The other day, my friend told me something weirdly life-changing…
My friend Liz Libré has started asking people, even strangers, to take photos of her with her kids. She’s usually behind the camera but she wants that to change. “I take pictures of my children alllllllll the time,” she says, “but I wanted my arms on them, my body touching them. When I lost my mom, I realized I have a finite number of photos with her. I want to be represented in my camera roll.”
Now and again, while doing everyday things — walking home from school or eating ice cream cones — she’ll ask passersby to snap a quick photo. “Strangers are happy to help,” she says. “It takes two seconds. No fancy posing or special outfits or holding a smile.” She wants to remember the daily goings on in their lives, including the “sweaty post-park walk,” above.
Mother-of-two LaTonya Yvette feels the same and jokes that she’s trained her kids to be good photographers, so that they can photograph her with each other. “And it works!” (Her daughter, River, took the photo above.)
They also snap selfies, and strangers can help take group shots. “Honestly, I am not afraid to ask. I just find people who look friendly. Teenagers are the best and always know all the angles.”
My friend Hana Asbrink loves taking her daughter for pizza. Although she could always photograph just her daughter or the spread, “I’ll ask a waiter to snap our picture,” she says. “I want to remember these dates together.”
The smallest moments deserve capturing, too. “I want pictures of the in-between stuff, not just the birthdays or vacations,” says Julie Pearson, a mother of two. “I’ll even have my husband take a photo of me changing a diaper or carrying the stroller down the subway stairs. If I had more pictures of my mom doing these things, that would be so special to me. These are the moments that make your life what it is.”
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this. It’s true that I’m usually the one taking the photos, and, although we have lots of pretty photos of trips and parties, I don’t have many pictures of how I truly see and feel my life as a mother. My #1 thing as a parent are my evening adventures with the boys, before Alex gets home — riding bikes, walking around the block, reading books — yet we have essentially no photos of them. I’d be so grateful for a snapshot or two of those cherished times, no matter how blurry or lopsided, to hold onto forever.
What about you? Which side of the camera are you usually on? Do you have photos of your parents doing everyday things? (I always think this woman captures quotidian moments so beautifully.)