Snapshots are misleading

We had some family pictures taken recently. Boy, sometimes I have a love/hate relationships with family photos. I love getting a beautiful picture to hang on the wall of the people I love the most. But, I’m not so found of trying to get the outfits to match, trying to look “picture perfect,” as well as try to get Parker to stand still–he wasn’t made to do that! So far, he’s made to run and play, not pose. I don’t blame him.

Here are some of my favorites.

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I love these pictures and am excited to hang them up in my new home, but these photos have reminded me that they are simply snapshots. Snapshots that are beautiful, but nevertheless, incapable of capturing my heart, my family, and who we really are.

Although these snapshots are wonderful, they are just that–a snapshot. My real life, it looks like this:

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Exercise clothes and a pony tail

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Silly not posing

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Tantrums on the bathroom floor with no pants on.

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Just a good old day at home in t-shirts and big smiles.

We people watch or scan through snapshots of friends and acquaintances often–Facebook and Instagram have made that a piece of cake. However, most of the time we catch just a glimpse into another person’s life, a simple snapshot, that dismisses the behind-the-scenes of their life.

Among other things, their snapshot often highlights how nicely they keep their house, how they seem to be perpetually put together, how their children are so well-behaved, or how strong and alive the romance is in their marriage. After seeing and memorizing their snapshot we can feel little, scattered, and behind the game. At least I feel that at times.

But, in reality, if we settled down in our pajamas with a good bowl of popcorn and watched their life movie–including the behind-the-scenes–we might be surprised. The snapshot was misleading. The snapshot didn’t highlight the days overflowing with challenges, the frazzled days, the days of depression, even the ordinariness of their life.

“Things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many.” -Phaedrus

How do you keep from comparing yourself to the snapshots you see? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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41 thoughts on “Snapshots are misleading

  1. Love this!! I actually just posted a bunch of our family pictures too and I was thinking the same thing: they are nice, but nothing can capture the true essence of everyday life in all its beautiful messiness. πŸ™‚ Your family is beautiful!

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    • Ah, thanks so much, Bridget! ☺ I totally agree, it is so hard to capture the life of a family and all the moments, but I’m so glad we try, because the pictures are refreshing to look at! I loved, loved your family pictures and enjoyed getting to learn more about you! ☺

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  2. I wrote a while back about how my husband never picks up the camera unless I ask him. I have the posed forced smile photos, but am lacking any of the real in the moment photos. I have a million of beautiful candid photos of the two of them laughing, being silly and being real. Those are my favorites as well. I do however love your professional ones. They are lovely. All these photos are great. They are all great memories to look back on.

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    • Oh my, I can totally relate to having tons of pictures of your husband and Mai, but not you and Mai. I have the same problem! As I look through my phone, it is often easier to find a picture of my son and my husband than me! But, recently I noticed it and I’m trying to catch pictures of me with my son, because like you, I love the candid. And thank you, I love the pictures too. It is so nice to have the nice ones to look back on. πŸ™‚ thank you for sharing!

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  3. So many great photos! The professional ones and daily ones! My dad is a professional photographer so I’ve done my share of posing. But you’re right, they don’t show real life. The kiddos don’t sit still for more than thirty seconds normally and my husband and I don’t always match. But they sure are pretty!! Your family is so gorgeous!! (But I’m sure you know that. πŸ˜„)

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    • Thank you so much, Tarynn! With your Dad being a photographer I’m sure you know exactly what I mean about photos not always being real life. It takes an entertainer to get my boy to smile and a bajillion shots to find the picture with a slight smile. And the clothing… oh my! That can be an adventure in itself. But, it is so nice to look at them when they are done. πŸ™‚

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    • You know, I hadn’t thought about that before, but I can imagine you feel and see the difference between the photo and real life a lot. But luckily, you are definitely not alone! Most days I look like a disaster too! πŸ™‚ And thank you, I’m so happy with the pictures too!

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    • Rachael, I love your thoughts here. You are so right. These professional pictures of our family is like our highlight real–the best of the hundreds of pictures taken and then edited. When we compare the absolute best of someone with our crummy days, we are definitely setting ourselves up for feeling inferior. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me! πŸ™‚

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  4. Life is messy and these snapshots aren’t. Picture perfect has really taken on a whole new meaning with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. and Youtube. We need to remember that these are just bits and pieces of people’s life and often staged. And there is nothing wrong with a little staging; I do it too. But real life that’s often stained t-shirts and messy hair. I love your writing.

