My Mission to Get Out From Behind the Camera

posted by Andrea | 05/27/2013

mom and nora

Over the past 2 years, I’ve made HUGE strides in my effort to take more pictures.

Seriously! When I look through the pictures of our first 5 years of marriage, I’m stunned at just how few pictures we have (less than 50 pictures total – not including our wedding).

I know, I know… that’s bad! 

Neither Dave nor I really love being in front of the camera — and since we didn’t have children and we weren’t doing tons of home renovation projects during those first few years, we just never took pictures. I fact, most of the time, we never even took our camera with us (and this was before we had fancy camera phones.)

So based on those first few years of almost no photos, I’m taking tons of photos now. I’m averaging about 250 – 300 photos per month for the past 18 months (no coincidence that Nora celebrated 18 months last week :)

While I’m definitely still an amateur photographer (I just use my phone), I’ve been pleased to see my photography skills grow over the years (here are a few of my photo tips.)

And although it took me several months, I finally decided on a pretty good system to organize, edit, and back-up all our photos. Then I make digital photos books with Blurb.com instead of printing a whole bunch of individual pictures each year (read more about my photo system and our photo books here).

So while I’m thrilled to be taking more pictures — and using/displaying those pictures around our home — I’ve started to notice one problem.

I’m always behind the camera.

I’m sure many of you parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles can relate — it’s just so much easier to take pictures of the cute kiddos than to ask someone else to take a photo of you and the kids.

I always have some excuse for not being in the photo — either I didn’t do my hair, I’m in grubby clothes, or Nora won’t sit still long enough for me to get in on the photo too.

Whatever the case, I’ve been noticing more and more that I have pictures of Nora with her grandparents, pictures of Nora with her aunts and uncles, pictures of Nora with her cousins, and even quite a few pictures of Nora with Dave… but hardly any with me.

In fact, this impromptu photo (when Nora was having a fit during my recent business/blog photo shoot) is one of the few pictures I have of JUST me and Nora.

mom nora

Not that posed family pictures or pictures without my smiling face are bad — I just know that when I was little, I always thought it was cool to see my mom in old photos. I especially liked the photos that were un-posed — playing in the yard, birthday parties, and every-day life.

Nora absolutely LOVES looking through our photo books, and she always excitedly exclaims “mama!” whenever she sees a pictures of me.

However, a few weeks ago, we were looking through some pictures and after awhile she shoved them away and said, “mama all gone?”

I’m not 100% sure what she meant by that, but I THINK she was wondering why I wasn’t in any of the pictures. I picked up a different photo book and turned to a page with my photo… and she quickly pointed to me and shouted “mama!” with a big smile.

So I figure it’s about time I start turning the camera around and taking some pictures with me in them for a change. And thanks to my phone, it’s really easy to simply use the “inside camera”. The quality is not as great, but it’s good enough for Nora :)

BandAids

{modeling our matching middle-finger Band-Aids}

Say Cheese

{say “cheese”}

sleeping

{Sunday afternoon nap}

No, they aren’t the world’s greatest photos. No, they aren’t the most flattering pictures of me. No, they aren’t professionally edited.

But they’re the real, every-day, me — Nora’s mama — and I think we’ll both be happy to look back on these memories in 10, 20, or 50 years!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’m forcing Dave to get in front of the camera a little more often too.

silly smiles

After all, I want Nora to be able to remember what her mom and dad looked like back when we were “skinny and young” :)

Do you share my struggle to get out from behind the camera?

Or do you have any great tips to make it more convenient for parents to get in on the photo action too?

