On family photos.

As you may have heard, it snowed.

ImageWe all went out for a walk and I played with Hipstamatic. Maybe it’s true that down the line, we’ll look at all these faux-vintage iPhone photos and feel like jerks.

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But it’s not like any photo is more “honest” than any other. And I like how playing with Hipstamatic (I do a lot of shaking-for-random-settings and multiple shots to see what comes through) frees me mentally from the fixation on taking a “good” picture—which, when we’re taking pictures of people, and especially our own children, seems to mean catching them looking happy. Obviously, I like pictures of my baby looking happy. I like it when she is happy. But sometimes happiness doesn’t look like what we think it should look like in a photo.

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And I think at some point children start to perform photo-happiness as a way of showing us they are happy. There’s probably no way to avoid this, but maybe we can offer a more diverse archive of happiness in our family photos—to keep a record that says, I’m happy when you’re smiling, but a lot of the time, I’m happy when you’re not smiling. Because so are you.

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2 thoughts on “On family photos.

  1. We’ve been talking about photographs and capturing happy moments as well and I agree – at some point, kids *do* start to perform for the camera. And so many of our family photos seem to rely so heavily on demonstrated happiness. I’ve decided that we need more snaps of imperfect moments as well. And now, I’m going to add this quiet, un-performative happiness to my list.

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