This Christmas, don't let the onslaught of perfectly curated photos discourage you from capturing the people, places and things that matter most to you. Without pictures, my memories would be very fuzzy. None of the photos I am going to share with you are amazing or perfect but what a fun trip down memory lane! While I was preparing for this post, I found myself excitedly yelling to the other room...
"Cameron, do you remember when you and Haylee wore matching Dora the Explorer sweatsuits?"
"Oh my gosh, I totally forgot about the High School Musical era!"
"Remember the year of Hello Kitty EVERYTHING?"
christmas memories can be fleeting
Without pictures, I promise you I'd remember a fraction of the girl's childhoods. It's almost to the point if I don't have a photo, I am not sure it happened.
Then there is the year our sink leaked onto my scrapbooking table in the basement below. SEVEN YEARS worth of Christmas memories...gone. Flooded. Destroyed. It makes me a little bit sick to this day. Most of the pictures in that book were taken with film cameras (I have no idea where the negatives are.) I had little hand prints from day care pasted carefully in that book. Needless to say, that was the day my scrapbooking days ended and Shutterfly books began.
"my photos aren't any good," or "i'm so busy"
I've heard a couple of my friends say they barely take photos this time of the year they are so busy. I've heard other friends say that their expectations of their photos are so high that they just don't take any.
Think about your childhood. Isn't it fun to see the people and places that were a part of where you grew up? Did you ever judge the quality of the photo? Of course not. Most of us wish we had more of those memories. So as much as I want to teach you to take amazing photos, I also want you to value the memories contained in those photos over "getting the perfect shot." If you get the perfect shot...bonus!
10 things you just Have to photograph this christmas
For that reason, I put together my list of the "10 Things You MUST Capture this Christmas." Print it out and tack it to your fridge to make sure you are valuing Christmas memories over perfect photos. I assure you my earliest photos had absolutely no Christmas bokeh and I treasure them dearly.
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#1 favorite gifts
I alluded to this a little bit earlier but you forget about the gifts that were such a big deal "back in the day." We've had two Christmases at two different ages that were all Hello Kitty all the time. High School Musical played a massive role in our kids' childhood. I am sure any parent with a girl from 16-20 can sing every song just like I can. But the point is, as time goes on you forget these little details so don't forget to get pictures.
#2 traditional foods
My husband and I are both Eastern European so food has played a big role in both of our childhoods. Some of that food we've passed along to our kids. Other things have become our own family's tradition. Writing out the recipes, photographing the food, and the process of making the food are so important. Most importantly, capturing the people who made that food will be priceless someday.
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This kind of goes without saying but taking the time to photograph important family members is something that has to be done. I look back at Christmas Day with Tim's family and sadly, every sibling of his dad's has passed away. We used to gather as a large family and now it isn't so large. I'm so thankful for each and every picture I took while they were alive. We enjoy telling stories and telling the girls about the relatives that they barely remember.
I don't know about you, but some of our decorations and ornaments have been around since 1976! Much has changed over the years but many things have not. They've become part of our Christmas memories. As we unpack our decorations every year, we talk about where they came from, how long we've had it. Capturing how things have changed (or stayed the same!) is a huge part of telling your holiday story.
Just as important as family members are your pets! We surprised the girls with kittens one year and they were so excited. It's so fun to see how little the kitties were and how little the girls were when they came into their lives.
One of our biggest traditions is marathon game playing on Christmas Day. One year we played Dominoes from the finish of breakfast until it got dark outside. I am not sure if that is repeatable but it was memorable. We also read the Christmas story in Luke 2 before breakfast every year. My dad crying while saying grace has also become somewhat of a tradition. It's very sweet.
#7 YOU! Yes, You!! get in the frame.
Okay, I look at myself on Christmas morning and sometimes I cringe. But you know what? Your kids don't and won't! Make sure you exist in photos. Nuff said.
#8 Where you live
I lived in one place all of my life...until I didn't. Now I can't remember where we lived until I look at the pictures. Whether you stay in one place forever and watch it change or you move around constantly, that sense of place adds so much to your photos so don't forget it.
Do you have people in your life that were there for a season? Maybe they moved, maybe you grew apart. Maybe you moved and you don't get back to see them anymore. It doesn't mean that those people didn't have impact on your life at that time. If you are gathering for the holidays, make sure to grab photos before you say goodbye. Sometimes it's fun to look back and reminisce.
Did your kids make any special drawings at school? Did they love their Elves so much that they painted them (like mine did?) Grab a shot of that precisely because of my earlier story about the drowned scrapbook. Digital memories can be reprinted. Flooded memory boxes cannot.
For all you skimmers out there, here is a quick list. You can download a free printable to tack on the fridge here.
10 Things to photograph
How did I do? Did I make any glaring omissions? I'd love to see what you want to remember this holiday. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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Andrea Ferenchik, Founder
Andrea started The Big Girl School because she loves sharing her passion of photography with other women. As a former trainer at Microsoft and current professional photographer, she has the unique ability to break down technical jargon of the camera into easy to understand language. She loves nothing more than to see her students grow and thrive in their photographic journey.
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