say cheese camera lori welbourne jim hunt cartoon

Last week a newspaper reporter interviewed me for the “Stop Dog Theft” event I was planning and asked for a picture of me with our beloved pup who’s been missing since March. Before I even started looking I warned him the chances weren’t good.

I knew I had tons of pictures from the last five years of Charlie with his sister and with our children, but even though I was with the dogs the majority of the time, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever had my picture taken with either one of them. After sifting through thousands of images in my computer, I was disappointed that I couldn’t find any.

A few weeks before that I went through a similar exercise when it was the birthday of my dearly departed mother and I wanted to post a picture of me alone with her on Facebook. I could only find two, and neither one was great.

Since my daughter’s birthday was approaching I also started looking for pictures of just the two of us together and wasn’t able to find many.

“Remind me to give you the camera,” I told my husband when he came home that night. “I’m in hardly any of our pictures with the kids and they’re going to be saddened by that one day.”

“You’ve mentioned that before,” he said. “The problem is you never like getting your picture taken.” He was right. I don’t, and I almost always object. I know all too well that taking pictures of someone who’s trying to avoid the camera isn’t fun or easy.

My 14-year-old son, Sam, has become one of those people.

He never used to be like that. He used to be like his 12-year-old sister, Daisy, who hams it up whenever the camera’s on her. But in the last few years he’s quick to hide his face and I’ve noticed most of his friends do the same.

“No, Mom,” he’ll say behind his hands whenever I attempt to take his picture. “Later.” He must have learned that from me. Now I threaten I won’t leave him alone until he lets me get a good shot. I also promise not to post any images online without his approval.

“One day you’ll be happy you have these photos of you with your friends,” I said to him and his buddies while they complained about  parents taking pictures at the middle school graduation a couple of weeks ago.

Now I need to get myself out from behind the camera and in front of it once in awhile. I can’t worry about not looking good enough either. Good enough for what? My kids aren’t going to care if I’m not picture perfect any more that I cared if my mother was. They’ll just be happy to have photos of themselves with their dear old mom. Of course they’ll want them with their dad, relatives, teachers, friends and dogs as well, but I’ve done a decent job providing them with plenty of those.

Photographs are powerful. They capture our memories and connect us to the people, places, events and emotions that make us who we are. It’s important we leave our children with pictures of us because we’re a huge part of their lives.  We might not love looking at photos of ourselves, but they will be cherished by the people who love us.