Photographing Kids Through the Years {interview, pt. 2}

Last week we shared part one of my interview with team member Jacki. In those first few questions, we focused on Jacki’s background with taking photos and what that looked like when her children were little.

This week, we’re going to focus on what Jacki has done as her kids grew older. It is our hope that these questions and answers will inspire you and help you navigate the sometimes-difficult process of photographing tweens and teens.


Capturing the moment. Life speeds by at such a crazy pace. I want to just capture the now. I want to look back and remember these things. I’ve always worked outside the home because the nature of our work and ministry, so I know I have to be conscious and deliberate about enjoying each season of their lives. I’m so grateful I work in a school so that I see my kids, their friends, and all their events and activities. We’ve also been privileged to travel some in this region of the world, so there are those special moments I want to “freeze” forever. I try to keep up with digital scrapbooking, posting photos in albums on Facebook for my family, and printing photos for albums. My kids spend hours every summer looking through those photo albums at my mom’s house. That’s when I know it’s really all worth it.

When they were in elementary school, I served as the class mom. That gave me opportunity to take photos of field trips, parties, dress-up days, and more. As they’ve gotten older, I have less photos of their lives during school. I also miss things just by nature of them being older, more independent, and at friends’ houses or out and about. I often download photos from Facebook which I sometimes use for scrapping or printing. They’ve also gotten to the point of taking their own photos, including selfies, so that I can still see and share in the moment. My oldest has a GoPro now so it’s fun to see the world through his perspective. My middle one has her own DSLR and has a real knack for nature photography, and my youngest does a terrific job with her iTouch and is especially cognizant of getting photos for mom!

It’s very rare for them to say no, but my son did a few times early in high school where he just didn’t want me there. I didn’t push it as I know it can feel invasive and embarrassing. Thankfully it was for little things so it really was no loss. Sometimes my timing wasn’t great, or we were in a rush, but I can usually convince them because they know it’s worth it and later they’ll be glad to have the photo. The times I can sense their irritation is when I have to keep taking a photo because I can’t get the lighting right, or my settings are off. Maybe something will happen that I have to retake a photo because something gets in the way. I’ve watched other kids tell their moms ‘no’ or ‘enough,’ but I’m so grateful that my kids are patient and understand. I think they know how much it means to me. Photos are my love language. They seem to recognize and respect that and I dearly love them for it!

I take thousands of photos of kids a month, for the school website, publications, athletics Facebook page, and more. I always let kids know that I won’t post a bad or embarrassing photo. I edit all my photos and I do remove blemishes and pimples. I feel that those things are temporary and I’m not altering what the kid really looks like. Kids love that! They are more than happy to look good. I’ve never had a kid ask me to remove a photo. For my kids, I let them know. If it’s a really goofy photo or slightly unflattering, I’ll have them look at it before I post. I only tag kids after age 13 and when they have their own FB page. We have some guidelines at school which I use for school photos as well. For my own kids, we’ve talked at length, and frequently, about online safety. They use their real names on FB but carefully monitor their settings. When applying to college, both my older kids had nothing to be ashamed of on their FB pages and didn’t have to remove anything before a rep took a look. My daughters are careful about beach and swim photos and I think those are lifetime skills they’ve learned. Photos communicate who we are, the people we love, and the activities we’re passionate about. I can see that in my kids’ photos.

Keep snapping often! My kids’ friends all know me. They know I take photos. When I come, they’re happy to pose and cooperate for a photo. They often ask me to take photos. It helps me see a more dimensional view of my kids lives and to know their friends a little more too. My girls really love photo shoots. They’re time consuming and often not my favorite thing to do, but they end up with lots of photos with friends in places with special memories. They use the photos to wish a friend a happy birthday, or tell someone they miss them, they post them on their bedroom mirrors, in their lockers. My son never wanted a photo shoot, but he definitely appreciated all those sports photos, team pics, holding up trophies and medals, and those photos he has in his college dorm room. I wouldn’t underestimate kids’ appreciation for photos. I certainly wish I had more of me as a teenager! At least ask, and keep asking. You never know when all of a sudden they’ll appreciate it.

This might sound terrible, but I don’t follow anyone. I work full-time, do lots of volunteer work, and try to keep up with my kids, so I have precious little time to be checking things out online. Not only that, but the standard can be unrealistic. I’ve never taken a photography course. I’m truly just a “mom with a camera.” I keep things very simple and only use PSE with minimal editing. There is really only one person that I regularly go to – partly because I know and appreciate her and she taught me how to digiscrap, and partly because she is inspiring and her family is adorably real – Janet Phillips. (I’m not lying! ) The only feed I follow on Instagram is National Geographic and I “like” a local photographer on FB who takes gorgeous photos of the island. That’s it!