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In Defense Of The Mamarazzi: Why It’s OK To Take Too Many Photos Of Our Kids

by Bethany Neumeyer
Bethany is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom who is currently using her writing degree to answer the question, why.

When my son was a year old, a friend who was scrolling through my Facebook photos asked me jokingly (I hope) if my son even recognized me without a camera in front of my face. Every month from his birth to age 1, I had uploaded an entire album of pictures of him wearing a sticker on his shirt that said how many months old he was. There were also photos of him in nearly every new outfit, photos of every hilarious facial expression, and an entire album of pictures of him with vacuum cleaners. (Though in my defense, he really, really loved vacuums.)

It’s now four years later, and the number of photos I take has only grown, especially with the addition of my now 2-year-old daughter. I take a lot of pictures of my kids: tiny, everyday moments and milestones that probably don’t count as milestones to anyone but me. (My kids’ first trip to an amusement park was documented with more photos than some weddings.)

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I regularly order prints of the pictures I’ve taken. They are in frames all over our walls, stuck to the refrigerator with magnets, shoved hastily in boxes, propped up on my dresser, and hanging crookedly on a bulletin board in my son’s room. I periodically stick a few in an envelope and mail them to my kids’ two surviving great-grandparents, some of the only family members who don’t see my near-daily posts on Facebook.

But beyond that, I don’t always do a whole lot with the pictures. Most of them are still in the envelopes they were mailed to me in, put back after I rifled through the stack and removed a few favorites.

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Hopefully someday I’ll have time to scrapbook them or at least put them in albums. For now, though, they mostly serve as an insurance policy against my computer crashing or my phone falling in the toilet.

Articles I’ve seen floating around social media tell me to put the camera down. Be in the moment. Stop seeing my kids through a camera lens and instead just see them.

And I get it, I really do. It’s important to be present. To not always be worried about getting the best angle or whether the lighting is right instead of joining in. To not get so focused on capturing memories that you forget to make them. So when my kids and I are playing together, I make a conscious effort to remember to put my phone out of reach and just savor the moment.

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But only after I’ve taken a picture or two… or five. I don’t always urge them to “Say cheese!” I ignore bad lighting and the giant messes that are usually in the background. I take selfies with them on my lap, regardless of my lack of makeup or how long it’s been since I last washed my hair. I don’t structure our day around photo sessions or plan activities solely for the purpose of photographing them, and often the photos are a response to my kids asking me to “take a picture of us!”

But, yes, I take a lot of pictures of my kids: too many, in some people’s opinion.

I know I’m not alone in this. Lots of parents take “too many” pictures of their kids. My friend and I were watching our children playing together in my backyard when she opened the camera on her phone and looked at me sheepishly. “Sorry, I’m a total mamarazzi,” she said, snapping off a few pictures of our kids digging in the dirt before putting her phone back in her pocket.

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Like her, I and other parents who serve as our children’s personal paparazzi often feel like taking so many pictures is something I should be embarrassed about, because the perception is that it’s taking the place of “being in the moment” with our kids.

But a study out of Yale University last year found that taking pictures actually adds to one’s engagement with and enjoyment of an experience (as long as it doesn’t interfere with the experience, like asking my kids to stop playing so I can photograph them, for example.)

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In other words, not only are my snapshots of my kids not taking away from my appreciation of the moment, they’re actually helping me to appreciate it more. My kids seem to appreciate it, too. When my son builds a tower out of blocks or finishes a particularly difficult puzzle, he often asks me to photograph him next to it before he takes it apart so that “we can remember it forever.”

But most importantly, I know without a doubt that I will never, ever regret having too many pictures of my children. There will not be a day when, sitting in my quiet house after my kids have grown and moved out on their own that I will suddenly think, “Man, if only I’d taken fewer photos of them when they were little.”

Already I look at pictures of them from just a few months ago and do a double take. How are they growing so quickly? How have they already changed so much? As sweet elderly ladies love to tell me at the grocery store, it goes by so fast (though it never feels like it’s going very quickly at bedtime or during a temper tantrum). And in 20 years, I’d much rather look at the stacks of pictures and laugh that I took so many than wish there weren’t so few.

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So, fellow mamarazzis, raise your camera phones high and take your pictures with pride! We will never have “too many” pictures of our children!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, both kids are asleep, and it’s been a few months since I got a good picture of that.

For more from Bethany Neumeyer, visit I Was Promised More NapsFacebook and Instagram.