I once read an article that a friend had posted on Facebook about "selfies" being linked to narcissism and mental disorders. You know, those articles that pop up in your Facebook feed that seem so important that you just have to pass them around...so they go viral. Apparently it's a big deal to go viral...even if a person has to write something that is not true to do it. Yes, that's right, it wasn't true. No such research into selfies has ever been done. It was a fake article originally published by The Onion. Don't worry, if you take a selfie, you aren't suffering from a mental disorder. Having a background in Psychology myself, I chuckled quite a bit reading the article.
But, I'm not really talking about cell phone Instagram selfies anyway, I'm talking about self portraiture and why it is so important. As a photographer, I spend a lot of time documenting our lives as a family. My mom bought me my first digital camera when I was pregnant with my son. We lived 14 1/2 hours away from our family so we kept in touch through pictures. My very first selfie was of me and my baby bump sent through a Kodak share site to our family members in Ohio. It was a way for our families back home to see our babies grow up when they couldn't be there themselves. I've been documenting ever since then... for the last 11 years. Somewhere along the line, I wanted to learn how to take better pictures of my kids. And that is when I bought my first DSLR and began learning everything I could about photography. At the time, I had no idea that it would become my creative outlet and something that I am so passionate about.
Back to self portraiture and why it is so important... This summer I spent almost every day documenting something. From our trip to New York City to slip n slide in the backyard, I will have an album for the kids to look at and remember the good times that we had together this summer. The problem? I was behind the camera and not in the photos. That's not to say that I didn't put the camera down and partake in the fun, but as far as the documentation...there is no me. So for my last photo shoot of the summer, I decided that it was high time to get into the frame with my kids...
I kept it simple and set up the tripod in my bedroom with the light coming from the window on the left side of us. If we had been outside there would have been too many distractions, especially for the little peanut. I simply told the kids that we were going to take some photos together and I explained how we would do it. We've taken family photos before, so they were familiar with the self portraiture process. It is a little magical when the camera takes photos by itself. For those who have DSLRs, you can buy a remote shutter. Mine was about $20. Or you can use your camera's self timer or interval timer. I think most point and shoots have the self timer feature as well. It is a feature that tells the camera to snap the shutter several times for a period of time. For those familiar with manual exposure, I set my aperture at 5.6 for a greater DOF, my shutter speed was at 1/250 to freeze the movement of wiggly kids, and my ISO was at 6400.
I also wanted to get some shots of me with each kid...posed and interacting. This was a bit more challenging because my particular camera does not have an interval timer. So I created kiderval timer. That's right, I put one kid in charge of pressing the remote at intervals while I was talking to and interacting with another child. So we not only got posed pictures, but the types of photos that I love so much...genuine smiles and interactions. (This has also led to my kids wanting to learn photography.)
So why is it so important? Because someday they will be older...on their own with their own families. They will come home to visit and the albums will be there for them to look at and to show their own kids. Albums full of pictures of them...how I saw them. They will see themselves through my eyes and know that I thought they were beautiful, talented, strong, creative, smart, amazing. Then they will see the ones of us together and know that they made me so happy. Our relationship as mother and child will never end, but we won't ever get this time together back. They will grow up and go their own way. I want them to know that I cherished every moment together...the good, the bad, and the ugly. I want them to know that I feel so very blessed to be their mom.
Thanks kiddos...I love you!