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Parents Taking Too Many Photos of Kids

Do We Spend Too Much Time Behind the Camera?

Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this one about camera-happy parents.

Oh look, she's dancing ballet again.

Hey, he's trying to do a somersault.

Ooooh, pig tails!

New clothes, new toys, new drawings . . .

It goes on and on. These are all things that make me grab my smartphone and start clicking away.

But am I missing out by doing this? I think the answer is yes.

Related: Why 1 Disney Princess Mold Doesn't Fit All

We, as a society, have gotten so caught up in capturing every moment of our children's lives that I think we're actually missing moments. Yes, we want to document the big things — holidays, birthdays, those big firsts — but I take photos of my children constantly.

If I go into my picture folder on my computer, I have thousands of photos of my children. Thousands! I fill up my iPhone faster than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It's beyond ridiculous.


I need to take a step back.

It's not that I want to stop photographing my children. I just want to be more purposeful.

I love watching them. But I don't always see them. By grabbing for my phone, I'm getting a filtered view of their life instead of their true reality.

I don't want that. When they look back on their childhood photos, I want them to know I was a participant and not just a spectator.

With the holidays approaching, we're all going to be grabbing for our cameras even more than usual. There will be school performances, family portraits, pictures with Santa. Those are important! But I’m making a vow this holiday season, and I hope y'all will join me (well, those of you who are camera-happy like me).

I'm going to put away my camera and experience my children more. We're going to play and dance and sing, and I'm going to resist the urge to get out my camera every time something adorable happens. Yes, we'll take the obligatory Christmas morning photo, but one or two with my DSLR, not 30 or 40 with my iPhone. It's about quality, not quantity. It's about being selective.

It's time for me to put my camera down.

Will you join me?

