“Dear men ... take the photo,” urged Texas-based, inspirational speaker Kaylin Maree Schimpf in a recent Facebook post that went viral. “It doesn't matter what she looks like, or if she tells you no, take the photo.”
Schimpf encourages men to take more photographs of their wives and partners because women are often the designated photographer but rarely find themselves in front of the lens. The sentiment is equally applicable to husbands. In my family, my husband is a keen photographer, so there are far fewer photographs of him than me.
If you are like me, then you may not really mind the scarcity of photographs because you don’t like the way you look in them. As a woman in my 40s, I rarely see a photograph of myself that I like. I scrutinize every wrinkle and covet my younger, fitter body. Even when I am dressed up and having a good time, I often avoid having my photograph taken. My husband practices taking pictures of me doing chores or in my fitness gear, and I cringe and hope they will soon be deleted.
“Messy hair, no makeup or a dirty, old T-shirt won't matter to your children when she is gone someday,” continues Schimpf.
This for me is the most poignant part of her message. I lost my own mother 15 years ago. I don’t have many photographs of her, but the ones I like the most, are those that help me remember the kind of mother she was. Posed family shots are aesthetically pleasing and photographs of celebrations remind me of good times, but my favorite pictures, show her in gardening clothes or just woken up with disheveled hair and no make-up. For me these capture the essence of who she was to me.
My mother died before the age of digital photography and long before cameras on phones. In the modern age we almost always have some kind of camera to hand. We take photographs of our children during everyday moments but how often do we stop to record similar moments with our husbands, wives or partners?
Now, when my husband gets snap-happy, I take a deep breath and remind myself that these shots are not for me. They are not photographs to share with friends or on social media, but to preserve memories of what it really feels like to have a mother. To remember the things she does every day, the way she looks every day and how she appears through their eyes.