As both a mom and a photographer, one of the biggest challenges I find is striking a balance between the two. A couple of years ago I found myself pulling out my camera and photographing everything. And I mean everything - Jude playing with a lizard he found outside, the kids playing with hoses in the yard, Adrian catching toads, Derek and Jude mowing the grass (really!!).
I realized that I was watching my kids grow up through the lens. I wasn't present in their every day lives. I was so focused on making sure we had photos to capture every moment that I forgot to be in the moment. Sure, the boys would have great photos, but they were missing out on sharing these experiences with their mom. I made a conscious decision to put the camera down and enjoy these experiences with them. I didn't have photos of them every time we went to the pool, but I got to do cannonballs with them. I didn't have photos of every geocache we found, but I got to participate in the hunt.
A while after putting my camera down, the boys and I were looking through old photos and reliving the moments - it got us laughing and talking and we had a blast. At this point I realized I didn't have many recent photos at all...there was a huge hole in the story of their childhood - several months in which I hadn't captured a single memory with my camera. There had to be a way to balance this!
Often when we go somewhere I find myself debating over whether or not I should take my camera. There are photos I don't want to miss, but at the same time, those are experiences I don't want to miss. And since I can't clone myself, I can't be the photographer and also be truly present with my kids. I have found a couple of ways to be with my kids and ensure we have photos as well.
Often I take my camera along and photograph for a bit and then put it away. Seems simple enough - but sometimes when I get really into photographing something, it's hard to pull myself out of it.
Enter my new BFF: Instagram! I know it seems simple (and obvious), but this ingenious little tool has provided me with the balance I needed. No, not every photo is a fancy professional shot - heck, half of them are of us just being goofy! But that's what I want to remember - and that's why my little cell phone had allowed me to do - capture the every day.
For example, a few weeks ago Jude and I went on a long bike ride together. I didn't take my fancy camera - that would have been strange - but I wanted a quick picture. So I snapped it on my phone and we went along our business. Later at home I instagrammed it.
Every so often, I take these instagram pictures and do something with them. This is key. They do no good just sitting on your phone, but these little pictures also don't make very good photos to blow up and hang on the wall. I have found a few favorite ways to display them that allows my family to relive these moments again and again:
*photo magnets - print instagram pictures into two inch squares, mount on magnet paper, give a quick mod podge coating, and voila!
*Collage posters from prinstagram.com (I'll have to show you these later - I just ordered some and am eagerly awaiting their arrival)
*Cell phone case - I ordered one from casetagram.com and my kids love to sit and stare at the pictures.
*Coffee mugs - we are big coffee mug collectors so this is a fun personalized option for us
*Stickers from prinstagram.com
The possibilities are endless!
Here are some of my favorite recent instagram photos.
Although the cell phone photo is simple, it has been huge in allowing me to balance my life. Of course I still love to pull out the big camera, but I love feeling like I don't need to constantly tote it around with me. And since we are on the topic, you can follow my instagram feed HERE to see what the Chowders are up to!