The paparazzi mom

Life through a lens

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Camera Girl
Source: Metro Newspaper Service

You have your helicopter moms, your soccer moms and your smother mothers. I am a Paparazzi mom. I’m a photo junkie from way back.

Flashback

As a teen I popped 110 film into an instamatic camera and spent babysitting cash at the Fotomat. How’s that for a flashback, friends?

I carried a camera in my purse before mobile phones put the ability to capture moments in the palm of our hands. I’ve been pointing a long lens at my children since before they could walk. First steps, first day of school, first formal dances, all were captured for posterity.

I loved the candids more than the posed shots. I am a deep fan of the fleeting moments captured. The everyday life. The glance. The look. On a good day, with a lens, I try to capture them all.

Too many pictures

Recently a friend worried that she took too many pictures. In the past year or more she had 1,900 photos on her phone alone. 1,900 over the space of 365 plus days? Oh sweetie, I took 500 photos yesterday alone.

Through the lens

From photo shoots with my own children to endless extracurricular and activity shots of their friends, I tend to view much of life through a lens. Some have asked if I worry that I am missing out on “real life” because I am often trying to capture it?

As I flip through the thousands of photos I have taken over the years I realize that I have often left the most obvious shots alone. The cheesy smiles, the posed team photos with everyone looking a different direction toward their own mom standing behind the photographer holding up her own phone. Rarely am I that mom.

Candids

I love the action shots. The fleeting foot caught against the ball. The moment of contact. The dive. The gulp as they give the answer in the glare of the lights on stage.

More important, however, are the relationships. I take more outtakes of kids cutting up or milling about before a formal dance than I do posed shots of the group themselves. My favorite photos of dances past are the mothers gathering to corset a dress around an impossibly tiny teenage waist (enjoy it honey, it does not last).

Memories

One season I never missed one of BoyWonder’s soccer games. The boys on that team were each photographed being amazing on the field countless times that fall. The mothers inevitably asked for copies of these photos for graduation scrapbooks the following spring.

The photos I cherish, the ones most sought after, are the laughter. The quiet moments. The strapping teen boy swinging his two smaller sisters off his lanky arms. The moment when the boisterous teeming pile of teen boys were silenced as they bowed their heads in prayer.

In all things, I like the outtakes.

Moments

I want to capture the before and after. The moments after the shot, goal, or game. The unexpected. The relationships. The girl gazing up at her dad in rapt attention as he outlines some ideas for her next play. The mother gazing off in the distance, her son’s bag at her feet while her boy, unaware of her adoration and attention, is out of the frame.

This is why I call myself the paparazzi mom. I will capture the sidelong glance. The sigh. The shy glances of young sweethearts and the sweat and the tears of opponents, teammates, coaches, and friends.

Paparazzi mom

It is the pride of my life to be “Mama Seabolt” to my own children and so many others. I am the mom with a camera and delight in the number of kids who ask “did you get me Mrs. Seabolt?”

Flipping back through thousands of photos of the years of my kids and their friends, I see the smiles, the laughter, the heads bent together in thought, victory, loss, and prayer. I see hands outstretched. Heads thrown back. Teen adoration. Parental pride.

I know that twenty years from now if these photos survive they won’t care as much about the posed shots as they do the candids of camaraderie, friendship, and love. Real life is what happens when we aren’t preening and posing. It is what you see — through a lens or your own eyes — when you step back, quiet yourself, and simply pay attention to the world around you.

“Did you get me Mrs. Seabolt?” To my kids and their many peers who have allowed me to be the paparazzi mom let me assure you that I get you. I hope you see these photos and know that in that moment — and so many others — you were and are amazing. You were loved, you were capable and you were strong.

I hope in seeing yourself reflected back in these moments that you “get you” too.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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