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    • You are so right, Rachel. These pictures aren’t messy at all! They are posed, edited, and we are in our best outfits–matching to boot! But you are right, there is nothing wrong with the pose and nothing wrong with the t-shirts and messy hair–they are all part of our life and it is beautiful! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! πŸ™‚

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  5. These are lovely pictures, Marla! All of them! You have a beautiful family. This reminded me of a time a friend posted a cute picture on Facebook of her boys smiling great big smiles while they built a snowman. Only I knew the story behind the picture, how her boys were bawling and fighting while she and I and my oldest built the snowman and she bribed them with candy to pretend they were happy and building it so she could get a picture. After a long time of feeling like she was so much more together than I could ever be, It was good to see that, despite the perfect pictures, her life was actually perfectly imperfect, like mine!

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    • I love the story that you shared, Chelsi! It is so true–so often the pictures we see were not effortless at all! Maybe that is why we love the couple few professional photos we get–we weren’t hard for that boy to stay still and smile for a split second!! πŸ™‚ But I love the lesson in your comment, we all have perfectly imperfect lives, none of us are exempt. And thank you so much–I love the pictures we got too! Now I’m just excited to hang them up in our new house soon. πŸ™‚

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  6. These are lovely photos, Marla, and if nothing else, when times get rough, they can at least hang there on the walls to remind you of how good it can all look when the right efforts are made. Doesn’t mean that the story the three of you are living right now is yours alone and that no one but the three of you will ever know the highest highs and lowest lows that come, but does give a nice clean view of the family that is and even your choice of photos gives outsiders a good clue about some of the innards of your world. I love how you took these perfect photos and used them to illustrate the point of life being a whole lot messier than this most days, but still….it’s always nice in those dark hours to have those pix on the wall and remember that you’re not alone…you’re part of a team. πŸ™‚

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    • I couldn’t agree more, Torrie. I love the professional photos, because they bring me a lot of peace, especially during the days when I feel like everything is falling apart. To see my boy, my husband, and I all smiling and looking nice is great. And I also love what you said–both photos are real and great. The nice photos are my real life too–they just took a lot more effort to get. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Torrie, as always! πŸ™‚

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  7. You have a beautiful family! I laughed with you at this…trying to capture “real” life in a snapshot. I too do not like the chore of photo prep and I hate having my picture taken. I know having those pretty pictures reminds me, on my yoga pants and messy bun days, that the “pretty picture” version of me still exists. πŸ™‚

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    • I LOVE what you said here, Tiffany. It is a nice comfort to remember on my days that I haven’t showered and I feel like a sweaty mess, that I can actually clean up and look nice. The messy me and the curled hair with make up me are both still… me! πŸ™‚ And thank you so much, I love the pictures, too! πŸ™‚

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  8. Such timeless precious photos!! πŸ™‚ I have to agree … the whole let me show you a snapshot of the life I want you to see has made it harder to be okay with our own messy and ordinary lives. I loved your point here … and all the pictures!

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    • Thank you so much, Kim! And you are exactly right! With all the things we can do with photos now, even editing pictures right from our phones, it can give people a false impression of our real lives. I think that is why I feel it is so important to show my messy and my cleaned up photos. They both exist and they are both me, but I’m definitely not cleaned up and posed all the time.. at all! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Kim! πŸ™‚

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    • Sorry I hit send before I finished….If we did show more behind the scenes, it’s amazing how life’s daily struggles, accomplishmens, etc., would give a clearer picture of who we really are behind our mask. I love the more casual pics then the exact stand – still pics!

