When visiting my mom, there will be some moment when she wants to take pictures of me, even if I don't want her to. If I tell her directly, she will just put some excuse and ignore my boundaries. If I hide, she will be amused and keep taking pictures until she successfully has my face on the photo. I feel each time like I am a trophy, and I feel she is being really rude.

What can I do best to make her stop? In this case, it's ok if she gets angry or takes offence at me for a short period of time, as long as she starts respecting my boundaries, but it's better if she doesn't.

For reference, sometimes we meet in Germany, and sometimes in South Europe. My mom is german.


4 Answers 4


I was in a similar situation with my mom. She always took pictures when I wasn't looking. She even took out her phone in the middle of a casual conversation we had. I always ended up on a photo when I was talking or eating something. This resulted in a ton of unflattering photographs of me with my mouth open or with a weird facial expression. I really love my mother but it was annoying nonetheless.

I can relate to her though. I had moved out of the house and she wanted memories. She always said she doesn't have that much nice pictures of me and my brother. I suspect the same goes for your mother since you said you live in different countries (please correct me if I'm wrong)

My solution and tip for you

What I did was the following (and @fhng also touched on this). I told her I was not happy with this and explained it made me uncomfortable. Then I proposed a deal. She would stop taking unannounced photo's and me and my brother would do a photo shoot for her birthday. A friend is a photographer and we spend an afternoon taking high-quality pictures. We printed the nicest one on canvas and gave the rest on a flash drive.


It's immediately interesting to me that, although you have made clear that you don't like having your photograph taken, she does not respect your boundaries. It makes me wonder: what are her reasons for doing this?

Have a conversation with her. Ask her if she has noticed that her photographing you makes you uncomfortable and explain why you feel this way as far as you are able.

Mum, have you noticed how I always try to avoid photographs? Well, it's because [reasons].

She may then try to explain why she wants to take photographs of you. If she does, do listen. If she doesn't, ask, listen and genuinely consider her feelings and how they relate to your own. If she invalidates your feelings by saying something like 'don't be silly' or 'don't make a fuss' or makes arbitrary excuses, emphasize that 'no, I really mean it - I feel really uncomfortable and I want to have a real heart-to-heart about this'. It can help to set a tone for this conversation by asking in earnest for her to explain her reasons and listening carefully, commenting in summary to indicate that you are also taking her point of view on board:

I see that photographs of me are important to you because [reasons].

If her reasons make you feel differently,* then suggest a compromise. For example, if you feel up to it, you could set a photo limit (e.g. you will pose for one group photograph).

If you absolutely do not want to be photographed for whatever reason, this is absolutely fine and you should feel justified in asserting this. It would be helpful to reiterate that you have heard your mother's point-of-view, but draw the line in unambiguous terms.

I know that it's important to you that you have photographs of me because [reasons], but I really feel uncomfortable and I'm asking you to respect how I feel.

It may also be worthwhile suggesting an alternative, or spontaneously providing one. For example, if your mother wants to have photographs of you so that she can show her friends how you're doing, suggest instead that she show them photos of where you live/study/work/do hobbies. Sending her some photos of these things now and then would be nice. Maybe she wants to have memories of you, in which case you could gift her something you've made (e.g. a scrapbook-style collage). One last catch-all suggestion is to send photos to her of something you are nurturing (e.g. a pet, a plant, a collection). These alternatives might help her meet her emotional needs, hopefully lessening the burden being imposed on you.

As an example: As a teenager, I used to have a strong dislike of photographs because of how I felt about my looks. My mother would insist that I be photographed, which really made me feel uncomfortable. I told my mother that it made me uncomfortable, explaining that I felt ugly and did not want to be photographed. Of course, as a mother, she explained that it upset her to hear that I felt that way about myself. I think my making myself vulnerable encouraged her to reciprocate, and she explained that the reason she wanted to have these photographs was because she was terrified of losing her memory. We reached a compromise, where I agreed to be in group photographs only. It was a valuable conversation which was good for our relationship.

  • 1
    "What are her reasons?" .... she's a mom? j/k. My mother is especially strong-willed and over-bearing, so I'm usually baffled by parents who don't try to impose their opinions. Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 22:45

I had the same issue for years. Eventually, I told he that I don't like being photographed, and told her the reason why (I hate the way I look on pictures and it makes me feel very uncomfortable with the way I look). I am sure that she will understand this when you tell her the exact reason for your refusing to be photographed. Wish you luck!


I was asked to explain why this will work. I think my idea will work because your mom loves you,and she wants you to be happy, in the end of it. I think that the reason she takes photos of you is because you don't meet eachother so often, so she miss you. I am sure that if you told her that she would understand you and stop taking photos of you (unless you want her to do so, of course) and even if she will have hard time understanding this she will change her attitude because she loves you.

  • Hi, and welcome to IPS. Could you please clarify (expand?) your answer? As it stands, it merely addresses OP's concern, so it would be nice to explain why this will work and how it should be done.
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 14:46

Your mother loves you, and miss her little girl. Every time She looks at your photo, her heart melts with happiness.

One day, when you become a mother, you will understand the greater love in the world - the mother love to her children.

My advise to you is:

Enjoy to your loving mother attention !

Smile deep from your heart, when She photographs you !

You can't imagine yet, how wonderfully it is, to rise a child. To care for it, when it's small. To play with it, when it grows a bit. To teach him, when it's bigger. To watch his first achievements.

To see it growing an adult, and leaving home ... it's happy and sad day together. So happy, your child is a complete person. And a bit sad, it flees away, and set up it's own life.

Love your mother back, She deserves that !

  • 1
    How do you know OP isn't a mother?
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 15:39
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    @F1Krazy If She was a mother, She would understand her mother enough, to allow her to photo. I am so sorry now, for so many actions I did against my parents love, when I was young and inexperienced. Good enough, I can often thank them now, for all their love and support, through the years.
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 16:05
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    This is based on unfounded assumptions and does not really address the question. There are ways to express motherly love other than taking pictures of your child when it doesn't want you to. Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 17:35
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    @TPAKTOPA to give an example, if my little ones don't want to cuddle I just don't force them too. Because as much as I love them, if you ignore someone's boundaries, it doesn't matter why, you are giving the message that your wishes are more important than them. And learning this as a child can have terrible consequences later.
    – Purrrple
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 6:43
  • 2
    Just to be clear, I want to give my mom love, which she deserves and I hopley do, but when she takes photos from me agains my will it's not love, it's being disrespectful and giving me a toxic message.
    – Purrrple
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 6:46

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