At Arm’s Length

Document. Together. Every month.

When you hold something at arm’s length you want to keep your distance from it. You hold a smelly trash bag at arm’s length. You keep a stinky baby diaper at arm’s length. You’ll get closer than a ten foot pole, but not too close. You don’t get emotionally involved with something at an arm’s length away. You want to keep whatever it is, person, place, thing, or idea, from being associated with you.

If something is within arm’s reach, it’s close. You want to touch it. You want it near enough that you can get it when you need it. It is dear to you. It’s needed. You keep a water bottle within arm’s reach on a hot day. You keep your phone within arm’s reach when you’re expecting a call. You keep chocolate within arm’s reach because… well, because it’s chocolate.

On our honeymoon we discovered that while we could take photos of each other by passing the camera back and forth, if we wanted to take a photo of us together we either needed to find someone to give our camera to (kind of hard when you are flying with Dumbo at Disneyland), or we needed to turn the camera around and hold it at arm’s length.

Since then it’s become a regular thing for us. Several of our early attempts looked a bit like Kilroy had been there or that we were photo bombing each other. We have gotten much better at it though. With our photos we’ve seen our relationship at arm’s length on vacations, at family reunions, and sitting at home on the couch. We’ve kept our relationship at arm’s length at the hospital, at weddings, and at the family dinner remembering my grandpa’s life. We’ve watched the seasons change behind us, all while keeping the camera an arm’s length away.

Watching our relationship from an arm’s length away means we have to keep each other within arm’s reach. We have to be physically close to each other, holding each other in our arms, to both be in the photo. And at that distance if we were not also emotionally close together the photo would show it. You can definitely tell what is going on in the background of the photos, but the focus, the intense, tight focus, is us and our relationship.

At least monthly we hold each other in our arms and take a moment to hold our relationship at an arm’s length away. We get a picture of where we are at and make sure we are never too far apart. No matter what is going on in the background, seeing our relationship from that distance helps make sure we always keep each other close.

Featured Sponsored Content

  • KEA1

    Ohhhhh…my morning has just been made. Not only beautifully written but also a fabulous idea that I’m going to suggest to my gent. Much love!

  • Ashley

    Thanks, this was wonderful.

  • Stephanie B.

    This is lovely! And honestly, my favorite photos of my husband and I are our arms’-length selfies, both of us smooshed together to fit us (and maybe a landmark in the background) in the frame.

  • I love this. We take pictures like this too (mostly on vacation) and we have to take about 10 because they turn out so silly looking – he is 6’2″ and I am 5’2″, and it’s hard to get both of our heads! We have to squeeze in close and most of them, therefore, are of us laughing. I am going to think about this idea of getting to be so close together while we take them – love it.

    • We have the same stats as you and your partner and have about a million funny ones where one of our heads is missing/cut off. I still love the outtakes, though!

      • :D Me too! When we get a whole bunch of good (funny) ones, I make a page of them in our photo book and it always just makes me happy to look at.

    • april

      Hooray for foot-long height differences (5’9” and 6’9” for us)! The closest thing we have to an engagement photo is a selfie we took in the morning on the beach where my partner had proposed the night before. I think it took about 3 shots before we got *most* of both our heads in the frame …

  • Moe

    My obsessive-compulsive desire to take pictures of us has resulted in hundreds of “usies”, my favorites are with the chihuahua propped beetween us and totally disinterested as if to say “really? another picture?”

  • Lindsey d.

    Yes! We did a photo album of engagement pictures for our guest book (because it was the only way I figured those would see the light of day after wedding photos overshadowed them) and I didn’t have quite enough engagement pics I loved to fill it. So one page is a bunch of selfies because I’m CONSTANTLY taking them of us…. Everything from riding out a hurricane on the front porch to a Saints game to a quiet Sunday on the couch… They truly document our time together better than anything else.

  • J.

    I had never thought about selfies this way, that they could make a couple feel closer. For me, I just can’t get into it. I’ve tried, and taking selfies (whether couple-y or solo) makes me feel awkward and vain. Even the word “selfie” doesn’t sit right with me. I’m trying to be more open-minded, though! Does anyone else feel this way?

    • I didn’t realize there was a word for those types of photos till some time late last year. I’m not a huge fan of the word either.

    • Sarah E

      I think they get awkward when taken too seriously. Fortunately, my eldest cousin hung out with my bro and I all the time when we were kids, and self-portraits were her specialty. She perfected the art of getting everyone in frame, long before cellphones even existed. So I like “selfies” (you’re right, the word stinks) when they’re just silly.

    • Beth R

      I find that not calling them selfies helps me tremendously. I hate that word. Self portraits have been around since the first person began painting and the first camera was invented, so you’re in good company!

  • We got married on a 14th. So at least the 14th of every month we take a photo. One of my favorites was at 11pm in the hospital. It’s not the best looking. But it’s our last photo of us as a family of 2, less than 12 hours before we became a family of three.

    • Shotgun Shirley


    • Laura

      Well, I was on the verge of tears after reading this post and your comment just tipped me over. :-) <3

  • “Several of our early attempts looked a bit like Kilroy had been there..” Ha! Great reference.

  • Guest

    Love this! We do this on vacations and actually don’t usually take people up when they offer to “take one for us”, because ours are so cute. Luckily our proportions (and his long arm) work perfectly that we can usually get ourselves and a decent amount of the background. This post made me think about our little “tradition” in a new light. Now I’m really looking forward to building a collection of us in this pose for years to come…