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Grandma's choice

A funny thing happened a few weeks ago that I thought I'd share.

My mother-in-law commissioned me to design her a wall gallery featuring all her grandchildren. I put together a mock-up and sent it over.

She wrote back to say that she liked all the photos... except the one of my own son!!!

Apparently the photo I sent did not show enough of his personality and smile or how cute he is.

I didn't mind at all. In fact, I thought it was hilarious.

This is the photo I originally showed her.

Personally, I think this photo is so sweet and nostalgic, and is one of the strongest representations I have of "the summer when he was one." This is the photo I'm going to look at fifty years from now and melt over.

But I can understand my mother-in-law's perspective. I went to my smile file (I don't really have a smile file) and narrowed it down to four more options, plopped each of them in a mockup and sent them over.

Response - she liked the third one, but had been hoping to catch his dimple!

Back to the dimple file (I don't really have a dimple file).

Three dimple options were duly sent over but she decided to stick with her previous choice, even without the dimple.

Job done!

Here is the photo she picked.

And you know what? My mother-in-law was looking for the photo that best represented HER experience of "the summer when Liam was one." And this was it.

I'm telling this story because it's a funny story. But I've been trying to figure out, what does this mean?

That grandmas like smiles and dimples?

That's probably true (my mother is a big fan too). But it's not like I don't like smiles and dimples!

I'm 100% happy with the choice my mother-in-law made (I never show anything I don't want someone to pick!) but why did I choose the original photo first?

Here's the thing. The first photo, for me, evokes a very clear and distinct moment in time during a special afternoon with a friend. I remember the moment. The second photo was also taken during a special afternoon with friends, but there were other photos from that day that were more evocative of more powerful moments for me. In other words, the second photo does not represent the strongest memories I have from that day whereas the first one does.

Photos preserve memories. It's why it's important you have a good experience at your photo session, and not just great images. If the images are great but you had a horrible time, your artwork is not going to have the same meaning.

But it's not just about having a good experience. That good experience needs to be made up of distinctive and powerful moments - it has to be memorable.

And distinctive and powerful moments don't just make for good photos. In fact, they only make for good photos because they make for a good life. If you think back on your fondest childhood memories, of course it's the distinctive and powerful ones you remember.

What will your children remember?

nyc baby, child and family photographer & architect alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn. she specializes in baby photography as interior design & interior design for babies. view her portfolio of babies, children or families or send her an e-mail here!