Embrace the Camera {a week of challenges}

In October 2009, I came across the story of Aleida Frankin. On August 6, 2008 she wrote a blog post with pictures of her and her daughter.

In the post, she wrote, “There is a reason why I’m posting these pictures.  Pictures that I’m actually in.  Not because I think I’m all that and a trip to Hollywood.  No.  It’s because I’m actually tired of being worried about how I look and not taking or having very many photos of me with my children.  I have very few pictures of me and my babies when they were babies, and I have myself to blame.  Precious opportunities to capture on paper, lost because of my silliness.  Well no more I say!  One day I won’t be here and there will be hardly any pictures of them and their mama.  So ladies, hand over the camera and get in those photos!  Please.  You’ll be happier you did.”

One month later her life was suddenly cut short by a driver who ran a red light.

Such a powerful and heartbreaking story. Aleida has left a legacy behind for so many. Her life has challenged moms across the globe to get in front of their cameras. Her words challenged me back in 2009 and have shaped my perspective of being in front of the camera and not just behind it.

I want my kids to see me when they look back at old pictures. My friend Emily is passionate about this too. Several years ago she started hosting a weekly Embrace the Camera challenge. A way to come together as moms and challenge each other to let go of insecurities and get in front of the camera with our kids.

This week Emily and I are teaming up to do a week of Embrace the Challenge – each day a different prompt to help you document your day with your kids. I’d say 90% of my pictures with my kids these days are taken with my iPhone and my hand held out away from my face. It is easy and it works….

…these are all iPhone shots…

(holding my arm out)


(holding my arm out – this is our family “boot camp” where I pretend I am Jillian Micheals)


(holding my arm out ~ using a Belkin Live Remote)


(holding my arm out)10.7.13-05

(taken by a friend ~ holding my arm out)


(holding my arm out, his knees are bent)


(holding my arm out ~ phone propped against my wallet using Camera+ self timer)


This is an iPhone shot of Emily & I with almost all our kids (0ne of her’s is missing) – I think Chris took this for us.


Emily and I would love for you to join us this week. You don’t have to share your pictures online, but if you do ~ leave a comment with a link to your blog. We’ll be posting our pics to Instagram all week using the hashtag #embracethecamera – please use the hashtag too, so we can see your pictures.

Each day will be a new prompt. I know some of you will be reading this late on Monday, don’t worry if you don’t match the prompts to the day. The whole point is to get in front of the camera with your kids! I’ll be sharing my pictures here on the day following the prompt.

So….here you go for today and tomorrow:

Monday: SMILES (get in front of the camera and capture a smile!)

Tuesday: MAKING MEMORIES (a picture that involves you enjoying an activity with your loved one)

UPDATE: Just to clarify, you don’t need anyone else to embrace the camera…I approach it from the perspective of being a mom, but you don’t need to be a mom to get in front of the camera. I wish I had more pictures of my from my college days and before…challenging yourself to let go of insecurities and be get in front of the camera is for anyone!

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  • Annemieke - Love this Ashley! Going to do my best to participate when I get home tonight after work and before the kids go to bed. Short window of time, but I am going to try!!

  • Bird - What a lovely idea… and so true… there a just a few pics of my mother and me… I would love to see more of them and I think it will be an amazing memory for our kids!

    Love from Granada
    a couple of pics from Granada

  • Wani - Love these! Its so important to be in pix with our kids!!

  • Cristina - Un’idea veramente bella!! é vero che noi mamme siamo spesso dietro alla macchina fotografica e poco davanti!!

  • angie - thank you for this ashley! i’ve completely fallen into this rut… i hide behind the camera and there aren’t very many pictures of me with my girls… i’d love to participate in this… when they come home from school i’m giving it a whirl…

  • Elise - Thank you for this! I’m not a mom, but have noticed that so many of my pictures are of others and I am rarely in them {either because I’m concerned with how I look or I’m just always the one with the camera and feel awkward asking someone else to take the pictures}.

