“This is what I like about photographs. They’re proof that once, even for just a heartbeat, everything was perfect.”
– Jodi Picoult, Lone Wolf
Once upon a time, there was a cute little four year old boy that looked up at me with big ole eyes and said, “Mommy, why do you take so many pictures?”
I remember the day, we were sitting in our front yard, playing with our brand new puppy. We were laying in a little patch of grass that was always more full and soft than the rest of the yard and the sunlight shone down on us perfectly, making the mild February day unseasonably warm.
I told him back then that I took so many photos because I used my camera to help capture the world around me. To help me see more beauty in the every day. To help me be more thankful.
Even though that was just a couple years ago, things are becoming a little bit clearer as to my why I do this photography thing. Isn’t it funny how life and time and kids growing up can change you in ways you didn’t even know were possible? While I still use my camera to capture the beautiful world around me, to help me appreciate it, and be more grateful for my life, I have morphed into a new way of thinking about my photos.
Now, every time I pull out my camera, I try to remind myself that this thing that is happening right in front of me, this scene I’m about to capture, it’s a memory being made. I partly do this so that I can remember to take a few shots and then be more present physically to actually be IN the memory. But mostly because I want the photos I take to help me REMEMBER the memory.
Here’s what I mean by remembering the memory: looking back at this photo of my boys sneaking into the snack cabinet, I am overwhelmed with the full scene of the memory, not just parts of it. I remember that I was sitting at my desk feeling pretty frustrated about an editing issue on another image, fighting annoyance (real life y’all) with the loudness of my kids when I told them I just needed like 30 minutes to work, hearing their tippy toes sneaking over, turning around to get on to them, and then seeing this- HUGE grins on sweet faces. They were “invisible” with their glasses on and were trying to quietly sneak a snack. In that moment, all my frustrations went away (followed by some mom guilt that I was even frustrated at them in the first place). But then they came over and hugged me and I apologized for my attitude and we all had a snack (maybe I was just hangry.)
All that from one image.
When I look back at our photos, my memories come alive.
I am reminded of things about the scene that I never want to forget.
And I know that my mind will wane as I get older, and my memories will fade.
I don’t want to forget this day, where my boy saw the big ice block and the hill and asked if he could slide down it like a sled. And the look on his face when his daddy said YES to “will you go with me?”
So I take photographs. Tangible, visual reminders of the memory. To fill in the gaps of the fuzz in my brain.
The quote up at the beginning talked about how photographs can help us remember a moment in time where everything was perfect… I do love that. But I also am realizing that photographs can do more than document the perfect times. They can document EVERY time. The good, the bad, the sad, the happy, the real.
And real life is what I want to remember, even all the wrestling.
So I’ll keep taking all the photos, of every part of every day, so that I can keep on remembering for as long as I can.