If you look through my Instagram feed at any given moment, you'll probably see photos of my 8-year-old son and 7-month-old daughter. I absolutely love having as many photos of my kids as possible on hand, because I want to preserve my memories of them forever and ever. But I will say that I probably take more photos of them than the average mom does. Yes, I force my kids to pose for photos, but I don't see a problem with that.
I am a professional blogger in the parenting space. Being a professional blogger gives me almost any excuse to catch my kids cheesing it up for the camera. I have my phone pretty much attached to my hand at all times, and sometimes I'll hire a professional photographer once or twice a month to snap images that I’m just not talented enough to take myself. I love getting the photos back, scrolling through and choosing which images to share.
You might be thinking that my profession means I exploit my kids for money, but that’s totally not the case: I only take on campaigns that work with our normal family routine and our lifestyle. But I also know what my audience likes to see, reacts to and engages with. They love beautiful images of our family out and about in New York City, sharing our favorite outfits and products. And sometime, yes, this involves me forcing my kids to pose for pictures when they don't necessarily want to. But even if my kids (especially my son) put up a fuss while the photos are being taken, they love looking at the finished product and seeing our family in the photos.
There are definitely pros and cons that come with sharing photos of your kids on social media, and it's something every parent seems to have a different opinion about. I have a friend who decided to take her kids off her blog completely, or she'll only ever show the backs of their heads. As parents, we aren't oblivious to issues like internet privacy. We try to protect our children both online and offline, and if they want to opt out, that's their decision completely.
I want my family to look at old photos and remember the fun times we had. I don't want them to remember me constantly snapping away, looking to get that perfect shot.
My kids can certainly opt out of taking photos for my blog if they so choose. Obviously the baby doesn’t have much of a choice at this point, but once my older son says, “Enough is enough,” he’s allowed to bow out. In fact, this just happened with a brand that sells clothing that caters more to younger children. My son came to me and said that he didn’t want to be a part of those campaigns anymore. He claimed that he wanted his sister to be the star of the blog post, but I suspect it was because he's outgrowing the types of clothes the brand sells and he didn't want to be in a "baby campaign." Either way, I respected his wishes.
There's a reason why I'm so gung ho about taking photos of my kids, and it's not just because of my job. When I look at pictures of my son when he was a baby, I feel like I missed out on capturing some memories of his early childhood, especially because I'm missing from most of the photos. When our second child was born, I vowed that I would make up for lost time and capture more memories of her early years than we did the first time around. I also promised that I would actually try to be present in those photos.
There's always this little fear in the back of my mind that I’ll miss out on capturing something important.
My friend once told me a story about her childhood that always weighed heavy on me. Growing up, her parents never took baby pictures of her and her siblings. Imagine that: she has no photographic evidence of her childhood and no memories at all. I couldn’t believe that she had no tangible idea of what she had looked like as a baby. Now, there's always this little fear in the back of my mind throughout the day that I’ll miss out on capturing something important.
At the same time, however, taking so many photos is exhausting. I feel like I always need to be “on” and dress the kids cute for photos. I strive to achieve a balance between experiencing the memories themselves, and taking photos of them. I want my family to look at old photos and remember the fun times we had. I don't want them to remember me constantly snapping away, looking to get that perfect shot. So it’s a double-edged sword.
My kids are the world to me and they're growing up way too fast, so forcing them to pose for pictures has been my way of holding onto them before they’ve reached another milestone. I can only hope that when they’re all grown up, they can look back and appreciate all the memories they have. I know that I will.