A few months ago, my parents had their 45th wedding anniversary. Our gift to them was a photo book. In this one book, my sister (as she was responsible for putting it all together) was able to squeeze almost their entire life and the most important events from their kids lives: our baptisms, our 1st communion rites, our marriages, the births of their grandchildren, and a few family gatherings.
Growing up, I remember a black sack that my parents kept almost all our pictures in, including pictures of my grandparents. (There was just a single photo of my paternal mother, but none of her husband). Apart from that, we had one small photo album. It wasn’t until my adolescent years that we got our first small film camera. Since then, the amount of photo albums started to expand.
After she’d received the anniversary album, my mom Skyped me and showed it to me, even though I was already aware of it it. And yet, during that Skype session, I realized just how few moments from their lives had been captured for us. Compared to what they had accumulated of us in photos, the images that captured their own lives was much less.
As my mom was going through the pages of photos, I also realized that I did not have many pictures with my parents or my siblings from the period when we were living under one roof. I didn’t even have pictures with my maternal grandparents, the only grandparents I ever knew in person.
In an era where digital cameras are now the norm in the world, the lack of pictures from my childhood feels pretty weird. My 5 month-old daughter has more pictures than my parents ever did throughout their entire life.
I remember, back in the day, that my mom was not very cooperative when it came to having her picture taken. She never wanted to be in pictures, in fact. She would always turn away from the camera or quietly disappear whenever there was a talk about having our pictures taken. My older sister felt the same way, and so did I. Having struggled with a not-so positive body image, I wasn’t fond of having my picture taken. I’d only give in on occasion, and if I knew the person on the other side of the camera.
Because of this, I don’t have many pictures from high school or university years. These days, I regret that time. The only thing I have are my memories and they’re going to fade away some day. I won’t remember the many precious moments I experienced, nor have memories of great people I met back then.
So, today, being in the middle of my 365 (or 366) Self-Portrait Project (one self portrait per day for a year), I am convinced I am doing the right thing. I might have chosen the wrong year to do it (being pregnant and due for a C-section, then getting used to the new situation of being mother of two). Still, what’s done is done and I am doing my best to finish it.
Before I had decided to take on this project, I was afraid that people would judge me. Would they think of me as a shallow, self-centered and narcissistic person?
I couldn’t be more mistaken. Since the day I first published this project on my blog, I’ve received many positive comments and emails. Thanks to this project, I’ve learned how to face my own demons, how to accept myself as I am. I feel like this project is like a guide to recovery, a path to having a healthy relationship with myself, my body image, my own imperfect thoughts.
These photos are not just pictures of myself. There is a story behind each shot. These stories talk through the photos, expressing my feelings as I go through the journey of motherhood. It chronicles my ups…
Thanks to this project, I am in peace with myself…. especially with my more visible-with-each-passing-day gray hair.
But most important thing about this project is that I have so many wonderful pictures with my kids. Pictures of an ordinary day, doing ordinary tasks, being our imperfect selves.
I feel like I am doing something good for myself as well as for my daughters. Being more comfortable with my own image, I can teach them how to feel comfortable with their own. I am actually proud of myself for capturing moments for my family — something I missed out on in my past.
My life is what I remember from yesterday,
What I see today,
What I think of tomorrow,
and what I capture in my photographs.
Photography is the past in my present kept for tomorrow.
What is your approach when it comes to having your picture taken?
Do you try to avoid it?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Polish Mom Photographer. She blogs at Mom Photographer.
Photo credits: Mom Photographer.
I love this post! And your photos are incredible. You capture reality in such an artistic way!
I am always taking pictures of my family and our adventures. But because I am behind the camera, I am rarely in the shots. So I make an effort on any occasion to have at least 1 photo of me in the mix. I also fight the urge to flee when I am not looking my best for a photo (like Christmas morning with hair askew and no makeup), because I want my kids to see us as a family in these moments, not just themselves.
Best of luck with the transition to being a mom of 2!
Tara, I used to be the same way. I always was the photographer who never wanted be ON THE PICTURE. I have so many pictures from so many places and there isn’t a single photo with me on it…
As for not looking very pretty… hm… since I started this project I had make-up on my only once, but I have to admit, I edit my pictures a little so I don’t look as bad as in real life. I am not THAT brave 😉
I looooooooovvvveee your photos!! Keep on keepin’ on!
I think it’s great the self-awareness you have come to by doing the 365 project. Thanks for sharing your inner-most thoughts about it!
I just came back to look at the pictures again. I can’t get enough of the kitchen one, and I can totally relate to the being wiped out on the floor one. I really like the images of motherhood you’ve captured!
Thank you, Jennifer! I am so happy to get so many great responds to this project. More mothers, and women in general, should start doing something similar. It is such a great therapy, such a great life lesson, such a rewarding activity and an amazing thing for our families to have someday.
What an amazing glimpse into your life. I love who you capture the beauty of every second and the raw truth behind every passing moment. I never liked my picture taken either. 80% of our family pics consist of my husband holding the two boys even though I´m the one who spends about 80% of the time with them. I really should make an effort to be in more pictures and document my boys´lives with me in them.
Ana, I totally recommend you getting on the other side of the camera… As hard as it was at the beginning, now it is just all fun, even when I am exhausted. Coming back to those pictures I took on January, for example, is such an amazing experience. I can just only imagine how fun it is going to be for my kids someday to see those pictures! Although, I am going to be embarrassed of many of those photos… 😉
What an incredible gift you’re giving to your children and yourself. Your photos are incredible. The kitchen one, is totally relatable. How many times have I felt like that? Probably too many to count.
