We spent the weekend at Kyle's mom's house marking the one year anniversary since his dad's passing.
That's a loaded sentence, I know, and I could unpack it a little more if only I could process it. Since I can't quite do that yet, I'll tell you something else that struck me while we were there.
AJ was looking for a way to fill the time until her cousins arrived, so I pulled out one of the photo books I had made for Kyle's parents for Christmas one year, and we turned through the pages together as we have so many times before.
This time, however, I slowed down and really looked at the pictures, almost every single one of them taken by me in the past decade. First with a simple point-and-shoot, and then with the Nikon D40 that we splurged on for Christmas 2007 (the one I still shoot with today). Not a single picture in that photo book was taken with my camera phone - they were all from a real camera.
And it just made my heart ache because they were really, really great pictures. I mean, I am far from being a pro. In fact, a pro would look at them and shudder at the iffy composition and unbalanced white balance. But they were really, really great to me because I had obviously taken the time to think about capturing a moment in all of its candid glory without considering its shareability.
As I look through the archives of our family's pictures, there is an unmistakable decline in the number of pictures taken with a real camera since the iPhone entered my life. I know I'm not alone in this - I've read and heard people bemoaning this phenomenon for years. It just wasn't until this past weekend that I was jolted with the realization that somehow, completely unintentionally, I've deprived our family of a few year's worth of quality photographs depicting our everyday life.
I only have myself to blame. Myself and my very strange Instagram-driven neurosis about only taking pretty pictures. Pictures without piles of clutter in the background, pictures of children with snarl-free hair and crumb-free faces, pictures of a home that speaks of easy order and obvious cleanliness. I somehow got it in my head that those are the only pictures worthy of being captured.
But as I thumbed through pages of photos from our past over the weekend, I was struck by how happy the messy details made me. I had forgotten details like how Dacey's hair fell a certain way right after she had stumbled out of bed or how Aliza Joy could take the simplest meal and turn it into an epic mess. The smudges on mirrors and the untidy rooms made me smile as my memory was tickled by scenes of real life from an era before I let filters and framing and will-this-shot-get-IG-likes? dictate what I documented.
So now I'm feeling feisty and rebellious and inspired. I'm going to continue my Instagram sabbatical because that place still messes with my head, but instead of letting the days slip by with not a single picture taken, I'm challenging myself to pick up that trusty Nikon and take at least three pictures a day with it for the whole month of July.
I don't think that's too much to ask, do you? Three pictures a day and at the end of July with just a few days left before my girls strap on their backpacks and head back to school, I'll be 93 pictures richer, and that's worth its weight in gold. And by weight, I mean big ol' heavy DSLR hanging around my neck.