Stop being afraid of the camera

“My senior photo for the high school yearbook.”
This is the #1 answer I get when I ask women to remember the last time they had their portrait taken. It’s a heartbreaking answer, isn’t it? Why are we so afraid to step in front of a camera? Do you know what I usually hear following that answer?
“No one wants photos of me.”
“I need to lose 20 pounds first.”
“I just want photos of my children.”
“If only I was younger.”
“I’m not photogenic.”
When my mother passed away a couple years ago, I was in charge of going through all of the photo albums and putting together a display for her visitation. Do you know what I found? I found about 30 candid photos of her. A measly 30 photos that represented 88 glorious years of her life. In fact, it’s almost as though she didn’t exist past the age of 40. Why didn’t we notice this sooner? Why didn’t we ask her to hand over her camera and have her step in to a few of the photos herself? Why does it take losing someone to remind us the importance of needing to remember their face? I want to remember every line, every wrinkle, every smile, and the way she wore their hair. When I see a photograph of my mom, I remember her kind and gentle voice. I hear her say my name as she walks towards me to give me a hug. I remember her laugh when her grandchildren are playing nearby. I remember the way her hands felt when she would hold mine. During one of our last visits, I was looking out her picture window at the birdfeeder in the tree in the front yard. She loved to watch the birds and had feeders all over. When I turned to look at her… she was staring at me and softly said “you have beautiful eyes”. I teared up and gave her a big hug. This is the most important person in my life and I want to remember everything about her. I can’t let her memory fade.
I don’t know what prompted me to write this, this morning. But as I sit here with tears streaming down my face, I implore you to stop being afraid of the camera. I promise you that no one will see that you’ve aged or that you think you are carrying a few extra pounds. No one is thinking you’re not photogenic or have a crooked smile. You are loved more than you’ll ever know.
This is my mother’s senior photo for her yearbook. This is the last time she had her portrait professionally taken. This magnificent woman is dearly missed and I wish I had more photographs of her… of us together. I don’t see wrinkles, or age spots, or what she weighed, her grey hair, or her crooked teeth. I see my beautiful mother and I miss her deeply.
Do me a favor. Give your mom a great big hug… and stop avoiding the camera.