Motherhood

Moms, Are You in the Photos?

Liz Libre

The other day, my friend told me something weirdly life-changing…

Liz Libre

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.”

Liz Libre

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.

LaTonya Yvette

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.)

LaTonya Yvette

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.”

Hana Asbrink

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.”

Moms, Are You in the Photos?

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.”

Moms, Are You in the Photos?

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this. Although we take photos on trips or when having friends over, I don’t have many pictures of how I truly see and feel my life as a mother. One of my #1 things as a parent are my evening adventures with the boys — riding bikes, walking around the block, reading books — yet we have hardly any photos of them. I’d be so grateful for some snapshots 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.)

P.S. 11 cool ways to display family photos, and trying out slow parenting.

  1. Alex says...

    Yes! I need to ask people when we’re out (I love that bit about asking teenagers!). My dear husband is the best man ever, but he’s an awful photographer- haha.

  2. Oh! This is so real. My brother was taking photos everywhere and after he moved we realize that there are no pictures of him. Weird! Great advice to ask people to photograph.

  3. Kendra says...

    Take photos with the family photographer! Every family has one, the person who always has the camera and captures the moment. I realized after my dad died how few photos there are of the two of us – we were always the ones taking the pictures. Makes me sad.

  4. Traci says...

    Yes! I noticed this a few years ago and mention it to my husband every once in a while. He, however, is a terrible photographer and captures from the worst angles and mostly resting bitch face….not exactly how I want my kids to remember me, ha!
    I need to figure out how to kindly encourage him to learn to take better photos, because it is really important to me.

    • Krista says...

      My husband does this too…I know it’s vain, but I don’t want his pictures to be our record of what I look like!

  5. Kyle says...

    I’m not a mother, but I find Mommy Short’s series on mornings and evenings so beautiful for this exact reason. It’s just families doing what they normally do during that time, but its clear how much love there is.

  6. jennifer says...

    When my second son was born my older son (then age 2) went to preschool three days a week and through the freezing winter I always set out their cold weather clothes (wooly baby suit, snowsuit, hats, mitts, boots…) on the floor in the order I’d need to put the items on the kids before we left the house. One day I snapped a photo of that arrangement and I find myself looking back at it often, especially now that they’re older and can dress themselves. I don’t think we take many photos that show the every day labour of parenting, so I try to do that now and again. A photo of two lunch boxes packed and ready to go, a photo of the laundry piled on the kitchen table, a photo of my husband walking them to school with one on his shoulders and the other holding his hand, or one of me waiting in the hospital waiting room with the younger one after he ate random mushrooms in the park (he was fine). I like the posed and beautiful photos, but I also like the ones that show the day to day grind.

    • Jo says...

      Beautiful, everyday moments <3
      I am going to start doing this too. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Rebecca says...

    A photo of Julie/any mom carrying a stroller down the subway stairs — I love this so much. My mother died when my siblings and I were kids and teens, and what I wouldn’t give to see photos of her making us salami sandwiches
    or outside the pediatrician’s office!
    I have two young children now and strive to capture the quotidian — but I will make an effort to include myself, too! Thank you for this post.

  8. Mali says...

    I loved this post–and it’s so timely. My husband just had his 41st birthday and a friend’s daughter offered to make a slideshow of pictures for the party we had. After putting it together she called me and asked why I was barely in any of them (we’ve been married 14 years). The answer? I was always behind the camera…

  9. Michelle says...

    I am reading The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd and last night, I ran across this line, “…it seemed strange to me how love and habit blurred so thoroughly to make a life.” Immediately, your words and the images of Liz and LaTonya came to mind. Grocery stores, playgrounds, book snuggles, after school snacks, baths, cartoons, sippy cups- that’s my love, my habit, my life. How did I get so lucky?

  10. Ana says...

    I feature only on selfies with my son and it actually makes me a bit sad: when your husband never thinks of taking your picture while every ugly brutalist building gets to star in a 50+ roll, you tend to get hurt.
    However, I started giving my son my phone and asking him to take my picture and he loves it: (he’s 5 and feels very grown up doing it).
    He is also used to me taking tons of pictures, so he actually does the same and now I can always find a flattering one. Yesterday he took a picture of me riding my new (foldable) bike, one I bought to have in the car and to keep him company in the park in the afternoons – it will become my new profile picture. I love that it represents the way he sees me.

  11. Nicole says...

    This resonates with me so much! My Mom always tells my sister and I to take pictures that have us in it because there are not many pictures of us with my Mom when we were little. My sister and I pay it forward by taking pictures of each other with our kiddos and then uploading them to a shared album. We talk about how in our retirement we’re going to scrapbook all the photos, ha!

  12. Sydni Jackson says...

    I feel this way about videos. When I was growing up, my dad would pull the (big, cumbersome) camera out for holidays as well as just random days. I love watching these home movies where he didn’t film us doing anything special or significant, but just kept the camera rolling during normal life. I have a huge extended family and my dad would walk around just videoing people’s conversations. I cherish being able to see what my grandma was like because she passed away when I was in elementary school. Recently we pulled out the video from my mom’s baby shower, where several of my relatives who have now passed away were chatting and joking around. I try to do this every now and then with my family because I want to preserve the everyday moments, like you said!

  13. Thank you for this. I was diagnosed with cancer while I was pregnant, and had to undergo treatment so I did sort of avoid the camera a bit when my baby boy was born because I did not want to see myself looking ill, losing my hair. But the pictures we do have now, now that I am thankfully in remission, I am so grateful for even though they are still very hard to look at. And just a couple of weeks ago we did a photo shoot, my husband and baby and me, so that we could have these pictures for him when he grows up. Even though I am conflicted about seeing myself with my short hair (which does not look bad, but I associate it with being ill) I very strongly feel that it’s important to record the daily. Also since having cancer really brought home that we can’t take for granted that we will always be there for our kids. Having these pictures is so precious!

  14. Maria says...

    Ha! Great post! I am not the one documenting every daily routine with camera, but my husband is! So, since we’re together, he has been taken pictures of us and then our growing family. It is kind of a tradition now that we take selfies all together (mostly on outdoor outings). First it was just the two of us, then the three of us, and since January this year, the four of us. For my birthday, my husband printed all those selfies out and pinned them on our tours at home! They are so many! What a surprise and we, the kids and guests always stop to look when passing by. It’s a great way of remembering and praising daily life.

  15. Carol says...

    I definitely intend to make sure I’m in plenty of the photos when I have kids. My mum passed away when I was a baby and there’s actually only 1 photo I’ve ever found of her with me and my siblings all together. There’s more photos of her with my older siblings, but still not very many as she was almost always the one behind the camera. Part of that is perhaps that people used to take less photos in the pre-digital camera age, but I wish I had more photos of her, even doing mundane things, just to get more of a sense of what she was like, her different facial expressions etc.

  16. Mika says...

    My sister has a new baby and she shares pictures of him all the time with us. The disconcerting thing about these pictures is that she is never in them – the only parent represented with her son is the father. Sometimes it feels as if the lack of her presence in these photographs is erasing her from a record of this part of her son’s childhood! I guess this is because she is always the one behind the camera and is solely undertaking the labour of building a photographic archive and record of her son. Fathers need to share this labour – going behind the camera to make sure that the mother has beautiful pictures with her baby too!

  17. shopgirl says...

    I think that our children will have such a mountain of photos in their legacy anyway that they will never get through them in their life ….. so I prefer less, but those special.
    When my nephew was younger, he became quite nervous from constant phone in front of his face from entire family and eventually did not even want to be photographed any more… he was just turning his head away. Now we have limited this just to special moments and he tolerates it..:-))

  18. Kay says...

    When my first Mother’s Day came around I chanced upon a charity studio shoot and grabbed the opportunity to get some photos of my then six-month-old…with *ME*! I loved having them so much the next year I decided to engage a photographer to capture us at home, reading books together. It was our main thing in my second year of motherhood, and I wanted some pretty pictures of real moments to remember it by. Last year, we took photos on the Hong Kong Tramways. We had spent the third year taking rides every morning and evening, having just moved to this country. I hope to do a shoot every year, and have snippets of the seasons of my personal motherhood within reach in the albums on my bookshelf.

  19. Ali says...

    You look so much like your mom in the last photo. You have posted lots of photos of her with you guys as babies and it’s lovely.

  20. I love that everyday moments, and not just special occasions are captured. I have three kids and besides family shots, I try to take photos of myself with each of them, one to one. I want them to be able to look back and have photos of themselves alone with Mom.

  21. sarah o. says...

    oh, I love this so much. especially the bit about capturing everyday happenings. amidst so many (great) photos of birthday cakes and holiday unwrapping and family vacations, my hands-down favorite family shot was taken by my husband at 7AM on a school day — my kids and i are in the bathroom, i’m checking my 7 year old’s head for lice (for the zillionth time!) while he brushes his teeth and our toddler is camped out on the training potty. so unglamorous. but definitely a reflection what our life really looks like. and seeing it photographed made me all the more grateful for moments like these.

