All too soon, it will be time for school. Our children’s fresh-smelling supplies will be laid out at the ready, backpacks fully stocked, love notes in lunchboxes inscribed with sentiment. Our cameras will hang proudly around our necks as we take to the bus stop. We’ll make sure to snap a bunch at the door, the sidewalk, with family members, and at the top of the giant steps of the bus. We’ll upload the pictures to the computer, send an entire album to grandparents, and smile in solidarity later in the day, scrolling through our Facebook newsfeed as we “like” our friends’ shots of their own children holding “First Day of First Grade!” chalkboard signs placed delicately in front of coordinated summer dresses and cutesy sandals.
In this day and age, we have so much technology to help preserve the memories of our children. There are fancy Nikons, the convenience of phones, photoshopping tools, Pinterest ideas for themed photo sessions, even webinars instructing us on how to take better photos of our children. And perhaps all of this plus the instant accessibility of modern life’s most private moments can pressure us to try to make each photo as perfect as we can.
And we can’t blame ourselves for this. As we look back on the bounty of photos, we pause, realizing how fast time seems to go. Our precious babies smile back at us from the image and we are stunned to grasp that they are no longer babies at all. Why wouldn’t we want to capture every moment we can? They are all so fleeting, and when the shock at the passage of time leaves us chilly, the photos are there to warm us with comforting memory.
Perhaps the outtakes we’re so quick to delete capture the essence of children better than the ones we spend time perfecting.
As fall approaches and school days are filled with milestones, let’s not lose sight of why we want to encapsulate these moments in the first place. There is no need for perfection or trendiness. Perhaps the outtakes we’re so quick to delete capture the essence of children better than the ones we spend time perfecting. Fuzzy, out of focus toddlers running in the distance, squinted eyes from the morning sun, and the mischievous look on small faces that don’t want to stand still – these “throw away” shots may be the ones that define childhood most. Whether posed or imperfectly candid, whatever images we cherish, may they bring us blissfully back to our children’s youth with happiness, and with the knowledge that the memories that live in our hearts are flawlessly precious no matter what.