Thursday, January 25, 2007

Picture Me, Picture You

I've been putting photos in albums for months. No organization, no chronological order....just taking photographs from wherever--usually photo envelopes piled in plastic bins--and filling albums with them. I bought the albums at Target--nice, big, sturdy volumes with space to write something about every picture. If if this wasn't such a gargantuan job I'd try to think up clever captions for some of the pictures. But as it is, I write "Jill on Aurora, 1991"..."Suzanne, age 4, Gillian, age 2"..."Joey, 2 weeks old"..."Nocci and Buddy" (cats)... "Angel, 1998" (dog) and so on. Once in a very great while I write "me."

This family photographer didn't get her picture taken very often. There are the birth pictures, of course, the ones of Gillian's and Joey's births. The latter actually shows my face. And when Suzanne reached the age of five she took a few shots, like the prized one of little Jill patting my HUGE bare stomach (with Joey inside). But most of the albums show three children being raised by horses, dogs, and cats. And, occasionally, their father.

If any young mothers are reading this, here's my advice: Get someone to take your picture with your children once in a while. This could be anyone--the Avon lady, the person behind the counter at the health food store, the kid who collects the carts in Wal-Mart's parking lot. The first good thing about this is that you'll have a photo of yourself being a mother. The second good thing is that these won't be portraits; they'll be unposed, unrehearsed shots of you and your kids doing whatever it is you do all the time.

Children are beautiful, and it's a temptation to photograph them that way, in all their radiant beauty. I love those pictures, I really do. I'm putting them in my new albums by the hundreds. But I also love the candid shots....the dirty shirts, the messy hair, the comical facial expressions, the images that caught them in mid-movement doing everyday kid things. I wish I had more of them.

Children disappear as they grow. The five-year-old displaces the three-year-old, and we realize with a start one day that we'll never see that particular toddler again. Then we remember the newborn. And so it goes. Thank heavens for the camera. Use it well.


Jenny Hill said...

A January pasttime - organizing photos into albums. One that is heroic. The month is so grey and white that going through photographs would make me too wistful, I think.

I use the camera as often as I can, but it still doesn't seem to capture things the way I see them... so I have the photographic version of Helen eating her first birthday cake, and I have my mind's version of it. The photo is a good reminder, but not accurate to the memory.

Susan said...

I can't let you think I'm organizing photos.... stuffing them into albums is more like it. :-)

Yes, the photo is secondary to the memory. Unless, of course the viewer wasn't there for the actual event. I LOVED sending pictures to the grandparents!

Nice to see you here...thanks!

Alicia said...

This is so true about our baby just graduated high school and I must admit I am feeling a little of the empty nest syndrome.

I have loved reading your blog--serendipity! Thanks for a glimpse of your life, and your sweet Jill, especially.