  22. Roxana says...

    This is such a beautiful post! I love the post as much as the comments. It’s all so thought-provoking and inspiring and tear-jerking.

    I love the selfie photo of LaTonya Yvette eating ice-cream with her two dynamos.

    Also, the Rose & Crown photos are UNBELIEVABLE. My absolute favorite type of photography. LOVE. She captures the art in life and the life in art.

  23. Rebecca says...

    I do lots of social activities with my Mum friends during the week (usually while spouses are at work). We make a conscious effort to photograph each other doing stuff with our kids and then afterwards we text them to each other. It takes two seconds, no one poses, sometimes we don’t even reply to the photo exchange but boy is it nice to have a camera roll that features lots of everyday moments. Id never have photos of myself at the playgroup play dough table or dishing out morning tea at the park otherwise. Ive also never taken a photo of another Mum and thought her stomach looked fat or her hair looked limp so its taught me to be a bit less harsh on myself!

  24. Catherine says...

    This is the time of year that we are bombarded with the choice of lovely family holiday photograph cards. Caring for my Mom, now in failing health, I took a picture of her and turned it into a card with Joy written on it. What a surprise friends and family got expecting to see a card with a sweet child, but it was that child’s Gran. No one ever considered a beautiful elderly 90 year old could command her own card. Mom passed away this summer, looking at my young Mom with her 5 kids, I see that I chose the right word for her last Christmas card. JOY!
    My sympathy to you Liz Libre.

  25. anna maria says...

    I was just thinking about this today, while going through photos of my first daughter when I was pregnant with my second. I wish so much I had a shot of myself with my big ‘ol belly and my first baby girl about to become a big sister. My most favorite picture of me and my mom was when she was pregnant with my little brother – there is just so much magic in that photograph – my mom young with a big round belly, and me, completely oblivious, holding her hand while walking down the street. <3

  26. Kate says...

    In tears. Lost my mom and kind only find, like, 3 pictures of us together. I know I carry the memories in my heart, but more photographs would have been nice.

  27. sarah says...

    So, so timely. My husband and I have been trying to adopt. We just got foster placement twin infants. We want to adopt them, but know our time with them may be limited. We’ve been going to visit them in the NICU and I’m a mess from crying so much, my hair is unwashed, and my makeup has run.

    But oh how I want my husband and me to be IN the pictures with these babies. My hope and prayers is that one day we will have wedding pictures with them, graduation pictures with them, birthdays upon birthdays pictures with them, lost tooth pictures, vacation pictures– all things we must hold with open hands for now. So for now, I will treasure every single opportunity I have to take their pictures and be in pictures with them. Whether these sweet babies are with me for a lifetime or a week, those pictures will represent the memories of the love we could give each day.

    • Kelly Hartman says...

      adoptive mama here! best of luck to you and those babies…open your hearts wide and use that space to love each other if these can’t be your forever babies…know that your family will come together one day, some way and hold onto the moment!

  28. Casey says...

    I always make it a point to ask a mom if I can take a picture of her with her kids because I don’t think we realize how little we are in the photos.

  29. Sarah says...

    Joanna, the post-work, pre-dinner moment feels like the most chaotic moment of my day. How do you find time to do an outing during that window? Do you have dinner at 8pm? Do the boys go to bed at 9? Do you work on dinner the night before? Do you get home from work at 4? How to fit everything into a day and still have some quality time with the kids where I’m not frantically checking the food in the oven or getting organized after the day is my continual struggle!

  30. Nat says...

    Literally right before reading this post I was going through photos of my (surprise!) almost-7-month-old and thinking I’ve missed photos of so many moments we’ve had together, especially the first five months while I was on maternity leave. I almost dismissed my thoughts and then read this. Thanks for such an important reminder. I need to share this with my husband too!

  31. Ann says...

    Speaking to my heart. I took my almost 2 year old for a breakfast date this past weekend and felt like I was floating on a cloud. We drew some pictures, pointed at things we could name all around (couch, boy, scooter) and then ate a delicious smoothie bowl and stack of pancakes. As an anxious mama, this felt like such a triumph to go out on my own with my toddler and enjoy it, feeling completely relaxed. I thought about asking the waitress to take a photo, but I chickened out. Now all I have is a photo of pancakes. I’ll buckle up and ask next time!

  32. Rosa says...

    Love this sweet reminder! The last paragraphs about Joanna’s evenings made me think that I would love to read “a day in the life” posts with photos of all the wonderful women who work here. Joanna’s day with her kids from what time they wake up, eat, walks, work, etc. But also the life of all the team members. I love reading how people juggle work and life, and family and food and hobbies.

  33. Rachael says...

    Love this so much. I actually took a photo today of my son holding my hand while I pushed the grocery cart—he’s my last baby and who knows if that was the last time he will ever sit in the baby seat and hold my hand? I legit teared up in the checkout line thinking about it so that’s when I pulled out my phone and took a picture of our hands.

  34. Emma says...

    As much as I am super camera-shy (or at least, I’d prefer to take the photo than be in it), I am so flattered that my boyfriend takes pictures of me doing ordinary stuff, despite my resistance/aversion/awkwardness in front of the camera. He has joked that he could have an entire album of me looking at art in museums. When we were traveling together in Colombia we got into taking photos together using the self-timer on my DSLR. Kind of a hilarious activity in its own right as the photos are so bad sometimes.

  35. Love this post Jo! I am a photo-taker. Not a photographer, but I’ve always been the one to take photos in my friendship groups and family (often with a real camera!) but I’m also not scared to ask someone else to take a snap so I’m there too. My companions often moan about me wanting to take photos all the time but then they’re the first to ask for a copy!

    I wrote a blog post on this topic, including the importance of getting Mum in photos, if you’d like to see… https://mybloggableday.com/2017/04/15/5-things-the-photo-taker-in-your-life-wants-you-to-know/

  36. Jean Jones says...

    Well, you are completely right, I am never in the photos! I think this should be a call out to all moms– when you see other moms out there with the kiddos, offer to take a photo for them!

  37. I have very few childhood photos in general but even less of me and my parents, especially my mum. For a while I was very sad about this, then I reframed it – for anyone else who needs it here it is: my mother IS in every photo I have; her eye, her love, her attention, for after all, she was the photographer. Film was precious then, so only the things she thought were precious too were shot. These are the things that make the photo – and best of all – her famous clumsiness is in all the ones that were twice exposed.

    • Sarah says...

      Well now I am crying!! Beautiful, Tracey. Thank you!!!

    • Sarah says...

      This is such a lovely thought- thank you.

    • Tracey Gibbs says...

      Glad I could help Sarah. It makes all the photos feel like magic to me.

  38. jessica says...

    just put together a photobook of our epic family vacation to glacier national park and northern idaho this past summer. 129 pages of 3 smiling kids. a handsome husband, amazing vistas… and I am in 2 pictures. Fail.

  39. Claire says...

    No, I am not in the photos! I always shy away from being in photos but I realize after seeing this that I lost out on something special. I would give anything to have some pics of my son and I together when he was small. Especially a shot of us reading books together at night in our pajamas.

  40. valeria says...

    Out of topic, but just to let you know about a present I made in these days for my dear friend Myfanwy who just turned 50. The present consists in “50 things to read”, where the first two where books, so actually wrapped and given in person, and the other 48 are things I’m sending her by email, one each day: poems, short stories, pieces I read on newspapers and magazines… Today (third day) she got a link to the entire Motherhood around the world series, she is English living in Italy raising two awesome boys, so I’m sure she will read and read and read.

    • Dawn says...

      Love that idea! What a sweet and thoughtful gift!

    • mindi says...

      This is such a great gift, Valeria. <3 What a lucky friend.

    • Bethany says...

      What a beautiful gift idea!

    • I am so jealous that she will be given access to the Motherhood Around the World series in one go! This is my favourite favourite series and (much like I feel jealous of my adult friends reading Harry Potter for the first time) it must be so fun to have not read them, but to be presented with them all at the same time – with the promise of more to come!

      This is such a nice idea!

  41. Nadia says...

    I used to worry about not being in pictures, but I realized that, through the pictures I take, my kids get a glimpse into my mind. They see what I treasure and what I find beautiful. I try to tell the stories through my photos and I share those stories with my kids. I have one really good picture of my dad who died a few years ago ( I happened to be the one who took it). I don’t regret having more. My memories are made of our time together without the camera.

  42. Samantha says...

    Yes! We call the candid, someone is crying, no ones hair is combed, everyone is crazy but it’s real life photos “Proof of Mom” photos!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahahaha

  43. I lost my dad right before my twins were born, so I have had this in mind since they arrived. We didn’t have as many photos of him and with him as I would have liked. Now I take tons of photos of my husband with my kids, and I ask him to take pics of me with them as well. I know how much I love the photos with my own parents so I try to make this a point of emphasis in our daily lives. :)

  44. Temme says...

    Daaaaaang, River’s got some mad photography skills! I’d hire her to be my photographer right now!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha same!

