How Can Photography Make You A Better Mom?

I hated babysitting when I was a kid and I have never really considered myself very good around children. It wasn’t a surprise to me that despite being excited to become a mother, I was also slightly terrified that I wouldn’t enjoy the experience.

So far, I’m delighted to report that motherhood is a whole lot more rewarding than I thought it was going to be.

It’s still super duper hard and frustrating, but I’m so in-love with Buzzy that it makes up for all the crummy parts.

To be frankly honest, I am really not a very fun person.

Even as a kid I chose practicing the piano and reading library books over normal childhood play. I was born ready to work and have been doing it ever since.

This means that anything crafty, playful, recreational, cutesy, or just plain restful, I don’t do well with AT ALL.

As in, I’m horribly bad at it.

I’ve got many glaring weaknesses in my mothering, but one of the biggest is “being fun”.

My brain is simply not conditioned to be playful.  I don’t automatically think of fun things to do. I sort of get all tight in my stomach when the toys come out and make a mess or someone wants to make a fort and it’s going to mess up my nicely made bed.

One of the biggest adjustments I have had to make is in accepting that a large portion of my day will be dedicated to being the entertainment.

We don’t have a T.V. and Buzzy has no siblings. I also have this deep belief that I need to not only be  available to Buzzy, but interactive with him as much as possible.  If he was excited about discussing entrepreneurship, analyzing harmonic progressions of hymns, or content going on long contemplative walks, this would be no problem. Reality is, he’s 2 years old with a super sonic activity level.

One of the most important things that I have learned through this weakness so far is:

I must find a bridge between what my own interests are and what my child will enjoy as well. It needs to be fun for us both.

Music Time has been one fabulous solution so far. I love playing and singing songs with him and it serves that bridge well.

The second incredible solution has been photography.

Photography has the power to turn an activity that I would normally quickly lose interest in and participate in somewhat half-heartedly, into something that is not only really fun, but lives on, and helps me see potential in myself.

Quick example:

Yesterday it was raining. Drudgery. This means that we are stuck in the house and since I’m not fun I have nothing exciting planned. I improvised and went to the cabinet and found a package of party balloons and took one out thinking we could toss it around in the living room for a few moments till I thought of something better to do.

Turns out that was a really fun idea.

So I grabbed the tri-pod and camera and decided we could spend our rainy afternoon making a movie.  We spend almost two hours tossing a balloon around.  Buzzy had the best rainy afternoon of his life and I had a blast too. Thanks to photography.  Without a “project” for me to be excitedly working on the balloon toss would have faded much more quickly.

I have become so grateful for photography in my family life. It’s not just about capturing memories, it’s about making them.

Photography, if approached correctly, can be an incredible vehicle for strengthening family relationships.

I’ve come a long ways just since January. My first video I approached with too much of the “serious brooke” and tried really hard to plan things out, dictate what should happen, issue orders, and try to create the perfect project. I have a few “deleted scenes” of me on video yelling and being a mean mom 🙁 Those didn’t make the final cut, obviously 🙂

I’ve now since realized that the most important part of the experience is the experience itself.  

Letting go of expectations, being playful, having fun, and excitedly seeing what Buzzy will naturally do on his own as things progress has been far more enjoyable and creatively effective.

The After Effect.

Once the images and video are edited and complete, I’ve been amazed at the eagerness Buzzy requests to watch them with over and over again.  He’s always loved seeing pictures of himself, but watching video and hearing music truly help us relive those joyful experiences in a very sensory way.


Seeing my Potential.

I can imagine that a reader watching my video’s might think that this is the type of mom I am all the time.  I wish this was true. I’d love to be constantly cheerfully playing and interacting without a care in the world.  Truth is, I do these family projects as a personal excuse to FORCE me to have fun, but one of the amazing results has been how my view of myself and my family has changed through the experience.

No, I’m not typically fun. But the photos and video show me that I CAN BE. They help me see a better version of myself and show me that despite the self deprecating gremlins I live with, that I have it in me to be a good mom.  They show me how much it means to Buzzy to have these experiences together.

So, even if i was only my ideal mothering self for two hours yesterday, at least that is two hours of additional practice under my belt.  Now to see if I can up that practice amount to everyday and all day!  A tiny bit at a time!

