This parental lens.
September 22, 2010

Lately, I’ve noticed that I take far fewer photographs of Charlotte than I once did.  As she’s grown and become more active, snapping pictures is more difficult, of course.  But more significantly is this: as my daughter grows and interacts more with her surroundings, it is more important to me that I be present in those moments.

It’s nice to have pictures.  It’s just more important to me to have memories.

Donald and I have never been great about video-taping.  We have a handful of short films from our daughter’s first year, but we have just as many films of us building catapults and wood block towers during her naps as we do of her milestones.

We can build a pretty awesome wood block tower, if I do say so myself.

At any rate, because we’re awful at video-taping, we rely on our photographs to document Charlotte’s childhood.  And when she was brand new, I had no qualms about spending ridiculous quantities of time snapping away at my beautiful babe.  I toted the dSLR around with us everywhere – because I never wanted to miss a moment.  I wanted to document every blissful memory with Charlotte that I could.

More recently, though, I just don’t know.

I still take plenty of pictures, more than most.  I carry the point-and-shoot with us frequently and enjoy snapping quick images here and there of things we see and do: day trips to the children’s museum, running through the sprinklers, making play-dough together, naptime in the sling, picnics at the park, and the like.  Photography, even in its less sophisticated forms, is a hobby I enjoy – and as a result, I place a very high value on photographs of my family and our activities.

However, I increasingly find that I place a higher value on really soaking in those moments.  On running around the museum roaring like a lion.  On squealing excitedly when my kid turns the hose on me.  On squeezing corn starch through my fingers.  On holding her tight.  On kissing her head while we munch away.  On taking a deep breath and building a memory, something that will last long after the photographs fade.

I will always love the images I take of our family.  But I realize now that I will always prefer the memories we make together.


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  1. By Karen Vaisman on September 22, 2010

    Your comments on “soaking up the moments” rather than taking photographs hit a chord with me.

    As a mom, and a professional children’s photographer (http://www.karenvaismanphotography.com) for me, while raising my kids, so many of the moments were about photographing them - the experience of getting a delighted reaction and then capturing it - was such an integral part of my family life they almost seem as one!

    It is refreshing to read about such a committed parent. Bravo!

    -Karen
    Mom, Professional Photographer
    2 teenage daughters, early entrance in college

  2. By carolina on September 22, 2010

    I remember a philosophy teacher saying once that he refused to take pictures because taking the time to take a picture meant you were losing the importance of the moment/memory. Although he was a little nutty, that thought always stuck with me. There’s something about just being so in the moment that you don’t have time/dont even remember to exit it to point and shoot. There’s something about remembering a memory and having the little hairs on your arms stand up at the feelings it provokes. The best picture of my wedding is one a photographer took and my hubby and I are dancing and looking at each other with so much happiness. We were in the moment - and the photographer happened to catch that so.

  3. By Amber on September 22, 2010

    As a photographer, I am constantly learning what it means to balance the amount of time I spend with my face glued to a viewfinder with time actually spent soaking in the moments I photograph. Something IS lost when behind the lens—I remember less, I am not as engaged, etc. I always make a point to occasionally leave my camera behind, or to remind myself to live in the moment, and not just become a shutter-robot. I have a much healthier attitude on this than I once did (when I’d bring my camera EVERYWHERE)—but its still tough, because photography is my passion, and its hard for me to tone myself down. :)

    I don’t have kids (yeah yeah we knew that) but concert photography has made me realize all this stuff.

  4. By on September 22, 2010

    I can totally understand what you mean. I’m not even a mother yet, but I am an aunt and when I’m with those two kiddos I love just being there and having fun. But I love my pictures too! It’s so hard for me to constantly balance being behind the lens and really in the play. But the memories are worth so much more. And what you are doing right here, writing a blog, is the best thing. You get to be there and experience all the fun but you’re such a descriptive writer that you can create a picture using words. It’s the best of both situations!

    And, by the way, I meant to add to my comment on your post yesterday. As I was reading and scrolling down I noticed you added a picture. When I finally scrolled down to see Charlotte she was so much older-looking than I had a mental picture of! I don’t know if it’s her outfit or if her hair is longer but she seems so much bigger. Soak up those memories.

  5. By on September 22, 2010

    Jude is about two months older than Charolette I think. And everything you say reminds me of me.. Something I’ve just gone through or am going through. Without a doubt I agree with what you said above. My camera mostly comes out now for day trips and ‘first’. I have to remind myself to pull it out for random pictures of Jude around the house. It wad so much easier to snap away when it took him ten minutes to go the 15 feet across our living room.

    And on a side note: I took ‘me, all alone, at the end of the world’ out from the library and am in love. We currently have it on order our local book shop.

  6. By Heidi on September 22, 2010

    Yes, I have to agree.  Family keeps asking for more pictures and I’ve given all I have…the laughs come so quick and the steps even quicker, so if I had to grab the camera, store the lens cap, adjust the ISO, turn on the flash…I’d miss everything.  And she’s my baby, so I need the memories more than they need the pictures.