  45. Meredith says...

    This reminds me so much of the article posted on Huffington Post back in 2012 (!!) “The Mom Stays in the Picture” https://www.huffpost.com/entry/mom-pictures-with-kids_b_1926073

    I pinned this for myself way back when, before I had kids, but I’ve read it several times since I had my son. So good to see this message being amplified!

  46. J says...

    This summer my beautiful friend Mica has sent me countless pictures of her boys and her boys with Daddy. I send her a message: TAKE A PICTURE OF MAMA.

  47. Colleen says...

    Yup. We had family
    Photos done a few years ago and i really don’t like to see myself in photos because I’m heavier than I would ever even think and it’s upsetting. The photographer very kindly mentioned that his mom was a bigger lady and didn’t like having her photo taken and she died young. He said he so regrets not having pictures of her and reminded me that my daughter loves me just how I am. Boy did that slap me across the face like a seal-flung octopus! Ever since then I am right in those photos and happy that I have a family who loves me.

    • Carol says...

      Like a seal flung octopus….wow…thank you for that…BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    • Maria says...

      “Like a seal-flung octopus” XD

    • Capucine says...

      This.

      First, it is me.

      Second, I wonder what part of the time we mamas are not in photos because of how we look, in either a conscious or unconscious choice.

      My husband developed a fine art film hobby and my daughter outgrew babyhood, and with a camera in my face because she was in my arms daily one New Year my resolution was to be gracious about every photo and never say another word or avoid another shot but just smile at the camera every time as if, as if, as if – as if I hit the bell for society’s measure of a woman’s worth. So I’ve done that, for ten years now, and it has made photo-taking a peaceful thing, although I don’t look through the photos with my husband, if I don’t have to see them it helps a lot! Nor have I ever done a studio family shot, that kind of sustained focus is too much.

  48. Elizabeth says...

    I started using the app One Second Everyday. You upload 1 sec of a video every day, and at the end of the year, you have a wonderful short video of the year. I often capture the small moments like riding to school, reading books at bedtime, or just giggling. Of course I have the big stuff too, but those small moments are what makes up this wonderful life.

  49. Whitney says...

    This is so touching. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about as the child of an avid photographer mother who was never in the photos of us as kids. I find myself cajoling her to take every day shots with + without me when I’m home now as an adult (pictures of her cooking, sewing, sleeping), as a result, which I think she quietly accepts and understands for all of the reasons you and others have mentioned…

  50. Heather says...

    We let my daughter (5) use an old digital camera (so crazy that this was my camera that I used, now its basically a toy). So we have thousands of pictures of me, my husband, her little sister, the pets, the trash can, under the bed. Etc. Some pictures are not very flattering (she tends to take from a very low angle, first thing in the morning), but they are interesting to her and its so fun to see her perspective. I fully endorse giving your kids your old digital camera that you never use anymore ;)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is SOOOO cute, heather! ps made me laugh: “she tends to take from a very low angle, first thing in the morning”

    • Rebecca says...

      Oh my goodness same. Our 4 year old takes a lot of shots sitting on the floor of the bathroom. Nothing glamorous about that but its where she sits and chats while I’m in the shower or doing my make up so i guess its how i look!!

  51. Mariana says...

    Yes! I complain about this to my husband all the time: I’m always the one taking pictures but am never in them. Sometimes I remember and take a selfie but I love the idea of having someone take a picture to remember those in-between moments :)

  52. Christina says...

    What a sweet post! It’s interesting how this varies from family to family. My dad always hated having photos taken, so there are many photos, candid and posed, of us kids with our mom. When we were looking through photos for his memorial service this year, there were heartbreakingly few of him during our childhood. I treasure each of these photos more than I can say.

  53. Meg says...

    Today is my twin boys’ third birthday, and we literally just returned from getting birthday cookies. I was snapping pics of them outside the bakery, and a stranger asked me if she could take my photo with them. I politely told her, “Oh, no thanks.” Just opened your site to read, and I find this. It’s a sign from the universe. Next time, I will say, “Yes!” ❤️

  54. Robin says...

    Thank you for the title of this. Seeing “Moms” made me smile. In my Cree culture we have adopted (cermonial and traditional) families and this (also) reminded me of how so many women in my life take on parenting and supporting roles. It really does take a community.

    • Sasha L says...

      Robin, I love reading this, so beautiful

  55. Myev says...

    For me it was my dad. He was the family camera man–back in the 1980s when you needed some serious biceps to hoist the video camera on to your shoulder. When he died in 1991, I was only 8 and I used to watch our home movies over and over just searching for the rare moment when he was in the shot. I have his voice, usually saying something like, “come on guys! Do something!” but I wish I had more of him. Get in the shot moms and dads. God willing, you will outlive your children and they will find the images of you far more valuable than endless shots of themselves.

  56. Gretta says...

    I love the ‘ask a teenager’ comment. So true and so important

  57. Kerry says...

    YES. Reading this was one of those “DUH” moments, made my mouth drop open — why haven’t I been doing this already??

    Wonderfully obvious and wonderfully beautiful idea, thank you.

  58. Kara says...

    Yes! I’d add two things:
    -Take your sunglasses off! I know I’m more comfortable in photos with them on, but in 20 years, my babies will want to see my FACE. The way my eyes looked at them and the world.
    -Do this with your friends too. I’m moving soon, and I realized I don’t have any pictures with my best friend. I have plenty of photos of her, but none of us together. The next time we go out to dinner I’m slipping the server my phone and an extra tip and asking for some sneaky candids

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “Do this with your friends too.” = yes!!!!! such a good point.

    • M says...

      Echoing taking photos with friends. Sadly, when two friends (separately) passed away unexpectedly, I realized I had no recent photos to hold on to. Even if I just keep them for me (not social media), photos with loved ones are precious.

  59. I talk (complain) about this all of the time! We have so many great photos of the kids and my husband thanks to our family archivist (me), but I’m rarely in any. We’ve started getting better about asking people to take our picture. I also make it a point to print photos. We have albums from pictures of the decade my husband and I have been together and it is wild to look through them and see how we’ve changed, how our family has grown, which friends have stayed in our lives.

  60. Steph Gilman says...

    I love this post! I used to tell my two sisters this all the time. They really struggled post-pregnancy to like any photos taken of them. I’m sure I’ll feel the same when I have kids and have excess weight in some places…but I hope I’ll choose to be in photos anyway because they’re so precious later. My oldest sister died a few years ago and now I’m so sad I don’t have more photos of her and with her after she started having babies. She was so beautiful and I don’t think she realized it.

  61. Dylan Wood says...

    I take LOTS of pictures and one thing I have started to do when asking people to take a picture of me and my family….. is to offer to take a picture of them as well. People are usually really flattered and happy to do a “trade.”
    Because of my photography background, I often see people out and about and offer to take a picture when it seems like a perfect picture in my eye.
    It embarrasses my husband= but I can’t help it and it usually ends well. It’s also a nice way to interact with strangers…..

    • Sasha L says...

      Dylan, that’s so kind, and I bet those strangers are thrilled when they see the beautiful photo you’ve taken. Such a kind gift.

    • j says...

      I tend to do this as well. Except I volunteer and then reel in my photographer husband to actually take the photo! The last time I did this for a family I saw them taking photos for another family later on (at a huge restaurant). I hardly have any pictures of both my parents and I from my childhood so now I really try to make an effort

  62. Libbynan says...

    Funny that this post was today…..this morning I was “staging “, so to speak, the top of my chest -of-drawers and wanted to use some photos in a new holder I received for my birthday. I got out the photo boxes and started rummaging. These boxes contain both studio portraits and family snapshots over the last fifty years. I wound up using wedding photos of my husband and myself, my daughter and her husband, and my son and his wife. Not the professional shots from the photographer, but simple snapshots from different family members. I can’t stop going into my bedroom just to look….we all look so happy and relaxed. This is my favorite photo display ever! We do need to see candid pictures of happy times.

    • Gen says...

      Thanks for sharing, Libbynan. This is such a lovely idea.

  63. Colleen S says...

    My mom hates having her photo taken. She wasn’t the one holding the camera, but whenever a camera was pointed in her direction, she was going the other way. What photos we do have that she’s in, we usually love. My sisters are good at getting flattering photos of her, so she isn’t too shy around them.

  64. Annie says...

    I love this! I don’t have kids yet, but I lost my sweet Momma a little over two months ago and since she died before I had a wedding or children or traditional things you take photos at, I don’t have very many pictures with her at all. I will definitely make a point to take pics with my future kids.

