I grew up with a paparazzi mom. I am the oldest of four daughters and my mother continually captured and documented EVERYTHING we did. She literally filmed what felt like every single moment of our lives, and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to be a paparazzi mom in the late 80s and early 90s. You had to develop all the photos you took and you couldn’t look at them before hand, so it was a complete crapshoot. When filming videos you had to carry around a bulky over the shoulder video camera, and none of it was digital. Yet there she was filming… every school play, every game, every concert, every recital, and every graduation ceremony… even the ones where we assured her there would be a VHS available to purchase after the event. It didn’t matter because she wanted to zoom in and get a close up on her own child.
I went through different phases of hating the camera. Stages where I would be silly and mess up the photo or flat out refuse to stand for the picture at all. And then there were times where I agreed to stand for the picture but you could just see it in my eyes, that something wasn’t right. I looked as if I was being held captive by kidnappers and I was praying for someone to decode my silent cries for help.
Oh how I wish I could grab my younger, bratty self and shake her and say, “Your mom wants these pictures because she’s trying to freeze this very special time with you. Your childhood is slipping away from her and before she knows it you’ll be all grown up. These pictures and videos will be all she has left and you are ruining them!” I know exactly how she feels because now I am a mom, and on top of that, I’m also a paparazzi mom.
I am slightly worse then my own paparazzi mom because not only do I follow around and fight with my children, trying to get the perfect videos and pictures of them… I also pester my husband, because I just happen to have married a very talented photographer/videographer. Almost every family moment together, I torture them, nagging my husband to try and capture perfect pictures of two VERY uncooperative subjects. So that selfishly I can hold onto and remember their childhood because it’s going by way faster then I ever thought it would.
But like I said earlier, being a paparazzi mom is a lot easier now then it used to be. We can carry around our phones and snap pictures and videos effortlessly. We can also take 1,000 pictures at one event and if we only get a couple good ones nothing was wasted. I truly believe pictures should be perfect. And that is why I spend endless hours editing pictures of my children so that they look exactly how I envisioned them. My children have never really taken a perfect picture together… but I continue to composite multiple images together until I am satisfied with the way they look. A photo where my boys look like they enjoy being photographed, I will stop at nothing to get the perfect picture.
I want to apologize to my mom for all the pictures I ruined. For fighting with my sisters while she was trying to video tape us, quite possibly on purpose just to test her patience. I’m sorry for making fun of her shaky footage and all the piles upon piles of tiny 8mm tapes that I told her were a complete waste of her time. Because now we gather around at sleepovers to watch those same home movies or we dig through old photos looking for special images of my Dad who recently passed away and I am so grateful that she never stopped capturing those moments. I can only hope that someday my own children will appreciate my paparazzi efforts and forgive me for ambushing their young, carefree lives with my camera.
I still to this day hate having my own picture taken. And there is my mom, still capturing my adult life the same way she did when I was a kid. Every birthday, every holiday, every wedding, every baby shower… and I get it now, these moments are still precious to her even though I’m an adult. So now when she asks for a group photo at a random event that doesn’t feel at all special or worthy of documenting… I roll my eyes and warn her not to post the picture on Facebook because I look like a hot mess, but I join the group and smile in the photo. I even agree to someday get around to editing it so that everyone looks good. Because I now completely understand what it feels like to be on the other side of the lens, to watch my children growing up before my eyes, and to have the very difficult job of being their paparazzi mom.
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