I take pictures every day. But not of myself. I think maybe that needs to change 🙂
Thank you so much for your kind comment, Alison!
For a long time I had thought about approaching 365 Project, but I wanted to do it in a more interesting way. 365 Project (of anything) was not very challenging, I was already taking photos every single day… So, that’s why the idea of self-portraits was created.
In my opinion every single woman, at some point, should take a challenge like that. Not 365 Project, but once for a while.
oh… and yes, this kitchen shot says it all!!! especially these days!
What an amazing project, and wonderful gift to your children, and yourself. I just came back from a beautiful vacation with my family, which you wouldn’t know I was on, since I was not in any of the pictures (I was the one behind the camera the entire time). Looking at you photos, I love the simple feel of every day life, but it leads me to wonder about the logistics… How do you capture these incredible pictures? I suspect with a tripod, and some posing.
lol… there is a lot of posing, actually, but believe me or not I haven’t used my tripod for any of the pictures used in this post. it’s too much hassle to deal with it. I put the camera on sofas, chairs, tables, drawers, anything but tripod !
I love, love, love all your pictures. They are so real, so beautiful! You should do a tutorial on how to take these awesome shots. I don’t have many childhood pictures as they were lost in a house fire many years ago.
sorry to hear about the fire, Maureen!
you know, while writing this post I emailed my sister asking if she would be willing to scan ad mail me old pictures of me and my family. I have no idea when I’m going to visit Poland again. having those pictures in my emails and online albums will make it harder to loose in case of a disaster.
by the way… I’ll think about the tutorial 🙂
What a cool project. I love these photos and I know I’m echoing others here but that last one of you and your daughter on the floor is classic. I also love the other one with the two of you in the kitchen – maybe because it is such an everyday moment and I can picture my own daughters and I in a similar activity but I can only picture it in my mind’s eye. I take tons of photos of my daughters but I’m almost never in the picture. This post has inspired me to try to be in more photos. I agree with the previous poster – would love to see a tutorial.
thank you so much! This picture in the kitchen is not the best one, but I like the look I have… it is so real… I normally look like that when somebody is taking picture of me. I have the look: “Don’t even try”… I truly want to inspire mothers to get in front of the camera more often!!!
Awesome photos. I follow your photography project and love to see you post about it on WMB too. Each day I wait to see what you take a picture of. Would love to take photography classes from you, because I am a total zilch in photography 😉
Thank you, Purnima.I’m still in a mission of taking one where I smile…
I admit it … I hate having my photo taken because I feel terribly self-conscious. 🙁
My 16 year old daughter loves photography, though and we bought her a Canon camera for her birthday. It’s thanks to her that recent photos of me exist at all!
it was the same with my grandmother. before I got my first camera we didn’t have a single photo of her… I mean, we had her old, black&white photographs from where she was VERY young. When I got my camera I started taking pictures of her and thanks to that I was able to give us more recent photos of her before she died.
If you feel self-conscious about yourself… first do something very funny in front of the camera. Funny face, funny pose, something that will make you more relaxed and comfortable and something that doesn’t matter if you look good or not. it really helps with getting used to the camera.
I like having my picture taken. It isn’t always a great photo, but there are so few of me and my son (since it’s just the two of us) that I crave having more. A friend of mine did a 365 of self portraits to improve her photography skills, and it’s amazing to look through that album. I want to do one, and I think you may have given me the push I need. If I want more pictures of me (and my son, together), then I should be the one to do it. 🙂
Roxanne, my photography style and skills have improved A LOT since I started this project. It’s amazing.
I am so glad you’re thinking about starting this project. It is so much fun. Really!!! You won’t regret it!
Love the pictures – especially the last one, which I can completely relate to! I also think it’s a fascinating project in terms of redefining your self image. I think I’d have a lot more realistic and relaxed view of myself if I were forced to do something similar. Doesn’t strike me as narcissistic at all. Great post.
thank you, Kim. So, you think that only by force you would be willing to be a part of such a project? Maybe you should try on your own. One self-portrait a month. That’s a good start.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this project and your reflections on it. Amazing. Your daughters will be so grateful not only for the photos but for the important lesson of being comfortable in your skin. Great photos! LOVE! (Did I mention I love this?)
Thank you so much! I am so glad that this project has so many positive responses. When I finish it I’m planning to put in one photobook and keep it for my kids!!!
Thank you once again for your kind comment!
Fantastic pictures and wonderful thoughts to go with them. I’ve realized how few pictures I have of me with my sons (there are lots of them with daddy b/c of course, I’m taking the picture). There is lots of self-consciousness involved on my part, which I realize is ridiculous but it’s hard to get past it, all the same.
And I LOVE the picture of you lying on the floor next to the baby…I have been there, done that, more times than I can count. Funny. And yet also…exhausting!
Deborah, I do not have many pictures from when I was pregnant with my No.1 and after she was born, the same reason as yours, too self-conscious.
These days I really regret that, but I am happy I overcame it. It’s not like I am supper happy with my look but, you know what, when I was much younger and much prettier I didn’t like myself either. Now I look back at those few pictures I have and think to myself; what was wrong with me?! I look so pretty, and young and fresh, why wasn’t I so self-conscious, so unhappy with myself…
Now, I’m smarter than that!