“I have more pictures of my children than my father ever looked at me.”
While my dad was very present and certainly looked at me lots, the sentiment of the above quote reflects my own over-zealous photography. I’m sure my dad never came close to amassing the amount of pictures I take of Joanie. (Although with the purchase of his new tablet and the arrival of his first grandchild that may change.) I have had the same phone for two years and already baby pictures take up ninety percent of the megabytes or gigs or whatever storage on a digital device is called. This ratio is particularly astonishing as Joanie has only been alive for three months of those two years.
I’m not sure how much this growth in documentation has to do with my generation’s excessively visual culture, but I do know the ease of taking and saving pictures is an obvious factor. I never have to go looking for my camera. I never buy film and consequently I never worry about wasting it. I am therefore free to hold a camera in front of my daughter’s face for as long as I want, doggedly trying to catch her elusive and ephemeral smile.
That little smile was born around the same time as the grand son of one my mum’s co-workers. Said co-worker receives a picture message a day of the new baby, so naturally my mum wants the same. I, with my new mother googly eyes, am proud and happy to oblige. But the thing about newborns is that they don’t do much, and while I see every new wink or finger twitch as amazing, they don’t make for varied photography. Really my mother has just received ninety some-odd pictures of a scowly baby strapped into various baby-keeping devices
So what do I do with all these pictures? Shall I oversaturate the internet with Joanie’s cherub cheeks? Before I was a parent I would have scoffed at the notion. “No one cares about your baby and it’s weird that it has a Facebook profile before it knows its own name.” Now that I have my own collection of kissy faces and toothless smiles, I can’t help but post the occasional photo or send out of mass email of Joanie’s spring clothing line.
It wasn’t until I read Kirsten Clodfeter’s article “I’m that Mom whose Baby Photos you’re Blocking on Facebook” that my current Facebook profile picture of Joanie and I and our matching scowls felt justified. Clodfeter’s article, funny, insightful and heart-wrenching, suggests the massive photo sharing parents do is a simple expression of love. And it’s true. I love that little smushy face and I want everyone to know it.
Note: The Jim Gaffigan quote can be found in his special Mr.Universe, available on Net Flix
Kirsten Clodfeter’s article can be found on Salon.com
Note 2: That’s little me in the picture, not Joanie, though we bare a striking baby resemblance.