WRONG SIDE OF THE LENS (why family photos matter)

Me and Mum old

Me and Mum old

A good blogging buddy of mine lost her beloved Mum earlier this year.

Since then she’s been posting some beautiful photos of her mother, which got me thinking about mine, who lives back home in New Zealand.

We’re a family of committed camera-phobes, so there are very few pics of Mum over the years. She’s that person who looks panicked as soon as anyone mentions the word ‘photo’ and always manages to hide herself at the back, or slip away altogether under some swiftly invented excuse.

Which is why I have these ones of her holding me as a newborn, and as a toddler (I’m guessing about two?), and the next ones I have have were taken nearly 25 years later at my sister’s wedding, and a shot of us in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales (note how she looks like she’s plotting her getaway in the bottom one).

kirk's wedding

me and mum blue mountains

Another decade or so passed with very little photo action – in great part because I’d moved to London by this stage, and only managed to get home once in this time.  When Big Sis was born Mum came over to help out, and I managed to nab a few of her then (she’ll kill me if she sees I’ve posted this… but I’m going to do it anyway… ).

Mum + L

Mum with girls

When Lil Sis was two she came back again, and was able to meet her youngest granddaughter for the first time. I love these photos, taken a few days after Big Sis started school, but they also make me sad as it was the same day Mum flew back to New Zealand. The girls are too young to realise it’s a goodbye hug, but Mum and I are all too aware this is the last time they’ll see Nana for (what turned out to be) three years.

In summer this year our scattered family was brought together again for my cousin’s wedding in Bali. My friend’s recent loss had really brought it home to me how important it was to keep making memories – I realised I’d been ignoring my own advice, taking squillions of photos of the girls with OH, but very few of myself with them.

My girls are still young enough that, if something happened to me (touch wood), they wouldn’t have many memories of me, which is a distressing thought. That’s why – to me – photos aren’t just a way for me to remember a fun day or occasion, they’re preserving memories for the loved ones I’ll eventually leave behind. Photos don’t just mark and give context to your family’s life, they also enable future generations to understand who they are, by seeing who, and where, they’ve come from.

Before we flew out I did some research and found a local photographer named Pande to take some family photos while we were in relaxed holiday mode. A former graphic designer, he set up APEL PHOTOGRAPHY in 2008, and I loved his informal photo journalistic style.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous about the shoot – getting a family of jetlagged camera-phobes excited about a shoot isn’t the easiest task in the world, but to their credit everyone turned up – even if slightly begrudgingly. We managed to get this pic of the girls with Mum and my stepdad, as well as some lovely shots of my Dad and sister. I also finally got some nice photos of me with the girls (which I’ll show you in a separate post).

Mum and George with girls

I’ve made a pact now to make sure I get some decent shots taken every year; it’s time to get over my camera shyness, and on to the other side of the lens.

Do you have a favourite family photo? Leave a link in the comments, so I can check it out!



  1. Love this post Jacqui, and you are so right. We have to make more effort and take photos with our parents, do it for us, and for our girls. Love the photos of you and your mum, and mentioning Blue Mountains just bring back my memories of me And Andrew being there years back before we moved to London. The reason we said a goodbye to sunny Sydney was my family, to be closer, and can really understand how hard it must be for you having your mum so far away. xxx

    • Thanks Mirka! So easy to get stuck behind the camera but thinking about it has made me realise it’s just as important for the girls to have photos of me as it is for me to have photos of them. xx

  2. Genuinely beautiful pictures :-). My little sister has no real memories of our dad, and to be honest I have previous few myself. You’ve made me realise how important these things can be. We nearly lost my mum to a brain haemorrhage this year, I think it’s brought everything home! Thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks Ross, and you’re SO welcome! It was a wake up call for me too – that my camera shyness/vanity is much less important than making those memories for my girls. They don’t care if my hair’s a mess, or I’ve got a double chin!!! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. x