  • amber - Such a heartbreaking story…but what a legacy! I, for sure, will be capturing myself with my kids. Thanks for the challenge:)!!

  • Brooke - This is such a good thing. I am always behind the camera. Thanks for the encouragement! And the little doll that firecracker is holding with the vintage sheet fabric dress- where is she from? It reminds me of the (I think they were called) my blue monday dolls that I can’t find anywhere. God bless! You are always such an inspiration!

  • danielle - I saw this after I had already posted a pic of my boy and I but since his smile is what I love most about it I am going to count it! I am so happy to join in, I love looking back at pictures with my boys and I! http://daniellehuddlestonphotography.com/what-he-sees/

  • Laura - All of these pictures really tell a story. I love them. But the second one had me laughing because of your mini me in the background…

  • Haley - I love this! I remember you mentioning this before and I have made a point of asking for pictures of me and my daughter. I am happy that I was able to start this early on (she is five months now) because she will cherish these when she is really old and I am gone… and I can refresh my forgetful brain of how tiny she used to be.

  • Laura@misssmartiepants - My husband passed away a year ago and as we prepared the slideshow I realized how few pics there were of me with the kids and me with him. Soooo I realized right then I had to change that. It brought a new perspective to me, I’m no longer camera shy. This is such an important topic, thanks for doing this!

  • amanda - Great Challenge! I like how in the family boot camp picture, Firecracker is matching your expression/gesture. Too cute!

  • Cassandra - Thanks for this…I am guilty of not being in pictures with my girls. Always looking to tired, but that’s what these days represent!

  • Caoimhe - I have been reading your blog for a long time and have always treasured your pearls of wisdom. This one however, has really hit home. I have a 4 year old son and have very very few pictures of us together. I loathe my post baby weight that just never went away and promised myself I would never take pictures of myself in this phase of life. But through my own obsession, I have missed capturing such precious moments. Heaven knows we have the best adventures together. I am up for the challenge this week and if I am brave enough, who knows…maybe I’ll share them!

  • dana - What a wonderful bit of encouragement! Even though the times with your small children are the craziest…they are also the times that seem to go by the quickest. The best way to slow down the time and create memories is through documenting them in photographs. (one of my daughters used to think she remembered things that happened WAY before she was old enough to remember them…she had “memories” that were created through photographs.) I sure wish that I had more of these memories of when my kids were so small…and especially more of my siblings and me and my parents!) These are treasures that you can’t go back and get later! Have to be intentional about making them TODAY! thanks for the reminder!! Love your photos!

  • kimberly oyler - you can do self-timer on your phone? amazing.
    annnnnnnnd i just can’t bring myself to post a solo selfie on instagram, so i’ll just have to find a child to embrace the camera with.

  • Elizabeth Beattie - I was just thinking about this the other day. I will be sharing on instagram!! Thank you!!

  • Rachel S - This is timely. We just had professional photos taken yesterday (obviously, I haven’t seen them yet) and afterwards, I found myself obsessing about my insecurities and wondering how bad I will look in them. I was so busy trying to get my kids to cooperate and smile that I didn’t have time to think about myself having every hair in place or being sure to suck in my gut in every pose. This post reminded me that however I look, having those photos of me with my children will be priceless. This goes for non-professional photos as well, of course!

    By the way, that pic of you and Firecracker where she is holding her doll is STUNNING.

  • Emily - Thank you for this! I love a good challenge 🙂

  • angie - i embraced the camera today and blogged about it here http://oopsiemaizie.blogspot.com/ … thanks for inspiring so many to do so… the hashtag is so full of smiles!!! have a happy day!

  • Ashley Dice - Thanks Ashley, you inspire me as a mother and crafter!
    find me smilin’ at pairadicetoparadise.blogspot.com

  • Cassie - Excited to participate! I was having a hard day and just the idea of this makes me happy so thank you!

