Photographing What’s Real

As much as I love some aspects of social media, there are definite downsides.

When everyone is posting images of their creative endeavors, gorgeous clothes, inspiring fitness journeys, food that looks too good to eat, and self-portraits that belong on the cover of a magazine, it can be very easy to find discontent in our lives.

When I see so much beauty and creativity online, it inspires me, but it also makes me feel insecure. My home isn’t always clean. My kids clothes (who am I kidding — MY clothes) don’t always match. I don’t shower every day. The sink piles up with dishes. I lose the two-year-old. Kids cry. I get lazy with meals. And on and on it goes.

Real life isn’t all rainbows and sparkles.

I remember taking one of my first “life is not perfect” photos. I was following the mantra I had read of parenting and photography:

Don’t get mad. Take pictures.

And so, way back in 2006, when my (now almost ten year old!) son got himself stuck in our picnic basket, I let him cry for a moment while I grabbed my camera. Cruel mom? I don’t think so. This is one of my favorite pictures from this time in our life. I love it, and so does my son.

And this one from a few days later:

You know what? Real life is real. And it’s our life. It’s a life filled with so much love, so much fun, and so much excitement. But it is also a life filled with many not-so-perfect moments and lots of Pinterest unworthy days.

It’s not perfect, but it’s ours.

And so, I embrace the imperfection. I don’t shy away from clicking the shutter while looking at piles of laundry, three-week-old unpacked suitcases, and a desk that is so full I have to shuffle everything around just to find a place for my coffee.

It’s not that I am proud of the imperfection. I actually get a little annoyed with a recent movement not only to accept imperfection but also to glorify it. I don’t like that I am not a tidy person. I don’t like that the dishes sometimes sit in the sink until morning. I get stressed looking at piles of stuff around the house. I want it to be different. But while I am working on it, I am going to record it.

And this is why:

All of these moments are reminders of a life being lived. They are memories of a hectic life with six little ones. They are proof that no matter the house (we’ve lived in a different one every year that we have been married), no matter the furniture, no matter our location, we have lived a happy (and sometimes messy) life.

I also want my children to know and understand that I am not perfect. When see that others have struggles and short-comings, it allows us to enter into relationship with them in a more authentic way. Have you ever tried to be friends with a perfect person?

And so, I choose to let perfection go.

This is our life. This is real.

(I didn’t take any of these photos for this post. I just went through my folders and found some gems. Many of them are from when I was pregnant — a definite not-so-perfect time in life!)

A Few Tips:

1. Don’t be afraid to capture the imperfect moments. They are as much a part of your memories as the perfect ones.

2. Just because you take a picture of the imperfect doesn’t mean you have to post it online. Not all of your memories have to be broadcast.

3. Be considerate in taking photos and/or posting images that might embarrass your friends or other members of your family (either now or in the future). Some moments are better left alone.

4. Sometimes what makes us feel sad/insecure/frustrated now are things that become our funniest memories later. Go ahead. Take the picture and then give it a few years for it to become funny.

So what about you? Any imperfections in your life? Do you record them?