Pictures are funny things. They capture a split second in time. A unique moment caught forever that you’ll never lose.
Not so long ago, these were the moments we used to pour over in albums, looking back at dodgy haircuts and fashions, family holidays, get-togethers, Christmases and birthdays. I used to love looking back at photos of my parents when they were young and when me and my brother were small.
I loved my dad’s wacky moustache and 80s jumpers and my mums long, thick, jet-black Cher-like locks. I’d love seeing laughs captured in a moment. The kids on people’s knees, or playing on the floor. My mum looking stunning in her swimsuit, or my dad being mr cool in his shorts on holiday. Family members sitting on couches engrossed in chat at Christmas time, days spent at picnics, or fishing, or at the playground. I’d try and figure out who was who. What was the occasion and where was it taken?
I love them. I love the weird lighting, the dog-eared ones, the sun bleached ones, the ones where people are smiling at the camera and the ones where they don’t even know it’s on them. I love the ones where people look amazing and the ones where they don’t.
I love them all.
Because photos like that are special and real. They’re something tangible because we printed them out, they didn’t just exist on a screen, in a vacuum.
They were never perfect, in fact there’d often be a surprise when you got to the photo desk to collect them.
Did they come out okay? You’d wonder.
You’d laugh at the weird expressions caught on camera, lament the red eye that ruined a perfectly good shot and wonder why some pictures were too bright or too dark, even though you had your flash on. The kids making funny faces in the background, photo-bombing before we even knew what that was!
In short, photos were imperfect. But for all their flaws I think they were a truer reflection of life.
On the one hand, I look at the photos on my devices now and I see all the incredible pictures I’ve taken of my baby boy. I’ve had the privilege to be a stay at home mum for the first year of his life and as such I’ve been able to take shots of everything. And I love to look back at them. Like a total saddo, I often sit in bed before I go asleep and flick through the many pictures, seeing how he’s grown. And I do even print them off.
But when it comes to me being in those photos, that’s a different story. I don’t see one photo I am happy with. Instead, I see all the deleted photos, all the filters, all the fake smiles, the posing, the ‘let’s take a selfie 50 times until I don’t have a double chin and you can’t see my horrendous adult acne anymore’ and even then it has to be filtered and face-tuned within an inch of its life before I think about keeping it. And those are just the ones I am in. Because when I look back on it, I don’t have nearly the same amount of photos of just me and the baby or the three of us as a family, as I do of the baby, the baby and my husband or them and rest of the family.
And you don’t get that time back. Kids are little for such a short time.
I always seem to be the one behind the camera and it occurred to me that when it came to the old photos I love to look at, there’s not nearly as many of just me and mum, as there is of the rest of my family.
No matter what way you look at it, mammy is often the one behind the camera and I think there’s so many reasons for that.
I hate the way I look.
I hate photos of myself.
I’m not photogenic.
No don’t get me in that one, I look fat.
I look like a whale in that picture.
Look at my double chin.
I’ve no makeup on.
Look at my skin!
God you can see my belly in that one.
And so on and so forth. I’ve said all of these things more times than I can fathom. I often hide and if I can’t hide, I edit the picture until I’m happy with it.
But since becoming a mum, what I’ve realised is this.
Stop faffing and get in the bloody picture!
Because one day soon, my little dude will be all grown up. Maybe he’ll get married one day, maybe he’ll have his own family and maybe, just maybe he’ll want to look back and see some photos of him and his mammy when she was a young woman, trying to navigate her way thought motherhood.
He probably won’t care that I look tired in them. He won’t care if I had a double chin. He won’t care if I wasn’t looking at the camera. He won’t care if my hair is in a mum-bun and I have leggings on. He won’t care if I’ve no makeup on. He won’t care if I look like the wreck of the Hesperus and he won’t want to see the photo-shopped ones, because one day, like it or not, I won’t be there for him in the flesh any more.
And maybe he’ll be glad I stepped in front of the camera the odd time and didn’t just stay behind it.
So if you’re like me, then get in the photo, no matter what you look like, hand the phone to someone else and get in the shot while you can.