Emma (and Ellie) 365

by Heather Tankersley

I’ve always loved photography. I got my first Polaroid camera when I was six years old from my grandparents. I remember having to be very particular about what I took pictures of because you had to pay for every flash and every photo!

I don’t know HOW much they spent on flashbulbs and photos for me during those early years…

Truth is… It was probably a great lesson in choosing your subject matter carefully and really planning your photo! I like to think SOME of that has stuck with me over the many years that have since passed…

A few weeks after Emma was born, a dear friend of mine told me about a “challenge” that a photographer friend of hers had posed to himself. And that was to take a photo of something in Austin each and every day for 365 days.

Immediately, I thought “I’m going to do that with Emma”…

That first year, I think I missed one, maybe 2 days of her entire first year.

It started out with the intention of making a coffee table book of Emma’s first 365 days (and then, of course, when Ellie was born… to document her first year as well). But it grew into something bigger… it grew into a habit… just something that I do.

But, then, a funny thing happened along the way! I got in the HABIT of taking a photo (or video) every day. Here we are 1386 days later (6/17/10) and I can still count the days missed on my two hands, possibly one!

Every day, I make it a point to take a photo of my girls…

Why, you ask?

Don’t they just fill up your phone?

And what exactly do you DO with all of these photos?


For starters, it’s a great way for me to “practice” photography even though I’m busy running two businesses and raising two tiny humans. It gets me looking through a lens every single day. And on days when we’re out and about and I can take my “real” camera with me, I use it to practice all of my camera settings.

But more than that, it’s a way for me to never forget the little things that happen… It’s a way for me to catalog memories that may otherwise fade away. It’s a way for me to share their childhood with them when they grow up and the details get lost!

I love to look back “on this day in XXXX” to see what we were doing, how much they’ve grown since then, and to remember that time goes by fast and to cherish today!

Don’t They Just Fill Up Your Phone?

Yes! But they also fill up my heart when Apple sends me a memory from a special event or a season of life that has passed.

Plus, storage is cheap… and the memories are forever!

I back them up to the cloud. I keep copies on hard drives as a fail safe… And one of these days, when time slows and life settles a little bit, I’ll get to go through them and live their childhood over once again.

And What Exactly Do You DO with All of These Photos?

There are so many options when you have the photos and the memories!

As an old friend once told me, “it’s better to have and not need, than need and not have!”

Here are just a handful of things that I do with all these photos:

Monthly Prints

First things first, I was lucky to find an app called TimeShel about a month after Emma was born. They let me go back a month and ever since then, I’ve chosen my 30 favorite photos each and every month and have prints delivered to myself, my mother in law and my mother.

They get beautiful printed photos every month… I have used these to make banners for birthday parties, to hang in their playroom, 12 month calendars, and more…

Thank You Cards

I use the photos to send thank you notes and birthday wishes to family and friends using an app called “Ink”. Whenever we get a special gift from someone, my photo that day highlights the girls with the gift they’ve received. We then turn that into a thank you card to the person that sent it to us.

Photo Wall

Print square photos (8×8, 10×10, etc.) and then use spray adhesive to attach them to a foam board of the same size and then put a light command strip on the back and hang them on the playroom wall. Each piece costs a couple of dollars and it brightens up a playroom with memories and fun for the kiddos.

Update them every few weeks with new photos of special events or memories. When your child plays, they’ll be surrounded by the memories of family, friends and love.

I know that some will say I should live the moment and not just always have my camera, but the UPSIDE of having a high quality camera on my phone and by my side is that I can quickly pop it out and shoot and then get back to the activity – and be in the moment!

Admittedly, I could do a much better job of going back through the photos and getting rid of all the bad ones, or ones that don’t tell a story! And like with so many things as a mom “I’ll get to it one of these days!”


Every birthday, I do a slideshow of the previous year for each of my girls. I highlight key milestones and major memories. Every year, they have a 3-4 minute video of the highlights from that year. Over the next 18 years, I’m hoping it will be a treasure for them… Plus, it’s a great gift to share with our family and friends.

While taking a photo every single day may not appeal to you, I encourage you to capture the moments… Record the memories… You can still live in the moment… And… don’t forget to get in the photos at least a few times a month! As much as I hate selfies… take a selfie when you have nobody else to take a photo… and don’t worry if you’re not perfect. In 20 years, it’s not going to matter. It’s just going to matter that you were PART of the memory, not simply standing on the outside looking in!

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