There’s a photo I just adore. It’s of my daughter taking her first real steps out in the wild — not just the ones where she teetered inside of our home and then quickly fell. One knee is up high and wide because she doesn’t quite know where to plant her foot, and walking next to her is my husband. The picture is from behind and it’s as perfect as a novice can get, but there’s one thing wrong with it — I’m not in it.
In fact, I’m not in a lot of these milestone family moments. The vignettes of my daughter smashing her first cupcake or tasting her first slice of pizza while sitting on the sidewalk are crowning achievements, and everyone that matters is in the background, except me. I was behind the camera, positioning people around the sun to avoid being swallowed by shadows. I enjoy capturing these events, but—like most moms, I imagine—I just want to be in some.
When I ask my husband to take the photo he’s great, but the trajectory of me spotting something sweet happening, then pausing to ask him to find his phone, then adding myself to the activity is essentially a lifetime for a 22-month-old. If we don’t act fast enough her cute pizza-eating is over and she’s moved onto something else and she’s not bookable for reshoots.
I first read about this common dilemma earlier this year — a mom blogged that she wanted to be in family photos and hated that she had to ask for someone to take her picture — and Chrissy Teigen's recent Instagram post about being the “designated photo taker” motivated me to solve this and find a quick way to mount my phone anywhere and anytime. After researching easy-to-use iPhone mounts and tripods, I settled on this funny looking Joby Gorillapod Compact Tripod mount for $29 (it’s normally $49) because it was small and had good reviews. I didn’t want anything complicated.
I purchased an additional Square Jellyfish Mount for $10 (it was on sale at the time) because the Gorillapod connects to cameras not phones, but I read the whole system was easy to connect. When it arrived, all I had to do was twist the metal Square Jellyfish mount onto a tiny little screw at the top of the Gorillapod and twist. It took all of three seconds.
The Gorillapod legs can be wrapped around anything, which means I can have it readily hanging off of something in the living room before anyone is even there. With the Gorillapod I wouldn’t have to pause life from happening, or ask my husband to get his phone out. I would just have to plan ahead and stick the ugly gismo somewhere.
Twice now I’ve popped my phone into the mount, wrapped the bendy tripod legs on something firm like a chair arm or baby gate, and selected a 3- or 10-second timer (I use a photo timer from the App store). When I saw my daughter playing I opened the app, hit the timer, and just started playing with her. Boom, pictures with mom.
What I love more than anything about this is that I not only solved the problem of feeling like I wasn’t in enough of our family photos, but I like my solution. So far it’s working. Since I set timers I never know what I’m going to end up with, but it’s kind of fun to scroll through the phone and see what we captured. I was never looking for posed portraits of us standing proudly behind a piano or something — even my favorite wedding photo is of my husband and me tripping forward.
When my daughter grows up and hopefully asks to start looking at baby pictures, I’m growing more excited by the day at what I’ll be able to deliver: some A+ shots of her and her dad because I’m still the best photographer in the house, and an endless amount of candids where we’re all together playing and I’m completely in the moment.
If you’re not in enough photos and tired of trying to lean your iPhone against the wall only to end up with photos of your under-chin, the Gorillapod is calling your name.
Originally Appeared on Glamour