Dear Mamas, It's Okay to Put Down the Camera

Camera phone

Do you live with feelings of guilt that you aren’t “capturing memories” enough?

We live in an Instagram and Facebook world where every moment is captured, posted, and tweeted.

We see people posting pictures of their dinner and their date nights and their homes and their gardens and it seems practically everything their child ever does.

I am not at all saying that it is wrong for people to post these things. Just that there is this perception that everything has to be “captured”.

And it puts this silent pressure on us that if we don’t have a thousand artfully “in the moment” pictures of our kids and videos of every cute thing they do, we are failing as mothers.

How will our children deal with not having all the photographic evidence to look back on?

I was feeling this way.

Stressed about needing to record every funny saying and new ability. To document all the moments. Even before children, I fell into this trap.

I remember one year, I went to Sea World with my Mom and we watched a Shamu show. Or I should say that she watched the show and I literally watched through the camera lens trying to get a shot of the whales jumping out of the water. The show ended and I realized that I spent the whole time trying to get a good picture and missed the entire experience.  I wished that I had just enjoyed it even if it meant that I didn't get the photographic evidence of it.

I know you know this, but no picture can ever capture what your eye actually sees. Do you ever go on a trip with amazing scenery and take a bunch of pictures and then when you look at them later, wonder why they don’t look nearly as amazing as it did when you were using your eyes instead of the camera?

I will be the first to admit that I am not good at remembering to take pictures. I get to the end of a birthday, holiday, trip, what have you and think, “Oh man! I didn’t take a single picture.”

I had those nagging feelings of failure practically every moment, that pressing burden that I needed to be taking a picture or a video or documenting.

I started thinking about what life was like thirty years ago. When I was growing up, the camera was usually pulled out mostly for special occasions.

My parents or grandparents did the whole, “Everybody line up!” for the usual family photos, and maybe they would snap a few of the kids playing or the birthday cake, etc…

And that was it.

Other than those few photos, they simply were present and enjoyed the experience.

I realized that my children probably already have more pictures in their two years of life than I have of my whole childhood. And do I feel in anyway deprived?

The answer is no. No I don’t.

In fact, I think that I probably value and enjoy the pictures and home videos I do have even more because there aren’t an over abundance of them.

I can flip through my photo albums and the pictures are familiar because I know them. I watch the home videos and we can remember and quote back the cute things my brother and I said because there are only thirteen or so videos.

What I remember most is my father wrestling with us in the living room, or cooking with my mom.

Camping and fishing and talking and just being.

For me, the relationships and the time I spent with my parents with their full and complete attention is much more valuable than a having more pictures with them behind the lens.

So Mamas, my hope for you is that if you feel this pressure, this burden, that you will reject it!

Lay down the phone and all those expectations and just be with your children and know that you being present and enjoying the experience with them means more than if you carefully documented and posted it.

Tell the guilt to take a hike and enjoy living your life.

And if you are one of those people who love to take pictures, then by all means, come take pictures of my family! lol

I want you to be who the Lord created you to be and if that means taking a bunch of pictures, or videos or scrapbooking than that’s great!

But for those who aren’t wired that way, it is OK to just pull out the camera for some of those special occasions, or just whenever it feels fun and happy.

I promise the Memory Police aren’t going to come knocking at your door.

So if you are ready to put down the guilt but still want to capture some memories in a meaningful way, here are some ideas for different ways to do it. See if something is a good fit for you. Don't be afraid to change it up or try something new if what you are doing isn't working well.

Tips for SIMPLE memory capturing

Take a set of family photos a year.

Go to a department store or hire a photographer, or get a family member to do a little photo shoot so you can get some of your entire family. I literally have a bunch of pictures of my daughter and son for the first six months of her life but not a single one of our whole family until I hijacked my sister-in-law at Christmas and had her take some. A bit of intentionality with planning specific times to get some good ones each year means you don't have to think about it the rest of the time.

Create digital family albums.

There are so many options for this. Pick one that you like. And if you have one you love, let us know in the comments!

Use a service like Shutterfly to easily upload your pictures right off of your smartphone and order prints.

They routinely have coupon codes for 99 prints for $5.99, so you can upload the pictures periodically and then take advantage of the deals as they come up. This is how I get my prints because to me it’s easier than going out to Walmart or Costco. Figure out what is easiest for you if you want hard copies.

Make a physical photo album.

If you like to flip through an album old school style, than go for it!

Make a Family Yearbook online and have it bound and mailed to you.

I haven’t done this but I’d like to try it sometime! You can do this through Shutterfly or many other sites. Again, if you have one you like, let us know!


For all of you who enjoy this, I admire you! It kind of makes me want to break out in hives thinking about having to do it myself, but I think it’s super fun for those of you with that kind of creative bent.


If you are an app person, you might enjoy finding one that works for you. I have heard good things about Photo 365 for saving a picture a day for a visual calendar view. Instagram is easy to post a quick picture and caption especially, if you want to easily share photos with family that don’t live near you.

DIY Binder.

One page for each month with a collage of photos and some memorable things written out underneath. This is appealing to me. I use a bullet journal and try to write down something the kids said or did every few days or so. Then at the end of the month I can flip through and type them up, pick a few good photos from that month and either add them into a Word/Pages doc or create something on Shutterfly, etc… I like the idea of having a little overview of each month that doesn’t require a lot of work!

Sweet Mama, you are doing a good job.

Ultimately, whatever you choose to do, remember to do it in freedom.

There are no rules for this.

Do what makes you happy and brings you joy!

Do you feel the pressure to record all the time? Do you have any other tips or ways that you make memory keeping work for you?

God bless,