  3. These are just beautiful and your family is the polar opposite to mine-this lot all fight for camera time from my Dad Papa G to my little Xander. Get in front of the camera you gorgeous woman. I’m so sorry about your friend’s Mum too, much love x
    Honest mum recently posted…A Photo Shoot With Celebrity Photographer Joseph Sinclair (& Help Me Choose a Gravatar)My Profile

    • Now I have this image of you all elbowing each other out of the way to get in front of the lens, haha! I’m nowhere near your league when it comes to taking gorgeous pics, but am definitely getting a little bit better! xxx

  4. What gorgeous pictures of your lovely family and beautiful words. I can relate to this so much. I have so few photos of me and the kids. We need to do this hon. It’s hard when you’re the only one taking them. My dad died when I was only 25 and do you know what? I don’t have one picture of us together. I have the memories, but no photos. Hugs x
    susankmann recently posted…My Parenting Hacks – Share Yours and WinMy Profile

    • Thanks Susan xxxx So sorry you don’t have any pics with your dad – you’ve reminded me of years ago, when I realised I didn’t have any recent photos of my Nana and Grandad. The next time I went to see them I made them pose for a photo, and a few weeks later my Nana suddenly died. The photo I still had on my camera was the only modern one that existed; we rushed to get it developed and all made copies from it. xxx

  5. We don’t actually have a family photo. There are plenty of the children or of me with the children separately but none of us as a family. I need to change this.

    • Totally get that; we didn’t have a family photo – all four of us – until the photo shoot I talked about in the post, which is crazy since Lil Sis is five years old! x

  6. Great post, and food for thought. I’m another one who shies away from the camera and hates having my photo taken.
    I should really smile more for the camera and allow myself to have more pictures taken instead of ducking for cover….
    wendy recently posted…Should fireworks be banned? No, leave them alone.My Profile

    • When you’re naturally camera shy it’s easier said that done, isn’t it Wendy? But definitely worth it. xx

  7. I hate having my photo taken, but have had to get over it as we have our own photography business and my husband is forever wanting to try out new lighting or this or that and uses me as his model. I love having photos around and every year now we always get the family together for some new pictures
    StressedMum recently posted…Happy FridayMy Profile

    • You’re lucky – my OH barely knows which way round to hold a camera, let alone how to take a decent pic!! 😉 x

  8. I have to admit we are all camera-phobs as well, so I cannot actually think of many photos we do have. x
    Sarah Bailey recently posted…How to use Glass Jars to easily create beautiful Christmas Decorations (+ Win Set of 3 Kilner Glass Jars!)My Profile

    • I can completely relate! Yet I alway regret the photos I DIDN’T take, not the ones I did. x

  9. A beautiful collection of memories, I know what you mean my aunty is the same she hates photos I have so few photos of her. I wish I had more x
    Ana De- Jesus recently posted…Redefining FeminismMy Profile

  10. You make a great point. I need more family photos. I have hundreds of the kids but none of all of us together.
    Tori Gabriel recently posted…Parenting Superpowers!My Profile

    • Funny, isn’t it? Also ironic, since – when they’re older – our children will probably be more interested in seeing pics of us than themselves. x

  11. This is the reason I love taking pictures. Many people don’t understand it, but for me each picture represents a memory. And one day that’s what will be left so it’s so important those moments are captured. It’s funny that you mum hates the camera, because she’s really photogenic!
    The London Mum recently posted…Reform, Social & Grill | Afternoon Tea For The FamilyMy Profile

    • So true! You think memories will never fade, but they inevitably do, and photos are a great way to recall those special days, moments, and emotions. x

  12. This has really made me think when the last time I had a photo with my mum and dad… I don’t think it has happened for over 10 years x
    Rachel recently posted…Lush The Twelve Days of Christmas Advent CalendarMy Profile

  13. My mum hates having her picture taken too and so do I. I do try to make the effort to have some pictures taken with my daughter but my mum is always hovering in the background in pictures of the kids. You are so right about making memories with photos something I will be taking on board!
    tracey bowden recently posted…My Top 5 Christmas FilmsMy Profile

