The Photos I Wish I Had & The Photos I Want To Make
My daughter, Hazel, is getting so big, so fast. I keep feeling like if I blink again she’s going to be driving away on her way to university. Everyone says “it goes by so fast”, but holy shit I didn’t realise it REALLY DOES. And there’s no stopping the momentum of growing up, learning and developing. No matter how many days we have to wake up at 4:30 am, it’s still flying by at the speed of light.
I often look at pictures I’ve taken of Hazel since she was born. We have many printed and displayed on the walls of our home as well as several albums I’ve made along the way. Although my skills of preserving my family memories and moments are above average, I’m always feeling behind in printing and finalising an image to make it a permanent part of my family history. Some of my precious memories just sit on my hard drive or my phone. It’s one of the annoying parts of parenting. There's never enough time in a day to do everything. Ever. And sometimes when I get just one thing done I feel like I deserve a freaking medal. So with that said, albums fall through the cracks.
The other day I was looking back through the photographs we have of Hazel as an itty bitty teeny weeny little thing. There are too few of them and it makes me really sad. I’m happy to have the images that we do, but I feel such regret at not taking more photographs of her little sleepy self. I was in a dark and tired state with a newborn who, unlike most newborns, would NOT cooperate with having her photograph taken. So in my sleep deprived state I gave up quickly. This is before I was aware of what documentary photography was and during mourning the loss or interruption of my landscape photography passion. I go into more depth about my journey in an article called The End of Adventure so I’ll let you read that for more details. There are too few photographs of her just being a little newborn baby. Most, if not all are phone pictures we snapped to text to family or put on social media to tell everyone how tired we were.
I mourn the loss (can you mourn something you never had?) of the non existent photos of her sleeping on Nick, crying (she did this A LOT…colic), feeding and just being. I wish we had more pictures of her in the space we lived in even though I hated it at the time. It was too small, too hot and too loud. It represented where we were in our life and it was a magical time even though it was h.a.r.d. So I continue to have regret for what I missed because I know my memory will never recall all the details and little stories that would have been saved for eternity with photographs. I can hardly remember yesterday for gods sake. And I know that if we do ever have a second child it will be much better documented along the way.
I try not to spend too much time dwelling on what I can’t change. Instead I’ve started to make a list of moments that mean something to me NOW and making it a focus to have my camera (or even my phone) handy to capture them when they present themselves. With the flying of time, as stated above, I feel a pressure to collect them all while I can. Things with the littles transition so fast and it seems as soon as I start saying the words “Hazel has been doing dot dot dot…. for the last couple of weeks” she’s on to something else. But all those little momentary bits and phases are exactly what make up her childhood. Some are great and some are frustrating (like purposely throwing her milk on the sofa) but all are WHO SHE IS. And all these little moments are making up what this incredible little person is going to be like when she’s 20, 30, 40 years old.
So I pose a question to you.
What are you missing out on right now? What moments are happening that are so special and you need to hold them in your memory and close to your heart? Which of these memories needs a photograph attached to it so you can recall the great stories + details in 10 or 20 years and pass them on? I challenge you to make a list for yourself of the moments that deserve extra attention and need a little more care. Bonus points for memories that are hard, sad or challenging. Cos life ain’t always unicorns and rainbows, people. This shit is messy and the mess is often what turns into the best and most precious stories later on.
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