Things I Learned From (Getting Into And) Staying In The Picture

You may have seen my daily self-portraits on my Facebook page (or not, if you don’t follow me there – that’s okay. Sort of.), going on two weeks now, and either applauded me for my ‘bravery’, or unliked my Page for being self-indulgent and narcissistic.

30 Days of Self-Portraits project

Regardless, I was inspired by my friend Sarah of The Sunday Spill, a talented photographer, who embarked on a daily self-portrait project. Go on and read her lovely post about why she’s doing this.

Why am I doing this? Why am I taking pictures of me without make up, wearing my old but comfortable clothes, sometimes with my children, most times alone, and half of them, you see me from the back (and my ample posterior)?

I want to get into and stay in the picture. I want my children to see what their mother looked like at 36. I want a chance to play around with the camera. I want to be creative.

In this process, I have learned a few things. Pretty interesting things.

1. I am at home. A lot. I only get out of the house to do preschool pickups.

2. I don’t mind being home a lot. It’s a privilege.

3. I spend half my day on the floor with the kids.

4. I spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen.

5. It’s really difficult to get shots of both my boys with me. Someone’s always trying to grab the camera.

6. We have really shiny floors.

7. We have great natural light in our apartment. Actually, we have a really cozy place. I’m appreciating it a little more.

8. I own many pairs of black pants. They’re not the same pair, promise.

9. I am treasuring my daily moments more, because I’m thinking about them more. If that makes sense.

10. I’m falling in love with photography again.

Would you do a self-portrait project?Β 

PS: I do love making lists. That seems to be how I’m writing my posts these days. I can’t help myself.

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • March 6, 2013 Allison Tate

    Good for you, Alison. I have enjoyed your photos, and I love seeing you with your family!
    Allison Tate recently wrote…This is Childhood: EIGHTMy Profile

    • March 12, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Allison, for continuing to be an inspiration to us all.

  • March 6, 2013 sarah

    Thank you for the shout out there, Alison. I have to say I look forward to your self-portrait every day. I’m going to miss it when it’s over! Also, you’ve inspired me to make my own list. I’ve been meaning to reflect on my project too…because I’m learning so much along with having fun of course. I think my favorites of yours are #7 and #10 πŸ™‚
    sarah recently wrote…#ippp: about wanting to get there firstMy Profile

    • March 12, 2013 Alison

      Of course you’d love #10 πŸ™‚
      Look forward to your list!

  • March 6, 2013 Robin

    I really, truly love these. Yours and the others doing them. I would totally do this – I just need two things: (1) The motivation to get out the “real” camera, and (2) to lose the feeling that at this point I’m just a copycat. πŸ˜‰
    Robin recently wrote…Getting My Book OnMy Profile

    • March 12, 2013 Alison

      Eh, then I’m a copycat! πŸ™‚
      Do it, you won’t regret it.

  • March 6, 2013 Leigh Ann

    Your apartment does look cozy! We have seemingly good natural light in our house, but not great for manual mode on my camera. I think your self portraits are lovely. Boo on those people who left.
    Leigh Ann recently wrote…Iconic Austin signsMy Profile

    • March 12, 2013 Alison

      I’m glad you like the portraits. I guess not everyone can take someone’s daily photo of themselves – like, narcissistic much? πŸ™‚

  • March 6, 2013 TOI

    I would totally do a self portrait project because i love photography and I feel alive when i take pictures of myself. i want my child to know how i love like too at 30+ years πŸ™‚
    TOI recently wrote…Date Night OutfitMy Profile

    • March 12, 2013 Alison

      Did you start? You must!

  • March 6, 2013 Christine

    I have really loved seeing your self-portraits on FB. I love how the capture a moment in your day. That is such a treasure and a gift for your boys and your family. I’ve thought about doing a self-portrait project but somewhat intimidated by it at the same time, mostly about the time and the set-up.
    Christine recently wrote…Dear BodyMy Profile

    • March 12, 2013 Alison

      There is very little set up, truly. The whole idea is to capture ordinary moments. It only takes me a few seconds to grab the camera (which is on my desk), turn it on, turn the self-timer on, and frame the shot. Then photo taken! Some days I take more than one, if I remember. Other days, I just take the one and go with it. It truly is worth the time. Try it!

  • March 6, 2013 Kayla

    I would definitely do a self portrait project just as long as my health permitted! I really think it’s a great idea, not only to capture memories but to promote self love and acceptance πŸ™‚ So many people hate being in pictures because they don’t like the way they look and it’s a shame!

    I LOVE all your pictures!! And of course all the things you’re learning along the way ^.^
    Kayla recently wrote…Win It Wednesday(3/6)My Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Yes, exactly! The shame, the self-criticism – we need to move past that. And thank you!

