Smile for the Camera

Technology has made life easier in a lot of ways. At the same time, it has also created a lot of extra pressure for parents.

When I was growing up photographs were usually taken on special occasions throughout the year: birthdays, vacations, holidays and at the beginning of the school year.

Today, we take pictures of everything. Ambitious parents organize the photos into scrapbooks. The rest of us place them in a box until we have time to organize them (which usually doesn’t occur until our kids have left home for college).

Technology has become less expensive, so in addition to our regular cameras we have digital cameras and cell phones with cameras. We take photos and post them online so our extended family can view them (along with the rest of the world).

Even though we have digital cameras, we still feel pressure to take regular photos because they will last longer. Of course, black and white photos will last even longer. Finally, there is the option of just filming everything with the video camera. How do we keep up?

Have you been to a school production lately? Most of the parents come with video cameras permanently attached to their eyes. I used to be one of these parents, but one day the camera wasn’t working properly so I started paying more attention to others around me. I noticed a red glow in the audience coming from all of the video cameras. I also noticed that by focusing so much attention on the camera the parents were missing the overall experience of the show.

Ambitious parents make movies showcasing their talented (or not so talented) child. Some even upload them to You Tube for the entire world to see. The rest of us set the videos aside for later and then we feel guilty that we don’t have enough time to get to that project either.

I am one of the first to admit the value of photography. I think it is extremely important for our families to have a visual history. Kids need to be able to look at their baby photos and they need to see how their school photos change from one year to the next. In order for this to happen, the kids need to be able to easily access these photos.

Here is something new to try. Stop taking so many pictures. Just focus on a few events throughout the year. As you print your photos, select just a few of the best ones to place inside a photo album. Write the date and a brief description of the event. That’s it.

Place the album out where everyone can enjoy it. Over time, you will have created wonderful memories for your children (instead of fifty shoe boxes filled with unsorted family photos).

This is advice I certainly needed to take several years ago when I realized my children had 14 huge scrapbooks before they were six years old.

I have much more time to enjoy life with my kids and make memories with them now that I am not worrying about archiving every second.

Make your life easier. Make time for chocolate.