Photographing Kids Through the Years {an interview with Jacki, pt. 1}

I started digital scrapbooking in 2005. At the time, many of the women I whom also scrapped and were part of the online communities were at the same age and stage of life. Mostly, we had little kids! Scrapping was fun and a way to connect with others at a time when juggling naps, diapers, and nursing filled most of our days.

The thing is, those babies are now TEENAGERS and I have heard it time and time again from these women I have known for over a decade:

“It’s hard to scrap now because my kids don’t like having their picture taken.”

With my oldest just turning 13, I completely understand. On some days, she is more than willing to let me snap away. On other days, she avoids the camera at all costs.

We want to document the life of our older kids, but with their aversion to the camera and a busier life, it isn’t easy.

And yet, my friend (and team member) Jacki, has done the impossible: she has continued to photograph her older children. And they seem to enjoy it!

Jacki graciously agreed to answer some of my questions about photographing kids through the years. I hope that her answers will inspire all of us!

This first of two posts will focus on Jacki’s background and the little kid years. The second part, which we’ll share next week, contains her thoughts on photographing older kids.

I got my first DSLR in 2007 and really just used manual for several years. In 2010, a work colleague challenged me to learn about aperture and shutter speed and started an after school group of other teachers so that we could learn more about our cameras. The group was nicknamed POP (Photographers of Penang) and we started doing some simple assignments and watched some YouTube videos together. It only lasted about 6 months and then a good friend of mine and I would go out about once a month and take photos. It helped us stretch and learn and take photos of this beautiful island we live on. Plus, we had the added bonus of spending time together. I just fell in love with the process. She moved away but we still share photos!

I live in Paradise [Janet’s note: Jacki lives in Penang, Malaysia, which is where we met. She’s right! It is paradise and easily my husband’s and my favorite place on earth!] Really, it’s so beautiful! I wanted to capture this place where I live. Plus I’m a mom with three kids and I wanted to take better photos of them.

In 2011, I started to shoot more regularly for the school. I was asked to take photos of events for parents who have children who live in the boarding program. It just grew from there. I take photos of band and choir concerts, recitals, and many of the athletic events. As my kids played varsity sports, I took photos. I learned mostly from trial and error, but I did consult some photography blogs and The Daily Digi was a big help. I learned so much from other “moms with cameras.”

Because we have lived our lives far from family (Brazil 5 yrs, Malaysia 15 yrs), my kids have been very cooperative in letting me take photos because they know photos are the language of communication. They love looking at photos of family members and when they were little we had an album with photos labeled with everyone’s names. It was helpful as it could be two years before we saw them! They know that their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins enjoy seeing their photos. My youngest was so used to me taking photos of her that even on sports day at school while running in a race, she would turn her head to face me, smile big, and hold it until I snapped the photo! She was amazing! They never complain and they don’t mind me asking to do funny things like jumping photos or making silly poses. As a matter-of-fact, they almost always ham it up now and I have to ask for “just a smiling” photo. 
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