Last night I finally got around to sticking pictures from our holiday in Corsica into the photo album. Tadpole, Mr Frog and I spent a week there in April 2004, when our daughter was at her not-quite-walking stage. Cue lots of pictures of a swollen cheeked, bald creature cruising around the furniture in our holiday flat, and of us walking her, with varying degrees of patience, up and down a number of beaches, holding her outstretched arms.
Sifting through the memories was a bitter sweet way to spend an evening. As I turned the pages, it occurred to me that our pictures plotted the evolution of our relationship with eerie accuracy. In the first flush of romance, Mr Frog and I took many portrait shots of each other. Of ourselves in our first flat, of our friends. Mr Frog’s particular speciality was the arm’s length shot, spurning the timer function built into the camera for something a little more rough and ready, and often endearingly badly framed. These pictures are suffused with a warmth, with a feeling of togetherness. Looking at them filled me with nostalgia.
After a year or two, the portraits gradually give way to impersonal, picture postcard type holiday photos, and shots of other people’s weddings, from which we tend to be conspicuously absent. No longer caught in the glare of the flash, but hiding behind the camera. Our focus had shifted from each other to the outside world, the places we visited, the people we saw.
From Tadpole’s birth in June 2003 onwards, the spotlight naturally shifted to our daughter. There are pages and pages of near identical pictures of the apple of our eye. Sleeping. Yawning. Smiling. Crawling. Walking. At the time, I sincerely believed that every picture of her was a minor miracle, and coudn’t bear to discard a single one. Every sneeze was documented. Now, with hindsight, I see that really she just looked like a baby, and we definitely got carried away. In the nicest possible way.
Occasionally Tadpole is pictured in her daddy’s arms. As for me, I wasn’t over enamoured of my post-partum silhouette, and tended to take refuge behind the lens to avoid being caught on film. I sometimes joke, ruefully, that because of my misplaced vanity, Tadpole will look at these albums one day and wonder whether I was ever there.
The stream of photos slows to a mere trickle from ages one to two. Not because we tired of photographing our daughter’s every move, but simply because Tadpole was now a moving target. Not to mention an unwilling one. Her first instinct on seeing the glint of the camera is to dash towards it at top speed and attempt to grab it, making her almost impossible to capture on film.
Shortly before Mr Frog moved out, on Tadpole’s second birthday, he took one last arm’s length photo, of the three of us together. Ironically, it is the only picture of our little family in existence. Last night I stuck it in the album, ceremoniously, on the very last page.
Today I’ll buy a new album. Let the next chapter begin.