Grandparents and Photographs

I’ve only ever known one grandparent: My father’s mother. 

Every 3rd weekend of May, we would travel down to Alabama for Decoration Day. Over the course of three days, we would visit with family, play cards well into the night, and eat more home grown cooking than our stomachs could handle. Occasionally, the older children would stay a few more days or weeks with Grandma in her beautiful red house with the most perfect porch swing while their parents got a few days respite.

Grandma and grandaughter

cousins on a swing

Those were fun times. I remember endless play outside and a chorus  of “In or out!” as we lingered in our transition from the air conditioning to the summer sun; lemonade and cornbread and banana pudding, and learning how to play Rook and Aces (A skill I only partially acquired for the duration of the days and lost on the return car ride). 

Grandma was a fun lady. By the time I truly got to know her, she’d mellowed out, although she could still run circles around people in however she chose to spend her time, whether it be cooking, crafting, or that endless Rook game. And she had the best zingers.

Shortly after the birth of my second son, we were finishing up the weekend and about the hit the road. Our visiting turned to loading up, which in turn led to picture time! Well, Grandma had apparently had enough of the pictures because she called out, “Why do you guys always insist on all these pictures? Afraid I won’t be here next time?” 

After that, we eased up on the pictures.



 I never realized how much until after Grandma’s funeral this past February, when I searched through the pictures I had and found out I didn’t have a picture with her since basically that time, almost six years prior.

Every day, I hear reasons why people don’t want to be photographed. 

“I’m not photogenic.”

“I don’t like this outfit.”

“I’m too shy.”

“My hair is a mess.”

“I’m overweight.”

“I’m too old.”

“I’m not pretty.”

“I’m look weird.”

Family portrait

3 Generations

Guess what? 

Get in the picture anyways.

Get in it, because you have people who love you. You have people who won’t notice the “unflattering” outfit, because they’ll be too distracted reminiscing with you about the moment. You have people who have never seen this version of you, and will delight in hearing about it. You have people who don’t notice the trendy hair cut gone wrong, they are too busy gushing over your broad smile or laugh. 

I emphasize this for grandparents and other older relatives. I know many who don’t want to be photographed because they are especially self conscious because of health problems on top of the common concerns.

And please, don’t make the mistake I made and listen.

Obviously, respect them. But please, try harder than I did to get them in front of the camera. It doesn’t have to be with a professional (Although a great photographer can help ease those common complaints!), but just take selfies with them. Buy a $30 camera and spend a weekend with them. 

My children are so lucky  to have 4 grandparents to get to know, who can share wisdom and home grown cooking with. And you better believe I take every chance possible to make sure they have pictures to remember it by. 

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