Watch The Video!

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Does photography make YOU more fun? Does photography make YOU a better parent?  Tell me in the comments below!

Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah. She lives in a hundred year old house with her delightful husband and wild 2 year old son.  Her favorite moment of blogging is looking out the window and seeing wild chickens run through the neighbors yard while listening to Spanish Guitar music.  It makes her think her life is more simple than it really is.

Brooke teaches inspiring online photography classes that bring you confidence in your skills and creativityDid you like this post? Please share it!

31 Responses

  1. Thank you for this honest and heart felt post. So many women are not willing to put their short comings as a mother out there for everyone to hear. I love how you have realized yours and created a way to over come them!!

    1. Thank you Heather! I think the only good thing about my weaknesses is the creative challenge of finding a way to overcome them 🙂 Isn’t life fabulous that way? We can each improve! I think as we share our own weaknesses and how we find solutions we all help each other! Thanks for your comment, my friend!

  2. Brooke I think you jumped into my head and stole this post from my brain! I soooooo relate to everything you said here. I do not have a playful side either. And I didn’t realize it until you put it into words, but I do find myself enjoying certain activities with my kids more when I am photographing them. I think my kids know it though. I remember one day when my son asked me to come outside and play with him. I probably said something like “in a minute” or something because the next words out of his mouth were “you can bring your camera mommy and take pictures of me” I have to admit that that made me really sad. I hated thinking that he thought that was the only way that I would play with him is if I were taking pictures too. I did not take my camera that particular day, but I try to make sure that I play sometimes with the camera and sometimes without the camera. I love how you have been combining video with still images. I don’t know how to edit videos, but you are inspiring me to figure it out! Thanks for your words today.

    1. Oh Billie! Thank you so much for your insightful comment and sharing your experience! You bring up a great counter-balancing point! There is a time to shoot and there is a time to put the camera down. I’ll have to write a post on when it should stay in the bag as well 🙂

  3. Just adorable! And I can relate – I’m not really very fun, either, AND I can recall more of those out-take moments of mean-mom than I care to admit here, lol! I’m actually struggling with the opposite: that my photography can “get in the way” of everyday moments with my child and sometimes even take the fun out of them. I’m currently taking your course in an effort to change this, though – to let the moments unfold rather than orchestrating them and making everyone frustrated. Great post – hammered some things home for me 🙂

    1. Michele! You bring up such a great point here! There really is a fine line of balance of knowing when to shoot and knowing when to put the camera away! I’ll have to write a post on that thought too!

  4. awww – that an honest and sweet post Brooke! Some mom’s would never feel comfortable admiting that they aren’t natually fun or that they have “mean mommy” moments but we all know that we do. This is a very sweet video – one that I can imagine Buzzy will love watching about a million and one times! ;o)

    1. Aww! Thanks Lisa! So great to hear from you! And yes, I have plenty of mean mommy moments! And let me tell you, its completely shocking to see it on video 😉 Good parental reform! ha ha!

  5. oh my gosh…this is the best!! it made me smile…BIG!! i have a 2 and 1/2 year old and she loves balloons, too. i’ve never used the smaller ones…gonna get some now. 🙂 we’ve bought the big ones from target with the string on the end…they’re BIG!!! and they bounce all over….but i think the smaller ones and letting the air go will make her laugh just like your son. LOVE!!! and your son is one lucky lil’ guy – he has the best mama who makes the most awesome videos!! SO COOL!! 🙂

    1. Ah! Thank you so much for your comment Renee! Yes, I think you should definitely get some balloons for your daughter and play around with them. The dollar store is our good friend for things like this 🙂 Wish we had a Target here! Those balloons sound awesome!

  6. Oh my gosh. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who uses photography to entertain myself while “playing” with my kid! I’m a new mom (6 months old) and I had taught her to sit up before she was 4 months old because I wanted pictures like that. I’m not fun naturally, I think toys are messy, and I get very bored just playing on the ground all day. Get my camera out and I start enjoying myself. It gives me something to do! Plus now my kid is very developmentally advanced 😉 oh, and I pull out the camera and she knows exactly what to do. Kind of sad and funny. My friends’ kids just stare at the camera and my kid lights up. Well trained.

