It could be the most important picture you ever take: the picture of you and your child. But how do you get the shot if you’re the one behind the camera? Author and Photographer Tracey Clark spells it out in four steps.
“You will never regret the photos you have of you with your children. And if that doesn’t resonate, then think of it this way: every photo of you with your children will be a precious and priceless gift for them in the future. […]There is no more valuable photograph in any collection than a mother with her child. Not a single one.”
-Tracey Clark, Elevate the Everyday
Of all the pictures we have of our past, chances are the ones we cherish the most are the ones we have with our mothers. Whether we’re lucky to have albums full or just one single photo, the details like our wardrobe, the occasion and even the emotion of the moment come flooding back when we just think about those pictures. It’s important to remember that our children will cherish pictures of us much the same way. Isn’t that reason enough to turn our cameras toward ourselves sometimes? We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to our children. Here’s a few simple ways to get started:
Remember that part of the reason to include yourself in your photos is to show proof that you were there. This is not about capturing stiff formal portraits, it’s about you being included in the story of your family life; special occasions and every day. You don’t have to be smiling into the camera for every shot. There are lots of ways that you can creatively sneak into the photo’s frames that offers a hint of your presence. Use yourself as a kind of prop and allow your kids to sink in to you before you shoot. Just get your feet in there). Or shoot a reflection from a distance even. The less pressure you put on yourself, the more fun you’ll have and viola! You’ve got proof you were there.
Your part of the story doesn’t always have to include your children. Honoring yourself by documenting you—wherever you are in the process of your life—will not only be empowering, it will leave a part of you behind that your kids will value in the future. Plus, right now, you’ll be exploring yourself as a mother and as a woman and that’s a real positive and powerful thing.
Once you commit to this, you’ll start finding unique ways to get yourself in your pictures. Look for reflective surfaces; mirror being the obvious one. Mirrors can be a photographers best ally. You can also shoot your shadow or include your feet in the frame. The key is just knowing how to look for bits and pieces of yourself and creatively include them in your shots. The thing about this kind of photography is that it feeds more than just a need to document your family life, it can also serve as a satisfying creative outlet for you as a mother.
Commit To It: This kind of project takes commitment. Just like with anything else, including you in your pictures will be a regular practice. You’ve got to commit to doing it. Don’t worry about what you’re wearing, what your hair looks like, or what people will think. Whether you use a a self-timer, shoot into a mirror or hand the camera to someone else to shoot, just do it. The only thing that matters is that you start getting into the pictures with your kids. The more you do it, the easier it will be and in time you’ll have a collection of family photographs that you’ll cherish for a lifetime, and so will your children.