Why I didn't post this to Instagram
I received a few free prints from my printing lab and chose some of my recent favorites to print. Waiting the week until I got them in the mail was almost killer. I don't know why I don't print everything because I was so excited about getting these. I guess that's part of my point. Anyway, I set them up all beautifully on my ottoman and took this image. Yay. An Instagram worthy flat lay image that I can encourage my followers to print their own family photos. Done.
But something was holding me back.
I'm a documentary photographer. Nothing I do should be set up, planned, or posed. But that's exactly what I did with these images. It felt wrong. I was going against brand and the platform I'd been upholding of showing the messy parts of our lives and not just the tailored for social media ones (read more about all that here). I paused for a second looking at my beautifully crafted flat lay.
And then divine intervention came in the form of my toddler.
He had just finished his chocolate milk which he got all over his shirt which I removed to put in the wash. Well, I removed and set it on his high chair to take care of later, let's be honest here.
He wanted to see what mommy was doing and then he started recognizing some faces.
My heart started to swell. It started to race again. This was filling my soul. The shutter kept clicking.
These images of his interaction with the photos were truly documentary and truly what printing your photos is all about, really. In my experience, children's self esteem improves dramatically when they can see their sweet faces in a photograph, on the wall or in their hands. They see it on a screen as they Facetime Grandma, or while taking a selfie or even in your Facebook News Feed. But to touch their face on a piece of paper...it's a foreign experience but one they are transformed by. Their faces light up. Their smiles are genuine. They know they are important to you and good enough to be put on the wall. Pride and confidence fill every part of their bodies. For me, just that is worth it.
This experience helped motivate myself to get my photos printed. Get them sent to your home. Maybe put your child's name on the package instead of your own and they will be even more thrilled to go through the photographs. We really are doing it for them after all.
We must preserve our history on paper, not just on a screen.