Whenever I pick up my camera I tend to flick back through the last couple of photos, sometimes to remind myself whether I’ve uploaded them onto the computer and whether I ought to clear the memory card, but quite often just as a bit of a reminder as to how long it’s been since I picked up the camera, and what I was capturing.
Being out of the house four days a week and with the light only just beginning to creep into either end of the day, I’m finding that during the dark days of winter I’ve at most taken photographs at the weekends and on my work at home day. I can use the tripod and try to set up favourable lighting for an evening shot, but I’d so much rather have natural light, even if it has occasionally meant standing out in the rain to take a photo of a quilt block balanced precariously in the doorway!
The the rest of the time my camera lives tucked away on the back of the dresser, or upstairs on my dressing table, or in the studio; wherever happens to be the nearest place where we can put it away from tiny fingers. The girls are pretty careful with it but my little Pip Squeak is both fascinated and somewhat less than gentle, so away it goes.
But it seems that the photography bug has finally become contagious. Or it’s possible that it always was but I was hogging the camera all the time. Whatever the cause, I’m finding that every now and then, I flick back into my pictures and find a handful that I didn’t take.
It might be the girls, grinning wildly, flour smeared across their cheeks, presenting their latest batch of cupcakes, or Pip sat joyfully digging in a sand box. Or this week, a whole series of their trip to our “Kilimanjaro” (a big hill in town with a lantern post on the top).
We go to that park fairly often, but it’s been a while since we climbed the hill up to the lantern post. H and I have very similar views on how to handle children having ratty mornings (get out in the fresh air with lots of space to run around as quickly as you can) and earlier this week, when we’d reached screeching level before I’d even left the house, he decided it would be a good place to go and run off some steam. So off they went.
Pip, who must have still been up in our arms the last time we were there, walking and stumbling and picking himself up to keep on going. Elma dressed as a very warm little fairy, climbing steadily, and Kitty, whose long legs propel her up at high speed.
And as I flick back through the pictures there’s Pip at the top, trying to push the lamp post over, and the view out across the town, so familiar from so many expeditions, and then back down the hill to the playpark, and all three of my little ones running around together exploring.
Every day while I’m away from them I wonder what they’re up to and how they are, and I love the moment when I get home and sit down with at least one child in my lap and they can tell me all about it.
But the photos tell me so much more than their words ever could. I can see from their body language how each of my trio was feeling, can almost hear their conversation and I know instantly who was tired, who was bouncing off the walls with energy and whose giggles you would have heard a mile away.
I think we take photos to prompt our memories for the moments when we were there, for the things that we don’t want to loose to time, and I know that there are photos that I’ve taken that will instantly transport me back to that time and place just as surely as the smell of wooden floor polish makes me 18 again and standing in the school chapel on my final speech day.
But being the person who takes most of the photos, and is in a lot of the rest of them I don’t think I’d realised just how much of a window they can be to times when I’m not there.
It’s brain magic of a sort; my mind will take all of the knowledge it has stored about my children and bring back all of the memories of the time I spend with them to fill in the gaps between photos; to put voice and smell and movement to tiny moments frozen in time.
I love that photography, and digital photography in particular has meant that I have been able to capture so much about my children’s childhood; I love it for them and I love it for my memories, but I think that it’s only now that I’m not always there, that I begin to realise just how very special the photos are from the times when I’m missing. And that, lovely family, means that you need to take even more!
Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments