52 weeks of docu teen

08 | bring them along

As your kids get older they are often so much more independent. They have their own schedules and their own desires…and they are less likely to be willing to run errands with you. And maybe you resist taking them with you. But rethink that if you will.

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It seems so silly but a quick trip to the grocery store is a great way to spend a little one on one time with your teen. Ask for their advice on food choices for the family and chat with them about their day and what’s been going on in their world. Talk to them about how shopping was with them when they were little. Talk about little every day things…and grab a photo. You likely used to take photos of them in the cart…now get a photo of your giant kid as he takes the cart away from you.

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Do you have a job or hobby that you love? Something that you can bring your kids along with you? If your kid shows interest…or even if they aren’t sure…bring them along. It gives you another chance to connect with them. To teach them and to learn from them. Get photos as they are trying something new and allow for them to help you.

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There are little moments all around you, don’t let them pass you by…observe and look closer. See what magic you can find in your everyday.

xo,
c

07 | a day in the life with teens

An idea that I love that I learned about years ago from the amazing storyteller Ali Edwards is the Day in the Life project. This project helps you slow down and see all of the little things that are happening in your day. The things that we skim over or deem as unimportant.

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Watching my kids drive out of the driveway together is something that I now do every school morning. It used to be me that took them, but now they’re on their own. I love their independence and am proud of their growth, but I do miss those times in the car together. Just 2 years ago I was taking all three to school. Things change before you even realize it…soon this girl above will be living in the dorms somewhere and I won’t be seeing her off to school every morning. I’ll miss watching her walk out with her hydro and her multiple bags for school and sports. Things change without us even realizing it.

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This project was a great exercise for me at this point in our lives. Three kids in high school, heavily involved in athletics…and it’s dark all the time right now. The photos aren’t great, and I don’t get to see the kids during the day as much as I did when they were little, but it’s a good slice of our lives.

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The sixteen images above tell a random story of an ordinary day in our lives right now. It shows that I still put their vitamins out every morning, that my youngest is now too tall to see himself in the bathroom mirror (I had no idea until I took the photo), that my oldest has very few classes everyday and often comes home early and this day brought himself Taco Bell. It shows that we have a full driveway and that we have too many TVs in one room (that’s a story for another day). It shows that we’re in the thick of basketball season and that I still have one kid that I need to drive to his events. I love this little slice of our lives.

TIPS FOR DOCUMENTING A DAY IN THE LIFE

  1. Tell you kids that you’re planning on doing this the day before. Let them know why you’re taking photos of seemingly random and silly things.

  2. Get creative with your angles…I love the photo of my son and his Taco Bell haul from above and the big glass of Carnation Instant Breakfast that my youngest asked me to make for him.

  3. Enlist your kids. I knew that I wouldn’t have many opportunities to take photos of the kids, so I let my daughter know that I would be grabbing a screenshot of her “gameday streaks” that she posts on Snapchat on gamedays. The rules in your home may be different and that’s great, you need to do what it good for your family. In my home, my children have social media and I love it. I love having a Snapchat account that I can grab images from that my kids post when needed. We send “streaks” to each other every day and it’s a fun little connection to each other’s lives.

  4. Get photos of the little stuff…fixing their hair in the mirror, them walking to the car, what the house looks like, their bedrooms, etc.

  5. Set a timer for yourself - I often tell myself I’m going to do this project and forget about it in the morning and realize they’ve been at school for 3 hours. Or when they’re home I forget again. Set a timer to go off every hour to remind yourself to get up and grab a photo of something going on right then.

Have you ever tried this project? I love it and think that it’s something I want to incorporate into our lives every couple of months…it’s amazing to see how fast the little things in life change.

xo,
c

06 | right now with teens

One of the biggest things that I struggle with in taking photos of my teens is what on earth am I going to take photos of? We talked last week about how to handle photographing the same thing every day/week and this week were talking a bit on finding those little moments in your day to photograph.

