A few days ago, I was on the phone chatting with one of my fellow photographer friends and she was telling me that she had to run to head off to her son’s football game. I asked if she was bringing her “big camera”.
“I probably should. It is his last game and I haven’t taken it out yet,” she said.
“I know the feeling,” I agreed. “I make a point to at least shoot one game a season with my real camera.”
“Isn’t that funny?” She asked. “That’s why we bought nice cameras… to take better pictures of our kids.”
I couldn’t stop thinking about our conversation. It took me back to February of 2010, when Jacob had just turned a year. It was the month I decided to take the plunge and purchase my first “real” camera. When it arrived, I didn’t put it down. Literally. I would carry Jacob on one hip and my camera on the other and document every. single. moment. And it wasn’t that it took me out of those moments. I was involved, just as I had been involved before as his momma, but I just was taking a few seconds here and there to document our moments. Bath times, pool outings, art projects, play dates, vacations, everything.
In April of 2010, I launched my website. I cautiously adopted the title of “photographer” and began taking on sessions and charging somewhat minimal fees for my services and prints. I researched. I learned. I practiced. I got better. Exponentially better, in fact. I was one hundred percent hooked on the ability to capture moments – for others, yes, but also for myself. I had thousands of pictures of Jacob. I wrote about our moments on my family blog. Not only was I creating his very detailed baby book, but I loved writing. I always have. Early journals of mine document stories of my little sister and I playing school and house, Thanksgiving plays I wrote and subsequently forced my cousins and siblings to act out in some magnificent performance after dinner, and stories and poems about those I treasured and loved the very most in my life. Crafting the entries for my blog about Jacob, complete with the photographs I had taken over the last two days, was my time late at night to unwind, reflect on the days, and do something I truly loved.
In 2010, I had 158 blog entries, just about one every two days. The following year, that number had reduced to a measly 27. I remember getting text messages from my family and close friends asking (and sometimes demanding) where the blog posts were.
It’s not that it happened overnight. Over time, I began keeping my “real” camera at home more. As my business grew, so did the number of sessions I had each week. I didn’t want to say no. Ever. There were weeks when I would shoot ten to fifteen sessions in a seven day span. Shooting my life, my little one’s life with my real camera didn’t seem quite as appealing after these days. When Audrey Rose was born in September of 2011, it was the easier decision to leave the camera behind when I was toting around a two-year-old, a new baby, a diaper bag and well, my kitchen sink. I tried convincing myself that I would rather be in the moment with them rather than capturing the moments so that I wouldn’t feel as guilty for not lugging around my camera.
It’s not that I didn’t document my babies. I know I still have more outings and impromptu sessions captured than the average non-photographer, but over time, I gradually stopped documenting the little moments. Laundry basket rides. Afternoon cookie baking sessions. Mini trampoline jumping sessions. Snuggles on the couch with a billion binkies, blankies and a runny nose. I bought a “toy” camera, one that I could throw in my purse and not worry about editing the images and supplemented those images with the ones from my phone. And I stopped writing. Since I wouldn’t edit or respond to emails when the little ones were up and at home, as soon as they went to bed, I would now use those hours to get the work in that needed to get finished.
Before the start of 2014, I knew something had to change. I didn’t want to be drowning in editing or shooting ten sessions a week. I opted to limit myself to only six newborn sessions a month, in addition to a handful of family and older baby sessions. The result was astounding. Not only was I able to keep up with editing, but I loved shooting only a few days a week so that I could focus my other time on spending time with little ones and working on my other side projects like the tutorials. I also absolutely love being able to host newborn mentoring workshops here in St. Louis and also travel to different parts of the country for both newborn sessions and workshops. It is this balance of doing something that I love and being able to spend time with the littlest loves in my life that keeps me happy and fulfilled.
Now, just a few months away from the start of 2015, I find myself again wanting to reevaluate my schedule, my time. If I consider the one thing I miss the most from those early stages when I first discovered my passion, it is the little moments I was able to document. The stories I could write, sometimes rather short and other times detailed enough to take me back to that exact point and time. And that’s what I don’t want to forget. When my little ones are teenagers and beyond, I want to remember the moments they fought over who gets to sit on my lap during book time before bed. I want to be able to look at a picture of them and feel like I can smell their clean, damp hair fresh from bath time. And I want to be able to remember all the ridiculously adorable things that they said to me.
Shawn Achor says it well in The Happiness Advantage, “Happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change; it is the realization that we can.”
Somewhere between 2011 and today, I may have missed some moments that I would have otherwise documented with my camera. I undoubtedly missed documenting all of the little details and stories through my words. But all is certainly not lost. And it certainly is not too late to change. It is my hope to return to the days of swinging that big camera on my hip, to capturing our nothing moments, and to taking some time at night to reflect on our days together and telling the stories that I will want to remember in the many years to come.