  • March 6, 2013 Laura

    I think this is a great idea! I absolutely love old photos of my parents. It’s easy to forget that you currently are the young and beautiful version of somebody’s old mom! I need to start getting in more photos with my child, but first I need to get over the feeling that I look weird in photos.
    Laura recently wrote…Shingles and Weaning – Good for the Goose = Good for the GoslingMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Laura, just do it. For real. It’s so rewarding. You don’t want to wait until your children are grown and flown, and you think, I wish I’d just gotten into the picture, weird-looking be damned.

  • March 6, 2013 Kim

    I thought the project was a wonderful invitation to get comfortable in front of the camera with your family. I felt privileged to see you as I would if I dropped by for coffee, or ran into you on a walk through the neighborhood.

    So many women are intimidated by being in photos, and I can think of nothing sadder than your child getting to adulthood and realizing they have few or no images of the two of you together. I have no doubt you and your children will treasure these photos for years to come. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Kim recently wrote…A Letter to the God-sized DreamersMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Thank you for your sweet, kind words, Kim!

  • March 6, 2013 JDaniel4's Mom

    I love your new layout! What a great header! It was fun to read about your day.
    JDaniel4’s Mom recently wrote…23 Moms Share B-Day Treat Bag IdeasMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Deirdre!

  • March 6, 2013 Katie E

    I’ve loved your self portrait project on facebook! Between you, Sarah, and Greta, I’m tempted to try it myself. But I think I’d seem so boring πŸ™‚ And yes, you have such a comfortable looking home – I’ve envied it (and your comfortable wardrobe) in every single picture! Thank you for sharing these images of your life – and you.
    Katie E recently wrote…Love for Sleeping Kids #iPPPMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      You’re not boring! You’ll find that you’re not once you start the project. Promise. It’d be so worth it, your kids will enjoy the pictures!

  • March 6, 2013 tracy

    I’ve really enjoyed them. And when we have sunshine again, and thus natural light, I think I will do this too. xo
    tracy recently wrote…This Is Childhood – EightMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Yay, I can’t wait to see yours!

  • March 6, 2013 Kir

    I love your Haircut!!
    Plus I love seeing that smile of yours. I was taking a lot of pictures of myself last year and then I wasn’t…maybe I should go back and do it again.

    I like that you are doing this, the one of you on the balcony from yesterday is one of my favorites. I find it refreshing and completely inspiring, I expect nothing less from YOU. xoxo
    Kir recently wrote…The 5 Reasons We’re Sending Our Sons to Catholic SchoolMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, sweetie! I think you should absolutely start taking more pictures of yourself again, in your fabulous clothes and shoes!

  • March 6, 2013 Tracie

    I’ve really been enjoying these pictures every day. My favorite is the one on the balcony.
    Tracie recently wrote…In Your Anger, Do Not SinMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Tracie! That was an accidentally good picture πŸ™‚

  • I love your self portraits! And your shiny floors.
    I’m a lousy photographer myself, so self-portraits are not really in my near future. Let’s start by trying to get a decent pick of a cake first…
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…Attack of the one-legged zombie dollMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Haha! For food photography, lighting is essential. Try photographing in natural light, no flash, you’ll see an amazing difference.

  • March 6, 2013 Mama Melch

    I have loved watching your project bloom these past weeks. I’m hardly ever in the picture too, so maybe a project like this would be fun.
    Mama Melch recently wrote…Wordless Wednesday: Smothers Park in OwensboroMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Do try it, it’s totally fun!

  • I have been following your pictures and loving them. Until I read this, though, I didn’t truly understand WHY you were doing it – and now I understand, and I’m inspired!
    Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) recently wrote…Too young at 21?My Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      I’d love to see your self-portraits, try it!

  • March 6, 2013 AnnMarie

    Totally brave of you. I don’t think I could do it because all people would see is a blur of me running from here to there. πŸ™‚
    AnnMarie recently wrote…The Gifts of CFMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Haha, that’s funny πŸ™‚

  • March 6, 2013 Kim

    I look forward to your photos (and Sarah’s too!) I love the idea of putting ourselves in the picture and documenting the little moments, which can be so big in their own way.
    Kim recently wrote…Sick DaysMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      I so love the idea of giving little pictorial snippets to my kids when they’re older.

  • March 6, 2013 Natalie

    I am really loving your photos…it’s nice to see a day in the life of Miss Alison!
    Natalie recently wrote…My Little LovesMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Heh! Thank you, Natalie.

  • March 6, 2013 Diane

    I’m loving your idea, it’s a visual scrapbook of your daily Family Life, your Children will really appreciate all the effort you’ve gone to in being the Family Record Keeper, what a lovely thing your doing…. Dee xx

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Yes, it is most definitely a scrapbook!

