52 Project, Week 10: Mother/Daughter
Since this is a mother/daughter* project, it seemed obvious that there should be a mother daughter portrait for one of the challenges. Though this photography project is mostly for Cat and me, I have invited all of the kids with us when we go out on our adventures. Often, the other children get to jump in for a few portraits or get a chance to hold the camera.
The images of Cat and Me were both taken by Cupcake. Cat and I both took portraits with the other kids and took turns being the photographer. I’ve shared a few favorites and funny ones. Life with 4 children is never boring! Hahaha!
Some of these images were taken in my studio as a last photo shoot before closing my in-home studio. The other ones are a walk we took on a warm day after the Sunday meeting. Since it was so warm, there were a lot of other families out enjoying the warmer weather. One family was kind enough to stop and take a portrait of all of us together, a rare treat.
I enjoy taking portraits with my children so that I am not an invisible part of their lives, in pictures anyway. Too often I am the one taking a picture and not in it. I’ve been trying to change this and ask other people to take a picture of me.
As a photographer, I see a lot of Mom’s since they’re the ones bringing the children in for photo shoots. I usually ask the Mothers to jump in for a few portraits. Some Moms are happy to jump in, excited to share in the moment. Most Moms are shy and hesitant, slightly uncomfortable with the idea of being the center of attention. Some Moms outright refuse to be in the portrait.
I’ve heard a lot of excuses over the years. They’re heartbreaking to hear.
“I don’t have any makeup on.”
“I don’t look good.”
“I’m not dressed up.”
“I’m too fat.”
Usually, these are said with an outright honest and panicked frankness. Some are said with a laugh to diffuse the tension. All are said directly in front of their children.
Years ago I read an article that talked about how self-image was created in children. It mentioned how children’s first role models are their parents. What children hear their Mother’s say about themselves, becomes the inner voice of our children. If we talk negatively about ourselves on a regular basis, our children hear that and internalize it. If we talk positively about ourselves, we set a good example of confidence and self-love.
Our children look at us with love and adoration. They don’t see our imperfections as imperfections. They might or might not notice that our hair is messy, we don’t have makeup on, our clothes might be a size too small or too large or dirty from a hard day’s work. They might or might not see the extra weight or lack of weight. They might or might not see our wrinkles and grey hair. To them, this is all part of a person they love very much. To them, these things are all beautiful and fun. Children see the INNER beauty shine through these beautiful characteristics that make us who we are. Children are not naturally judgemental.
I’ve had my children mention my “imperfections” to me as something they adore.
“Mommy, your tummy is nice and fluffy”
“Mommy, why do you put makeup on? You look prettier without it.”
And my favorite…
“Mommy, I love you!”
They see the extra hugs and cuddles should they have a nightmare. They see the smile when they look over for approval. They hear my encouragement, my teaching, my singing, my laughter, and my love. They see me making them meals and washing their clothes with a positive attitude. They notice the good and not the bad.
Over the years, I’ve made a point to say positive things about myself in front of my children. If I should look in the mirror and not like what I see, I make sure to say something positive out loud. Instead of criticizing myself over my “imperfections”, I say “Look at my beeeautiful body!” I usually say it in a silly voice with a little wiggle. My children laugh and smile. Instead of feeling down about myself, I too feel better and happier with who I am.
Seeing myself in pictures is not always easy. I can see the things that make me look older as glaring reminders that I’m no longer young. I resist the urge to edit these away with my awesome photo editing skills. I don’t want my children to look back and see a perfectly retouched and unrealistic Mom. I want them to see me as I am. Hopefully, someday when they’re older, should they struggle with the same negative thoughts, they might look at a picture of me at their age and see that I’m not perfect either and hopefully it will make them feel better.
Do you hop in portraits with your children? Do you have any pictures of you and your mother?
*Although this is a mother/daughter project, anyone can join in. This can be a father/son, father/daughter, mother/son or other project. If you don’t have a child, you can use your parent. If you are away from your parent or child, you could use this as an opportunity to photograph what the parent/child relationship means to you.
Here are a few silly outtakes of our photo shoot.