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21 comments

  1. Nora

    05/27/2013

    Hi Andrea. Love all your advice and posts. Today I wasn’t able to connect to your ” (read more about my photo system and our photo books here). Link. It linked to a image instead. Years ago I used to upload all my digital photos from my camera to my PC. Then edit in photoshop burn a cd and upload to shutterfly. Each month had its own folder. I’ve had a Mac for 4 years and take my pictures exclusively with my iPhone and haven’t been able to utilize iPhoto in the same manner because of time, fear of a new system, etc. but I am anxious to finish organizing the past and have a good system for the future so that I can make family books like you have. My son turns 7 this year do I better get going! Thanks for your help!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Nora — I fixed the link :)
    And I know what you mean about changing to a new system… it takes a while to LEARN the new system and sometimes it’s not worth the extra time. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it I guess :)

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  2. Crystal Michie

    05/27/2013

    I’ve recently done the same thing Andrea! It’s hard at first though, isn’t it?! Just an automatic thing to snap a picture of the kids, but now I’m learning to jump in there too. I can’t imagine what a sad thing it would be to not have pictures of myself and my mom when I was little! It’s definitely a small way, to give a large gift to our kids in the future! :) Great post- loved it!

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  3. Elizabeth

    05/27/2013

    Thank you for sharing your tips and pictures of your beautiful family. I do almost no editing, so my photos aren’t top-rate. I would like to change that soon and will be looking for editing apps for the iPad, which is my main “computer.”
    Thank you again !

    [Reply]

  4. Jeannine

    05/27/2013

    I love your advice on everything. Great tips on so many things! Yes,get in those photos! use a tripod if you must. I also make books for various reasons. Love them all. I do worry about people who take too many photos and aren’t good at purging mediocre ones. I have thousands of photos and my daughter has 5 times more than I do. They’re on external drives and she plans to do things with them one day. I don’t envy her that experience. I wish she could take care of them once a month. Purge especially. Goodness!

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  5. Ree Klein

    05/27/2013

    My father was never in the photos for the same reason. When I got older, I started to take the camera from him to give him a break…it’s been a very long break! Now, years later I’m still the one with the camera and I have to nudge others to pick it up once in a while so that I’m not left out completely! I don’t mind, really. I like taking pictures.

    Ree ~ I blog at EscapingDodge.com

    [Reply]

  6. Rae

    05/27/2013

    This made me smile….I hate having my picture taken, so combine this with the fact that my husband is a hopeless photographer, and you get only a handful of pictures of me with the kids (we have three and my eldest is now 10!) I’ve often thought that if anything happened to me they might forget what I looked like, which is a pretty sad thing to think. I think the answer is to take more pics with me in them, but for me not to look at them!!!!

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  7. Stel

    05/27/2013

    It’s a mom-thing!
    Yesterday in church, I half-recognised a little girl sitting with her mom in front of us. BUT, I didn’t her, nor mom. SO I spent half the service trying to figure out why she looked familiar, until she lifted the little 2nd finger to her month and I realised – oh my word! She looks just like your girl! Not a little bit,; exactly! From the curly hair to eye shape and colour. SO just so you know – there’s a little lookalike living in Pretoria, South Africa.
    :-)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Well, if Nora and I ever get to South Africa, I’ll see if you can get us a play date with that cute little girl from your church :)

    [Reply]

  8. Ivy

    05/27/2013

    Same here I am not in a lot of ours either… Mostly because I think I look fat or ugly and don’t want people to remember me like that. So most of the time if I am in pictures I usually take three or four so I can pick the best one then delete the rest lol. Or I will crop myself out.
    Really need to get past that hu…

    Your family is beautiful, and I don’t think you could look bad even without makeup and hair done! Keep up the awesome work.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Ivy — and I can guarantee your family (especially future grand children and great grandchildren) will not think you looked fat or ugly! It will be fun for them to look back on pictures of you — no matter how bad you think they might be :)

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  9. Christi

    05/27/2013

    My 15 year old was creating a photo collage to post on instagram for Mother’s Day, and found exactly ONE picture of her and I together, at her baptism. I definitely need to move from behind the camera more.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Oh boy –well at least you have a couple years to snap a few photos before high school graduation :)

    [Reply]

  10. Autumn Beach

    05/27/2013

    Isn’t this SO true?! I need to work on this as well!

    Quick question regarding your photo storage system: Once you publish your books, do you delete the photos from your computer? I have a Mac and store all of my photos in iPhoto. Unfortunately, I keep getting a message stating that my disc space is almost full. So I am in desperate need of doing SOMETHING with all of my photos (and videos)! Also, where do you store your videos?