  • March 7, 2013 Kimberly

    To answer your question: No. Because I’m lazy and I’d probably forget to charge the battery and then I’d feel like I would need to print all of them because I have a fear of my computer eating them and pooping them out in computer space.
    Mostly, it’s because I have no idea how to use the shitty camera we invested in.
    PS. I love your face.
    Kimberly recently wrote…Baby SealsMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Well, that’s a shame, because you’re so beautiful.
      Love your face more. xo

  • March 7, 2013 Julia's Math

    Your rear end is just fine! Thanks for the reminder that life is in the details!
    Julia’s Math recently wrote…My Mom’s Quiche- The BEST Comfort FoodMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Hah! Thank you for making me feel slightly better.

  • March 7, 2013 Elizabeth Kane

    Your self-portraits are beautiful! I love seeing them. So glad you’re falling in love with photography again.

    This reminds me to get in the picture more. I’m usually the one taking pictures of people, leaving myself out of them. I should stop that…

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      You should absolutely get into the picture, Elizabeth.

  • March 7, 2013 Cam

    Nice. I like the photos. I have been thinking lately about doing something similar. I noticed that every photo I take is of my babies. I need to take some of me too. They should know that mama wasn’t always behind the camera but sometimes I was in on the fun too!
    Cam recently wrote…Love It. Want It. Covet. Repeat.My Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Yes, absolutely! Do try it.

  • March 7, 2013 Nellie

    This is so cute, I need to figure out a good way to take self portraits of my and my kids.
    Nellie recently wrote…There Are Bad Days In Weight Loss, too.My Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Just grab a camera, and go for it!

  • March 7, 2013 keely

    I think it’s marvy. And I’ve definitely adored seeing your routines- and your positively gorgeous home. For seriousness.
    keely recently wrote…Why I Should Never Travel Alone; Ghost Story Edition.My Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Marvy! Hee! And thank you.

  • March 7, 2013 Vivian

    I keep telling myself that I need to take more pics with me in it! All we have are pics of the kids. Not even pics of me and my husband. Sigh…I should give this a try. Oh, and I like lists! LOL

    Oh, I love the new look, btw!
    Vivian recently wrote…Wait For You Blog Tour – Author InterviewMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Thanks, I am in love with my new look!
      Yes, you should get into the picture, even if it’s every other picture. πŸ™‚

  • March 7, 2013 Greta

    I love seeing your pictures, and I love all of the benefits you’re reaping because of this project!
    Greta recently wrote…Things are a’moving without me. #iPPPMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, my friend!

  • March 7, 2013 Laura

    I love seeing your project every day and I am surprisingly loving taking on the project myself too.
    Laura recently wrote…Poop HappensMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Your portraits are gorgeous!

  • March 7, 2013 ilene

    I LOVED looking at your photos- and you know – the fact that I want my kids to know what I looked like when they were young isn’t something I thought about until you said it. That is enough reason for me to try some of this!
    ilene recently wrote…The Fierce Diva Guide to RomanceMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      I hope you do try it!

  • March 7, 2013 Leslie

    I’ve noticed these self-portraits over Instagram, and kind of love the idea. It takes quite a bit of bravery to not only take a daily photo, but to put it out there so publicly. And I know you’re going to look back years from now and think “what was I talking about, I had a great posterior’!
    Leslie recently wrote…{Weigh in Wednesday} Week 9My Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Hah, yes, I’d love to be able to say that! πŸ™‚

  • March 7, 2013 Galit Breen

    Love seeing you in the picture, girlfriend! xo
    Galit Breen recently wrote…About Sick Days, & Soft LandingsMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, my love! xo

  • March 7, 2013 Elaine A.

    I had NO idea how much I would learn and reflect while doing this… It really is quite interesting. Now if I could just keep it up. Sarah is a self-portrait rockstar. And I am LOVING this peek into your life and seeing YOU. πŸ™‚
    Elaine A. recently wrote…Old School Blogging, MarchMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      I LOVE your photos so far. Isn’t this fun? So glad we’re doing this.

  • March 7, 2013 Bonnie Andrews

    Can I just echo all the sentiments here… I LOVE this. It’s so refreshing and empowering. What a sweet life!

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Bonnie!

  • March 7, 2013 Michelle

    I love this! And how funny, I just wrote about why we need to be in more pictures too!!! I was just looking back through old photos and realized there are very few of me from the last 10 years!! Yikes!
    Michelle recently wrote…Always behind the camera? Your stories are in danger of being forgotten!My Profile

  • March 8, 2013 Bev

    I think this is an awesome idea! This has inspired me to do a self-portrait for my 365project for today πŸ™‚ I love looking at photos of my parents over the years, and I hope that when I have children they feel the same.
    Bev recently wrote…Why I Made a Ridiculous Purchase While BackpackingMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      I’m so glad this has inspired you!

