Why do we take so many pictures of our kids?
Parents of young children, open your phones. How many pics do you have of your kids on there? An embarrassing -- possibly uncountable -- number?
Andrew Budziak wanted to understand why. He's a new father. He's also photographer and videographer who has thought a lot about parenthood and pictures, as he explores in this open letter to his little child.
By Andrew Budziak
You don't know this yet, but I have a lot of pictures of you. I have photographed you more than anything else. I probably take videos of you daily. Why is that? Is it so I can have a record of every day of your life? So I can share your progress with friends and family who live far away?
Can love be recorded and transmitted? Can we digitize our happiest moments — create a copy of those moments, carry them around in our pockets?
Before you were born, I had pictures of you. Black and white ones. It was hard to make out what was what. A foot. A hand. Your spine. Your chin.
Do you know that when you were still seven months away from being born we got to hear your heartbeat?
Why do I need so many photos of you?
In the delivery room, when you were 15 seconds old, the nurse laid you on a white sheet in a glass box to weigh you. She said "Dad, now is a good time for a photo."
The nurses were still stitching up Mom. My hands were shaking as I reached under my scrubs. I was incredibly nervous and my trembling thumb couldn't unlock my phone. I have never been so anxious taking a photo, but finally....click.
Let me tell you about a video. When you were two months old, your pra Dziadziu died. He was your great grandfather. There's an incredible video your nana shot. It's you, me, your grandfather and his dad. Four generations of Budziaks hanging out on the couch. And then pra Dziadziu begins to sing a Polish lullaby for you.
Your Nana recorded the whole thing. It might take you a long time to understand how incredible that is. The four of us on the couch and Dziadziu singing. The four of us, alive at the same time. That video is a gift to the both of us.
So maybe that's what this is all about… extending life.
Is this about battling that awful cliché: the one about losing a child is a parent's worst nightmare? Thank God, you're healthy and thriving. But am I afraid that if you die before I do, these pixels would somehow…keep you alive? Is that what this is?
Maybe, when I take a photo, shoot a video or record audio of you, I'm capturing a moment. And those are the moments that make me feel so good. And maybe the act of pressing the shutter or pressing record makes be believe that feeling will be there forever.
This is a feeling your mom describes as "nostalgia for the present moment.- Andrew Budziak
As I make my final edits to this piece, it's a few days before your first birthday. Your sounds are different. You're getting big. And you've got a great sense of humour. I'm not sure I've ever been this happy in my life.
I guess taking these photos is me hoping that a long time from now I can look at them, and be taken back to these incredible days.
There's a bit of sadness to the thought that I won't feel this happy forever. I think this is a feeling your mom describes as "nostalgia for the present moment."
So perhaps creating these recordings, video and photos is all I can do to savour these wonderful times and try to convince myself these photos will ensure these perfect feelings never die.