Print the photos! “Thanks to these photographs, my daughter knows herself”

As a storytelling photographer it’s no secret I take a lot of photographs – one way or another I’ve been documenting the lives of my children ever since they breathed their first. 

This is probably true of so many of us 

Think about that first night in hospital. During those small and quiet hours of the morning when it was just you and your babe I’ll bet you had your phone out, snapping pictures.

Actually, I think unposed photography comes pretty naturally to a lot of us. Many of the quick shots we share on social media are of fleeting yet authentic candid moments. But how many of us are printing these memories, framing them? Hanging them on the wall to see every day?

Needless to say, we have a lot of photographs up in our house

They aren’t all fancy shots. In fact, a lot of them were taken before I knew much about photography at all. I put them up because they make me smile, because on the tough days they remind me what it’s all about. What I hadn’t foreseen when I started was how important displaying these images would be for my children. 

Every. Single. Day. My daughter mentions the pictures on the walls

She talks about the photo of me, swollen and fit to burst with the baby in my stomach that she now knows was her. She asks for the story, or she tells it to me – about how she was so tiny and curled up in there, how I hadn’t met her yet, how she was still growing, not ready to be born. 

She comments on the snaps of me and her dad; selfies taken before we were parents at a restaurant or on a hike or sipping cocktails at our old local. We’d clicked them in a haze of happiness and slapped a terrible Insta filter over them. A moment in time, frozen and preserved forever.

Of course, her favourite are the pictures of herself

The photograph of her and my husband playing in the bath. The one where she’s sitting on the kitchen sink. The picture of her brother crying, partially obscured by the hem of her dress when she’d jumped in the frame as I’d clicked the shutter.

She recollects with vivid detail the egg hunt at her grandparents’ farm over Easter. She points at the photo of her trotting along the garden path, her face an ecstasy of anticipation, and can tell you where her dad was standing, about the scones she and her Nanna went on to bake, about her Grandad coming to wake her that morning and riding in the billy cart.

On the walls of our home she sees herself

She sees her life, and as a result I’ve been shocked and amazed to discover she has this almost tangible sense of place. These deeply rooted foundations. A sense of belonging and a connection to self and personal identity like I couldn’t have imagined having at three years old. 

Through the imagery surrounding her she’s found these firm ties to family and an absolute understanding of where she fits. 

While most of our memories fade with time, so many of hers are being solidified and strengthened by this daily reminder of the things she’s done, the places she’s been, the people she holds dear.

Thanks to these photographs, my daughter knows herself

Yesterday I ordered some large prints for a few proper wall galleries that quite honestly are long overdue. They’re an investment, but one that is absolutely worth it, for so many reasons. 

I cannot wait for her to see her tiny self, as large as life on the walls of our home. What a testimony to her importance, to her value as a cherished member of our family.

Print the photos, you won’t regret it

I cannot overstate the importance of having and displaying photographs of your beautiful ordinary life. Over time that which now seems mundane and routine will slip quietly away. 

These days of now will be gone, but through photographs they can be remembered and cherished. We can remain tied to our pasts, to our memories.

We can have and hold all these versions of our life and our selves still; they can exist all at once on the walls and in the hallways of our homes.

Long after these days and sleepless nights have ended, let there exist a record around us – a story of love, belonging, connection. 

A rich and glorious tapestry. 

A history, told in pictures.

This post was republished with permission from Michelle McKay’s website. Michelle is a storytelling photographer. Her style is inspired by a combination of lifestyle, documentary and photojournalistic approaches. Michelle McKay Photographer services the wider Geelong and Melbourne region of Victoria, Australia. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook and her website.

Image credit: Michelle McKay

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