Living with children
Children’s photos: That’s why I’m asking my children if I’m allowed to photograph them
All parents know it: just don’t put your smartphone down, you could miss a snapshot of the baby. And then off to the Internet. Unasked, of course, you don’t have to ask children for permission. Or is it?
This text first appeared here at brigitte.de.
I belong to the generation that was born into a world without any telephone or internet, let alone smartphones. If I indulge in memories of my childhood with my parents, my mom digs out one or two thick photo albums. I don’t look particularly happy in each of the black and white pictures. Because, to the chagrin of my parents, I never liked being photographed. Compared to today, however, photos were still quite expensive – you had to smile at the push of a button. In the meantime, it is being snapped up in an inflationary manner. It is rarely asked whether the kids want that at all, let alone whether they think it is okay to be featured on Instagram, Facebook and Co. And suddenly I’m so grateful that my childhood was so wonderfully analog.
Tracked: From the ultrasound to the playground
Of course, I am aware that not all parents publish their children’s pictures on the internet. While data protection is on everyone’s lips and the topic is hotly debated, there are still mums, bloggers and influencers whose pregnancy tests, maternity records and ultrasound images end up on Instagram. While the little Murkel is not even remotely born, his life has long been taking place on social media and is neatly documented. So it goes on and on. As a baby, of course, the offspring has no chance of escaping permanent surveillance. But later. And while the kids are chasing around on the playground, Dad runs after them with the mobile phone: “Matthis, look … Matthis, stand up like that … and smile now. Say Spaaaaghettiiiii!”.
Matthis would much rather race with his buddies, ideally without dad’s camera in tow. And dad? He could just sit down on a bench, completely chilled, and enjoy his son, who is just having fun.
To be honest: I was like that too
Sure, I also think cute baby pictures are cute, I also like to look at a nice Insta feed and there is probably a little voyeur in each of us, otherwise the lives of other people would hardly have such a great attraction for us. But the question remains the same: What will our children say later about being put on display from birth?
And I can’t quite absolve myself of it. Well, my children never made it onto the internet with their faces on ultrasound scans or later with their faces. But: The smartphone is also my constant companion, I also spent a large part of my time filming every supposed achievement of the little ones. Malicious tongues would say that scribbling a line on a piece of paper the first time is not a world-changing feat. I, on the other hand, found it and kept the camera on it diligently. And then the video is sent to grandma and grandpa, to the family group and to the godmother. And from there, the photos of my children go their own way, because the grandmas take a photo too, are proud of their cute grandchildren and then want their friends to be part of it too. And whoosh photos are circulating outside of any control.
And then came the turning point
Basically there wasn’t just a trigger, but a chain of different circumstances that prompted me to leave the smartphone lying around and also to ask my children beforehand before I film or photograph them:
- My kids don’t have a photo album. To be honest, I think that’s really bad. The reason: We have thousands and thousands of photos on the computer. Felt 20 different of each situation. Sorting them all out is a mountain full of work and it grows and grows and grows and hovers over me like a sword of Damocles. The accumulation of unnecessary images must stop!
- The children are annoyed with my photography. This results in posed photos that nobody likes. Ergo only helps: take fewer photos.
- We’re missing out on the really important moments. The proud smile before my daughter rushes down the slide alone for the first time. The excitement on her third birthday while she unwraps the presents and the first, shaky step: I only saw all of this on the display of my smartphones to capture the moment instead of simply experiencing the moment completely and the memory in my head save.
- It stresses me out! The great fear of missing a special moment, of not being able to look at it again, puts me under pressure. But let’s be honest, how often do we watch all the little films that we record in the course of our parenting career?
- Inflation of particularities: For many parents, including myself, every little achievement in children’s development is something very special. It’s just not the case for the rest of the world. And that is something to keep in mind when showering relatives and friends with photos of the sliding child. And with a little distance you can recognize that as a parent yourself – at the latest when you start sorting the photos.
My children have the right to decide, after all I have that too
It’s actually quite simple: I don’t like being photographed in a loop without being asked. Then why should my kids just take it like that? So I just ask her beforehand. In most cases, they think that’s okay and like to grin cheekily at the camera. And if you don’t want to, that’s just as ok. Equal rights for all! And the good thing: There is no discussion later about unauthorized, unwanted and forced photos.
Tips: This helps against the photo craze
The hardest thing about the whole act is leaving your cell phone in your pocket from time to time. But there are a few tricks that really help:
- Lock your cell phone in the box! What you don’t have with you all the time, you use less
- Conscious mobile phone timeouts: Together you set periods of time during the day in which the cell phone simply disappears into the drawer and you can use analogue technology.
- One photography day per month: Instead of taking a picture of the child eating spaghetti for the hundredth time, it is better to take special pictures. Maybe take nice family pictures while taking a walk or a trip to the zoo together. Because let’s be honest: who should look at the thousand photos?
Photo fasting is really good – not only for us parents, but especially for the kids, who instead of using smartphones, laugh into our faces a lot more often!