Erika Kao Photography  |  Northern NJ Photographer  |  Bergen County, New Jersey

By now, Mamas, I'm sure you've read all about the importance of staying in the picture. I was so inspired by Allison Tate's confession a few years ago that I made a point to start getting into photos more. Regardless of whether my hair was curly or frizzy, my weight was up or down, or my skin was clear or cluttered, I needed to make sure my presence was documented.

And, Dads, by now you might have heard the suggestion to take photos of her, because, as Cyndy Gatewood says, you've probably already got your phone in your hand. So take the picture. Other mom writers have chimed in, too, like Kaylin Maree Schimpf and Sophie Cachia.

These mothers, in their own beautiful words, share a universal message: Be in the photos with your daughters and sons. It doesn't matter if you take the photo with an outstretched arm, or if your spouse, your mother, your father-in-law, your cousin, or your neighbor takes it. Just make sure those photos exist. One day, your children are going to want to see them, and they're going to want to remember what you looked like when their whole world was wrapped up in you.

Now, I'm going to ask you to up your game and do something a little bit different.

I want you to take photos of yourself. Alone. No husband, no children. Just you.

Wait, what?

Yep, you read that right. Just you. Wash your hair, tweeze your 'stache, throw on some lip color, and take some self-portraits. If you have a smartphone, take selfies. If you have a camera, set the self timer. Or, if you really want to have some a good time, invite over a mom friend or two, open a bottle of Champagne, and take photos of each other.

Or, if you're feeling really ambitious, get your makeup done and hire a photographer.

erika kao photography
erika kao photography
erika kao photography
erika kao photography
erika kao photography

Think about this for a moment. Getting into the frame with your children is one thing. And it's an important thing. But ultimately, doing so is a gift for your children.

Taking photos of yourself by yourself? That, my friend, is a gift for you.

Fall in love with yourself through photos. Or at least get to the point where you can really begin to like yourself an awful lot.

When I first read Allison's article, I realized there really were precious few photos of me. I immediately vowed to change that. I don't have many photos of myself with my own mother during childhood, and I don't want my daughters to know the same fate.

As I started showing up more in photos, the first thing I noticed was a little extra weight and some wrinkles and a few gray hairs. But I kept at it, because somewhere inside I'd planted a seed, and I really started to want to have beautiful photos of myself. Photos of myself where I felt beautiful. The weight, the wrinkles, the gray hair... It's all life, it's all real life, and it's all legitimate evidence that my body created two amazing — AMAZING — human beings. And celebrating that is something I can totally get behind.

So rather than simply continue to begrudgingly smile for pictures, I decided to try to change the way I felt about myself in photos. And to do that, I had to begin with myself. By myself. And so began my informal and unofficial self-portrait project.

Fast forward a few years, and I'm getting pretty good at the selfie. I'm still not completely comfortable in front of the camera. But I'm getting there. I'm persevering not only for my girls' sake, but for my own sake. My girls are going to learn the language of self-talk from me, and I want to make sure I set them up with a firm foundation to stand on.

So, mom friends, quiet the negative self-talk and get those selfies going. Get in the frame with them for themGet in the frame alone for you. Do it because you deserve it, and do it because they deserve to see you loving yourself.