  7. By on September 22, 2010

    I love this post! It’s just so true :)

  8. By Tootlee on September 22, 2010

    This finally explains my own hesitation to always pull out a camera. I do love looking at photos also, but have always wanted to just soak in the moment, without breaking it up with a hunt for a camera. Being in the moment…so, so, very true!

  9. By Karen Vaisman on September 22, 2010

    Wow, so many of you are interested in photography, I thought I’d share one of my secrets as a professional photographer.

    Do you receive photovision? These are GREAT DVDs, training, studio tours, new software, fantastic - I’ve been getting them for 5 years. I’ve really learned a tremendous amount from them. They are able to discount this education (6, 2 hour issues including probably about 6 photographers on each disk explaining what they do, and how they do it.) because of their sponsers (ads thrown in at the end) but it is like bringing private tutoring and professional trade show information into your living room. I can’t recommend these disks enough!
    http://fansof.photovisionvideo.com/Karen/005335

    They are discounting them to $39 right now. Check it out, send this link to your friends!

    Keep photographing your kids, ladies!

  10. By Cynthia Krajcarski on September 22, 2010

    I love photography… I learned this lesson pretty early on. There’s actually a John Mayer song about this exact feeling, 3x5. Nerd alert.

    Anyway, I feel ya sister!

  11. By Danica on September 22, 2010

    Also, the older they get, the less quickly they change.

  12. By Tracy Roberts on September 22, 2010

    A huge mentor of mine always says, snap the picture of the moment only if you think it can recreate the lump in your throat, otherwise be in the moment.

    I have always tried to keep this in mind.

  13. By on September 22, 2010

    I take photo’s on the days that I remember I own a camera, or when Malakai has gotten in the habit of doing something frequently and I think, ‘Gee, I should take a photo of that sometime.‘ My photo’s are never spectacular and most of them don’t turn out, but I am so thankful to have them. I love sifting through them in the middle of the night when I’m having trouble sleeping and just smiling at all the things I may have otherwise forgotten. And then I remember things sometimes and think, ‘I wish I had remembered the camera,‘ but at the same time, the fact that I didn’t remember it is a testament to how absorbed I was in the moment that I couldn’t have even spared a thought for something other than my son and how much fun he would have that day.

    When we go on outings, I almost always bring the camera, but I usually only get one or two photos (or none) and it disappoints me than I’m not so photo savvy as to be able to snap a bunch of pictures and keep up with my son running down 10 ramps at the aquarium to see more fish.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels “behind” in the photo-department. This post made me feel a bit better about my lack of photo-evidence of different things.

  14. By Karen Vaisman on September 23, 2010

    I’m new to reading this blog and it has been an eye opener for me, as my camera hasn’t really left my hand since age 13! As a mom of two teens, there wasn’t a moment I wanted to leave undocumented. Every time they got on the bus for school (each year) I had the shot, all the softball and soccer games, when the two front teeth fell out, riding the two wheeler for the first time, when they found the first ladybug ...

    If any of you gals are in the Los Angeles are interested, I offer private photography training, (or I could set up a class if there was enough interest) to help you all capture that incredible moment with so much less stress! It is all about knowing how to position your body vs. the sun, how to bounce light off the side of a building to create the beautiful sparkle in your child’s eyes. There are many tips that will improve your images tenfold!

    Feel free to contact me!

    .

    http://www.karenvaismanphotography.com  “before and after gallery”

    I feel your stress and would love to help! If you know what to do, you can do it quickly then move on to enjoying the moments and sharing the joy with your child, AND having the image to show for it.

  15. By Tabitha (From Single to Married) on September 23, 2010

    I can totally understand that.  I’m still at the stage where I’m addicted to photos, however.  Part of it is that my family isn’t here to share in the making of these memories so I’m constantly taking shots with my camera and instant texting them to my mom, sister, and husband (when he’s at work).  Just yesterday my mom told me how great it was that I post so many videos on youtube of our little guy doing his daily, mundane things since she can’t see him in person.  :)

  16. By Karen Vaisman on September 23, 2010

    (sorry, forgot to post the coupon code PVFAN)
    This special price ends Friday!

    Wow, so many of you are interested in photography, I thought I’d share one of my secrets as a professional photographer.

    Do you receive photovision? These are GREAT DVDs, training, studio tours, new software, fantastic - I’ve been getting them for 5 years. I’ve really learned a tremendous amount from them. They are able to discount this education (6, 2 hour issues including probably about 6 photographers on each disk explaining what they do, and how they do it.) because of their sponsers (ads thrown in at the end) but it is like bringing private tutoring and professional trade show information into your living room. I can’t recommend these disks enough!
    http://fansof.photovisionvideo.com/Karen/005335

    They are discounting them to $39 right now. Check it out, send this link to your friends!  Provide the promo code: PVFAN - ENDS FRIDAY!


    Keep photographing your kids, ladies!

  17. By frehmom on September 25, 2010

    What a sweet post - it is more fun to play than record, but looking back on photos/videos is so great too.  I recommend the Flip video camera - its so simple to use and easy to take out to record impromptu videos.


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