I swore once we had more than two children, that I would not be that parent, the kind who takes thousands of photos of their first child, documenting every breath. Displaying hundreds of photos of the second child & documenting the important milestones. Then taking a few pictures here & there of the third child, & having only their name & birth details filled in in their 'baby's firsts book'.
Well, I failed. Ben does have perhaps not thousands, but certainly hundreds of photos taken of his first two years. Rianan doesn't have quite as many photos as Ben, but is still in the hundreds. Jack also has lots of photos, though nowhere near the same number of photo's as Ben's first two years. Blake & Will have about the same amount together - probably because this is when I got my first DSLR camera & if you stood still you were fair game. Given that Will actually couldn't move beyond a roll over here & there, he probably has more photos than a fifth child normally would.
Now we come to Clay. I can count on two hands the number of times I have gotten out the big camera to take photos of Clay, plus any other minions who are lurking in the same room. But open up the gallery on my mobile & you will be inundated with snapshot after snapshot. Most of them nearly exactly the same as the last - it's a little like playing 'spot the difference' but with ten pictures not two. Doesn't make each one any less precious though, just harder to decide which to keep or delete. More often than not I keep them all, perhaps to help me feel better about my lack of family photographer efforts. This way I can say "See, look, I do take lots of photos of our minions. Just on a multi-use device, not on a normal camera."
The quantity is there, if not the quality.
My phone is automatically set to backup all images directly to an online storage system, because I am petrified that if something goes wrong with my phone then 98% of Clay's photographic existence will disappear. All that would be left is his first month of life & a few spontaneous snap shots here & there when I did get the big camera out & the battery still with charge left.
Part of it is when we do go out, we're so busy enjoying our time out all together, that the camera gets overlooked. We grab it as we walk out the door, but then it stays in the boot while the rest of us are off roaming through the forest or down the beach. Plus Doug & I are both busy kid wrangling. Unless Clay is in the sling, which also means he won't get photographed, I'm to scared to carry both the Canon & the baby - fearful of which one I'll drop. Which leaves Doug who is also keeping an eye on who is where. When you're looking at kid B through a viewfinder it makes it hard to see where kid E is...which can lead to some heart stopping moments in a crowded playground or down the beach with a two year old who isn't afraid of following his bigger brother out to the waves.
So instead I capture moments here & there, often around the home or in a more controlled environment where I know everyone will remain safe & still within view if I turn my back for ten seconds to capture a moment in time for evidence rather than with just our memory. Because when all is said & done, a photograph remains while sometimes, sadly, a memory does not, nor is it as easily shared.
I have numerous backups of all our digital photos. So much so that I have lost track of what I have backed up & what I haven't. Now we have over flowing baskets full of Cd's, cups of USB's & a hard drive that all contain folder upon folder of unorganized but irreplaceable moments caught on SD card. Despite all this I'm still to scared to clear out our pictures folder on the computer to the recycle bin just in case I missed one photo.
We need a 100 terabyte hard drive so I can do a 'select all' & transfer the entire contents (duplicates & all) to the new source of safety. In the meantime Doug will just have to deal with a slower than should be computer.
My excuse is time - finding the time & prioritizing this important but overlooked task. When I do get a spare hour or so there is always so many other things that should be done but have to compete with my desire to have a couple of uninterrupted hours of reading time - yogurt smeared windows be damned. Or in this case, unorganized photo chaos.
I keep thinking to myself that soon, sometime in the year 2014, I will dedicate an entire week to sorting though the tangled folders & duplicates of images, discarding the double ups & ridiculously similar photos where the only difference is their left foot is in front of the right, rather than behind. I also promise to delete the blurry photos - you know the ones where only Mum can tell which child it is.
Next step is then printing out the favorites & putting them all into each of the kids baby photo albums. At least then when a class project calls for a photo of one of the middle or younger children as a baby I won't have to do a last minute dash to Big W for their 1 hour photo processing. Instead we can pull out a baby album that, gasp, has photos in it.
Also on the to-do list is filling in the blank pages in the baby's firsts books. Ben & Rianan's have been completed up to five years & three years of age. Jack has his first two years filled in (I think...) Blake has his first year plus a few extra pages completed. Will's book is documented up to his first birthday. The last time I filled in Will's book was when he was 14 months old & learnt to walk. He is turning three come September.
What's worse, disclaiming for the sake of keepin' it real, Clay doesn't even have a baby's firsts book yet despite being five months old later in the week. But it's okay, at least I have been writing down all his moments of first smiles, giggles, weight at two months old, etc, ready for when I do finally remember to buy one for him.
So on that note, while the house is quiet with the return of school & afternoon naps, while all this talk of capturing & recording memories is on my mind, I'm going to go fill in some blank pages. Then I'm going to browse some shopping sites to hunt down a baby's firsts memories book for Clay.