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We’ve discussed how photographing your teen is so very different than when they were little. We just took a ton of photographs because they were just cute all the time. Teens aren’t cute all the time. They just aren’t. And finding those moments to photograph where they’re being adorable is hard. So you need to remind yourself that isn’t what you’re looking for. You’re helping them (and you) document their days, their lives. And our days are filled with little moments. Things that we don’t think we need to pull out our camera for, things we might think are silly to take photos of. Things that they most definitely will think we’re being silly for photographing. But you’ve gotten them on your side with this new way of taking photos and you’ve thought about areas to focus on taking photos…but now you’re stuck.

My favorite tip - what are you currently doing? What’s going on right now? When you’re going about your day, stop and think. What are we doing? How is this important in telling the story of our everyday lives? And take a photo. Be creative, look at the 10 tips to documenting the same thing everyday for some ideas on how to get creative with your shots.

What we’re doing right now

  • what are we eating - has someone decided to be a vegetarian? Is someone on a huge cereal kick and that’s all that they’ll eat? Do you have a giant child getting up at 11pm for second dinner like I do?

  • what are we playing - board games, video games on the tv or on your phone? Is there someone in your house always playing pranks on someone? What are we doing for fun around the house or out in the world?

  • what are we reading - books, magazines etc…digital readers or paper books? Do you have a teen with their nose always in a book? Trips to the library or stacks of books everywhere? These are great images to get to remember something that they are passionate about.

  • what are we talking about - get photos of your kids talking to each other, I love looking back on photos of my kids carrying on conversations all on their own. Kids talking with parents or friends or other family members…get them while they aren’t looking, peek in on those little moments.

  • what are we practicing - instruments or sports? What are the things that our kids are working on every day? Have a new driver like I do? The photo above of him gripping the wheel as I’m panicking in the passenger seat is a memory I don’t want to forget. There are many things that our teens practice to get better at…you might be missing something you aren’t even aware of.

  • what are we listening to - do your kids always walk around with at least one earbud in? Are they playing records in their rooms? What is the music of choice in their cars? Are they on itunes or spotify (a screenhot of a current playlist is always fun)? What images can you get that tell the story of their taste in music right now?

  • what are we watching - sports or movies or tv shows? Do you have someone with their face buried in Netflix or someone that is addicted to Impractical Jokers? What about someone who loves going to the movies and always gets a photo of their tickets and their feet showing the crazy theater carpet…just my daughter? Ok.

  • what are we working towards - I love this one. What big goals and dreams do your kids have? Have you asked them? What are they striving for? Do they want to make their varsity football team? Maybe they’re working hard at getting their grades to be amazing so that getting into college is a slam dunk. Are they writing or drawing, working towards getting into a specific program in college? Are they getting up for 5am practices so that they can swim faster than anyone on their team? Working towards getting the lead in the school play or working at perfecting their free throw shot and shovel the driveway just to get more shots? There is likely something that your teen is working towards, take some time and find out what that is. Celebrating the journey along with the achieving the goal is so important to showing them how proud you are of all of their hard work.

These little everyday moments are what our memories are made up of…they’re the things that we’ll miss, that we will look back on fondly. Don’t let them slip by…be present in these moments and snap a pic or two to remember them by. Looking for some inspiration? Find a few instagram accounts that you love and look closely at what speaks to you about those images. What are other people documenting about their lives and how? I love looking back on my instagram recaps to see the little moments in our lives.

xo,
c

05 | the same stuff everyday with your teen

One of the biggest things that I hear when I talk to other moms about documenting their teens is that they feel like it’s silly to take photos of the same things every day. I feel their pain and generally speaking they are spot on…most of our daily lives are spent doing the same things over and over again. But there are gems hidden in the everyday. We live our lives in the everyday, in those routines live the memories that our kids will take into adulthood. These are the things that they will remember when they’re doing the same with their children someday. Document these seemingly repetitive moments and I promise you’ll find some of your favorite moments.

