Why You Take the Picture

I went through a phase growing up, a long one like maybe age 10-16, where I never wanted my picture taken. I would hide, whine, fight and then pout in the picture. Super cute. I was totally against them. After that though I was happy to take them if other’s wanted but I was not going to suggest it. When I got to college it seemed like every girl I saw had a phone at the ready to take a picture of food, friends, the events we were at, how we looked at any given event, and then would chronical our whole lives through their lenses. All the while I was thinking, can’t we just do the thing? Can’t we just enjoy the dinner, hockey game, or night out instead of documenting who sat next to whom and what they wore? I wanted to enjoy the time with friends and family not capture it for the future. Then I got married. For our wedding I wanted to be sure there were impromptu pictures, yes you need to take the grandparent pictures and the poses with the combined families but I went with the least expensive photographer I could find and took her smallest package. My biggest concern was if she would take day after photos of us playing in the woods with our wedding clothes on, she did and those were perfect. I have all of them on a flash drive somewhere but I think I printed 10 total pictures and some of those were wallet sized.

These are the pictures I’ve made a habit of saving. Nothing perfect about this one. Just two crazy kids who drove their truck in the reception hall.

All of that made me enough of an oddball when it came to photos but nothing compared to when I became a mom. Did I take pictures of my Wallace Shawn looking newborns and text them to friends and family describing how perfect they were? Yes. Did I do it half as much as other mom’s? Not even close. I just didn’t want to watch my children through my phone or camera lens. I wanted to actually be in that moment with them. I didn’t want to be the one at the family gatherings constantly running around going, “get together” “ok, look at me” “just act like you’re having a conversation”. (We all were together and having a real conversation until you came along wanting to take candid looking posed shots.) I didn’t really have time for the intentional, professional ones either. In the ten years my little family has been in existence I had wedding pictures, a set of church directory pictures, and a few from a gift we gave to my parents a couple years ago.

Photo credit to Nikki Oelke Photography

Then, my little men discovered slideshow mode on my iPad. I started to realize the pictures weren’t just for me. All of those moments that were messy and silly and funny, make them roll on the floor laughing. All of the posed pictures of us together make them recount how much they enjoyed that event or holiday. All of the family members that, to my utter shock and dismay, did not defy the odds and live forever come alive again through the pictures I can share with those little dudes. I have the pictures of a great grandmother holding her newborn grandson. All of the generations huddled around grandpa at a holiday. I can see the light in their eyes as a toddler wraps his arms around an auntie or uncle’s neck and the love and connection they share.

You know what else I realized? All of the pictures that I was taking, I was typically not in. Mom wasn’t the one playing catch, building the fort, making the cookies or anything else as far as the pictures were concerned. I was always the one behind the camera. To be honest, I wasn’t capturing my husband in too many of them either because I was focused on the kids or the people we don’t see often enough being with the kids. Having a good photographer who is able to capture it all, is essential. Someone who can pull out those messy, silly, and funny moments and capture them while you’re all there, all together, (while the big guys have combed hair and the baby is wearing pants) is such a blessing.

Photo credit to Nikki Oelke Photography

Truly what I’m saying (to myself as much as you) is take the pictures, ask people to take your picture, find your local photographer and take the pictures. I still want to be in the moment with my family and friends. I want to be invested in what we’re doing and not watching it from behind a lens. I am also to the point that I appreciate having them for all of the memories they provide, and for the new memories made while we enjoy them and reminisce together.

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