  65. Ab says...

    Read this headline and immediately said “nope” out loud. Ha. Need to be a bit more brave and bother some strangers for 20 seconds!

  66. Em says...

    This is one reason that we have created little movies of our daughter every year since she was born! We call them June in June (since her name is June!), and every day, every June, we take a few little videos on our phones, then edit them together at the end of the month. I love them especially because they capture the very ordinary, very beautiful moments that make up our life together. Here’s the most recent one, if you’d like to see :) http://www.emformarvelous.com/june-in-june-volume-3/

    • Cassy says...

      I couldn’t see the vid as it was password protected but as a brand new mum (of a June baby) I love this idea!

    • Em says...

      So fun, Cassy! The password is JUNE (in the post, but easy to miss :))

  67. Kelly says...

    yes to this, and also to getting whole family shots more often! i just had to find a family picture to include in my daughter’s preschool application and had to go back to April to find one of all of us. It always feels like things are too hectic but it just takes a moment!

    • Robin says...

      Ha same! We have lots of the two kids and one of us – my husband takes great photos – but so very few of all four of us.

  68. amy says...

    How do you manage to out-sweet yourself with every post?! Am regularly on the verge of shedding a happy tear when I come here. Planning to ask a stranger on the sidewalk tonite to snap a pic of me, my kiddo and pup on our post-work walk :)

    • Silver says...

      Such a true comment. I love this blog, and I love how everyone responds and comes on-site to comment and share stories – the comments are as wonderful as the articles. I’ve not seen this sort of a community on other sites.

  69. Laura says...

    My best friend died last month at just 32 years of age, leaving behind her three small kids. Even I so cherish pictures I have of her with a baby propped on her shoulder or holding a wobbly walker’s hands. I can’t imagine how much more treasured those kinds of images are to her husband and family. Thankfully he did a great job of capturing her in life’s little moments.

    • Sarah says...

      I’m so sorry about your friend!

  70. I have almost no photos of my mom and I. Sadly, I realize I have done the same to my kids. I am not a fan of the camera. I have lots of photos when they were little – but my marriage to their dad was rocky and it shows in my face. They are grownups now (37, 33 and 30). My daughter pointed out that there are no photos of us together after a certain period of time. She is right. I fear the camera. So I am sure there won’t be any. Kind of sad. Take photos, everyone! As often as you can!

  71. Olivia says...

    Will definitely make a point to do this next year!

    We just found out last week that I’m pregnant with our first, due June 7 :) it still feels funny to write. Only our close family members know and I can’t WAIT to share the news with everyone we know!

    • Noelle says...

      Congratulations, Olivia!

  72. Caitlin says...

    My mother has had body image issues and an eating disorder for her entire adult life, which burrows itself into our family in innumerable ways. Maybe the saddest is her unwillingness to pose for photos or allow anyone to share photos of her because she hates the way she looks. I made a joke to her recently that when I eventually have children of my own, they’re never going to know what she looked like when she was younger because there’s such little photographic evidence of it. I think she’s beautiful, and I’d venture a guess that her future grandchildren will also find her beautiful (just like everyone else does), so it breaks my heart that she doesn’t see it, and allows it permeate the future memories we may have of her. Thanks for this important reminder

    • Anon says...

      Same. Almost no pics of my mom and in the few I have, she’s not smiling and looking like she’s hating every minute. It makes me really sad. The few candid shots my children caught of her, with their little cameras, when she want noticing, are treasures to me

  73. Emma says...

    In the past my mom has avoided photos because she wasn’t happy with the way she looked. When her dad died she was super sad to realize she had too few pictures of her with him. When I’m tempted to withdraw from the camera or to not put certain photos in our albums I remember this.

    • Christy says...

      This. This is me. My dad died and I realized how few pictures there are of me and him. Or me and my mom. Or even my mom and dad.

  74. Meghan Baumann says...

    I am also not a fan of myself in most photos, but right after reading this post and the comments, I took selfies of myself with my 4-year-old and 2-year-old – not fancy, but real life representations of all of us during this stage of life :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, meghan, that makes my heart sing. :) i’m sure you look radiant.

    • diana k. says...

      I, like many people, find myself shrinking away from photos because of general insecurities about the way I look- but I started studying my favorite pictures of myself and came up with some general tricks for looking your best.

      1- Tilt your chin down slightly. This is instantly slimming because the camera isn’t zeroing in on the tiny bit of fat under your chin (I’m referring to my chin, yours is perfect).

      2- Smile really big and hard while the photographer is getting ready and let your face start to relax by the time he/she clicks. A subtle lingering smile looks natural and probably best represents how you smile when no one’s taking photos.

      3- Don’t lean! I have an instinct to lean my body to get into a group photo, stand/sit up tall instead and relax your shoulders. Good posture always flatters and the photographer will always make sure everyone is in the shot, you don’t have to squeeze or shrink yourself to fit.

      4- Look at whoever you’re in the photo with. Staring down a camera feels unnatural, especially if someone is taking their time with multiple photos and your smile is fading. Every once in a while glance down at your nephew or smile at your mom, it reads as a much more natural photo than just a dead-on stare.

      Good luck out there!
      From the girl voted “least photogenic” by an anonymous Myspace page in high school.

  75. Lisa says...

    My mother is the designated family photographer, and she passed that love on down to me. She also passed down importance of offering to take a family’s photo when you’re the passerby. More often than not family photos are a weird mix of one parent with the kids or just the kids or the parent with only one kid. It takes 10 seconds to offer up your time and it could be their best or only full family photo of a trip!

    • Glenda says...

      I do the same thing. I always offer to take the pictures of strangers.

  76. Jenna Senter says...

    I remember several weeks into having my first baby, my husband and I were looking through each other’s phones to see what pictures we each had taken of the time. I cried when I saw that my husband captured LIVE photos of me nursing my daughter mere minutes after she was delivered. It was such an unexpected gift and something I’ll cherish forever.

  77. Erin says...

    I honestly think selfies have changed this part of the world for the better. I LOVE being in pictures with my daughter and thankfully I only have one to worry about so we do selfies all the time! We get my husband in too. I agree that strangers are happy to help – I love to offer to take pictures for groups or families!!

  78. Sasha L says...

    I love this post so much. I don’t have tons of pics of me with my kids (once in a while I would shove the camera at my husband and demand a picture) but enough to help me remember the happiness and hopefully enough to help them remember someday as well. Now that they are young adults, they don’t usually want to, but I always want a quick selfie when we’re together. It makes me so happy to see those pics on my phone. I print them too. Sometime I’ll be glad for them.

    The photos I love the best, the sleeping baby, toddler, preschooler, and even a few as teens. Their peacefully sleeping faces just make my heart burst.

  79. Love this. As a photographer it’s so important to be behind the lens and selfies aren’t always enough! I.taught my little one a little how to.use my camera and I do love it when she takes my pictures with the baby whether I’m in pajamas.or not!

    Alex from Wild Eyed photography motto says ” I take photos of you and your kids for your kids.” http://Www.wildeyed.ca

  80. I’ve said this here before and I’ll say it again, if you have more than one child, be sure you get individual photos of yourself with each kid! I’m a younger sister and finding photos of my sister alone with parents is easy, they had three years before I showed up! But me alone with either of my parents? Practically non-existent. I love my sister but it would be nice to have photos of me alone with each of my parents.

  81. Tanya says...

    I feel the same way about videos … how sweet it is to hear voices and have moments captured. We haven’t done a great job with that but I’m going to try to better!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!! we so rarely take videos, but i LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE watching the ones that we have taken. it’s so sweet to see how different their faces and expressions look and how different their voices sound.

    • Roxy says...

      Yes! My son is now 3 and a half, and right after he was born someone told me to take lots of videos of him as a newborn. It would never have occurred to me, since newborns (especially in the first month or so) basically don’t do anything and are kind of weird and lizard-like, so taking a video of them just staring glass-eyed at things and making sucking faces seems kind of… boring? But I am so happy I did this! It’s amazing to see the way my son, now a crazy and hilarious toddler, moved and took in the world during those first few weeks and months. This practice also got me into the habit of taking videos of him often. I especially try to film a “conversation” with him every few weeks — I love watching the older ones from when he was learning to talk (how did I ever understand what he was saying??) and I’m sure I’ll love looking back on the more recent ones where his idea of conversation is random facts and musings (“Mama, did you know that butterflies lay eggs? Also, if a skunk pees on us we have to take a tomato bath.”)

  82. Kay says...

    My children are all adults now and I wish I had many more photos than I do. I also remember once a friend looking through some of my albums and asking me why I wasn’t in many of the pictures, I just hadn’t realised that I took them all and was absent most of the time.

  83. Kate says...

    If I ever see a family trying to snap a selfie, I try to make a point to offer to take a picture for them. I mean, selfies are good – but sometimes it’s good to have a bigger picture of where they were. Sometimes people say no, but more often than not – they’re happy to have someone offer.
    And if you offer for someone else, they’ll usually offer to take one for you and whoever you are with!