More great reads from BabyCenter:
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Join The Conversation
Becky15106170 Becky15106170 3 years
I have a lot of photos of my boys. I did not miss anything sharing with them by doing so, but when my older son passed away in 2010 when he was 25, I guarantee that I was so glad to have them. I agree that it should not take the place of participating in life with them, but it is not always the bad thing that some people want to make it. I say snap away...
SharonNichols15087 SharonNichols15087 3 years
Pictures are only partly about preserving memories (which is important to me, as a person not blessed with a good memory); they are also about sharing them. My mother, who lives across the country, loves the pictures we have sent her throughout our son's life of events she had to miss. And when we lost all our possessions, including all the photos, in a natural disaster, I was grateful to her for keeping the pictures. I only wish we had sent more videos. My son and his friends and cousins love looking at pictures of themselves and the things they have done. Taking pictures does not keep us from participating in events and we will keep taking them; however, now we back them up better!
TerralynPolege TerralynPolege 3 years
My mother called me a couple of weeks ago to ask I had pictures of myself younger than 5 in my house as she can't find any at her house. The answer was no I don't but I do have a lot of incredible memories of things that happened before I was 5. I don't regret that there are no pictures. I have no idea what I looked like as a baby but I sure have a lot of great memories of things i did with my mom. I take pictures of my children but not in excess. I have often said its better to be a participant in my children's lives not a spectator. Their father will occasionally come to an event if I fight with him to be there but he stands on the side and takes pictures and video to the point the kids think he is being creepy, he never participates in the activities. I don't think this article is Sanctimonious at all. Its about spending less time with the camera and more time with your children. Its not saying don't take any photos just don't take photos to the point you are not participating in the things your children are enjoying. They grow up very fast and I personally didn't want my children to grow up and remember me taking pictures. I played tag and hopscotch and skipping, we went bike riding and rollerblading. we have pictures but not thousands of them, however we do have many good memories.
Lindasilver1379361631 Lindasilver1379361631 3 years
Alda I do understand ur point I too only have 4 pics of my childhood . But we have obviously surpassed that.
Lindasilver1379361631 Lindasilver1379361631 3 years
I agree my mom asks if took a video if something I have to explain no I was enjoying the moment . Not reaching for my phone for once. I have over 1000 pics and around 80 videos and there 2 1/2. Time to enjoy them and curb the catch every moment obsession
AldaSykes AldaSykes 3 years
I have to disagree with you as well. As a photographer I take loads of photos of my children, but also spend loads of time with them without my camera. Also - I had very few photos of me as a child and none of me as a baby, and when my mother passed away all the photos had vanished and nobody knows what happened to them. The result? I have one, exactly one photo of me as a six year old. That's it. No precious memories, nothing to show my children of what mommy looked like as a child. My twins were also born at 28 weeks and we didn't even know if they would survive (they're five now). Therefore, every single moment with them is a miracle, and I capture those miracles for them to see later.
MellMaryland MellMaryland 3 years
I see your point and my kids would agree that I take too many pics, but I believe in capturing the moment and I also photography. I agree with some of the posters here, I wish my mom had taken pics of me growing up. I have one pic in high school. The kids may find it annoying now, but later they will be glad we were diligent about those pics.
MendyWarwick MendyWarwick 3 years
Really? Snapping a group of pictures in a matter of seconds is causing you to lose time with your kids. How about letting your kids take the camera? I did this just yesterday at my 2 year olds Thanksgiving lunch at daycare. I took the pic in my profile and he had fun and took about 20 more of us and himself and had a blast. I got to see things through his eyes and some very interesting photos. I guess if you are merely sitting on the sidelines and all you are doing is snapping away or requesting poses constantly then yes you are missing out. However I think documenting the fun is the best part of making memories. Just don't obsess over it.
JenniferBarnes73423 JenniferBarnes73423 3 years
I disagree 100%. It takes half a minute to take a picture of what you are doing with your children (assuming that you are the only one available to take the pictures at that momemt). So snapping a shot of my kids dancing or doing whatever it is I deem picture worthy isn't cutting out the fact that I will be joining them once the picture is taken. If you are/were the parent who has their phone in their hand 24/7 I can see why you would want to break that habit, but most of us take pictures and then continue to be a part of our children's lives. New toys, new clothes, new whatever, cute hair, and learning to do things are not always our idea to snap. Most of the pictures I take are on request of my kids. So should I just start telling them no because some woman thinks that we take too many pictures of them? And as far as holidays or special days, we always have a grandparent or someone else take pictures.
RachelKavanagh1382331755 RachelKavanagh1382331755 3 years
I have ADHD which means I really struggle with my memory (plus I suffered from PND for at least the first 9 months of my son's life, which also causes memory issues). Just the other day I was brought to tears when I came across utterly delightful footage of him taking his first steps. I only wish I'd take more photo's and made more videos. I get that you are struggling with being more present to your children, we all do. But your blanket statement seems a little sanctimonious to me.
