Ever since M was born, I’ve been using my Nikon Digital SLR camera to take her photos. For the first six months I took a weekly photo of her on our living room floor in front of the big picture window where there is great natural light. Each month we still take a photo (at nine months we are still using the stickers on her belly). I drape a large sheet over her pack and play for a backdrop and wrestle with her to keep her still. I’m not a professional photographer by an means, but some of these photos have turned out pretty awesome.
Yet, part of me feels disappointed that we’ve never had professional photos taken. I have seen the results of other kid’s photo shoots on Facebook and some are remarkable. My mom took me in for photos every 3 months til I was a year old. I knew my at home photo shoots had good results and I didn’t want to spend money to have someone else do what I was doing pretty well. Still, I felt that M and I were missing out by not having the professional photo experience.
So today I dressed her up and took her to the mall to one of the picture studios. I had a coupon and that helped me justify spending money for photos. I told myself that it would be good to have 9 month photos plus with Mother’s Day around the corner the photos would make great gifts for the Grandmas.
You can probably guess what happened. M half smiled for one shots and then began screaming. It was seriously awful – there were tears and that big silent cry that always makes me feel like the worst mother alive. No amount of tickles, singing, animal sounds, or throwing her in the air made any difference. Feeding her puffs didn’t even calm the girl. I ended up being able to take some photos with her, but she isn’t smiling in one single photo. I ended up using the coupon to get prints of the one photo with the half smile and one of me kissing her cheek. It made me feel better to walk out with something to show for the horrifying experience.
My husband said the photos were much better than I thought, but the truth is, the photo I took of her with my iPhone that morning is a much more meaningful keepsake. She’s sitting on the couch with a great big smile on her face and she looks more toddler than baby. I’ll forever remember that photo as the beginning of her transition into toddlerhood.
I’m kicking myself for letting mommy guilt trick me into believing that my own photos weren’t good enough. I’ll forever remember setting up the living room for photo shoots with her in front of the picture window. Those moments are priceless and worth far more than the price I paid for professional photos.
KISS lesson learned: you don’t need to spend money to make and keep memories.