  84. Amelia says...

    My husband, son and I were at the Tall Ships two summers ago, and as I was taking a shot of DH and DS on board one of the ships a woman stopped and told me she’d take the picture so I could be in it, too. She told me she never was in enough photos with her kids so she offered to take a couple snaps of our family. So sweet and now that shot is in a collage of pictures on the wall from that summer!

  85. now that my daughter is a little older its hard to get her to take pictures with me. I love our time together. so iam normally behind the camera. Anything to get a snap with her. I love it so much just to be able to see the difference she is making as shes getting older. I catch her off guard and she laughs.. ill get her doing something and boom a quick selfie. I’am also a firm believer in printing out those pictures and placing them in photo albums. its priceless

  86. Amanda says...

    We don’t have kids, but on my honeymoon I asked my husband to take more photos of me, posed and candid. One of my favorite things ever is looking through family photo albums, seeing my parents and other family members from before I was born. I realized that as the “family photographer” I have a ton of photos of my husband, and of places we’ve travelled, and of us together, but rarely photos of myself alone. So I’ve started asking him to take more of those so some day my kids can flip through albums* and see me before I had them.

    *Or whatever the equilvalent of albums will be when I eventually have kids. Does anyone else print out photos for albums still? I love photos and it makes me sad to think that some day they’ll all be digital.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, amanda.

      we make pinhole press softcover albums of certain vacations, i’d love to make some of everyday life, too:
      https://pinholepress.com/petite-layflat

    • Chatbooks!!! It’s how I print out photos and it’s super easy and cheap. I do a hashtag thing, where i post to IG with a certain hashtag, and it connects to chatbooks and auto-makes a photo album; every 60 images it prints and sends it to me. For like $10. Not necessarily archival, but my kid loves them, and I suspect that someday once he’s older, I will just reprint all the books to have less used copies. I know lots of places do photo books but Chatbooks, for me, barely takes any thought or time–otherwise i’d never get it done.

    • Inge says...

      I try to put all digital photos from everyone’s mobile and camera on laptop once every 3 months. So each year is split into 4 folders. Once a year, I have a lot of pictures printed, last time over 300 pictures. I want to put some of them in albums when I have time for that one day :-) but for now I just store them in a special box. The date when the picture is taken is printed on the back.

      But at least, when our digital archive should get lost one day, I don’t lose all our pictures. I think these also are the photos I’ll scroll through when I’m old. We’ll see about that.

  87. Alyssa says...

    My mom and I travel and do things together very often. Everywhere we go, whether we’re on a plane, at the theatre in the town where I live, or in front of a national monument, my mom always requests that we take a selfie. While a tiny part of me laughs, I’m so grateful for the ability to capture all of the special moments. And maybe one of these days she will be able to take the selfie. Somehow she hasn’t mastered it quite yet. :)

  88. Kelsey says...

    When I turned 21 my mom started to make a photo collage of me throughout the years. She cut me out of photos to paste in a book! Ahhh!!!!!!
    I’m torn because it is a gesture of love but it kills me to think about all of these pictures that got cut up.

  89. Yes!!! This is SO important!! I realized this was a huge need for moms from my own experience, and discovered there is a photography genre called documentary family photography. So now I actually offer Day in the Life Sessions for families where I hang out with the family for the whole day to make a photo documentary of their day – filled with images of mom AND dad with their children! I make a movie for them from the images, and usually families have me make a photo book too. Isn’t that cool? I just love thinking about how important these movies and books and photos will be for the families decades later….

  90. I’m so glad you posted this, Joanna. My kiddos and I have so many adventures, like you do – whether it’s going to a concert or just cracking up uncontrollably over charades. As a single mom, I’m reminded of how important it is to just make it a selfie or ask someone to take the photo!
    Thanks for this.

  91. Eva says...

    After I had my third boy this year, I asked my husband to take pics of us all together – well, he’s a grat husband and dad, but not a great photographer. Think eyes closed or weird expressions plus usual tired face and perspective from below. Then I took the kids to an artist’s flashpainting happening and got the cutest painting of us four. Bonus: I look like the hot italian Mamma I always wanted to be. Definetly a piece of art to pass on next generations :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s awesome!!!!

  92. Anne says...

    This is why I liked to snag shots of my sister-in-laws when I’m getting photos of my nieces and nephews. This is a good reminder to get back into it!

  93. Chelsea says...

    I ask my 7 year old son to take pictures of me with my other two kids if no one else is around. He does a great job and of course takes about 20 extra pictures! When I look at the pictures he takes, I often like them way better than any other photos of me. He does such a great job of capturing the joy I feel being a mom.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so sweet, chelsea! it’s like you’re seeing yourself through his eyes.

  94. Kate says...

    When I go through my baby albums, I don’t really care about the ones of just me – all I want to see are the photos of my parents!

    My husband and I have made it a habit to offer to take pictures for people when we see them trying to take group selfies, or if we see one parent taking a picture of the other with a kid – we’ll go ask if they’d like one all together, and of course they always do! This summer in Prague I saw a man and woman about my age (30) who looked to be travelling with an older relative trying to get a group selfie in front of the Charles bridge. I went over and offered to take a few for them and they were so, so happy, and that made me happy :)

  95. I’m not a mom, but this post has me feeling all the feels today. As a kid, my mom was always taking our picture and so there are TONS of pictures of my brother and me. She passed away this past January and while I was planning and putting together her funeral services I started digging through boxes and boxes of photos to put in the program and make photo boards for the reception and I couldn’t find any of her with us kids. It broke my heart. There are quite a few when we’re babies, where it was obvious my dad or other people were trying capture a new mama moment, but as we get older, she starts disappearing from the photos.
    I know for a fact that there’s a picture of her and me before a junior high dance but I can’t find it, it still makes me sick that I can’t find it.
    Now that she’s gone, I just want to see her hands on me, our faces next to each other – proof and physical evidence of the immense amount of love she gave us.

    Take pics with your kids, moms – they’ll want them for themselves some day.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, elizabeth, i’m so so sorry for your loss, and your beautiful comment made me tear up. this line is so lovely: “Now that she’s gone, I just want to see her hands on me, our faces next to each other – proof and physical evidence of the immense amount of love she gave us.” that sounds really hard, you must miss her so much. xoxo

    • Emily says...

      Whew, that line got me too! Tears!

    • Cass says...

      Hi Elizabeth,
      My mom passed away 4 years ago and I too am always looking for photos of us together. Just seeing a picture of us next together, both smiling the same smile for the camera, makes me feel at peace and connected to her.
      I’m sorry for you loss.

    • Jodi says...

      This post touches me deeply too, Elizabeth, in ways similar and very different from you. I too lost my mom, but in my case it was from untreated mental health issues. She grew mean, manipulative, suspicious and ultimately she estranged herself from our entire family. It has taken me years (and some great therapy) to feel at peace with her absence from my life, and to accept that it’s not safe for me to attempt to reconcile with her. What I have never – and will never – get over is the fact that along with losing her, my sister, dad and I lost all of our family photos. Between us we have maybe a handful. I cannot explain how heartbreaking it is to not be able to look back on my childhood through old photos, to see my younger self, my grandparents, beloved pets, old friends, and even my mom when she was a happier, healthier version of herself. It feels strangely like my childhood has been somewhat erased. Even worse is that it’s highly likely she threw away our photos, as that was her go to reaction when something upset her.

      I know this story is a bummer to share, but it adds to the importance of taking, being included in – and passing on these treasured photos that connect us to the past.

  96. Meg says...

    I agree with LaTonya about asking a teenager to take the photo. I have always found that when you ask a stranger, you should pick a teen or young person, and you’ll get a great photo! Must be a generational thing, and anytime I’ve asked someone older, I end up with a blurry photo, heads cut-off, etc! Ha

    • Laura C. says...

      You know what, Meg, I don’t like to take many pictures of me right now (I’m having a tough moment) but when I ask a stranger for a picture with my girls, I use to ask to another mum, because I am afraid that the teenager would run away with my phone knowing that I can’t go after them because of my girls. This is it, I have become a frightened person to that level.
      My husband does take selfies with them when they go for adventures, as Joanna says. I would love to do the same. Go for adventures with my girls and take pictures with them, not only of them. Thank you very much for the reminder.

  97. Emma says...

    I do a lot of family selfies :) all 3 of us scrunched up on the screen and I love them. It’s so important to have pictures of everyone in the family… and when I think I look bad, without fail I always think I look pretty great 2 years later!

  98. Grace says...

    It was my New Years resolution a few years ago to stop and offer to take pictures of people when they’re trying to take a group selfie or its one member of the group taking a picture of everyone else. I try to target families in particular, because I love the snapshots of my parents with me when I was little! It’s an easy way to make a tiny bit of sunshine in the world.

