I was recently jolted into the realisation that there were pretty much no photographs in existence of me and my children. It took another portrait photographer, Sue Bryce, to make me see the shame in this. I had tuned in to a tutorial she was giving on marketing your photography business. The last thing I expected was to have the mirror turned on myself. “Are you in photographs with your children?” she asked the audience, and from the reaction she got, I know I was not the only person to be stopped in their tracks.
“If anything happened to you, have your children got photographs of themselves with you to treasure,” challenged Sue. I realised, shamefully, that no, I hadn’t. Like many women, I am not comfortable having my photograph taken and usually try to avoid it. “Ah well, I’m always the one behind the camera,” I joke. How convenient. But also, actually, how selfish!
My dad died when I was 19 years old and there are very few photographs of me and him together. There are a few from my 18th birthday party, where we are on the same photo, but the best photograph I have of the two of us is from when I was 15 years old. I treasure that photograph. You never know what is around the corner and I was mortified to think that my two children, still so young at four and seven, would not have any good photographs of us if the worst should ever happen.
I tried to set the lights up at home and take some photographs myself. It’s really not easy to organise group portraits including small children using a self-timer. I only managed to get one decent image from that session.
So what did I do? I took a deep breath and put my trust in a professional. I agreed that Gabrielle, Flynn and I would be models for a family portraiture day for Welshot Photographic Academy. And do you know what? It was actually a lot of fun once I relaxed into it.
I have photographs of my children all over the walls at home, but now they have been joined by these two very special images by Welshot member and ace photographer Derek Buick.
From here on in I am going to do my best to get over myself and never again turn down an opportunity to be in photographs with my children. My weight and ageing issues are my own, I know that my children don’t look at me and see an overweight, middle-aged woman. They look at me and just see their Mummy.
I have photographed some fantastic families of all shapes and sizes, and all that I see when I edit them is a permanent record of a happy family unit. Yet very regularly when I photograph children I invite mum to get into a photograph and all too often the response is: “Oh no! I hate having my photo taken.” I would ask you, like Sue Bryce asked, to stop and consider whether you will leave photographs behind for your children. I’m not saying you need to be in one of my photographs, although that would be nice, but please, just be in photographs. You owe it to your children.