I wish there were more photographs of me. Once upon a time I would have followed that with “said no one ever”, but I was wrong.
As a family photographer, I am absolutely passionate about printing photographs, be it a physical photo book, a luxurious album or simply a shoe box full of well thumbed prints is one of the most important legacies you can leave behind. We take more photographs that at any other point in history and yet I fear we spend less time gathered around a table enjoying them together. The danger of photographs that live on memory sticks or in the cloud is that they gather virtual dust as the years go on.
Which brings me to this album. I took some time to put together an album of our family photographs taken during Lockdown. It took some time to wade through my archives, unable to go out and photograph clients, my family bore the brunt of daily documenting. As I look at some of the images I can actually hear the complaining voices from the moment. However, once the beautiful linen covered, heirloom album arrived (I treated myself to the exact same album I offer to my family photography clients), the disagreeable comments stopped and of course everyone of us has loved to leaf through the pages, it’s funny how quickly our memories of the day to day can fade and there is something magical about the power of photography to transport us back to a moment in time, particularly documentary photography and its celebration of the ordinary everyday moments.
I love this book, it contains so many photographs of my family at that time – there is the day my daughter cut my husband’s hair, there’s the early spring heatwave days, the black tie suppers, the “Come Dine With Me’ moments and the precious moments of permitted nature walks.
But where am I? Out of the hundreds of photographs I waded through, I can count on one hand the ones I feature in and it turns out that makes me rather sad. I wish that I was documented more. Of course I know I was there and I guess they remember me taking the photographs, but that memory will fade, it would be so much better if they could see the evidence.
Frankly, it gets even worse, I’ve taken thousands of photographs of my family over the years. Photographs of the tiny, everyday moments, years of documenting, of preserving memories. Photographs of chocolate smeared faces and muddy knees. Of trampoline mornings and campfire evenings. Of board game laughter and ritz cracker challenges. Pictures of everyday life in all its precious wonder and when we look back through these together, as we have done so many times over they years, I cannot help but wish I featured at least as often as the cat does.
I know I’m not alone, I think in most family situations it is the mothers who take the most photographs, who document the everyday moments, knowing instinctively that one day it will matter, one day someone will need to look back and remember how their home looked at that time, or the way they ate peas with a spoon, they will want to recall sitting on the old squashy sofa for bedtime stories or building dens beneath the kitchen table. They will want to look back on these moments and remember how they were loved.
So my plea is to the mothers. Get in the frame, hand the camera to someone else, don’t worry about your hair or your messy clothes, just focus on being alive and loved in the moment.
If you would like me to come and photograph your wonderful, everyday ordinary, then it would be my pleasure and I will make sure you feature more than the cat! I photograph families in Suffolk, Essex, Colchester and Suffolk. I often travel further afield to London and beyond, get in touch to find out more.