  99. Yes!!! This past summer I decided to do a daily selfie with my three sons. My oldest was about to start 5th grade, my middle son was about to start kindergarten, and it was my youngest son’s first summer on Earth. I got a pic almost every day—including with my husband for the two weeks we were away on our first real family trip. Some days I looked great, hair and makeup done, us in some pretty location. Other days I looked tired and my hair thin from postpartum hair loss. A few pics were even taken in the hospital after the baby had major surgery. I didn’t stress about getting a great angle/set of facial expressions (well, most of the time I didn’t) but I’ll always have these snapshots of a very special summer and my role in it. (I made the hashtag EOHsummerselfie2018 to make it super easy: Ethan, Oliver and Harry.)

  100. Emmy says...

    This is making me think about a striking photo of my grandma that my family found when we were preparing for her funeral a couple of years ago. It was from the early 1950s and showed her at around age 26 or so, standing in a park and holding my uncle as a baby, dressed in a peacoat and turning to talk to a friend. At that time she would have just immigrated to America after escaping from WWII in Europe. It was unusual because it looked so unposed compared to the more serious portraits of her that we have, and it was also in color – the only color snapshot of her that we have from when she was that young. It was almost kind of startling suddenly getting to see what her skin and hair color looked like when she was younger than I even am now. And seeing her caught in a peripheral moment, smiling.

    Anyway, I just think it’s interesting to think about how your kids will view these more candid photos in the future, as more “true” documents of what life was like. I really appreciated finding this rare, unposed photo of my grandma caught in a moment of motherhood with her friends at the park! These kinds of pictures really are treasures.

  101. I had a really rough couple of weeks, and snapped a series of selfies of me snuggling my one-year-old “therapy baby.” It helped.

    In other news, I had family photos taken by Desiree Williams, who concentrated on the moments in between the pretty pictures. One of my favorites is of me feeding the newborn while my husband checked his phone and my four-year-old climbed on the counter :)

    (https://www.desireewaltersphotography.com/)

  102. Rhonda says...

    Joanna, Just this morning I sent a happy October childhood pic to my 27 year old daughter who lives far from home. In response she thanked me for an amazing job of capturing she and her sisters entire childhood on film. I have an entire closet devoted to acid free boxes of actual photos and I treasure everyone but the most treasured are the ones that you mention in your blog today. The everyday moments in life that are natural and real. As always I enjoyed your post! Thank you

  103. Leslie says...

    I understand the target audience of this post, and just wanted to add a quick shout out to the hopeful moms, the moms in spirit, the moms to be, and the don’t-want-to-be-a-mom but still “get it” humans. Almost every day I read something that starts with “as a mom…” and these articles almost always apply to those of us who aren’t moms, don’t ever want to be moms, or are still in that hopeful, please let this happen someday stage. I’d love pictures of me with my husband/nephew/cat/etc doing the every day stuff!

    “As a mom, the pictures of kids at the border really have me feeling sad.” Yeah, as a human being with a brain and a heart this stuff has me down too.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, leslie, thank you so much for your note. xoxo

    • Adrienne says...

      Thank you for your comment – I so agree! I’m a stepmom and often feel just as deeply about things biological mothers feel… You don’t have to have given birth to connect deeply with children, your spouse, nieces, pets, friends – and want to document all the day-to-day interactions. :)

    • Cora says...

      As an also not-mom, I just want to chime in to say that I think it’s vital that women get documented in the work that they do. They are not simply the vessels that create life (in the womb and beyond). They need to step out from behind the camera and be recognized for the work they do, not just in supporting the family, but in leading it. When kids look back at their childhood pictures, they want to remember themselves in a moment and they also want to remember their family, their mom, as she was when she was showing them how to be alive. They don’t care about your appearance, they care about seeing your vibrant spirit

    • Lauren says...

      Thank you for sharing this. I reflexively use “as a mom” language sometimes, and it’s a helpful reminder that we are all human and can relate.

    • Abby says...

      Thank you Leslie! The use of exclusive language where unnecessary can hurt. I wholeheartedly agree. I am not a mum and don’t know if I ever will be, but I thoroughly enjoy every “mum-post” that is on this blog. I have been a mum to my au pair kids, I take on the role of a mum quite often with much younger colleagues or friends so I am just including myself in that “as a mum” category. :)
      I also want to second the notion of Cora’s comment in that it is essential to showcase women’s every day life and work.

  104. Dana says...

    A great article about this circulated the internet seven or eight years ago, when my older son was a little baby, and I’ve thought about it for years (especially as I’ve struggled to love my body after two kids). My mom passed away before my children were born and the photos of her with me and siblings are so precious. You can see the love beaming out of her face. I want my boys to look at pictures from their childhood and see my love shining too.

    • Sarah says...

      I think I remember the article you are talking about – the mom who wrote it was self-conscious about her body and so didn’t want to be in photos, if I recall correctly. Of course, the kids only see the person who loves them and is beautiful inside and out!

  105. Inge says...

    Totally recogizable! A friend warned me of this before I became a mom, so I take a lot of selfies with my 2-year old or ask other people too. At least once a month, I remind my husband to take some pictures of me with our kid too. He doesn’t take a lot of pictures, I’m always the one taking them, but he’s learning. Yesterday he got home while my 2-year old and I were dancing and he filmed a little bit, so cute to watch it :-)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so sweet, inge :) xoxo

  106. This is so timely! 2 seconds before I clicked over to this post I posted a picture on Instagram that a friend sent me. It’s just a candid shot of me with one of my kids and it struck me how few of them I have, and my caption reflected how rare it is. I’m feeling oddly emotional about this!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m feeling so emotional too!

    • k says...

      SAME. I commented earlier, and now it’s got me thinking about how I’m single, don’t have kids, and that there are whole swaths of my life that I haven’t really ‘documented’…I know that wasn’t the original scope of this post, but man, thinking about this bums me out! I lived in China for awhile and I think I have one picture of me in my apartment; there are lots of great things I’ve done of which I have no photographic evidence. I’m inspired by this post to ask strangers to take pictures of me, actually (I’m going to have to really push myself out of my comfort zone to do this), because I’ve been living a lot, but if no one knows, then what? Makes me feel wobbly just thinking about it. . .

  107. Eve says...

    99% of the time I get depressed when seeing my 2-D image. I swear I look good in the mirror in the morning, but when I see a picture of myself I see only the bad. This is more in my head than anything, for sure. Sad to say, this complex leads to not having many picture with my kids. I’m determined to go for it anyway, be in the pictures, and then just not look at them for a while. A few years from now, I’ll appreciate them (I hope!). Do it for them, do it for them, do it for them…

    • Ginny says...

      100% can relate to your comment, Eve!

    • CC says...

      Eve, you are so right, I can attest to it. As an avid photographer of my friends through the years, they all hate pictures of themselves taken at the time, but the same picture 5 years later is cherished. Often I hear “What was I thinking, I look good here!” So, suck it up now, your family and your future self will appreciate it.

  108. Hi Hana Asbrink! Looking adorable, as always :)

  109. I love looking back on the handful of photos that I’m in for all of the reasons mentioned, but also because it’s a chance to think kindly about younger-mom-me. She felt so inept most of the time. Plus it’s a timeline of hair don’ts for future reference. Basically I’m all “See, you were doing great! + “Why though?” ;)

  110. JM says...

    If someone hands me their phone to take a picture of them, you can bet I’m snapping the entire time. They’re getting candids, and yes, likely someone’s face squished or eyes closed sure, and then yes the “OK, one! two! threee!” posed picture. But I like to capture them getting ready for the pose. If you hand your camera or phone to me, you’re getting at least 10 pictures back of that moment. Landscape too, not portrait. You’re welcome lol :)))

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha where are you when i need you? :)

    • Ava says...

      haha YES I feel flattered whenever a stranger hands me their phone and asks for photos and I feel it’s my duty to get a good one! I always take a bunch, landscape + portrait, from a few angles if possible! Do not be the stranger who takes one out of focus photo and hands it back, ruining a potential frame-able memory :)

  111. Sarah says...

    I’m likely to be in the minority here, but I generally avoid having my photo taken because of my weight (amd how I feel about it). The last time I liked a photo of myself was when my son was a baby. I’ve gained a lot of weight since he was born, and seeing myself in photos is a painful reminder of how I look now, especially since the moms in my family/friends/coworkers circle are overwhelmingly fit and athletic. (p.s. I definitely do appear in enough family photos that my son will have plenty of him and me later.)

    • Tis says...

      I sure hope you’ve come back to read other comments. You are definitely not alone! (raises her hand sheepishly)

  112. Lexie says...

    Sort of related: When I was in college 10 years ago I had a fashion blog and was so embarrassed about taking pictures of myself! When strangers would give funny looks, Id always tell them I was taking photos for my mom! ;-)

  113. Rachel says...

    I love this. As a single mom I know that I don’t capture many photos of my son and me together. I think I always considered it to be an inevitability. It honestly never occurred to me to just ask a strange. Thank you for sharing this wisdom!

