Exist in photos: just get in the photo, Mum!

As a family photographer, I usually get the initial enquiry from Mums. I’m not really sure why more Dads don’t get in touch (Mother’s Day is on the horizon, chaps!).  These emails often tell me about gorgeous kiddies, highly active siblings and a lack of family photos at home.  Two things I adore and one problem I can solve!

The other thing that the vast majority of these emails say really heart breaking things. 

“Urgh, I hate having my photo taken”
“I still have my baby weight, so I’d rather not be in the photos”
“I’m not really interested in photos of me, just the kids”
“I look horrid, I’m so tired at the moment”

And, sadly, I could go on and on.

Now, please don’t think I’m saying this is women-only problem.  I’m sure there are also plenty of guys out there that hate themselves in photos.  And plenty of guys who feel pressured by Men’s Health etc and endlessly beat themselves up over their appearances.  So gentlemen, if this is you, then please do read on too.

Mums, come on!  What are we doing to ourselves?  I totally get it.  All of us are bombarded with negative messages about how we are overweight, tired looking, we have dull hair, bad nails, dimpled thighs and a whole long list that makes us feel rubbish about ourselves.  And as immune as you try to make yourself to it, it does sink in.

Take this photo as an example.  Our little family of three had a photo shoot with Becky Harley Photography last summer.  

I wonder what you’re thinking on seeing this photo for the first time?  Maybe you’re thinking I look really happy?  Perhaps you’re thinking that I obviously have a fun time hanging out with my son?  Maybe, like all of us you’re comparing yourself to me either positively or negatively. Think I’m thinking the same?  Nope! Here’s what I said to myself the minute I saw this photo…

And saying all these things to my inner self, I want to slap myself!  Would I ever let anyone else speak to me in this way?  Absolutely not.  If my friends spoke to me like this I’d be distraught.  Importantly, they wouldn’t even consider it because they see the best in me, and they don’t judge me on ridiculous things like my love handles!  My son certainly doesn’t notice things like this or say these things to me.  He notices when I’m paying him attention or playing with him, not that I have weird lines in my shins.  He says that he loves me not that he thinks I need to figure out what is going on in my armpit!

So, I ask myself, why wasn’t this what I was saying to myself?

So Mums, please, I implore you, stop being so hard on yourself.  Your body is incredible.  Perhaps it grew and fed your child.  Perhaps not, but it comforts your child now.  Your arms hug your child when they fall down and scrape their knee.  Your legs provide a lap to sit on when they are sad. That body of yours is amazing.  Do you look tired?  Maybe.  Heck, probably!  Being a parent is exhausting both mentally and physically.  And did you put on a few pounds?  Maybe, because if you’re anything like me you reach for a chocolate bar before an apple when you’re exhausted.

But, these aren’t good enough reasons to shy away from having your photo taken!  You need to exist in photos!

Your kids will want to remember that you jumped in with both feet.  They want to know that you were around, that you were happy and that you were prepared to get in a photo.  One day, many years from now, they may love flipping through old family albums, the way I do.  They may find an old photo that they’ve never seen before and smile at happy memories of family time.  Those photos may sit on their mantelpiece or shelves for years to come to be seen by your future grandchildren. 

I want to exist in photographs for my son and his future.  It’s why I commit to taking more photos (you can read more about that here).

And most important of all why was I not focusing on this moment from the other side?  (But also because I still am working on this myself, I’d like to point out that the very hairy knee belongs to Dave, not me!!)

So, go, find a picture of you with your kids and marvel at how amazing you look and how wonderful you are.  Firstly, if you can’t find any of you with your family that aren’t selfies, contact me immediately!!  I’d love to help you remedy this.  Secondly, just get yourself in the photo.  Your future self will thank you and your children will thank you. 

Tell yourself lovely things about how happy you look, how amazing your body is and how much your kids love you.  I dare you not to say anything mean to yourself!  The other thing to remember is, when you look at yourself in a photo a decade ago, you question why you weren’t happy then because you were slimmer / less tired / whatever else.  Well, ten years from now you’ll love how you were now.  So maybe rather than all of us waiting ten years, shall we all just commit to trying to like ourselves in the present?

This year, I’d love to help you get some photos you feel incredible in…  Don’t forget to exist in photos.  I can help you with this, get in touch 🙂

Exist in photos