Moms: Put the camera down and get in the moment

Dec 25, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. ET

Is it just us, or does every mom seem to be obsessed with her camera lately? Moms are watching their children grow through the backside of a screen rather than right before their eyes.

Your goal is to capture every precious moment on film, but are you really missing the moments that are most important?

My name is Mom... and I'm a camera addict

No offense to the moms who are die-hards for their DSLRs — we admire you for all of those insanely gorgeous pictures of your children that you take. But, as more and more moms are jumping behind the lens of their camera (that means you too, smartphone camera moms!), we can't help but wonder if we're missing the moments of our children's lives because we are so focused on trying to capture the moment.

Earlier this year, Allison Tate wrote an article for the Huffington Post, The Mom Stays in the Picture, which hit home with all moms. She shared about a moment when her son pulled her into a picture booth with him at a family birthday party and how it made her realize how few pictures she is in with her kids. Tate's article spurred a mom-movement and it didn't take long before photos of moms with their kids started popping up on Facebook, Instagram and blogs. Moms took it to heart — the importance of getting on the other side of the camera lens — and it became such a phenomenon that Huffington Post started a gallery of the photos moms were taking, which, at the time of press, is filled with over 2,200 images.

Lasting memories: No camera required

Here's our next challenge to you, moms — stop watching your children through the lens of your camera or smartphone. Start living in the moments of their childhood and experiencing life with them, rather than alongside them. We know you want to record every moment of that adorable preschool holiday play and catch their game-winning goal on film (and we also know how much smack you'll get from the grandparents for not sending them video and play-by-play pictures!), but give it a try and see how you feel.

There's no denying that putting the camera down is going to be hard — your shooting finger is probably itching already — and while it may take some getting used to, the results are going to be worth it. Think of it this way: Instead of photographing your kids making gingerbread houses, you're right in there with them, putting frosting on the roof and unwrapping candies. Or, rather than catching your daughter's ballet recital through the screen of your phone, as you attempt to record it, enjoy watching it in real life — when she catches your eye in the audience during her final bow, she'll love seeing your proud, smiling face, instead of your camera.

Tips for breaking your snap-happy habit


Join a daily photography project

Instead of breaking up with your camera completely, try redefining how you use it. Give yourself a picture a day to capture — Instagram is full of "photo a day" projects that give you a daily prompt to take a picture of, ranging from suggestions like yellow or love or shoes, for you to interpret in any way you'd like. Or, charge yourself with taking a photo a day at a specific time each day, such as noon. But, that's all you get to take — one picture — so, you'd better make it count!


Leave it at home

The easiest way to cut down on your camera time is to simply leave it at home. Challenge yourself to tuck it away for an entire week or an entire month, only pulling it out to capture necessary events, like your daughter losing her first tooth or your brother's wedding. No justifications allowed for keeping your camera out to grab more than just the requisite shot.


Put someone else behind the lens

Those of you with special events coming up are probably starting to twitch as you read this. Not use your camera for your daughter's second birthday? Are you kidding? Trust us, we're very serious and the only solution to keeping your camera away during special events is to turn paparazzi duty over to a professional or a friend. There's no doubt it will be hard, but the smile on her face when you are blowing out the candles with her, instead of from across the room with your camera, trying to get the perfect shot, will be worth it!

Tell us

Have you ever made the leap and stopped taking photos for a while? Tell us about it!

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