  114. Jenny says...

    Don’t forget short videos of these sweet moments! As much as I love a great picture, the videos of my babbling kids with their tiny voices bring tears to my eyes like nothing else. Now I just need to remember to get in the videos too!

  115. JM says...

    I can remember as a child, the women in my family HATING being photographed. I’m talking hands up hiding their faces, squirming and running away. Then the photgrapher pleading “Oh come on!”, I mean, seriously it was like a thing in our family. So needless to say, this is a topic for me. I look at pictures of myself with my son that my husband takes and just LOVE them though. I know those will be so important. Selfies just aren’t the same. During my maternity leave, while it was just my son and I in the quiet house together, I’d prop my phone up with the timer on to get a picture farther than arms length with us. I love all the pictures of myself as a baby with my mom that weren’t posed. There’s one where I’m on her lap as a 1 year old digging into her piece of chocolate cake and she’s laughing her butt off as frosting gets all over us. I mean… it’s my favorite picture of me as a kid.

  116. Jenna Senter says...

    This whole post feels like a beautiful, expository ode to this quote –

    “It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves ugly, because we don’t really see ourselves. We don’t watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up and silent with chests rising and falling with our own rhythm. We don’t see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing. You don’t see yourself looking at someone with love and care inside your heart. There’s no mirror in your way when you’re laughing and smiling and happiness is leaking out of you. You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly yourself.” – Anonymous

    Beautiful. And makes me want to see myself in more mundane photos!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! you’re so right, jenna.

  117. Alexa says...

    Oh my gosh, I totally do this with my eight month old. My husband has gotten truly excellent about picking up the camera to capture candid motherhood, and I am shameless about occasionally asking a stranger for a quick snap (I’ll probably never see them again, so who cares what they think…but these photos will be treasures forever). The secret is to ask a tween/teen — they take the BEST photos, and usually snap several unasked! A girl at the Met (maybe 13 or 14?!) looked at me and said completely seriously, “Gonna get you that good ‘gram.” bahahahaha.

  118. Mo says...

    I’ve been asked multiple times how I get great such great pics of my husband and two kids and I together, and the answer is always that I asked a passerby to snap us. One of my favorites was taken by an elderly lady who did not speak much English and who (I’m pretty sure) had had never held an iPhone before. We each had a kid on our shoulders and I figured she’d chop our heads off…but she nailed it!

  119. Colleen Wenos says...

    I think about this often because I have separate weekend adventures with the kids – my husband is away helping his family – and last fall I snapped a selfie at IHOP. But I’m usually not wearing makeup and tired and self-conscious. This is a good reminder to try again.

  120. Im not sure why but I am lip quivering choked up on this REVOLUTIONARY concept. ( it could be my youngest just started kindergarten and I have the luxury of just settling into a moment while also being so nostalgic about the past five years) In an era of curated insta moments, I just love this reminder. An upside, it seems, of all this technology that our parents didn’t have is the constant access to document. Not staging or waiting for the milestones or good hair days.. I am inspired to do a photo a day and do one of those quick download photo services at the end of the year. I love how you shine a light on the simplest of ideas that can be so transformative. xo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i agree, erica! i was feeling so moved by this, too. when liz said “my arms around them, my body touching theirs.” sob!

  121. Sarah Davis says...

    So true! Mothers take note, it can even happen at your daughter’s wedding! On my daughter’s special day I was so busy taking care of everyone else that there are no photos of me and my daughter, but lots of beautiful pics of her with her father. I was devastated when I realized what had happened. There was little photo evidence I had even attended the wedding. I share this so hopefully others will not experience this disappointment!

  122. Gah, I love this so much. I’m a family photographer and am extremely passionate and purposeful about capturing Mama’s. We are there, everyday, performing the same acts of love over and over – but they can often feel unseen. I want to put that evidence in your history books. And as a photographer/Mum I have to work really hard to make sure I’m seen too! Will definitely be doing this more.

  123. Katie says...

    YES TO THIS!
    I wish I had more photos of me (and of me and my sister) with our Mom growing up. My Mom was there all. the. time. but she was typically taking the photo, not in the photo. There are lots of photos of us, or us with our Dad, but I think I have maybe ten (?) photos of me and my Mom growing up. She taught us how to water ski and yet, there are zero photos of us with her on the boat, or at the lake even. But she was SO there, driving, spotting, shouting tips, enjoying an ice cold Oly Gold in her koozie, rocking her Vuarets and LL Bean cross-back one piece, and smelling of bain de soleil.

    So yeah, get in the picture, Moms! I will take a pic for any Mom out there with her kids, no prob! (:

  124. Heather McMunigal says...

    Oh my gosh is Hana’s daughter adorable!!! That haircut!

  125. Ruth says...

    Yes! Love this so much. We try to do lots of selfies. But love the idea of asking random folks to snap pics of the everyday. That’s what I want to remember most too.

  126. Ramona says...

    At least for me, there’s a certain comfort in not being in the photos. My kids are still very young (youngest is 12 weeks old), and I am still coming to terms with my post-kids appearance. I’m still working on losing baby weight (not just from my most recent pregnancy but from the one before that, too) and have only an odd assortment of clothes that fit, most of which don’t fit right, plus I have to plan all of my outfits around access for breastfeeding. So I mostly look like a bag lady. My hygiene is definitely subpar, I rarely have the chance to put on makeup, and I don’t even know where my hairbrush is at this point. And so I sometimes deliberately stay out of the pictures. But I know that someday I’m going to look at them and just think how young I look, or how my hair was still brown, or how amazing it was that I wrangled all those little kids at once. I think that’s just something we have to find a way to overcome at this age of changing postpartum bodies, emerging gray hairs, and abandonment of what used to be routine beauty practices! But it’s hard when the face and body that you see in photos don’t look like what you think of as yourself.

    • Rachel says...

      Same here!

  127. Favi says...

    When my sister was diagnosed with terminal cancer, one thing I noticed was her effort in taking lots of pictures with her three daughters. She knew her daughters would need photos not just of her but of them together. When she passed away this year, a friend of hers commented at her celebration of life party that she was so impressed that my sister had taken so many photos with her children, because she often hides from photos. Photos are so necessary for containing memories and keeping moments alive and I’m so grateful my sister had that foresight for her daughters.

  128. ck says...

    Hi!
    I have so many questions about motherhood and pregnancy. For most of my life I have been committed to the idea of adopting, partially out of fear of what pregnancy and childbirth do to womens’ bodies. I had epilepsy and depression as a kid and I was always scared of passing it on or suffering while I was carrying. Obviously that is a question for a doctor, but also more generally: Stretch marks and weight gain and weird cravings and tearing etc. I’m getting married in two weeks and my fiance is on board with adopting but after convincing him I am having second thoughts and maybe being pregnant isn’t actually ruinous?

    Can someone write a post about different women’s pregnancy and post-partum experiences in respect to their bodies? Do all women pee a little when they sneeze because that sounds bad. There are so many myths and everyone I’ve talked to is either in the “This is hell my feet are swollen don’t do it” or “It’s a magical moment of womanhood and you must do this” and it just gives me SO MUCH ANXIETY.

    • Emma says...

      The truth is everyone’s experience with pregnancy/ motherhood/ parenthood is different. I feel hungover my entire pregnancy and then had no labor becuase of a needed planned c section. Ya my bladder isn’t what it used to be (but there’s physical therapy for that now too!). But, the post Joanna posted a few weeks ago a ot to being the most all encompassing experience you can have as and adult rang so true. I never put much stock in my looks, so the changes didn’t hit me as hard as it might for others- but I just have to look at the most incredible little human I made and it makes all the rest of it worth it. FWIW I could have gone either way on having or not having kids and was ready to go alone with whatever a partner wanted, and am glad I did.

    • Jill says...

      CK – have you listened to any of the Forever35 podcast? They talk frankly about motherhood and pregnancy (especially as one of the hosts is in her first trimester after several rounds of IVF). I have one stepson and one made-him-myself son, and both are amazing. I love the relationship I have with my stepson (and I’m adopted, so I have never felt weird about loving a kid that I didn’t create biologically), and we’re really close. My bio-kid is special for lots of reasons as well, one of which is that it’s fun having someone who looks like me! (nobody else in my family ever did, obviously, because…adopted). I wish I’d talked to my pregnant friends more while I was pregnant, because I wasn’t sure what was the norm (napping under my desk at work – turns out this is not uncommon, or at least not unheard of. Totally unable to breastfeed? Not life threatening, although I felt like the worst mother EVER and my husband and I both broke down crying in the aisle of Walmart trying to figure out what formula to get because it hadn’t been covered in prenatal classes and we were terrified of getting the wrong thing.) Adoption is awesome. Conceiving kids is awesome. Not having kids at all is awesome (if that’s your choice – I don’t mean infertility is awesome). Whatever you choose to do, ask lots of questions and get help when you need it. And seriously, check out the podcast. It’s fantastic.

