Confessions of a mum photographer

You may have seen my recent post on Facebook where I shared a photo of my daughter and this caption.

family photographer exeter

I took my little girl to have a beautiful blossom photo shoot. I took several photos and then..

…decided to delete them all.

The lighting was harsh
The petals were wet
The wind was horrendous
The model was super moody and cold and kept asking ‚Are we done yet?’
The pose is awkward.

From professional point of view these are bin worthy,

And then I stopped and reflected for a minute.

This is real life, real memory, not perfect, not as I wished – just as life is. But it’s my baby, my little girl and she is worthy and is enough.

She deserves to have these memories saved – even if they fail my strict professional scrutinity. That’s her life

(Reflections of a guilt stricken perfecionist mammarazzi )

„Your kids must have tonnes of beautiful images”

Say so many of my clients. People assume that because I adore taking photos, live and breathe photography my family share the passion. To some extent it is true but the truth is a bit more complicated. Having a mum that takes beautiful photos and is passionate about it in many cases is a real bonus. But simultaneously, it can be a burden and a challenge for the whole family.

As I was debating deleting all my daughter’s blossom photo shoot images I was suddenly overwhelmed by guilt. How could I be so ruthless? How could I set standards so high that my own child can’t meet them?

I started reflecting on my past few years as a photo mum and the list of trespasses suddenly got worryingly long.

So here come my confessions:

I am guilty of using my kids as models

As you may know I have always had a camera. But you may not know that whenever I failed to get the results that I wanted I would throw the camera in a drawer and forget about it for a bit. And then Emilia was born and I had a whole lot of reasons not to give up. I wanted to practice and get better. And then practice again, and again, and again. And who would I ‚use’? Yes, my own kids. And by trying hard I would often get stressed and my stress would rub on my kids. I fear that this may be one of the reasons why my daughter hates (yes, she uses the word ‚hate’) having her photos taken.

baby photos exeter

I am guilty of not seeing the beauty of our own memories

I expect a lot of people but I also expect a lot of myself. I try to get better every day and learn something new each week. And then I put all my knowledge into practice, but not just in clients’ photo shoots but also in our everyday happy memories. I try to direct, instruct and then if things don’t meet the highest standards, I feel bad. Instead of enjoying the raw, the natural, the unposed and imprefect I long the perfection that I strive for. Sad, isn’t it?

Like the photo below – we were out for the day in Dartmoor and I wasn’t planning on taking my family photos so I did not coordinate their outfits… I think I may be the only one that cares about it. To my family this is simply a beautiful photo.

baby family photos exeter

I am guilty of deleting images that weren’t perfect

As already disclosed above, I check my own galleries with fine tooth comb. I check they meet the highest standards and too often I press delete. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying ‚keep ’em all’, not at all. I believe in keeping the best (Thanks Marie Kondo for your kind reminder) and the ones that ‚spark joy’. Sadly, too often the images that would have sparked joy were sent to photo heaven (aka recycling bin).

aga photography exeter

I am guilty of perfectionism and expecting too much

In a number of personality and career suitability tests I came up as a perfectionist. I felt proud of myself and thought that was the trait that would get me through all heaps and make me happily successful. It turns out perfectionism is the killer of progress or success. I second guess, triple check and reject a lot of my work. Even if this work is not work but my own family photos. I am concious of that so there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂

photographer exeter devon

I am guilty of not printing enough

About 20 years ago when I was still a teenager the only way you could see how the photo came out was if you printed it. That was it. No print – no trace.

With the digital era we have the images ready instantly. The only problem is – they are only saved in the memory of our phones, on our computers, USBs etc. They live for as long as you look at them and that doens’t happen too often.

If you add aforesaid perfectionism to the equation you end up with very little print worthy material.

aga photography exeter

I am guilty of spoiling family time with camera craze

I promise you will never see me with my camera when out with my family. Not any more. But I used to carry my camera around everywhere treating every family outing like a photo gig. Missing on the important stuff whilst looking for the ‚perfect’ shot or pose. But luckily (thanks to my husband’s strong persuasion) I learnt to stop. Now, whenerver we go out I only take my phone with me and even when temptation is huge I try to use it as little as possible. I want my children to see my face more than the back of my phone.

family photographer exeter

I am guilty of not being in the photos

And that’s the one that drills a hole in my heart the most.

What if I am gone tomorrow? …..

I never feel perfect enough to pose in the photos but at the same time, to my children I am perfect and they want me just the way I am, a part of their memories forever. And that’s that.

aga photographer exeter

Are you guilty of any of these?

Are you a photo mum yourself? Can you recognise yourself in any of these decriptions of my shortcomings?

What are your thoughts on that? Please share them with me here.


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