Three weeks ago I posted this image on my Facebook page.
Within 24 hours over 100 of you lovely people had liked, reacted or commented.
And I was very, very touched. And at the same time equally saddened.
Because getting a mummy in front of the camera like this is about as easy as nailing a jelly to a tree.
So I scrolled down the list of names of all the people who had 'liked' and 'loved'. And there they were - the names of the very mummies who had refused to be photographed with their own children. Loving someone else doing it..... so long as it wasn't them.
Mummies who were 'No, no, no - not me.Just photograph the children'
'No way. I'm too fat'
'Looking like this!!! You must be joking!'
'Ok. When I've lost a stone and these bags I'll think about it'
And you are not alone. In this world of airbrushed perfection getting you ladies in front of the camera is a problem. It is SUCH a problem that a movement is quietly starting to gain a foot hold in the photography industry. Spearheaded by the truly lovely Kiwi photographer Sue Bryce - world renowned for her beautiful imagery of women - you may have seen the hashtag #existinphotos starting to pop up across the web
"Exist In Photos" is aimed at Mummies - trying to get us ladies back in the picture. To stop us thinking that we are too fat, too old, too tired and just allowing us to accept that we are wonderful as we are.
And perhaps - more importantly - reminding us that our children love us NOW. Not the perfect vision that we carry in our heads (the one that is always a stone lighter!) but NOW..... wobbly bits, wrinkles and imperfections galore. We are their Mama - and, for them, that is enough.
So it really should be enough for us too.
Just think about that for one minute :-
"One day your children will look for photos of you. What will they have?"
Sue's words - not mine. And I intended to shamelessly steal them as the basis for this blog. But, as I was planning it all out in my head, thinking about this sermon I was going to preach to you all (because none of this applied to me - the Mama with the camera) .... I stopped.
I stopped - dead in my tracks.
One day MY son will look for photos of ME. What will HE have?
(And I made Pete get a ladder and get up in the roof and bring down all my photo albums - and, trust me, when you live with a photographer - that is not a job you want landed on you at quarter to eleven at night!)
So - one day Tom will look for photos of me.
And Tom's Mum was always the Mama with the Camera.
So there will be 100's of photos....right? Scattered through all those albums?
You see - there ARE no photos of me.
Don't get me wrong.....there is the odd one.
There is the one that I took of us both with the camera on self timer, balanced on a pile of books in the bedroom. The 6 month old Tom looking suitably startled by the realisation that Mummy didn't actually LIVE behind the camera.
And then there is nothing.
When, one day, Tom looks for photos of me - I don't exist. He will know I was there. Because his entire life is documented with 1000's of images taken by the Mama With The Camera:-
With Great Grandma. With Grandma and Grandpa. With Nanny and Gramps.
With Aunts. And Uncles. And Cousins. And School Friends
Tom at Nursery. Starting School. Leaving School.
Tom and his Dad, playing cricket on the beach.
Sports Day. And Cubs. And Nativity Plays.
And yet the Mama who loves him with every fibre of her being doesn't exist in photos with him again until he is 7 or 8 .... photographer unknown ..... riding out of the yard together.
And then not again until a young teenager - with his obligatory 'Birthday Trifle'
And then a grown man, learning to dive together - photo taken by our examiner on a cheap underwater, disposable camera
And, finally, leaving home for ever ..... a new life at Uni.
Mama redundant...... with photos of a lifetime that she had loved that she could count on one hand.
I wanted to go back and do it all again. I wanted to hand the camera to other people and say 'Can you just take one of us together?'
I wanted to go back and exist in the parties, the holidays, the sports days. The fun.
If I could go back I wouldn't care how fat I was. Or how old I looked.
Because the sad fact is that we look back at photos that we hate today (because we look fat and old) and cannot believe how young we looked and how skinny we were!!
So - Mamas - from today you will not be ALLOWED to have a photoshoot of any sort with me and not be in a photograph with your children. You will exist.
"Exist in Photos. For your children. For yourself. For the people who love you"
And whichever photograph you love (or hate the least) will come to you as a Fine Art Print - entirely free of charge - for you to put somewhere safe so that, on the day those children leave home, you don't get your photographs out of the roof and realise that there are not enough.
Welcome to The Mamas Club.
I drove up to Loughborough on Toms birthday this year to drag him out of Uni and to take him for dinner.
This time, having learnt my lesson ......I made Alice get her phone out and take some photos
I can't believe how fat I look, how tired I look and how old I look.
I will treasure them forever.