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…

… even my downs.

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.

For me:

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.

after exhausting night, waiting for the coffee to brew

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.

Ewa Samples

Ewa was born, and raised in Poland. She graduated University with a master's degree in Mass-Media Education. This daring mom hitchhiked from Berlin, Germany through Switzerland and France to Barcelona, Spain and back again! She left Poland to become an Au Pair in California and looked after twins of gay parents for almost 2 years. There, she met her future husband through Couch Surfing, an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals. Today she enjoys her life one picture at a time. She runs a photography business in sunny California and document her daughters life one picture at a time. You can find this artistic mom on her blog, Ewa Samples Photography, on Twitter @EwaSamples or on Facebook!

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