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!
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.