    1. Wahoo Tiffany! Sounds like you have the hang of this straight from the beginning! Way to go! Your daughter is going to grow up a total “natural” in front of the camera 😉

    1. Thanks Maryanne! You know… I think some people photograph the world the way that they see it, and I think I tend to photograph the world the way I “want” to see it. I’m such an idealist. I want so deeply to be more fun and creative. That’s why I think I tend to seek it out 🙂

  7. Thanks again Brooke, for being so honest in your posts! So relatable! I have always struggled with doing activities that my daughter thinks are fun (that I am not good at!) and what I like to do. This is a great idea. They live to watch videos of themselves!

  8. um I could have written this post. This is me to a T. I am really not that fun either. But I try to be and one of the things I do is use photography to interact with my kids. They are just used to it being a part of our lives and that we have fun WHEN the camera is coming out.

    1. Rhonda you make everything seem totally fun! But isn’t it great that photography can be a great tool for being more playful?!?!?

  9. Oh, Brooke.
    I adore you even more after this post! I, too, was the quiet child. Content with contemplative afternoons under a shady tree. Listening to music or reading a book. I’m not very good at imaginative play at all. And yet, my kids and I have had some pretty fun days. I enjoyed your video very much. Here’s you to you being the mom God chose for Buzzy for His specific purpose. It seems to me that you are doing just fine.

    1. Oh my! What a lovely comment! Thank you Adrienne! It sounds as though we would have been dear childhood friends 🙂

  10. Hi Brooke, That was a good question about does photography make you more fun. I recently took pictures of my very pregnant neice and her little boy. After the posed pictures were taken i said let’s do some fun pictures now.I got some of the best pictures ever of him jumping off his bed, playing with and posing his toys for their pictures etc. etc. So yes, I think photography does make me more fun!

    1. Oh I love this! Kids will give you the best part of themselves as soon as all expectations are gone and they are allowed to have fun! What a delight!

  11. I might feel a little silly about posting this later, but oh we’ll…

    Check out Carol Tuttle’s Energy Profiling and subsequent Dressing Your Truth. I have an affiliate for it, but will leave it out because I am so earnest about this.

    It is life changing. Simply put, fun and creative people are type1, quiet and go with the flow are type 2, aggressive and action are type 3 and, I’m pretty sure, you and several others that posted here are type 4. Type 4s are perfectionists, finishers, still, and would rather read a book than play. Your whole person follows this energy movement, not just your personality. It’s in your facial features, the way you walk, talk, and sit. AND everyone looks INCREDIBLE when they dress to it, which is soooooo valuable in photography and recommending what to wear.

    This knowledge is soooooooo valuable in relationships when a type 4 speaks her mind and could have totally offended a type 2. When your type 2 family member is stuck in gathering details and never puts it into action. When a type 1 can’t sit still, focus or be serious so much that it drives a type 4 up the wall. When a type 3 can’t stand not getting things done so they can cross it off her list.

    We are dominate in one, and sub in another. Of course, there is a little cross over in all the types.

    It is more than just another personality test, like the colors, it explains what you ARE. I can’t recommend it enough.

    1. This looks so interesting Christy! Thanks for sharing! I always love profile tests and I’ve never seen one like this before! I’ll have to spend more time on her site to see what its all about!

  12. Brooke,
    Loved this post. I am terrible at imaginative play. I like games with rules and beginning and ends. I appreciated your thoughts on the subject. I too have found that I need to make it fun for both my children and me which requires compromise and maybe suggesting activities that we both can enjoy.
    Question for you. Are you videoing with a video camera or your SLR?

    1. Hi Nicole! Glad to know I’m not the only one that struggles with imaginative play! As for your question, I’m using video on my SLR camera. I love that I can quickly switch back and forth between video and still shots! Super fun!

  13. Brooke, Thank you for this post and for sharing what its truly like to be a mom. I love being a playful mom, exploring new things and building forts; the things that our children remember forever. My challenge is in making the time for the fun. I love how you have created such excitement for Buzzy and combined such valuable time with your own passion. You have found that bridge between the two and that makes you an amazing mom! Love it! I look forward to my love of photography making me a more fun mom too!

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