When I was first learning photography, documenting the tiny details was not what I was focused on. I was too busy trying to remember how to meter properly and make sure my focus was going to be sharp in order to appreciate those tiny details that often go unnoticed and undocumented. Which is really hard for me to think back on now because all of my life, I have been interested in the details. I have done extensive family history research, collected all of the old family photos from my grandparents that I could get my hands on and have studied all of the details in every photo. So, how could I gloss over documenting the details with my own family? I guess I was too busy learning how to get the “perfect” that I missed the fact that the “perfect” shots were going on around me every day. Kinda like “you can’t see the forest for the trees!”
Want to know what stopped me in my tracks and had me on the verge of tears? This image …that in my mind, I had already trashed and thought it was garbage.
Luckily, I didn’t delete the photos right away and came back to them again a few later. When I came back to it I had a very unsettling feeling about it…then it hit me! This was the last day she sucked her thumb and I hadn’t even noticed.
Now, I am thrilled that she stopped sucking her thumb, she was 11! (and hopefully she doesn’t see this cause no one needs to deal with the wrath of a 14 year old girl! Oh, the drama!) The problem was, in the 10 years that she sucked her thumb, I only had a handful of photos to document it. Not only that, I realized that the same thing was true with my other children. My boy had his favorite bunny that he drug around with him for years; I do have a few photos bunny but what gets me is when did he stop holding on to bunny? I didn’t notice. My next little girl use to carry around a sock! Yup! Any old sock would do! She did this for a few months, then stopped just as suddenly as she started. I only have one picture to help me remember this little quirky tidbit about her.
Little moments like this change everyday. Our babies are constantly growing and changing. One day you’ll wake up and realize your newborn baby girl doesn’t make that little birdy noise anymore when shes looking to nurse. The newborn chicken legs have turned into chunky thighs. Your little boy’s cheeks are changing from chubby and squishy into the slimmer cheeks of a toddler. And one day shortly after that, you’ll have to take your sweet 5 year old to school for the very first time….after 5 years of being home with you everyday.
Documenting with photos isn’t going to stop life from happening but it will help ease the pain knowing that you were there, you paid attention and appreciated these moments in childhood because you know just how fragile they are. And someday, when those grown up babies come back to look at their old family photos, they’ll see themselves through your eyes…What better gift could you give?