Before the birth of my first baby, my doula suggested that I bring a camera to the hospital and think about designating someone to take pictures in the delivery room.
"You may regret it someday if you don't have any pictures. At least this way, you'll have them if you want them."
I didn't take the pictures.
But that's just who I am.
I'm the mom who never has a camera.
Anywhere you go, moms seem to have cameras. Other women seem obsessed with documenting the tiniest details of their children's lives, from delivery onward. They compile albums, they scrapbook, they have memberships to portrait studios because they visit them so frequently.
This is not to say that I have no pictures or that I see no value in capturing freeze frames of fleeting moments. When I remember, or when the camera happens to find it's way into my purse or my car, I've snapped some beautiful, candid shots. The walls of my home are covered with many of my favorite family photos, and they are among my most cherished possessions. But most of them are pictures I came by randomly, and only a couple are from real "sittings" with a professional photographer. I like it that way. It feels real to me. It feels like I'm living my life with my family and occasionally taking snapshots as reminders of the good times we've enjoyed, rather than studiously documenting every moment for posterity.
Yes, there are times when I've missed capturing special moments because I haven't had my camera with me. There are certainly pictures that I don't have and have come to wish I had taken.
But for the most part, I like my haphazard way of collecting pictures -- an occasional portrait sitting here, some candid shots there. It isn't right for everybody; I know that there are lots of women who love scrapbooking, and I'm sure that somewhere there are some who have even scrapbooked their births . . .
As for me, I still haven't come to regret my decision not to take those birth pictures. Those images are instead among the many rich and vivid memories that are stored carefully away on the hard drive of my mind.
And that's a hard drive that can never be erased.
What kind of picture-taker are you? Do you take tons of photos and schedule portrait sittings for every birthday? Or do you always find yourself without a camera? What kind of family photographs are important to you?