When I was a child I don’t remember asking for a whole lot.  Even for Christmas.  There was this one year I wanted a record player, that’s the only gift I can remember ever wanting. Looking back on my childhood, I had the type of childhood where I was grateful for a bed.  I was grateful for food.  I was grateful for the blue dress I got when I was 8 that had flowers and a lace collar.  I was mostly grateful for school.  And my grandma.  That is all I remember being grateful for.   I would love to say when I was home that I was happy.  But I wasn’t.  Nobody in my home was.  There was fighting, hitting, things breaking and yelling.  A lot of yelling.  And then one day I had to call the police and my dad left.  And the next week a new man moved in.  And the cycle began again, until I was able to leave for good.

As an adult, you realize you have control.  Control over how you will live each day and what you will offer up to the world.  Me?  I chose to offer the world a new, beautiful story, a story through photographs for my children and their children to remember.  A love story about a girl who met a boy and they fell in love and had 4 amazing children they built a life with.  I wanted that love documented.  I wanted to savor it all.   I have always loved photos.  The quality didn’t matter, it was the moment that did.  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?  Those times that your most loved people are by your side and you just want them to stay.  They’ll grow, they’ll move away, they’ll pass on.  But the photo in your hand is proof they were there.  That your memory isn’t fooling you.

I don’t have much of a memory of my childhood.  But when my grandmother passed away, she left me a photo album.  I didn’t remember ever seeing it or the photos contained in it, but it was now mine.  In it were photos of me at Christmas time, standing in front of the fireplace at her house proudly holding my stocking.  There are photos of her holding me in the chair I remember sitting in when I would visit her house.  There are photos of my ancestors whom I never met, but they are part of my story.

What I have come to realize recently is that one of the greatest gifts I can give my children is the gift of photos.  A lot of times we talk about taking better photos, but this post isn’t about that.  This post is about just taking photos.  Take them because you don’t know what tomorrow holds.  Take them because the most important people in your life are all around you and you need to capture them in a way that you will always remember and celebrate.  Take pictures for the now and for the future.  Do it because it’s the best way to tell your story.  Capture people as they really are.  Smiles don’t have to be perfect, clothes don’t have to match, bodies don’t have to be posed and hair doesn’t have to all be in place.  My favorite photos are simple moments with my family.  Not the ones that we dressed up for in front of a photographer.  My moments to cherish are the ones I look at and am instantly transported back to that moment.    

So get out your camera.  Take photos.   A lot of photos.  Of everyday moments.   Because that is truly one of the best gifts you can give to your children.

Amy Phipps is the photographer behind On the Phippside Photography, located in Stockton, California.  Amy has been married for 21 years and has 4 children.  When she’s not trying to decide between which of her 43 black shirts to wear, you can probably find her sipping on a Dr. Pepper and walking around any day of the year in flip flops.

Visit her website.