Jane-AJ-Brown Jane-AJ-Brown 3 years
Is it better to leave their memories by taking pictures? I'm enjoyable when seeing my albums which my mom made for me.
AbbyHarris AbbyHarris 3 years
It is about making memories with your kids. Not taking pictures of everything. What are your kids gonna care about later? That you took a picture of them dancing and singing or that you were the one doing it with them?
KarethaDellGrottaglia KarethaDellGrottaglia 3 years
I have a seven year old and a five month old. I am currently in the process of going through ten years of photos and was talking with my hubby the other day about the difference when we used film we had to pay to develop and had a 32 shot limit in our camera, to now. I can totally see the author's point of view. Since my kids are so far apart in age, I have thousands of photos of each. Now, going through album after album after album, the shots get lost in the sheer volume of pictures of every smile, every look, every glance. There are so many that they lose a touch of their importance, of the memories associated as they all jumble together in time. There is something to the article, for sure...
milian15099697 milian15099697 3 years
No, no; I won't be joining you.
ChristineBerry ChristineBerry 3 years
I feel like I experience the moment regardless of whether or not there's a camera in my hand. I don't understand how not taking a photo will get you to "play and dance" with them more unless holding the camera is the only thing that prevents you from doing this. I guess it depends on how you define experiencing the moment and if holding a camera really distracts you from the moment or not. I don't feel like it does for me. Meh.
liz1382141371 liz1382141371 3 years
my son is barely three months and i've already taken more than a thousand photos of him. he's got photos while sleeping, while playing, a few videos of his expressions when playing, photos while taking baths, etc. i spend as much time with my son as possible (given that i am a single mom) and tries to capture every moment that we spend together. a few snaps here and there then go on doing the things we do again. i think moms (especially first time moms like me) tend to overdo the photo documenting of our kids to the point of ridiculous but i don't think we sacrifice the time that we spend with them. i would agree that parents should experience life with their kids and should not watch them grow behind the lens. but taking snaps here and there (that will eventually pile up and fill our hard drives) while experiencing life together is not a bad thing. :)
Destiny1383368467 Destiny1383368467 3 years
This post is
ChrissyRosero ChrissyRosero 3 years
I also have thousands of pics. My hubby bought me a 64 gig iPod when we had our daughter and a 32gig after our son. I love taking pics and my daughter who is almost three will get the one out that has most of her pics and just look at them and watch the videos. Lots of firsts on there. We've already made a photo book of her and plan on doing one of our son when he gets closer to two. He just turned one. I only pull my iPod out when I'm in public when I want to take pics. I don't like having my phone out cz I enjoy spending the time with my children, who think I'm another child to play with any ways. FB and games are bed time things for me. I say snap away, but know your limits if it's taking that much of your time. Just know they do enjoy looking back.
LeahPino1361114831 LeahPino1361114831 3 years
I agree with Colhita 100% This notion is truly rediculous. Maybe some parents go to the extreme. But we have a couple thousand photos of our son and still spend lots of time without the camera. When he's doing something cute or sleeping peacefully, sometimes we snap a photo or take short videos. Someone who does nothing but take pictures is a little nutty, perhaps, but who does that? We love taking photos of our son and videos too! It's fun. Every moment is precious, not just Christmas morning or birthday parties. We live in the digital age, and we will never be able to go back to their childhood. So why not preserve those memories? When I was a child, my parents would get out the old slide projector on Saturday nights (instead of always watching a movie). We would make popcorn and they would tell us the stories behind the various slides. Better than any lame movie! I enjoyed those times so much as a child. It's a way to look back on the years and show our children that we value every moment we have with them. You know, some people can be naive enouth to take worthless advice like this to heart. I say live a little!
libertymom libertymom 3 years
Oh look, another sanctimonious piece written by a mommy blogger. How long does it take to snap a photo? A few seconds? I snap one and then I put my phone away and I'm living life and enjoying my kids. If you're missing life because you take too long to snap a picture thats your own problem.
SamanthaUeno SamanthaUeno 3 years
hey, better than asking your mom "Why are there a zillion baby pictures of (my older brother) and not very many of me?" and having her answer in all seriousness "because the novelty had worn off the second time around."
AprilMcHugh AprilMcHugh 3 years
My kids and I love looking at our photo albums. Pictures capture memories. There are other ways to gain quality time with our kids. We don't have to put the camera away-nor will I.
TanithLund TanithLund 3 years
This article is ridiculous. My daughter loves the photo books I make of the pictures I take of her. It also helps her to remember events. I also love looking back at them and remembering those moments.
EricaPurtell EricaPurtell 3 years
I'm planning on setting up the video camera somewhere Christmas morning where we can capture most the action and then letting it roll while we open presents and things- that way we get to spend time together but still get the memories =D
ValerieMettee ValerieMettee 3 years
When we are gone our kids might want to look back on those memories that that only we could remember. I wish I had more pictures of my childhood. Film was to expensive for my parents so my photos are limited. I'd love to show my kids that I really did look just like they do or had the same awkward experiences.
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