5 things organizing my family photos taught me :: Bad haircuts included

Earlier this year, I launched an online photo organization class (or “boot camp”, depending upon who you talk to), and it was potentially one of the most freeing things I’ve done in years.  I’m now free from the stress and guilt that surrounded my ever growing digital photo library.  My photos are now organized, printed and they’re backed up.  I’ve discovered a few things about myself along the way.

1)   I’m not in nearly enough of them

We are so much a part of our children’s worlds, yet if we used our photo albums as historical documents, we moms would have a less than supporting roll.  Sorta like an extra on a TV show.  We need to be represented.  If  we don’t allow ourselves to be photographed, nay… insist that we are photographed, then we are short changing our future selves as well as our kids.

I promise you that your kids don’t care if you didn’t put on makeup, think you need to lose a few pounds, or haven’t showered today.  

They see you like this Every. Single. Day.

How can you make a change?  In addition to getting over ourselves and realizing that it’s not about how we look, but it’s about how we love, I think we all need to insist that our husbands take our pictures more often.

They don’t realize how critical it is for us to be in the pictures, too.   So sit him down and tell him how important it is to you, or just start handing him the camera and telling him what to do.  Either way, you need to force yourself into your family photos.  It’s really that simple.  Suck it up and do it.  When you’re a 90 year old toothless great grandma, you’ll be thrilled to look at photos of yourself when you were in your 30s and 40s.

My favorite auntie gave me some very valuable advice that I now wish I had heeded better: “Be sure you’re not the only one taking pictures.  If you don’t get in front of the camera, you’ll be 50 and realize you’re not in any of the photos.”  Then she laughed and told me that turning the pages of her albums isn’t pretty – it’s a bit of a jolt to see her 30 year old self and then jump to her 50 year old self with very little in-between.


One of the few pictures I have of myself when I was a new mom.  Notice how I strategically placed my daughter in front of my body?   Whatever works, people.  Whatever works.   (And kudos to my husband for forcing me to be in a photo.  Love you, babe!)


2)   Baby books are for suckers

When Crazy #1 was born I was gifted a sweet little baby book to fill in the details of her first few years on this planet.  Fast forward a few years, and it’s still in the closet in the original box never having seen the light of day.  I must have known deep down I wasn’t a baby book person, but I still want to tell my Crazies their stories, so I instead came up with my own version of a baby book that fits with my lifestyle.

By adding little notes or anecdotes near the pictures in the album, I’m telling a more complete story that a baby book or plain album ever could.  I print my albums through Blurb and can make notes right on the page before printing, or take a sharpie and life to the albums with my words.   This is far easier to do than a traditional baby book.  Because while I feel I’m artistic, I am by no stretch of the imagination a scrapbooker.  And, there is no use pretending that I am.

Say no to baby books

My kids love to flip through their photo albums.  My daughter can read now and has fun reading about herself.  She laughs a lot while looking at them, too.  I don’t hold back when writing comments in the albums.  If she fell in the toilet, mispronounced blueberries as boobies, or practically threw up on Santa because he freaked her out so badly, it’s in there.


3) I learned that I had a series of bad haircuts 

Words cannot describe accurately enough the bad hair years, so lets just take a peek, shall we?

This is about the time when my husband INSISTED I start paying a small fortune for a better hair stylist.  Apparently he was tired of my tears (or maybe it was the swearing?).

organize photos

And is that a drunk, boneless, holiday elf I’m dragging around?  No… it’s just Crazy #1.

4)   I could do with a little more playfulness

I mentioned in my last post that I’m learning to dip my toes into the “playful mama” pool, and I think looking back at my old photos helped solidify this desire.

When I think about my favorite photos of my clients, they’re the pictures of them laughing and loving on their kids.  I want that for me, too.

playful mama

And this is one of the main reasons I hire a professional to come into my home once a year.  I need help capturing who I am and how I interact with my crazy family.   In this photo above, Crazy #1 is telling me she loves me.  And then she tooted.  On my lap.  We both laughed waaaay to hard.

5)   I’m a pretty damn good mom

Looking through years of photos (literally thousands and thousands of them), I see two beautiful, happy and healthy children.  That cannot happen if I’m not kicking butt at motherhood.   Sure I have bad moments (days), but I refuse to let them define me as a mom.   I grow from my mistakes and errors in judgment.  I do my best not to let guilt into the equation.

My kids are happy, healthy and well loved.  Yep.  I’m doing a good job. :)

Lifestyle family photographer Bay Area

P.S. Interested in organizing your photos?  You can get a complimentary copy of my ebook, “Take Control of Your Digital Photos”, by signing up to receive my latest news and photo tips.  Sign up here