Sunday, 14 September 2014

Brand "family": how we never seem to get that amazing holiday snap

So it's been holiday time recently and whether it be vacations or staycations, no one goes anywhere without a camera or camera-phone these days, so you probably have some photos to trawl through. Rather than like in the olden days when you had a couple of films of dodgy pics to print off (blurred, red-eye, of nothing...), you now have hundreds, possibly a thousand photos of your gang on holiday.

A lot of time will be taken to get that elusive shot, the perfect family snap. Yep, you are all looking tanned, smiling into the camera, relaxed and happy and like, hey, you're having an AMAZING time. The one photo that goes round on email or facebook or twitter. Look, isn't our family GREAT!? Key to this style of holiday photo is that your family has to be pretty photogenic. Good skin and white teeth really help. Amusing yet flattering poses are a winner.

Now you might feel that I am sounding rather bitter at this point. You would be right. Sadly, me (and dare I say it, some members of my family) just aren't that photogenic. I NEVER get a tan. And I know feminists aren't supposed to care what they look like, but it would be nice to have ONE photo where everyone looked reasonable right? Or at least in the right direction?

The sad thing is that you can spend so much time trying to get flattering, fun photos that you aren't actually enjoying your holiday. There's been a lot around recently on mindfulness, being present, living in the moment. Sometimes taking photographs can be a wonderful way to really observe your surroundings, or play with fun angles or underwater scenes. But when all you do is try and force everyone to look like they are having fun for the camera - "Smile! No, this way...AT THE CAMERA" - then no one is actually having fun.

The selfie is the pinnacle of this style of photography for me. There you are having a meaningful moment, alone or with a loved one, and you have to interrupt that moment to record it. And, of course, it's not really about remembering. You would remember that moment anyway. It's about publicising that moment to everyone else. As though you're a celebrity: Brand YOU. Brand US. Brand FAMILY.

So I hope you have some lovely snaps from holiday to remind you of where you were and what you did. To show the grandparents. To show the kids when they're older. But most of all, I hope you had a really good time. Because holidays don't last that long, and as soon you get back, they seem a lifetime ago...

Thanks for reading. What are your family photos like - are they a priority or something that doesn't really matter?


  1. I take photos for my family who live far away and don't see us often. They get to watch my son growing up and it is the equivalent of flicking through holiday snaps when you get back.

    I don't see it as promoting us as a brand, more that it's sharing our family life with other members of the wider family. Of course I'm in very few of them as I'm always behind the lens, but that suits me fine as they've seen me plenty of times.

    Also, some of the most fun things we've done are not captured in photos as we were enjoying ourselves far too much to stop and take pics :)

  2. Hi Swazi, thanks for your comment. I think we agree. Photo albums are precious ways to keep memories and share with family and friends. I guess I'm talking more about stopping the fun to take a photo, then immediately uploading it to facebook or twitter, and then checking how many people have seen it. It just seems sad when parents are too busy taking photos/videos to actually play with their kids. We're all guilty of it sometimes but always worth a reminder I think to put the camera down and live in the moment :)