  • Michelle {Daydream Believers Designs} - I’m in! 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Brendazzle* - I made a resolution to be in more photos, starting on my wedding day (a little over a month ago). Not even counting the wedding, I think I’ve been in more photos in the past month than I have the rest of the year. It’s pretty revolutionary to actually SEE myself doing things.

  • Jessica - This is a great reminder! My husband isn’t one to pull out the camera, and I get tired of doing the hold-out-the-arm trick, so we’ve gone months at a time without a single picture of me. It always bums me out later.

    I shared a picture of myself today on instagram and on my blog post at http://thisquirkyfamily.blogspot.com/2013/10/children-were-here.html.

  • Misty Pak - I love this post! I really got kind of choked up. Ok. I am going to totally get over myself and go for it! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  • Eva - I’m so glad that I found you and Emily online in the last year or so. I was really convicted about not being in photos with my kids last year around that same time…because ya’ll are always, always in your photos with your kids. And doing every day things. Um, hello…why not? It’s what we do all day, right? Sooo, I slowly started making it a point to aim that camera the other way. I do find that I embrace the camera more often with my iPhone because it’s super convenient. I need to make a better effort at doing the same with my Nikon. Anyway, I’m so glad ya’ll are doing a challenge this week. It’s something I need!

  • Lisa - Love this so much, I barely made it but I got a picture and a post up on my blog participating in the challenge. Thank you for sharing your family, life, wisdom and beautiful photography. I’m a fairly new follower of your blog and I absolutely love it. Many times just a breath a fresh air or a welcomed challenge for growth. For that I just want to say thank you.

    Here’s my picture/post for today…


  • Jennyroo - Heehee, I giggled every time I read your description of holding your phone out with your arm. Ask a teenager in your life, they’ll tell you very quickly that it’s called a ‘selfie.’ Cheers! Have a great night!

  • Mallory @ R.Simple Life - I absolutely love this idea, and while my husband is deployed, I have not made many appearances in front of the camera. I know Harry will love to have pictures of him AND his Mama when he is older… and I know Jon will love to see pictures of his wife with his baby while he’s gone. So I’m game.

    Here is day one: http://rsimplelife.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/more-things-i-never-want-to-forget/

  • All In Good Twine » Blog Archive » Embrace the Camera Challenge - […] this week I’m participating in Under the Sycamore’s Embrace the Camera Challenge.  Alisa and I have been following Ashley Ann’s blog for years now and we are HUGE fans.  I love […]

  • Danielle - I love this. I need this reminder. I have always taken a lot of photos, so I actually have quite a few with my mom once I was old enough to be in charge of the photos, but I am not so good at taking photos with my daughters. I’m getting better about asking others to take pictures of us… now to stop being so critical of those pictures!

  • Stephanie - Hi,

    I’m an editor at a national magazine and would like to contact you about possibly featuring one of your DIY tutorials in an upcoming issue. Can you please email me so that I can share all the details, etc…?


  • Inguna - I did it. Even more – I had made my blog a year or so ago, but never ever written a post in it. But your week challenge changed that. So I not only took pictures with my two youngest girls, but the story off the challenge and the pictures are my first real blog post.
    Thank you!

  • Embrace the Camera {making memories} » ashleyannphotography.com - […] those that don’t know what I am talking about, you can read the full post here. In short, I want my kids to see me when they look back at old pictures. My friend Emily is […]

  • Explore OK {Greenleaf State Park} » ashleyannphotography.com - […] is my Embrace the Camera challenge picture from yesterday. Click here to read more about this week’s […]

  • All In Good Twine » Blog Archive » Embrace the Camera Challenge Day 3 - […] day 3 of the Embrace the Camera challenge by Under The Sycamore and The Anderson Crew the prompt was Everyday Moment.  I chose sharing a meal with my son.  I […]

