My parents took two photos of me as a child. Yes, I said two. As the youngest of three girls, my parents were sort of “over it” by the time I came along. My two older sisters have hundreds of photos of themselves as babies and kids. Me, I have two. Yes, I said TWO.
Nowadays if a parent only took two photos of their child, they’d be all but arrested. With the proliferation of camera-phones and the ease and immediacy of emails and Facebook, isn’t a parent’s responsibility to constantly take photos of their kids? Sometimes, it seems that way.
I should preface our conversation by saying that I can’t stand having my photo taken. I never photograph well and I find the permanence of a bad photo of me excruciating. So I’m not inclined to be snapping photos of others all the time.
On the other hand, my husband has never met a camera he didn’t like. He likes to be photographed therefore he likes to take them, of our kids, all the time. There is no event too unimportant for him to photograph.
Having only had two photos of myself taken my entire life before the age of ten, I’m thrilled for my kids that they’ll be able to look back and the (millions) of photos of their early years and connect with their past. My husband is a wonderful photographer, but it feels like he’s taking photos of them every single minute of the day. I can’t help but wonder if that’s good.
My husband isn’t alone. Look around a park or playground and you’ll see so many parents photographing their kids, it’s like a paparazzi-fest. Except these cameras aren’t there to photograph celebs. They’re there to photograph kids. So, I guess it’s more like a pooparazzi-fest.
I often wonder what it feels like to be photographed all the time and to have those photos, unknowingly, posted on line immediately. My three-year-old daughter picks up any object from a banana to a hairbrush, puts it about a foot from her face, smiles and says, “Cheeeeese!” If either of my kids see an iPhone within 100 feet, they stop and smile assuming someone is taking their photo.
Often, the kids seem annoyed when being photographed. As their mum, I find it annoying too. I love the documentation, but it feels disruptive. I remember (the two times) I had my photo taken as a kid. Kids hate having their photo taken. It gets in the way of all the playing they want to do.
For me though, the bigger question is are modern-day parents and their kids starting to think everything is photograph-worthy? I know this is hard for a parent to take in, but not everything our kids do is special. Nor, does everything need to be photographed. Ever seen a Facebook friend post a photo of their two-year-old sitting on the toilet with a caption that reads, “First day potty training?” See, not everything needs to be photographed.
There’s the inevitable September onslaught of “First day of school” photos. That seems photograph-worthy. I love seeing my friends’ Halloween photos, graduation photos, holiday photos and the occasional “super-cute” thing my kid did photo. I even love taking those photos of my own kids. But I wonder what happens to our kids when Mum and Dad stop being so interested in photographing their every move? When the bright lights of Mum, Dad and Grandma’s iphones go off, does the little one start to wonder if he or she is less special? After all, haven’t we told them everything they do is special since we’re photographing it all the time?
I love that my kids will have a good sense of who they were as little ones, but I’m going to limit how much time I spend snapping their photos. I’d hate to hide behind that camera and miss out on what’s really special, my kids.