Have you noticed that certain topics gain popularity, popping up again and again on various blogs? The current topic du jour — at least in my corner of the blogosphere — seems to be our culture’s obsession with social media and especially with picture taking. The posts I’ve seen suggest that our relationships are shallow, our experiences lacking and our priorities misplaced because of camera phones and sharing photos on social media. They go on to recommend that we “get out from behind the phone” and actually experience life rather than just taking pictures of it.
While I certainly understand the sentiment — and I will admit that I have to monitor my social media usage just as much as the next person — it’s almost as if it’s become trendy to talk about the negatives of social media and taboo to admit you actually enjoy it or think it’s a good thing.
I’ve shared my love for social media (and using it in a way that feeds my soul) before, but today I want to address the picture-taking conversation specifically.
For me, taking and sharing photos isn’t something I do just for social media, and it’s not something I’m likely to give up any time soon, for one simple reason: I have a horrible memory, and many moments would be lost to me forever if it wasn’t for the pictures I’ve taken.
I literally have tens of thousands of photos since our oldest was born, and I love to scroll through them and remember all of the moments I would have forgotten otherwise.
And honestly? Snapping pictures of the moments that I want to remember takes very little time away from experiencing the actual event.
I can take a video of the girls’ piano recital with a huge grin plastered across my face as I watch them perform the pieces they’ve practiced.
I can quickly snap a picture of the baby splashing in the bathtub for the first time before setting my phone down and focusing my attention on his giggles and splashes.
I can yell for everybody to “freeze!” so I can capture a moment on camera before we continue on our way.
Will my kids remember me with my phone held in the air trying to capture the perfect shot? Probably. But I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing.
Parents have been taking photos for as long as cameras have been available, but juggling a big camera with multiple kids, diaper bags, lunch sacks, etc. can be cumbersome and frustrating. That’s why camera phones are so popular: they make it easy to grab the shots that we might have otherwise missed.
There are definitely times when I’m not able to take any pictures (I didn’t get a single photo on Christmas morning last year because there was so much going on), but there are also plenty of times when taking a photo ensures the memory will be mine to recall in the future rather than lost to time like so many other little moments.
That is why I take photos of the big occasions and the everyday ones. It’s why I try to focus on the beauty of our life rather than the stress and frustration.
And yes, I like to add an artistic touch to my photos when I can — a filter here, a creative angle there. But it’s not for the sake of social media, to show off, or to pretend my life is perfect. I do it to document the things I want to hold on to. Getting to share those moments with other people — like our parents and grandparents and friends who I rarely get to see in person — is just an added bonus.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s been more than 24 hours since I’ve taken a picture of my sleeping baby and I’m getting twitchy.