  • March 8, 2013 Krystyn

    I love this! I do a Mommy and Me post once a week that makes me get in one picture a week (at least), but a full month is awesome.

    I don’t wear makeup and I’m often on the floor or in the kitchen, too. Such is the life of a mom.
    Krystyn recently wrote…KissesMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      It’s not glamorous but it’s awesome!

  • March 8, 2013 Abigail

    I have always had issues getting in front of the camera if I don’t look “perfect.” Lately I’ve been trying to ease my way out of that because I know I’m not going to want to put on make up every day with a new baby. I do want pictures with my son though. Hence me trying to get over it. I actually did put up a belly picture (not this week but last) with zero make up and even dirty hair. Of course I wasn’t looking at the camera but it was a big deal for me. Usually I’d just crop the shot to be just my belly. Baby steps.
    Abigail recently wrote…38 WeeksMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      You’re beautiful, Abigail. And when you’re a Mommy, you will be even more so. Do get into the picture!

  • March 8, 2013 Jessica

    It’s good to be in the picture!

  • March 9, 2013 Runnermom-jen

    I love your pics!! And your new look on the blog…so pretty!!!
    Runnermom-jen recently wrote…I Believe…My Profile

    • March 9, 2013 Jessica

      I think it’s awesome that you’re taking self-portraits. I think it is so important to remember to stay in the picture. I’ve learned this only in the past year of motherhood, but I’m happy to have learned it now versus realize it later when it’s too late, you know?

      • March 13, 2013 Alison

        Yes, exactly! There is still time for us to get in the picture.

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Jen!

  • March 10, 2013 My Inner Chick

    I Love your authentic self w/out makeup. It’s kind of how you write, too. Xxxxx
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…A Few Of My Distractions & Favorite ThingsMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      That is the best compliment ever.

  • March 11, 2013 Lady Jennie

    I have only noticed one portrait on FB, but when I’m on there, it’s usually to check in with groups – I don’t look at my home page nearly enough. But looking at the montage up there, I have to say how much I love it. It gives a more global look to your surroundings. Even though you’re in the pictures you can really see what you “see” if you know what I mean.

    And is that a really huge fridge there in the picture where you’re going out the door? We have a tiny fridge because that’s all we can fit in our hobbit home.

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Jennie, and yes, I do understand what you mean.
      Yes, our fridge is rather large. And it is still full!

  • March 11, 2013 Tricia

    I’m loving yours and Sarah’s self portrait projects! There is something so beautiful about seeing fellow-mamas weaving in and out of their days. I’m doing a photo-365 project and learning some of the very same things – which is so much fun and probably the best self-discovery journey. Thanks to you both I’m also finding my way into several of my photo-365 shots πŸ™‚
    Tricia recently wrote…Shaking fists at the snowMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      I’m so happy to hear that you are getting into the picture!

  • March 11, 2013 Stasha

    I love your project and sarah’s too. It is wonderful to document motherhood with us in the actual pictures. And yes, the light in your apartment is beautiful.
    Stasha recently wrote…Monday ListiclesMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Coming from you, that’s a huge compliment, thank you!

  • March 11, 2013 Kimberly

    I want my kids to remember who I as st this age too. I’ve been getting in the pictures more recently also and it does feel good.
    Kimberly recently wrote…Kindergarten Isn’t Always EasyMy Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      And I love seeing you in the pictures!

  • March 12, 2013 Alexa

    That is a fun project and I love your narcissistic pics!! πŸ™‚
    Alexa recently wrote…Friday Fiction Femmes Fatales – March 8My Profile

    • March 13, 2013 Alison

      Hee!! Thank you.

  • March 14, 2013 lisacng

    I haven’t been around here for a while, love the new color scheme. I love your self portrait project because we moms should be in more pics, so that our kids do know what we looked like when we were ‘younger’. Lucky for us, Asian genes will keep us looking the same for a while, plus some wrinkles of course ;).
    lisacng recently wrote…The gender revealMy Profile

    • March 14, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Lisa! Yes, Asians age rather well, but when we do start looking old, we look VERY old πŸ™‚

  • March 17, 2013 Amanda Jillian

    I really need to push myself to do this. It’s such a great idea and I would love to get pictures of myself that aren’t on my iPhone.
    Amanda Jillian recently wrote…Picking up the pieces #iPPPMy Profile

  • March 31, 2013 Katie

    I took two self-portraits and quit. The only time I was with my camera was after work. And the lighting always sucked by then and my pictures turned out blurry and gross. I am mad jealous of how well everyone else’s pictures turned out.
    Katie recently wrote…The Mommy Survival KitMy Profile

    • March 31, 2013 Alison

      Try it again, maybe during summer? It’s so fun! I sort of miss it now that it’s over (but not enough to do it again just yet).

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