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The importance of being a part of your family's visual history | Toronto family photographer

Photograph of a mother carrying her young daughter

This one is for the person who holds the camera and takes the photos of everyone else. It's for the person who is working in the kitchen getting things ready before the big family meal. And it's for the person who says, "No, I look awful today -- I'll take the photo instead."

Someone I know is struggling with memory loss. I'm creating a memory box for her: a beautiful, custom-made treasure that she will love to pick up and open, over and over. A few of us are filling it with family photographs -- with names, dates and places written on the reverse to fill in the details when she can no longer recall them herself. I've gone through hundreds of images in the past two days, and I'm absolutely crushed that she, herself, is in so few.

I know she isn't unique in her absence from these photographs. Many of us shy away from the camera and put the spotlight on those around us. Maybe we are uncomfortable being the centre of attention. Maybe we just love the people around us so much that we can't help but do the capturing in those shared moments. And yes, sometimes we just don't feel like we don't look our best -- insecurity tells the lens to point in another direction.

But what are we leaving our children? Long gone are the days when we used diaries to document our family's story. We use photographs and videos to do that now. It is important that we are seen in them because thirty years from now, our children will feel our absence in their visual history. They won't care whether you had time to fix your hair or put on something that flatters you. They'll care that you built memories together, that you loved one another deeply and that you laughed the best laughs together.

So make a promise to yourself and to your children this holiday season. Hand that camera to someone else so that you can be seen. Show your kids that you were there with them, and that you shared so much love and so much laughter. They won't see the messy hair or unmanicured fingernails. They will just see that you were a big, beautiful part of their lives.


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