My mom has always been the picture taker in our family. She’s always said she would grab her photo albums before running out the house if it was on fire. Through the years, we’ve suffered through a million pictures on holidays, birthdays, and gatherings – laughing when she would forget to remove the cap off the lens, reluctantly bunching together when she makes us take another group shot. She frames recent ones, puts them in albums chronologically, and has a handful in her purse at all times to show off to friends and strangers. Meanwhile, my dad bulks at the process, protesting by looking away or putting his hand up.
I love taking pictures too, although I’m simply horrible at getting them printed. I love that I have snippets of our live documented through photos, and I love scrolling through hundreds of them on my phone and smiling about the recent memories we’ve shared.
Sometimes, I’m reluctant to take the picture. I don’t want to interrupt the moment. I don’t want to put forth the energy to get everyone to cooperate. I don’t want to bother a stranger to take it. And then I’m critical of myself looking at the photo afterwards.
“Sorry, Guys. Just take a picture real quick. Smile and it will be over.”
“I’m so sorry, but can I bother you to take our picture real quick?”
This week I stood in a line that stretch for yards and yards, to say goodbye to a beautiful 10 year old boy named, Ethan. I watched these pictures of his life scroll across the screen. Newborn pictures. Sports pictures. Professional pictures. Pumpkin carving pictures. Family-life pictures. Vacation pictures. Silly pictures. They weren’t all perfect pictures, but they were so full of life. They captured joy. They captured family. They captured love.
I don’t think my friend Erin, regrets taking one of those pictures or getting any of them taken of her sweet son who left this earth just one week ago. I don’t think she made the funeral arrangements wishing she didn’t have so many pictures that captured his life so well. No picture was a waste of time.
So let’s stop apologizing for taking pictures, let’s start cooperating a little better when someone wants to take ours, and let’s stop being critical of the little things that we find imperfect about a picture.
Capture life. Capture memories. Capture love.