“HEY DAD! Come take a picture with me!” | The Photographer’s view on the importance of a Father’s presence & leaving a legacy


“HEY DAD! Come take a picture with me!” The little fellow said as he pulled on his poppa’s pocket in the direction of the man with the camera. 

“Oh son, not today, these are just of you all, and I’m not dressed for pictures.” 

The little boy runs back towards the camera to join the siblings. I was saddened.  To witness such a sad sight as I was photographing a family…daddy included. That little fellow wanted his daddy to be in the pictures WITH them! He didn’t care that he was in his work clothes, or a little dirty, or had mud on his boots.  He just wanted a picture with his daddy! 

This has been on my mind A LOT lately. SO many posts have been written encouraging moms to get in front of the camera with their babies, but not a lot about the DADS! 

I’ve had literally TWO dads talk to me about shooting pictures of their kids in my career. TWO.  They were single dads, and only wanted pictures of their kids, but only TWO saw the value in preserving their children’s childhood, but neither wanted to be photographed WITH their babies.

Why? Because I dare say 99% of men HATE having pictures made.  I honestly believe they’d rather have a root canal…as at least that’s done with a DRILL! Ha! 

But all kidding aside, it’s absolutely SAD! I see mothers and their children all the time out having their pictures made while dads at work, or away on business, or he just isn’t there. 

Dads: When you’re gone, and you will be, how will your babies, their babies, and their grand babies know what you looked like?  How will they know you were there…that you were INVOLVED.  That you were PRESENT?  A picture is worth a thousand words…if you’re not in the pictures then how are you in the words of the moment, how are you to be remembered when so many of our memories are tied to what and WHO we see in photos?  

Were you there at the ballet recital? Were you there that first Easter? Were you there at Graduation? What about their first birthday? First dance? First car?

I look back on my own life, and my own dad is one of those “hates having pictures made” men.  He’s not in any of my ballet recital photos….but my mom is. He’s not in but maybe one or two, if any, of the beach, disney, other vacation photos…but my mom is. He’s in the baseball photos…for the years the he coached…but that’s about it.

For now I can recall if I REALLY think back, and force myself to remember, that he was there, but I’m only 29.  My memory is still pretty spot.on!  When I’m 75, and he’s long gone who’s to say I’ll be able to recall that he was involved….that he was there?

My absolute favorite image of my dad and me is sincerely the most RANDOM image….he always, for as long as I can think back, gets up every morning, makes his coffee, and goes outside to smoke. When I was maybe 2 or 3 I was outside one morning, playing apparently, and I guess I just had to have a picture with my daddy; because there he is sitting on the brick wall…shirtless, and in his underwear, smoking away, but I hopped up in his lap and mom snapped a picture.  It’s not “pretty”…he still had “bed” head going on, and he’s as pale as a ghost because he wasn’t wearing a T-Shirt…that would’ve probably been darker than him LOL, but yet it’s my FAVORITE!  Why? Because it’s REAL! It was unplanned. But mostly because it.was.HIM! That’s what he did, that’s who he was, and honestly who he still is…well…now he puts on a shirt and/or pants since the Fed-Ex or UPS drivers, and I think some Jehovah’s Witnesses once upon a time, come so early these days! Hahahaha!! It’s special though because THAT’S how I’ll remember him when I’m old and grey. 

So, from a daughter to all the daddies out there I urge you to, no matter what you’re wearing, no matter what you look like, no matter how bad you feel, when your baby girl or boy comes up to you in your “non-presentable” state and tugs on you to “come get in the picture” that you DO IT!  They obviously think you look wonderful enough to be seen with…because THEY WANT YOU IN THEIR PICTURE. They want to be seen with you…just as you are.

Set your bravado aside. I means seriously no man in his right mind would dare NOT answer that toy telephone when a little tyke bepops up to them and says “it’s for you”…so you shouldn’t be afraid to get in the pictures with your babies…no matter how old they are…and no matter how much you may hate the camera.

Hey…even if your nails are black from grease, your pants muddy from the field, your beard showing off more than a 5’oclock shadow, and your hair shielded under a nasty, worn out ball cap, they’ll look back on that and think…”That’s my dad! He worked so hard, and STILL wanted in the picture WITH me!”  We have to overcome this age old false view of photography.  Those “Ward and June Clever” looking, picture perfect, everyone all dressed up in front of some cheesy backdrop, that everyone and their brother’s sister’s mother has been photographed in front of, are NOT who we are.  We don’t live in a picture perfect world, so let go of the notion that everyone has to be picture perfect, squared to the camera and smiling…is your family like that at home? Then it’s alright if your family photos aren’t like that.  Trust me!

Kids don’t remember who we want them to see us as…they remember us as we were…as we ARE…and they’ll remember us by the photos we’re in. That’s the way it should be, that’s what portraits should be.  This is your life, you only get one…BE Present AND Accounted for!

 

Sincerely, 

A photographer and a daddy’s girl 

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