Two weeks after Cameron was born, a good friend came to visit me and said, “I’m loving all the photos you have been posting of Cameron, but I must admit I’m surprised to see that they’re all from your phone. It’s actually comforting to see that your photos of him look like every other mom’s photo I see on Facebook rather than the amazing photographer you are.” I wasn’t sure if I should feel guilty, offended, or flattered. I just explained that all the film was still at my lab being developed, but those words really did stick with me. What I didn’t expect was just how much harder it is to shoot my own child, especially so soon postpartum. It’s tough being the photographer, the soother, the wrangler, and so on. But I’ve liberated myself from the guilt of not living up to my own expectations of having “professional” photos of his every milestone. For example, his newborn photos aren’t nearly as extensive as the ones I take for my own clients, but I love them nonetheless – I also didn’t even get around to these til he was 3 weeks old, as opposed to the under 2 weeks old I push on my clients.
I do make an effort to shoot him once a month with my professional camera, but many months will be just one roll of film (15 min) like you see in this session… and usually at the end of the month when I realized that I forgot to shoot him all month. Many are impromptu shoots like this. I actually love that they’re not planned because it liberates me from feeling frustrated when things don’t work out the way I planned them in my head, and allows me to just shoot. I get to capture the real him. What I found is that many times (like this shoot) I may feel that things are so ordinary and not worth shooting, but when I look back at the photos, I now get to relive a moment in time that has come and gone. The thing with memories is that they only appreciate in value, and photos are memories. Something so ordinary then is now a treasured memory. So the next time you hesitate to shoot your child because they’re not wearing the right outfit or in a pretty location, just photograph them. You’ll never regret taking the photo! Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir, and perhaps you’re thinking “duh”, but this is something I had to come to realize so I hope it at least helps a few parents out there. I would love to hear your thoughts, experience, and advice on this!
p.s. many of his milestones are actually from my phone.
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Photojournalism is truly a serious profession. Without the proper motivation it isn’t possible to attain your main goal in this field. It is actually directly connected with third eye, that’s why it’s simply not an very easy job.
You are amazing! thank you for sharing this! There are times that I don’t have my camera with me and I love that I can just capture my daughter’s smile without worrying what’ s on her face or what she is wearing.
thanks for posting this! As a first time mom, I want to document my son’s first year in photos. I dubbed it the 365-day project. However, I felt guilty if the only photo I took that day was from my iPad or phone. Or I felt like I was cheating on him when I spent longer on client’s photo shoot than his milestone photos. This post makes every momtog feel real.
P.S. The top image here, with the footprints behind your little guy? Oh. My. Word. It’s art, in real life. It’s the best kind.
This was such a challenge for me with both my kids, and I’ve finally, FINALLY fallen into a place where I both include them when I am using my professional camera, snapshot them when I have my iPhone. I had to let go of my guilt both FOR photographing them and for NOT photographing them, and I came to that by just making the pictures part of our lives, part of what we do every day or what I’m shooting every week. I also make an effort to do a really good family shoot once every season, so I can treasure “us” as much as I treasure my clients.
I love Caroline Tran’s work. I’ve been pouring over her blog this week.
thanks so much for sharing your story! great points. xoxo