One Christmas 13 years ago, my husband I wanted to take a photo for a holiday card – for the first time ever – of our 3 boys; 10 years old, 1-year-old, and 2 months old. I had them sit in front of the Christmas tree, with the oldest awkwardly holding the baby and the 1-year-old desperately wanting to leave. I would try for several minutes to get the 1-year-old to stay still, the 10-year-old to smile, while also making sure the 2 month’s old head didn’t flop over his arm. It was a disaster and I walked away from the moment frustrated and crying. I blame the crying part on post-partum hormones, but the frustration and ambition to get the perfect picture were completely due to the pressure I had placed on myself to take the perfect shot for the world to see. This wasn’t a photo for me, but for others and that made shooting it much less enjoyable and a lot more stressful.
I have a fondness for photography and can spend hours going through hundreds and hundreds of photos to edit, frame, and share on social. But what I learned over the years, and most importantly, what my children have taught me, is that the perfection of it isn’t the point. It’s the real, messy, authentic, not so photogenic stuff that really stays with us and turns those moments into memories that we will talk about for years to come.
Though I still like to take beautiful, well-thought-out photos that showcase creativity and beauty, I have relaxed a lot since that December day and have tried to pass on the joy of capturing memories through photography onto my children. Our youngest has proven to enjoy it most and it’s become a highlight of any family trip to watch him take in a space or moment and then pull out his hand-me-down camera to capture it.
Watching him has taught me to separate my ego from my photography, and to take photos simply because the subject makes us happy, not because it will perform well on Instagram or whether or not others will enjoy it. He doesn’t share his photos with anyone and thus he doesn’t worry about what others will think of it. His photography of London stole my heart not just because of how good it was, but because of how authentically and innocently he approached everything he shot. I love his eye for detail and his creativity.
As much as I traveled before, it wasn’t until I traveled with my kids that I was able to appreciate a new and different perspective.
I teared up going through his photography from our recent road trip around Ireland, some of which we wanted to share with you here.
He photographed moments, not just things, and it communicated so much more to us about what that trip was for him than he ever expressed in words.
May all our travels, whether alone, but especially with loved ones, be this genuine and expressive. I am most excited about our upcoming travels this summer because I can’t wait to see what other beautiful, fun photography he takes to memorialize it and I am so proud to see how wonderfully he views the world.