The Big Picture

Document your existence in others lives. Get in every picture you can!

Say “Cheese!”

I recently wrote about a surprise event that was held in honor of my husband, Steve. It coincided with his birthday, but mostly it was just an opportunity to give honor to him—because he deserved it!  The evening consisted of videoed and live “tributes” from people all over the world, and it began and ended with a slide show of his life in pictures set to music.  The opening slide show was on the lighter side and backed up by some fun 70’s music, and the closing slide show was set to a moving instrumental piece with pictures of his vast relationships.  It was beautiful.

Only one problem.  I had trouble locating enough pictures for the two slide shows.  Fortunately, between me and others, we did create quite a montage, but I literally used every digital photo I had of Steve (and some old scanned pics, as well).

Steve is the picture-taker in the family, so he is often not in the photos because he is behind the lens. Part of what this experience has taught me (us!) is that we need to be more conscious to document our journeys. Be more mindful to not only take pictures, but be mindful to get in the pictures, too. Some day you’ll be glad you did.

I have never particularly liked having my picture made (I always ask the cameraman if he can do a little magic and take off a few pounds and/or years), but I like even less being invisible in the photos of my loved ones. Everyone will have a slide show of their lives at some point in time (birthdays, graduations, weddings, etc.), and if they are close to me, I want it documented that I was part of his or her life!

I recently read an article about an overweight mom who avoided the camera at all costs until she came to the realization one day that there were hardly any pictures of her with her children. If she didn’t change her aversion to the camera, there would be no “proof” that she existed in her children’s lives. If, God forbid, she were to die prematurely, her children would even struggle to remember what she actually looked like. She came to the same conclusion that I have: it is more important that it be documented that she was present in their lives and that she loved them than it was that she was a svelte size whatever.

Here’s what I have noticed about people and group pictures. They immediately gravitate to their own image. They seem to care very little how everyone else looks (unless there is someone in the group that is outstandingly “off” in the picture; then it becomes all about the odd ball). No one has ever said to me, “Gee, you look fat in that picture,” or “Wow, you sure look old.” Instead, it goes something like this: “Oh man! Look how stupid I look!”

Bottom line: get over yourself and get in every picture that you can. You’ll thank me later! Smile

In a somewhat similar vein, I read a post by Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project in which she advocates taking pictures of—photo journaling—your daily life even more so than the special events.  She wrote, “I wish I could tell my younger self: Make a photo diary before you leave this place! You think you won’t forget, but you will! Instead of taking photos of unusual sights, take a photo of the most usual sights. In the future, you’ll be a lot more interested in seeing a photo of your dorm-room closet or your laundromat than seeing a photo of the Louvre.”

Do you agree with Gretchen? Are you in lots of pictures, or are you the photographer? Have you ever experienced the disappointment of not having a pictorial documentation that you existed in someone’s life? Leave me a comment.

Photo compliments of Diego Sevilla Ruiz via Compfight

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7 Responses to The Big Picture

  1. Sarah Youssef says:

    Yes, this is something I realized after having our two boys. Post labor/delivery–and all of the sleepless nights with baby– I wasn’t keen on being in many photos with our babies because I was exhausted and it *definitely* showed. But, when it was time to put together the photo albums of ‘baby’s first year’, I realized that I hardly existed! The same has even been true of just having pictures taken together with me and my husband–one year, we literally had only 1 picture taken of us together. Now I’m more conscious of the fact that our photos have to give a well-rounded view of our family and of our life, even if everything isn’t picture perfect. 🙂

    • Diane says:

      Thanks for confirming my thoughts on this, Sarah! When we’re in the heat of the moment (of getting pictures made), it doesn’t feel like such a big deal. Only after we look at the pictures and realize we are absent is there that sense of feeling left out. I hope you’re in a lot more of your pictures now!

  2. Amie says:

    I definitely want to start doing this. When I visit places or meet new people one of the first questions I wonder to myself is “how do they live their daily lives?” I know that when I am old I won’t want to forget how I lived mine.

  3. Cindy Lofton says:

    I’ve thought about this post all week. What great advice! This is pretty much a whole new approach to pictures & ‘tracking’ our journey, so to speak. I love the phrase, “Get over yourself”. I have obsessed way too much over how I looked in pictures in the past. That’s really just vanity, anyway. I’m like Sarah- I need more pictures with my husband! We have to be very deliberate to get in a picture together these days. But I am very thankful for the technology that’s available b/c I take so many more pics of daily life with my phone than I ever have in the past. Jason & I have talked about starting to make photo movies a lot more often b/c of how easy it is to do and how powerful it is to simply ‘remember’. I pretty much always get choked up when I watch those! Another thing I have on the radar to do that my friend Jessica Newcomb does is to create a ‘family yearbook’ with pics throughout each year. I have it in my mind to upload pics at the end of each month with short captions to remember what stood out from that month in our lives, then at the end of the year, I’ll create a photobook and print it and we’ll have a hard copy to look at for that year. Now it’s just a matter of doing it!

    • Diane says:

      Great ideas in this comment, Cindy! I may implement some of these myself. I like the idea of working on it once a month. That’s so much more manageable than waiting till the end of the year.

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