Why we still need to capture the important moments

There's a reason the family photo album is the number one thing people would save from a burning home.
There's a reason the family photo album is the number one thing people would save from a burning home. Photo: Getty Images

To me it is an old photograph featuring a gap-toothed smile and crooked ponytails, but to my five-year-old son, my kindergarten class picture provided a window into the world of "when Mummy was a little girl".

I dug the long-forgotten photo out of the bottom of a box as my son prepared to start school himself at the beginning of this year. The picture, along with a similar one from his dad's kindergarten year, led to a fun family discussion about our own first days in kindergarten and helped ease my then preschooler's apprehension about walking through the big school gates for the first time.

The bonding experience I shared with my son thanks to an old (very old!) picture of my five-year-old self helped me realise how important it is to hang on to photos that record special moments our life and that of our family.

There's a reason the family photo album is the number one thing people would save if they had to quickly escape from their burning home. It is because in time memories can fade, but photos can help keep us remember special moments no matter how many years have passed.

While in today's digital age there are many ways to keep our photographic memories safe, it's important to not get so caught up in the rush of modern life that we forget to capture important milestones in the first place. 

Life is not always picture perfect, kids are not always immaculately dressed and our homes rarely look like something out of Vogue Living. But the chaos that is family life provides countless memories which need to be photographed.

After all, it won't be much fun reminding your kids of their amusing childhood escapades at their 21st birthday party if you don't have the photograph evidence to back your stories up.

And of course those embarrassing anecdotes need to be balanced with pictures that make parents the proudest - from a toddler taking their first steps to a teenager graduating from high school, and all those moments in between. 

As a parent, it is tempting to always focus your camera on the children but, as mother-of-four Allison Tate wrote in her hugely popular article for the Huffington Post, 'The Mom Stays in the Picture', it is important for mums and dads to make sure they also feature in family photos.

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"Someday, I want them to see me, documented, sitting right there beside them: me, the woman who gave birth to them, whom they can thank for their ample thighs and their pretty hair; me, the woman who nursed them all for the first years of their lives, enduring porn star-sized boobs and leaking through her shirts for months on end; me, who ran around gathering snacks to be the week's parent reader or planning the class Valentine's Day party; me, who cried when I dropped them off at preschool, breathed in the smell of their post-bath hair when I read them bedtime stories, and defied speeding laws when I had to rush them to the pediatric ER in the middle of the night for fill-in-the-blank (ear infections, croup, rotavirus)," she wrote.

"I'm everywhere in their young lives, and yet I have very few pictures of me with them. Someday I won't be here - and I don't know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now - but I want them to have pictures of me.

"I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them. I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother."

So don't wait for the 'perfect moment' before taking a picture of your family. We create memories every day - today is a good a day as any to capture that moment in a photograph.

Ideas for showing off your favourite shots 

Canon's photoPICO service allows you to turn images into photo books, calendars, and canvas wall art. Just upload them to the site then edit and arrange them to create your masterpiece - and there's free shipping across Australia within 7-10 working days.  

Brought to you by Canon.