We want to see more family pictures with Kate in them. Picture: BBC TV/PA Wire
We want to see more family pictures with Kate in them. Picture: BBC TV/PA Wire

Put down the camera, Kate and get in a family photo

Like the popular children's books, Where's Wally, it seems the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton, is hiding somewhere within in the background of many recently released royal snaps. I bet you'll never find her.

And you won't. Not because she is far superior at concealment than the cane using, stripe adorned Waldo but because she isn't actually there. Well, at least not in any photos.

While Kate's name as photographer is credited on the royals' Instagram and in the official royal portraits released to media, she seems to avoid being the subject snapped.

It is Kate the mother, the wife, the family gal, that rarely features within the family snaps and that is a royally sized problem.

My mother was a bit like Kate (now, there's a sentence I never thought I'd say), in that she was much happier behind the lens than in front of it. Or in my mum's circumstance, there was simply a lack of anyone else to take the photos.

 

Over my childhood, being the sole (and unspoilt) kid that I was, my single mum would take photos of our holidays, Christmases, weekend outings, birthdays or just around home, with the common subject matter that featured in 99 per cent of the pictures - being me.

In fact, if I look back at my time growing up via photo albums, it would appear visually as if it was just me, taking on life solo.

"Oh look, here I am snorkelling in Fiji."

"There I am boogie boarding on the Shipwreck Coast."

"And here I am unwrapping some presents at Christmas time and playing with my favourite cat Milo in the loungeroom."

While of course I know that my mum was always there, taking the photos, I would much prefer her to have been in them with me, at least more than she was. Because regardless of her absence in the image, she is intrinsically linked with the memories.

Like my mum, Kate has become the in-residence official family photographer. The one that always picks up their pro photographic equipment, or even just their iPhone and tells the kids (and partners) where to stand, what to do, when everyone should smile (or act natural), and that they need to take a couple more, "just in case".

If you look back through the Kensington Royal official Instagram account, it doesn't take long to see that for the Cambridges, Kate has become the "mum behind the camera".

Their most recent snaps released to celebrate Prince William's 38th birthday, showed the Prince with his three children enjoying some family time over isolation.

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to share a new picture of The Duke with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis ahead of The Duke's birthday tomorrow … The picture was taken earlier this month by The Duchess," the post was captioned.

While the photos are beautiful and definitely Instagram worthy, there is no Kate.

If we take a scroll through their account and pass by all the work-related posts (i.e. the less interesting posts) to the next most recently taken family photo, we find a couple from April of Princess Charlotte who features alone in the images taken by her mother. Then earlier that month to see Prince Louis - again solo.

"Thank you for all your lovely messages on Prince Louis' second birthday!

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to share new photographs of Prince Louis, taken by The Duchess this April."

 

While Kate is clearly a talented and enthusiastic photographer (and not to mention unwittingly the subject of many paparazzi photos herself), it should not go unsaid that quality photographs don't always mean more, or 'better' than being present within them.

When I realised that in my own family, my husband was doing 'a Kate' - often the 'ghost' behind the camera - I told him it had to stop. I ordered him to hand over the camera as if he were holding a dangerous weapon he couldn't be trusted with and to share this role with me. Because, in my eyes, a camera is like a dangerous weapon, one that captures memories, parts of your life, or omits them. With a literal flash you can be left out of a memory, even a lifetime, like you were never ever there.

One day, when my mother is gone, and I look back at my childhood photos and recall all the fond memories that accompany them, I don't care how pretty the photo was, the composition of the shot, or camera settings that were used, I would much prefer to actually see my mum within them, with me, as she was in reality.

Shona Hendley is a columnist with Rendezview.com.au

Originally published as Put down the camera, Kate and get in a family photo


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