  • Embrace the Camera Challenge {day 4} » ashleyannphotography.com - […] (click here to read more details about Embrace the Camera Challenge) […]

  • The SD Daniels - […] am participating in Embrace the Camera over at Under the Sycamore.  It’s a challenge to get into photos with your children. […]

  • {embrace the camera} a week of challenges | home is what you make it - […] can read more about it on their blogs…Under the Sycamore and The Anderson […]

  • Friday Favorites | RhondaSteed.com - […] 3. This blog post and how important it is. I want to be in more pictures with my kids.  I remember after Kelly died how upset my mom was that there were 3 pictures of her and Kelly together when Kelly was a teenager. And two of them were from trek. It’s important! Here are a few from mine & Regan’s phones… (woah… this is lots of me! Kinda throws me off seeing this much me in one swoop!) […]

  • All In Good Twine » Blog Archive » Photos: Memories Captured In Time - […] have loved reading Marissa’s posts about Under The Sycamore and The Anderson Crew’s Embrace the Camera Challenge.  She is such a good mom!  I Can’t […]

  • A Holy Experience – Only the Good Stuff: Sharing the Links that Feed the Soul - […] Missing Him:  A Challenge for every mom — so the grace of now is not missed  […]

  • Gina @ Real Life Titus Two - I just LOVE this! Love it! You won’t regret it!!

  • kids’ take on da Vinci {art for kids} » ashleyannphotography.com - […] I want to thank all of you that participated in the Embrace the Camera challenge last week. If you get a chance, you should scan through the Instagram hashtag – so many […]

  • Briana Meade - This is beautiful! I am totally motivated to take more pictures of myself. I love the new take on “selfies” with our kids 🙂

  • Tammy Kay - I’ve been out of town and just now catching up on your posts. I missed ETC. I remember Aleida very well. Back when I used to scrapbook she and I chatted often. She was always so full of encouragement. I remember the day she died and I will forever remember that post of hers when she was talking about embracing the camera. Taking the pictures even if she didn’t like the way she looked. She was beautiful and left such a powerful message.

  • what i wore | on the doorposts - […] also on that note; one of my favorite bloggers (yes i kind of feel like a blog stalker with her) underthesycamore along with andersoncrew put out a little challenge last week to “embrace the camera”. […]

  • So close… » The Intuitive Mama - […] a few weeks late, but I was encouraged to get in front of the camera thanks to the Embrace the Camera movement that was written about on Under The Sycamore Blog.  If you’re anything like me and […]

  • Mother’s Day 2014 » tinymonumentsphotography.com - […] with 52-week challenges and loved the idea of the Embrace the Camera challenge that I read about here. But nothing really gripped hold until this past week when I saw an Instagram post from a woman […]

  • The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 13 | Gina G. Smith - […] to accomplish the next thing on the list. Happy hearts all around. We also took a few moments to embrace the camera. […]

  • Tracy - Hello! Just wanted to say how much I love this post and your site!! I am just a few months into starting a blog with a few friends mondaylunchtrio.com I wanted to let you know that I’m including a link to this post in our blog entry this week 🙂 We don’t have too many followers yet, but hopefully at least a few will visit your site to read your great entry about getting in front of the camera!

  • Embrace the camera | She Does - […] who takes amazing photos of her family. Anyways, she runs a week, a social media challenge “embrace the camera“(read this post it explains better than I could!) under the whole idea for those who are […]

  • Kick-Off Friday: Birthday Edition - […] 3. Ashley Ann inspires me to document the little stuff and the big stuff and to be a part of it too. […]

  • an afternoon with our girls | Bright Owl Paper Goods - […] Sycamore, occasionally writes about ‘Embrace the Camera‘, encouraging women to take photos of themselves with their families. The challenge originated from a mum, Aleida Franklin, who wrote this blog post in August 2008. […]

  • Ermelinda - You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the best
    blogs online. I amm going to highly recommend this