I’m in the middle of busy season here at the studio…and I mean BUSY. I’m talking living on coffee, no sleep, and haven’t fixed my hair in two weeks kind of busy. My house is a mess, the studio is a mess, and I’m actually loving every minute. I’m enjoying spending time with my amazing clients and friends doing exactly what I love.

I’m putting aside my editing and mile long to-do list to write this letter to you. It’s weighing heavy on my heart today and I really feel like it’s something you need to hear.

Every day I interact with sweet moms who have kids of all ages. You spend so much time putting effort into your photo shoot. Coordinating the perfect outfits, making sure your kids get great naps, begging your husband to cooperate. I see you, and I’m so thankful for that effort. As your photographer I want nothing more than for you to love and cherish your photos. I want them to last forever and I want you do adore them forever, and the most rewarding part of this job is hearing how much you love them.

But, lately it’s been difficult for me to hear how hard you’re being on yourself. Here are a few things I’ve been hearing over and over the last month in different shapes and forms:

“I have been wanting to book a shoot with you, but I’m trying to lose ten pounds first.”

“Please, photoshop me as much as you can!”

“I couldn’t find anything that looked okay on me so I decided not to be in them.”

“Please hide me behind the kids as much as you can.”

“I will love the pictures as long as I’m not in them!”

“I love my pictures, I just wish I was not in them.”

“I get so stressed out when it comes to pictures.”

I see the panic on your face when I ask if you want to be in a photo. I even had a sweet mom tell me today that she absolutely loved her pictures and was recommending me to everyone she knew, but she had a major breakdown about the pictures she was in because she hated how her body looked.

Here’s what I want to say to you: 

Mommas…..please give yourself some grace.

As an artist, I study you in detail. I think you are beautiful. Absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. But, I think we are talking about two different versions of beauty here. I’m not talking about your perfect outfit or your perfect body. What I see is the way you love your kids. The way you have so much patience and the way they look at you and giggle. That is so much more beautiful than perfect hair or make-up.

Sometimes they cling to you and don’t want to be put down. You get frustrated. I always assure you it’s okay. I love seeing how safe they feel in your arms and when they snuggle into you, I pretty much melt. (Even if it is totally messing up your hair.) Their drool on your shirt? Yes, of course I can photoshop that. But should I? You’ll miss that one day, you know. They adore you. 

No matter hard you try, your photos will not be perfect. Life isn’t perfect. And that’s the beauty of photography – capturing the messiness of life as it comes and as it actually is. Because messy or not, you’ll never get those moments again.

And please hear me when I say this. In ten years, you will not look at these photos and wish you were ten pounds lighter. You will be looking at how little your baby is in your arms and wishing you could jump right back into that moment when they needed you so fiercely. You may even think how great you looked with less wrinkles and wish you could go back to that too.

In twenty years, when your sweet baby is grown they will look back and cherish these pictures. They won’t care about the outfit or what you weighed but they’ll be grateful they have something to remember how great of a mom you were to them.

Someday you’ll be gone and your great, great, great, grandchildren will see how much they resemble you and be so thankful for the legacy you left. This is the true beauty of a photo.

And let me just say, I’m speaking to the choir here. I’m not a mom yet, but I’ll be the first to admit I try to be perfect. In a world of social media and instant gratification with likes and comments, it’s hard not to be hypercritical of yourself.

So please, moms.

You literally made a human with that body of yours. Be easy on yourself. Give yourself grace. Take the pictures, even when you don’t feel your very best. Love the pictures, even when you don’t look your very best. You are more beautiful than you’ll ever know.

I promise you won’t regret it.

This article was originally published at alexrosephotography.com

Follow Alex on Facebook here!

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Alex McDougal

Alex is a studio and natural light photographer in Oklahoma City. She specializes in newborns, children, and families capturing moments that pass us by far too quickly.

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