Living in the Moment: Why you Shouldn't Wait until You've Lost Weight for a Family Photo

May 08, 2024

Living in the Moment: Why you Shouldn't Wait Until You've Lost Weight for a Family Photo

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Today’s blog is about something of which I myself have been guilty. As a professional family photographer, I often joke with clients that you will never find me ‘at the wrong end’ of the camera lens. I have struggled with my weight and self confidence my entire adult life, and rarely felt confident in photos and the result of this? Lots of our family photos have one person missing; the one always taking the picture.

Looking back on my 34 years as a parent do I regret this now? You bet I do.

In this age of digital photographs and constant scrutiny on social media, it's very easy to get caught up in the pursuit of the ‘perfect’ photo. Every day we look through feeds filled with impossibly flawless faces and perfectly posed families. It is very easy to forget that the real value of our family photographs isn’t what makes them ‘perfect’, but the memories and emotions that these images capture.

I’m always a little sad when a potential client enquires about a family photoshoot and then says they will book in ‘a few months’ time’ when they have ‘lost a bit of weight’. I will sometimes have clients at newborn photography sessions not wanting to have a family photo with their new arrival for the same reason. It is a common belief that many of us have; that we must wait until we’ve achieved a certain level of physical perfection or clothes size before we can capture such precious moments with our loved ones.

Sadly, this mindset threatens to rob us of many cherished moments and also reinforces harmful ideas of our self-worth and beauty.

The idea that we should wait until we are a certain level of slimness is ingrained in today’s society, perpetuated I’m afraid by both social pressures and the unrealistic beauty standards we see in the media. Many of us feel we should conform to these ridiculously high standards in order to be worthy of being photographed; making us delay capturing precious moments with our families until we feel more physically ‘acceptable’.

This way of thinking is wrong for several reasons. Firstly, it suggests that our worth is based on our physical appearance. By delaying family photographs until we feel "slim enough," we reinforce the idea that our value is mainly based on our appearnce instead of the deeper connections and emotions that make family moments so important.

There are more worrying reasons why we need to stop creating such delays. Life is unpredictable and tomorrow is never guaranteed. In putting off capturing moments with loved ones we risk the chance of losing the opportunity to record milestones such as birthdays, holidays and everyday moments that cannot be replaced.

Here is a sobering thought. Have you ever considered the message you are sending to your children when you refuse to appear in a family photo based on your appearance? Again, this is something I have been guilty of the in the past and I hate myself for it. Children learn by example, and when we as parents prioritise physical appearance over capturing genuine moments of connection and joy, our children are receiving harmful messages about beauty and self-worth. Believe me, I know this to be true. One of my beautiful adult daughters called me out on it recently, asking how I thought it made her feel to grow up with a mum who was never happy with her weight and as a result, who appeared in few family photos. I myself had grown up with a mum who was always dieting and constantly on the hamster wheel of trying to lose weight, and this mentality stuck with me into adulthood. When my daughter and I had this conversation it broke my heart. I just kept thinking of the lack of photos including me that exist from our family’s early days, because I was so bothered about being unable to lose the baby weight. My grandchildren and future generations won't have many photos of me taken during those wonderful times to look back on.

I am pleased to say I have changed since then. I have learned to embrace myself as I am and, although it might be a little late for my own children, I hope to help instil in my grandchildren a sense of confidence, self-love and acceptance that transcends superficial beauty standards.

So today’s blog message is this; Instead of waiting for the elusive "perfect moment" to capture family photographs, please try and embrace the present and celebrate your families exactly as they are. Every laugh, every hug, and every shared moment is a worthy memory regardless of your size or appearance. Don’t shy away when someone points a camera at you during a family celebration or gathering and you will always have meaningful and lasting memories that you and future generations will treasure.

Your children's first words when looking back on family photos aren't likely to be “wow! mum/dad should really have lost some weight before appearing in this photo!” but they will say things like, “Ah! This photo makes me remember that caravan holiday we had when it rained all day and night, but we still had such a great time!”

I hope this blog has given you some food for thought. Of course, there are some of us who feel absolutely fine about our appearance and joyfully live in the moment no matter what the scales say. This is amazing, and I wish we could all be like that. I’m also not daft enough to think that this blog is enough to make anyone struggling with self confidence suddenly feel 100% better about having their photograph taken; so if you do have a photoshoot coming up and are feeling a little nervous, have a look at my previous blog post which contains some tips that might help.

Thanks for reading!

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