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      • You are so right! When we see each other for just a small time or only see a glimpse of a person’s life, it rarely captures the essence of who they are. Another reason not to compare and not to judge each other πŸ™‚ And thank you so much, I do love the pictures too! All of them πŸ™‚

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  9. I do my best to remember that people post their best photos, not the full spectrum. Research has demonstrated that people who spend the most time on social media are more likely to become depressed. I guess that’s why I like the world of bloggers I follow. People like you are real. Just reading your blog adds authenticity to my world. Thank you! Catie

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    • Thank you so much, Catie! It is one of my hopes that people feel comfortable here and know that I’m exceedingly normal, as well πŸ™‚ It is so interesting how much of an affect social media can have on us–another reason to surround ourselves with people who buoy us up. And I agree, the blogging world is so refreshing to me! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Catie! πŸ™‚

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  10. Haha, I loved this! It’s so true. Even the pics I took today, behind the scenes I was dressed like Where’s Waldo, no make-up, sore throat, definitely not at my finest, even if I got some super cute pics! There is always more to a picture than what you see. My sisters were actually just saying the same thing, how they instagram stalk this Dad who has the “perfect” life… There is no such thing, but it’s a beautiful realization all the same. Love your fam pics, professional and candid πŸ˜€ Parker is such a cutie!

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    • Haha isn’t it true that the behind the scenes is often different than the photo! And it is totally fine that it is. πŸ™‚ I love getting great pictures–like the ones of your daughter–that are sweet to look at. They are like medicine for my soul on the hard days. And you are right, we all have messy, but beautiful lives–rarely picture perfect! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Olivia! πŸ™‚

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  11. Good thoughts considering that I have been trying to find the time to pics done for my family and have been stressing out about it. This is a good reminder that it is the moment by moments that make good pictures and memories.

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    • You are right, the professional pictures are beautiful, but the everyday pictures we snap on our phones are documenting the real life. There really is beauty in simple pictures! Thank you for stopping by my blog! πŸ™‚

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  12. This is so very true… I can snap a picture and have a seemingly peaceful life when in reality we have a constant chaos going on πŸ˜‰ Homeschooling, having 2 under 2, and a baby on the way rarely ends in peace! I try to not compare my life to anyone else since I know we all fight different battles everyday, and all of us accomplish so many different things daily as well! Thanks for sharing your beautiful words and snapshots! #blogma πŸ™‚

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    • Haha you are so right, whenever I take professional pictures, it seems there is chaos in the background! πŸ™‚ That is real life! Way to go for being such a great mom to your *almost* three! And you are so right, I try not to compare, as well (even though it is so hard) because just like you said, we are going through different experiences and trials. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights! πŸ™‚

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    • I’m so glad you could relate, Claire! πŸ™‚ And I look forward to seeing the real, beautiful messiness of your life!! Because all of it–posed and messy–is beautiful.

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  13. Love this! I think the best moments are the real ones in most people’s lives. Those moments we often don’t capture on camera. The first time you see your baby, the moment your child walks for the first time, the dance offs you have every day with your kids, the look you give your husband when he walks in the door after a long day. Those moments. The ones we don’t share. They’re some of the most extraordinary parts of our lives.

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    • Wow, I so appreciate you sharing your thoughts! I have not thought of it in this way, but you are so right. There are those moments with my loved ones when life is so sweet and so real that I wouldn’t even dare reach for my camera, because as soon as I did, the moment would lose it’s purity. There is something beautiful about keeping a memory only filed away in my mind and heart. It keeps its beauty for so long. πŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing your thoughts again, Melissande!

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  14. Marla,
    What a great post! So true! I really love what you have captured here. Everything seems so perfect and beautiful and easy in the pictures…but what about real life? Life happens outside those picture frames. I love how real you have been with not just posting the “posed” pictures, but the real, every day, t-shirt ones too! I think it’s hard not comparing to the gorgeous pictures you see posted all over the internet. I am not a photographer at all, and so I don’t have a well documented photo library of daily life, of my house, or the meals I cook, or my daughter. But just learning: It’s okay! God sees us. The beautiful moments…and the the well..rather ugly, chaotic ones too. And just learning to be content and embrace the life He’s given me–whether it’s captured in a stunning photo or not! No one but God often sees the most beautiful moments of our lives anyway. And in some ways..I’m learning, that’s a good thing. πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for writing this fantastic post!

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    • Thank you so much, Rebekah! I can totally relate to not being a photographer! I see some people’s “candid” pictures and am amazed because they simply have a knack for making anything look beautiful. I love what you said though, it is so wise to be content with keeping our beautiful moments within our family and God. Honestly, I sometimes find that leaving the camera alone actually allows the everyday moments to keep their purity and beauty. It seems that some moments are better left undocumented, just filed away in our minds, where they keep their absolute beauty. πŸ™‚ LOVE your thoughts, Rebekah! Thank you for sharing them with me!

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