The Struggle Of Documenting My Own Life As A Professional Photographer
In 2008 my daughter was born, and I started to pursue my passion for photography more seriously. Every day that passed was documented. The little everyday moments and the big moments. I built my entire business around documenting real moments for others, and my passion grew greater with every photo I took. Years passed, and I had this overwhelming feeling of missing being there in the moment. Everything in my life I documented with my camera. But during those moments, my mind had to make a choice in where to be. Behind the camera, or in the moment. Did I want to live it through my camera viewfinder or just be there?
I think most professional photographers struggle with finding the balance between being a professional photographer and documenting their life with those same tools. I decided that putting my camera down and being there was more important. I put it aside and learned to be there, at the moment, and have these moments as memories. I don't have pictures of them, but they are clear in my mind and that I love.
I remember going to my daughters first dance recital, the Nutcracker. The auditorium was filled with parents proudly waiting to watch their little ones, me being one of them. The lights turned low, and the stage lit up. Little three-year-old dancers filled the stage, and I took one second to look around and noticed something. All parents were taking pictures with their camera, or cell phone. Their faces glued to the camera viewfinder, just like I had done so many times myself. It made me wonder; How many of those parents are really here, at the moment, watching their little one on stage. It forced me to wonder what it looked like from their point of view. I remember as a child scanning the crowds looking for my parents for that split second eye contact and reassuring smile during any school play or recital. Now all these kids see is cameras, phones and iPads held up high.
A few more years past, and I noticed that my computer was filled with portrait sessions and not my own life moments. Somehow that didn't feel right either. How do I have this many pictures on my computer and such few moments are of my own kids and family? That certainly didn't feel right either. I loved documenting these moments for clients but wasn't doing them for myself. It all comes down to balance. I did have hundreds of printed photos in boxes from when I documented everything. I love flipping through those prints.
This brings me to my personal answer on what's right. I have to learn the balance between being there in the moment, and documenting my life with my camera. I have to learn to bring my camera with and snapping a couple of shots and then letting it rest by my side and really enjoying my kids as their mom, not a professional photographer. That balance isn't easy but I will do my best to find it.
Most importantly, we have to remember to take the time to show up in front of the camera too. To document special moments with our kids. We have to remember that it's photographs of our own parents that we hold close to our heart. The same photographs our children will love to have as time goes by.