    Thanks so much for any help! You know I love your blog! :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    AUtumn, I talk about our entire photo storage system in this post — and that includes saving everything to 2 different portable hard-drives which we keep in fire-proof safes. All our images/videos are on those hard drives — and I also keep them on our computers too. We have newer Macs and the guy said it would be almost impossible to ever run out of storage space on our computers. So our photos are all in 4 different places (2 portable hard drives, 2 different computers, and our iphoto online photo-stream) Plus, most of my favorites are stored on Flickr and on my blog :)

    [Reply]

  11. Lisa Rohrssen

    05/28/2013

    I always give this lecture about photography. Too many of us say things like “I hate having my picture taken.” Don’t take my picture, my hair is a mess” or “I look fat”. Think of the pictures you have of your grandparents or your parents. Do you see their bad hair, those extra 10 pounds? You see their smile, you see their eyes and you love them. I cherish the few pictures I have of my grandmother who was a little vain and didn’t like having her picture taken unless she was perfect. Now that she is gone, what matters is I have a few, not how she looked in them at all.

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  12. Faith @ Artistic31Mama

    05/28/2013

    As a professional wedding and portrait photographer I can’t relate to not having enough pictures (I have the opposite problem…HAHA) but I CAN relate to not being IN pictures. I am always the one behind the camera. But since having my kids I’ve been trying to encourage my husband to photograph me with them. No, I don’t like that I’ve put on weight since giving birth to four children, or the fact that there are days when I wear no make up, dress in just t-shirt and yoga pants, but like Lisa’s comment stated above, when we look back on pictures of loved ones we treasure the memory that’s there not what they looked like. I want my children and grandchildren to have plenty of pictures to remember all the precious moments we shared together. :-)

    [Reply]

  13. Jennifer

    05/28/2013

    In my family, we at least make sure we take one family portrait per year for our holiday cards–one with kids and parents! We don’t go to a studio or use a professional photographer–we just set up a tripod in the backyard, use the camera timer, and take a whole bunch so we get at least one good one!

    It would be so much easier to just include the kids, but it’s great to see how our whole family evolves year to year–I have a photo album of just our family photo cards. Most people send only pics of their kids, and as much as I love seeing my friends’ kids, I miss seeing photos of my actual friends, too, that I don’t get to see regularly.

    [Reply]

  14. Kathy

    05/28/2013

    I’m glad you have realized that you are part of the family and need to be in the photos as well. I know sometimes that is easier said than done however if you make sure you are conscious of it, it will happen. TimerCam is an app you can put on your iphone so you can set it up on the table and it can take a self timer photo………which will allow you to (i) be in the photo and (ii) have the camera far enough away to take some flattering photos of you and Nora or all 3 of you. Nora would love seeing her Mama in photos and it doesn’t matter if you have no make up and unbrushed hair, you are her Mama and that’s what she is seeing. Get the timercam app and give it a go or there may be others out there but that’s the one I am using which was recommended by someone else. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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  15. Becky

    05/31/2013

    I just discovered your site yesterday, loved it, and have returned to read some more.

    I’m the one who’s always behind the camera too. My sister calls me the “family photojournalist”, yet there are practically no photos of me at family functions because I don’t like how I look in photos either, like some of the other ladies mentioned.

    I have four grandchildren though, and they would probably like to have a few photos of their grandmother, so I’ll have to try to get better at getting in front of the camera too.

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  16. Jan

    06/04/2013

    I can’t applaud you enough for this post! When my children were young, I, too, was the family photographer and happy to be behind the camera. However, at 32, I was diagnosed with a Stage 4 Lymphoma and quickly I realized that if things didn’t go as I hoped, there would be very few photos for the kids to remember me by.
    Happily, my children are now around the age I was when I was diagnosed and I have had the exquisite joy and privilege of watching them grow up. We’ve had (and continue to have!) many family adventures along the way and have photos of them all ~ and all of us!

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