    • I am just one mom, but I have never peed when I sneezed, even when ten days overdue! I also had a lot of other moms say, “It ruins your bladder, you’ll be up three times a night to pee forever!” but didn’t experience that? I think some things that women talk about are caused not just by pregnancy, but also by ageing!

    • Teresa says...

      I have no stretch marks and lost all my baby weight by the time my daughter turned 1. Pregnancy was very strange–felt kind of like a hostile take over. I didn’t want people taking pictures of me, I never announced it on social media and I really struggled with all that was happening to me. And all that is to say, as soon as I gave birth, pregnancy and all the things I worried so much about just kind of went out the window. It just didn’t really matter and I didn’t have time to think about it! And now that my daughter is a little over a year and a half and I have some distance from the experience, I kind of wish that I’d embraced it more. I recently read Like a Mother by Angela Garbes and I just am amazing by what my body did, went through and recovered from. I wish I’d have celebrated it more. I struggled with anxiety before I had my daughter and it really ramped up while she was a newborn/infant, so I think that was my struggle. But I was aware of it, talked about it a lot and am feeling normal again, so it’s not a forever thing!

    • Roxana says...

      Like others have said, everyone is so different that we can’t answer how it will be for you.

      I’ve had four kids. Unless I’m really careful, I pee when I sneeze or jump on the bed, or laugh really hard :).

    • Mali says...

      I’m late to the party, but I wanted to respond to your comment… Each woman’s experience of motherhood and pregnancy–mentally, emotionally, physically–is obviously different. But when you go through it and see what your body can do, it is absolutely astounding. You grew a tiny human! I have had five babies and each of the pregnancies and births were so different and my recoveries were so different. There are lots of factors. But I’ve never wet myself when sneezing or laughing, I don’t need physical therapy, I haven’t gotten varicose veins, etc. etc. I’ve had a c-section and four vaginal births, including one vacuum extraction, two episiotomies and one without an epidural. I’ve had fetal distress and I’ve hyperventilated and needed oxygen on the birth table. And each time I held the new baby in my arms I wept in utter gratitude that I was given this precious gift. I would do it all again! Don’t let fear hold you back, if that’s what you want.

    • Louise says...

      Also just one mom and can only speak for myself. I didn’t love being pregnant but didn’t hate it either. Birth scared me a lot so I was glad that I needed a section on my first. Had no pee problems after that one. Second was more complicated and had an unplanned VBAC, which was terrifying and a pretty awful experience but I’m over it and it only happened 3.5 weeks ago. In fact, I’m already ok with the thought of going through it again. Although I have had some pee problems after the vaginal birth. All this is not to say that your fears are unfounded or you have to overcome them or anything, only you can decide what’s right for you. Good luck!

  129. Not quite the same, but after I graduated from college, I went on a solo backpacking trip through Europe. Throughout the trip, I’d ask strangers to take a photo of me (these were pre-iPhone days!) so that “I could show my mom where I’d been!” Everyone was happy to oblige, and I’m so glad I have photos of myself to remember that momentous trip–I turned them into a book that I gave to my mom after the trip.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      The cutest, Christine!!!!!

    • katie says...

      Love this, Christine!

  130. Claire says...

    I love this- my dear friend lost her mother when she was very young and has almost no pictures of her beloved mama. Her heartbreak impacts me deeply, motivating me to be 1) more present with my children and 2)to make lasting memories with my family ALTOGETHER.

  131. Quinn says...

    Yes, this! We pay for professional family photos most years because it seems like the only way I ever get into a photo with my kids. I even have to remind my husband to take photos of me with the kids because it just doesn’t occur to him unless we’re on vacation. Love the idea of asking strangers – going to do more of that! (This made me laugh: “Teenagers are the best and always know all the angles.” So true!)

  132. CaraM says...

    Thank you so much for this article. I’m a plus size woman and over the past year, I had a “come to Jesus” moment when I realized I wasn’t in many pictures with my daughter because I was embarrassed about my size. I decided that this year is the year that changes! This article was a great reminder that I don’t want to be hidden from our family history. Taking pictures now doesn’t have to wait until I’m some sort of manufactured “ideal.”

  133. Jimena says...

    Thanks for this post!! Such a simple but effective idea! I have a million photos of my son and of my son and others but just a few of us two together… I realize this every time my son browses through my online albums and names every person in every photo… And I only hear mom once or twice! I was the one taking the picture!

  134. Katie says...

    After I had my daughter I almost immediately returned to work at a very difficult year long fellowship where I felt like I was never home enough. One year later, my mother-in-law (a mother of four herself with years of experience being behind the camera rather than pictured in the photo) out of the blue made an entire album of pictures of only me and my daughter and mailed it to me. I LOVE it and love her for knowing how important it would be to me.

    • Mandy says...

      What a wonderful gift ❤️❤️❤️

    • Elena says...

      Oh my gosh, that sums it up perfectly. How could you disagree!? Thanks for sharing this beautiful essay.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this line: “I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them.” oh, my heart!

    • Roxana says...

      Oh my goodness! SO beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. I so needed to read that. I was quite literally going to leave a comment that I’m not in the pictures, because I don’t like how I look :(. I will get over myself :).

  135. Heather D says...

    My husband and I are in the process of adopting our toddler foster son. Already, I have noticed a void of “kid with mom” photos. I think maybe I need a selfie stick to capture more of the scene of those sweet home pics.

  136. Robyn says...

    Funny timing!

    Just yesterday a “day in the life” photographer spent the day with my family to capture a normal day – we had breakfast, played catch, calmed tantrums, did a puzzle, went to the park, soothed owies, folded laundry, put the kids to bed – normal things.

    As the one normally behind the camera, this photography session was especially important to me.

    I can’t wait to see the photos!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is the sweetest, robyn! i love that you captured soothing owies and doing laundry. the little things <3

      this morning, anton cried at kindergarten drop-off, and i keep thinking about the sweet moment when i noticed he was getting teary and i knelt down and he crumpled into my arms. all those little moments are what parenthood is all about. not that you're going to photograph all of them them — or even want to — but it just reminded me how the little things are so special and important.

  137. Sanaa Murray says...

    This is so timely- I posted a picture my husband took of my daughter and I cuddling at breakfast this weekend and I got so many responses from friends saying how happy they were to see me in the picture for once! And it really was such a happy, delicious moment, I’m grateful we’ll have it forever.

    I think I’m going to take this a step further and start offering to snap a picture for all the lovely mama’s I see around us in Brooklyn with their babies!

  138. Bre says...

    I love this post. We stumbled into this accidentally: we got our son a kid-version of a go-pro camera for his fourth birthday. When I uploaded the photos onto the computer to look at them, I was amazed that he had taken so many candid photos of our family. It’s wonderful to have pictures from his point of view. Recently, we gave him one of the many old cell phones that had been taking up space in a junk drawer. We deleted all the apps save for the camera and we let him take pictures and print them for his room. The quality is better than the kid camera and he is so proud to display his favorites – including the pictures of me he has taken. :)

  139. I do take selfies, but usually only post them to my stories. Susie from Busy Toddler (amazing account for toddler activities, btw) started the hashtag #proofofmom, which has encouraged me to start posting photos with my face in my feed too!

  140. laura says...

    self-timer!

    just prop your phone up somewhere. you don’t even have to tell your kids you’re taking a photo, to catch them in a natural state versus posing. then run up to where they are to be in the frame.

    works wonders!

  141. Katie says...

    I was showing my son pictures from when he was an infant and when he first met his cousins and his Nana. He asked me why I wasn’t there!

  142. sooooo true!!! I have only a few photos of my mom doing her mothering thing and I am mesmerized by them! I’m inspired by this post to get in the photo with my kids more. Thank you for this. Also inspiring, Joanna, to think of my best times with my kids (reading books/snuggling), and to deliberately get photos of that.

  143. AJ says...

    Yes! Not a mother – but talking as the grown-up child of one (haha), I love those photos of me as a nipper with my parents. They are so much more exciting and heartfelt to look at than snaps of me alone (even if I was a rather cute tot). These are the memories and the things we want to hold onto when we’re old and gray (or just approaching middle-age and a bit soppy). Get in the frame, parents. (Applies for aunties too)

  144. Alex says...

    Now that I’m a mom, I am much more aware of other moms taking pics of their kids with their dad or alone – and whenever I can, I ask if they’d like me to take one for them so they can get in the shot. I know that frustration of scrolling through your camera roll and not having a single shot of you with your kids and I’m hoping to alleviate it for other moms!

  145. Jen says...

    My dad died when I was 11 and there are hardly any photos to the two of us after I’m a baby. TAKE PICTURES WITH TOUR KIDS!