Memories and missing pictures

This is a first from me – a blog post without pictures.  But there’s a reason; read on.

I’ve had a break from blogging; March and April saw me travelling extensively, with trips to Brittany, the Lofoten Islands, Venice and Norfolk.  Time at my desk between trips was for catching up with all the admin I hadn’t done while away.  But, this morning, I decided it was time to resume my much-neglected 365 redux project.  So I booted up my Mac and hunted for a shot from 15th May.  To my surprise, I found that in the last five years (as far back as my current Lightroom catalogue goes) I hadn’t taken a single photo on 15th May.   I wondered why that might be.  May is such a pretty month – surely a landscape and bug shooter would have found reason to go out shooting on the 15th at least once?

15th May was my mother’s birthday.  Perhaps I was busy with family on that day, but surely I ought to have taken some family snaps then?  Well no, and that brings me to the point of this post.  My mother hated having her photo taken.  The pictures I have of her are from her youth, pictures of a mother I never knew.  Beautiful and young, but not my mum.  I have very few pictures from the later decades of her life, when she was the person I knew and loved.  And this made me think.  I too hate being photographed; perhaps it’s a photographer’s curse?   I know I much prefer being behind the lens. But there is more to it; I must confess to the vanity of not wanting my ageing face to be recorded for posterity.  Canute-like, I want to command the years to retreat even if the only thing I can actually control is the production of images of myself.

This is the first 15th May since my mother passed away.  And I wish I had more pictures of her.  I would like to share them with my own daughter and to remember the grandmother she loved.  She looks at the old pictures of her youthful grandmother with admiration, but not with recognition.  I can’t do anything about that – it’s too late.  But I can make sure that when I am gone my daughter has pictures of the mother she knew.  I will just have to put vanity aside and let the shutter click.

20 thoughts on “Memories and missing pictures

  1. A lovely thought provoking post Rachael, thinking of you today x.

    I think many of us are guilty of the same, I know I had few photos of me after my two were born, until that is a couple of years ago. I read an article about this and decided I needed to change and try to take a couple at least a month, with my kids (I still do not like the photos, but at least I am not missing from them any more!)

  2. Such a thoughtful and well written post. Thank you for sharing something quite personal, with the big wide world.

    When my brother came to visit a few weeks ago, he mentioned that our mum had said there aren’t many pictures of us together as a family or brother/sister, not since we were teenagers. It feels like after we “grew up” there was a massive gap. Like you, I enjoy looking back at photos from when we were kids, but it’s such a shame I can’t really do that for when we were teenagers. We made sure to change that when he visited.

    • Thanks, Jaina. Yes, it’s too easy to let this slip. I hate it that I have far fewer picture of M when she was small than I do of R. There was just less time for that with two nippers charging around. And she was such a sweet little thing. Sad.

  3. Very poignant . . . luckily, I have no kids, so I don’t feel guilty about the lack of photographs of me during various stages of my journey from birth to death.

  4. Same here, Rachael. I do have a very few pictures of my elderly mother, but I prefer not to be photographed, and so I haven’t left my daughters or my grandchildren with many records of my aging face. A good reminder, and thank you for this post.

    • Thanks, Sue. It’s not easy. I could have added that I am not even taking enough pictures of the family – my lens is too often trained on the landscape. How are you getting on at The Arcanum? Still enjoying it?

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