I never really ‘saw’ any of my young children’s concerts , plays or musical performances. It wasn’t that I didn’t attend. I was there at every one of them ( or almost every one) but always behind a camera.
I’m not sure who wanted the photos more, me or the kids. I wanted to send them off to members of the family living too far away to ever attend and show them their nieces / nephews / grandchildren in action. My children wanted to see what they looked like in their performances.
But the truth is that the photos were mostly of appalling quality. The lights in the hall were dimmed and I was somewhere in the audience, usually behind a big hat or crawling up to the stage desperately trying not to annoy the other parents whose view I was obstructing.
And we’re talking about the pre-digital camera days when every photo cost money and most were too dark to be any use at all – but I persevered year after year, concert after concert, child after child.
But my obsession with photography didn’t go anywhere near one of my daughter’s. Several years ago she was in hospital giving birth to her first child when I received a surprise phone call at home.
“Mum can you come over here quickly”
“What’s the matter? Is something wrong?”
Nothing much really, I mean don’t worry or anything. It’s just that ….well…..we’ve forgotten our camera and I really wanted to get a picture of our new baby as soon as it’s born.”
I couldn’t believe me ears. My daughter was 8 cms dilated and she was worried about having photos of her newborn.
Mind you it shouldn’t have surprised me. After all she and her husband have captured just about every moment of their lives on film even before they ever knew each other. Their romance was enhanced by their common obsession - photography. She was the only one of our seven children who, whenever we went on a family trip spent all her time looking for places to pose. Beautiful flower-beds, scenic look outs as back-drops, a pose struck on the deck of the ship with the still sea in the background – these are the things that made a good trip to her. The success of any outing was measured by the numbers of photos she returned with , with her in the center of all of them.
And now here they were at a crucial turning point in their lives and there was no way they could envisage experiencing this without capturing it on film.
So being the dutiful mother I grabbed my camera and zoomed off to the hospital. Luck was definitely on their side as I surprisingly even managed to sneak into their delivery room.
“Yes dear I think you’re about ready to push this little one into the world now” I heard the midwife say as I slid into the room.
My daughter smiled through a contraction as she saw me walk in – “Great Mum now you’re here we’re ready. Take a picture of us now, before I actually give birth.”
The midwife’s mouth dropped open, she couldn’t believe the conversation she was hearing.
I adjusted the lens, fitted my daughter and son in law into the focus and clicked.
The midwife recovered her composure “Now dear, are you prepared to give your attention to giving birth?”.
I handed the camera over to my son-in-law and was about to walk out when my daughter called me back.
Mum, wouldn’t you like to stay and see it all from the other side for once?.
The offer was too wonderful to refuse – so thanks to my daughter’s fixation with photography I was there with her at the birth of her first child. I stood there on duty with the camera, almost too overcome and emotional to actually take a photo.
As her firstborn son entered the world and the midwife placed him tenderly on my daughter’s stomach , the tears poured down my cheeks as I stared in awe. The camera almost slipped from my grasp.
But I quickly remembered my job. I gave my daughter and my new grandson a tearful kiss and rearranged the sheet around them so I could center them clearly in the viewfinder in the well lit delivery room. I composed myself and the picture and clicked.
I guess by now she’s forgiven me for those dark, fuzzy disasters that immortalized her school plays.