see the love. How silly it is to shy away from capturing our motherhood because we aren’t presented perfect in the pictures. When we look beyond that we see so much beauty and it helps us reframe our lives.

Saydi playing with her kids

All this spurred me to dig up some old photos of me with my mom (my parents recently had all their old slides made into digital photos).

Nice to know she rode the little train with me and my sister – and looked at us lovingly

Love this simple everyday moment – and the fashionable outfits!

Totally candid teaching moment

I’m so grateful that my dad was sort of into photography and that he thought to capture my mom in moments of everyday mothering as well as capturing quite a few somewhat posed shots of mom with us kids.

But my husband has never been into photography nor is he particularly aware of mothering moments that ought to be captured on film.

So if I want my kids to remember that I WAS in the picture, I’ve realized that I’m going to have to instigate some photos with me in them – and that I’m going to have to stop caring about whether I’m having a good hair day or whether my tummy’s flabbier than I’d like.

It’s important to capture that I was there. That I cared. That I worked hard to make great things happen. That I put my arms smilingly around my cute kids and took a photo to remember the fun times we had together. I want us all to remember what we did and how we felt and how we all looked – bad hair, flabby tummy and all. That’s life. That’s memories. That’s me. That’s us.

I’ve made a point for many years now to ask my husband to take photos of me with the kids every Mother’s Day and I’m so grateful for those photos.  I wish I’d thought to figure out how to get more candid shots of me with my kids when they were small. But I can’t go back – only forward. And moving forward, I can figure out how to be in the picture a lot more.

This past weekend, spurred by a Learning Circle assignment to plan something special and fun with our kids, I took my kids to a museum I’d been meaning to take them to forever. And spurred by my musings on the importance of me being in the picture, I made the effort to document the great time we had learning and building and exploring all day together.

Then we explored some beautiful gardens nearby. Again, I made the effort to get a photo of me with the kids so we can remember the beautiful fall colored grasses we saw, the sunset we watched, the brilliant leaves that surrounded us, the half-dead flower Eliza had me tuck behind my ear and the way Silas always wants to hold my hand. One photo can spur so many great memories.

I’m so glad I bothered to cajole the kids into some photos (not their favorite thing) and ask random people to take photos of us.  It’s really not so hard.

Now I’ve got to figure out how to capture more candid moments (I guess I do have some older kids I could hand a camera to…).  One way or another, from here on out, I’m going to get in the picture a lot more!

QUESTION: Do you make efforts to be in photos with your kids or capture everyday moments with them on film?

CHALLENGE: Use that phone or simple point-and-shoot and start taking photos! In fact, we’re challenging all moms to share candid photos of themselves with their kids with our Photo Challenge (everyone gets a prize!). Click HERE to learn about our “Get in the Picture” challenge and prizes.


  1. Danny Chipman

    Awesome post. I’m the type described that feels uncomfortable about the love handles, the double chin, the pear-shaped physique…but in recent months I’ve tried to get into the pictures more. My main line of reasoning is that, were something ever to happen to me, I would want my kids to have visual reminders of my presence in their lives.

  2. Kerrilee Flood

    Great article. My kids are 4 and 6 and I am ALWAYS thwe one taking the pics. My husband never took any candid shots of me and the kids, which upsets me. I do have posed shots of me with them and the ones that I reach out and take myself. The years go by so fast. I take plenty of video of them too, in which I am NOT in. Sad.

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