As a child, I remember walking around my grandparents’ house looking at family portraits for hours. My favorite photos were always the slightly flawed shots because in those, I could connect with these people who I had never known. There, frozen in time, was a young family headed to church with my great grandmother’s cardigan sweater buttoned incorrectly, my great grandfather squinting into the sun, and my grandmother looking as though she’d misplaced her favorite doll. They weren’t properly professionally posed and not everyone looked directly into the camera. They were real.
So, as I went through our various family portrait “takes,” I found myself drawn to the imperfect shots, yet again. In the one above, it appears that Josh is comatose, Caleb must be watching for moose, and I am… well… fussing over the dogs.
Above, I am finally acknowledging the camera, Caleb is struggling with the hood to his snowsuit, Josh is focused on the dogs, and neither dog wants to do anything but cast loving looks at us. I love it. Why? This is real. This is a family.
The lesson here is that we don’t need to scrap all of the flawed shots. Thanks to digital cameras, we are in the habit of deleting the pictures which don’t meet our standards in favor of the “perfect” pose. We then take that perfect shot and Photoshop out our acne, wrinkles, blotchy skin, love-handles, and whatnot until we are no longer ourselves.
I urge everyone to hesitate before hitting that delete button or “fixing” photos with complicated software. Embrace the pictures which wouldn’t usually make the cut. Be real, learn to love yourself with your flaws, teach your children to do the same, and perhaps the next generation won’t be riddled with insecurities or unrealistic expectations. Perhaps they will see those goofy family portraits as I once saw the pictures of my great grandparents: as a powerful reminder that the best moments, the ones worth preserving on film, are often the ones which aren’t scripted or posed, scrubbed or landscaped, properly buttoned or perfectly focused.