    • Even if it feels really uncomfortable (which, for me, it totally does!) it’s worth it to have those forever memories. x

  14. You have some lovely photos of your family. My mum died at 54, I wish I had more photos of her x
    Claire recently posted…Traditional apple crumbleMy Profile

  15. Time flies by so fast – I think all the time about having professional photos done, then boom another 6 months is gone. I rarely appear in photos with my children – but do have thousands of them at least. Kaz x
    Ickle Pickle recently posted…Children In NeedMy Profile

  16. You’re so right, its important to take plenty of photos. I think it preserves memories xxx

  17. This really hit hard. Made me think. Pictures are not just something we take for fun. They say more than a thousand words. They preserve moments. So beautiful. So true.
    Michael recently posted…The Day I Got ShippedMy Profile

    • Thanks Michael, that’s exactly what I hoped to get across with the post, so I’m really pleased that’s what you took away from it. 🙂

  18. You are so right. Pictures speak a thousand words and are so very important.
    Stella recently posted…Naomie Harris and Selena Gomez In MuglerMy Profile

  19. This is a lovely post – my Mom died when I was 19, so photos of her are very precious. I’m still not comfortable in front of the camera, but I’m doing my best to make sure that there are photos of me for the boys.
    Sally Akins recently posted…Superdrug Optimum PhytoDeluxe rangeMy Profile

    • So important to do, isn’t it Sally? Although I don’t know why you’d find it hard – your photos are always so beautiful! Sorry to hear you lost your mum at such a young age, your words just reinforce to me why I’m forcing myself out of my comfort zone. x

  20. A wonderful post Jacqui. I am one of the guilty ones though not wanting to have my picture taken. I really regret it though as I visited some amazing places and I hardly have any pictures of my in it. I am trying to be better though now so I have something to look back when I am older.

    P.S Your mum really doesn’t have to be worried about having her picture taken.

    • Ah, thanks Nadine-Johanna, I fell into that trap too – I used to do a lot of solo travelling and always felt too awkward to ask people to take photos of me. End result: I have tonnes of amazing shots, but they could have been taken by anyone – there’s no ‘proof’ that I was even there!! x

  21. I adore photos and think that they are so important. I must have tens of thousands of my children, although I really should be in more myself.
    Ali recently posted…Comvita MediHoney Derma CreamMy Profile

  22. I think us mums tend to be the unseen person in the photo, always there but always behind the camera! Although I’m like your mum and would rather run away than be snapped I should take your advice just so my children have some visual memories of me when they are older x
    Katie recently posted…Allotment Update November 2015My Profile

  23. You’re spot on about getting more mums in front of the camera. Touched that my experience inspired you to write this post and so glad you did. The photos are beautiful and love seeing you as a toddler – you haven’t changed a dot! You look a lot like your mama too 🙂 We did a family photo shoot earlier this year and it’s produced one of my favourite photos with the kids, one I hope they’ll always treasure too. And I remember your shots from Bali, there’s one of the most gorgeous pictures of you I’ve seen among them and looking forward to when you share on the blog! x
    Babes about Town recently posted…150 Best Kids Movies EVER! (Babes Choice)My Profile

  24. Such a good idea. Looking at our family photos, I have plenty of my parents as I take them but for my son there are hardly any of me

  25. […] A few months ago I wrote about how important it was to get out from behind the camera, and make sure your children had photos of you throughout their lives (you can read more about it HERE). […]

  26. […] while back I wrote a post on WHY FAMILY PHOTOS MATTER, about why it’s so important to document your life – and everyone in it – with […]

  27. I’m just going through family photos looking for ones of my mum with us when we were little, and there are hardly any. I don’t think she was camera shy, just that she was probably taking the photos. I now realise that’s it’s exactly the same for me. Generations to come will wonder if mine actually had a mother.

    • So true!! Us mums are always the ones determined to take loads of photos and preserve history… so much so, we forget to include ourselves in the timeline! x

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