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The thing to remember is that when we are in the thick of it and it feels like we’re doing the same thing every day all of a sudden we realize that we’ve just experienced one of the lasts. The last time we had to take our kid to school…the last time they asked us to tuck them in at night. The last time we made their lunch, the last time we took them to practice, their last game, the last of so many things. These are harder to see. When our kids are little we are super focused on them achieving all of their firsts…these lasts are sneaky. But if we are making an effort in documenting all of the things these little lasts don’t pass us by without us noticing.

HOW TO DOCUMENT THE SAME THINGS EVERYDAY

  1. Think creatively - how many ways can you show a basketball or a football game? How many ways can you show your child at a piano recital or a dance competition? Don’t go for the same shot every time.

  2. Overall images - take images that tell the overall story. The entire baseball diamond. The whole football stadium. I would love to have images that show me in my high school as they have since remodeled it and my memory seems to be fading. I know the school that my kids currently go to will look differently in less than 5 years…get overall images of the events or practices or carpool drop off because you never know when things will change.

  3. Details - go for the small things. Do you get your hand stamped at the games? Do they give tickets? What do the seats look like? The score board and other elements. What does their instrument look like? What does their hand look like playing the keys on the piano? Get closer. Find the little details that are so quick to fade away.

  4. Ask your teens for their input - what is important to them about what they’re doing? Do they love the warm up routine and laughing with their friends? Do they love that everyone has matching gear bags? Do they love that they have a lucky pair of goggles or that they wear the same shoes at every recital? There might be things that you don’t even realize that are important to your teen about the things that they do everyday…now is your chance to find out.

  5. Ask your teens for their images - you know your kids take photos, maybe lots, maybe a few. But ask to see them. Look at their daily life through their eyes to see what means the most to them.

  6. The tools of the trade - similar to getting the details, but really think about all of the things that make up the activity…the shoes, the uniform, the helmets, the instruments etc…what are all of the things that your teen needs. These things change over the years so it’s fun to look back at these things over time. We love looking through our high school year books with the kids showing them the differences between their days and ours.

  7. Include people - not just your own child, but get their teammates and their friends and the coaches and teachers. Find out who is important to them and include them in your images. (Don’t post images online of other people without their permission…obviously)

  8. Just the scene - the field when everyone is gone…the empty stage. The parking lot after a game or the court and stands full of people.

  9. Change your perspective. I find that I often sit in the same spot at all of my daughter’s basketball games…it’s the best spot for photos. Well…not if I’m going for variety and to see something a little different. Sit somewhere else, shoot from down low, shoot from above, shoot from a completely different vantage point and everything will seem new again.

  10. Create a hashtag for your series if you’re active on Instagram. I love looking back on our instagram hashtags that we created for the things that we do day in and day out. Check them out before you use one…might have been used for something already that isn’t in line with what you might have hoped :)

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Here is a great read on the Carrie Owens Photography blog about documenting a series. It’s so fun to look back on these images. We were doing the same thing nearly every day and I really didn’t see an end in sight. I remember thinking that we would be swimming every single day for the rest of time. These days I only have one swimmer (even though I thought for sure I would have three high school swimmers this year) and things look very different. I love that my kids can look back on these images from those busy years and remember what this point in their lives looked like.

What is something that you do everyday? Or every week? How can you look at these parts of your life creatively so that you enjoy documenting the things that you do? I would love to hear your tips and ideas on this subject.

xo,
c

04 | tools to document the everyday life of your teen

Documenting your teen isn’t about making sure you have a professional camera or a professional photographer following you around everywhere you and your teen go…it’s about making sure that you’re using the tools that you have and maybe finding a couple new ones to make your life a bit easier.

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The majority of the photos of my children are taken with the camera on my phone. I am a photographer so I do have the big camera and I do use that at many sporting events for the kids and I also bring it out in the fall for their yearly photo shoot…other than that, it doesn’t often make an appearance (unless my daughter and I have scheduled a fun photo shoot or are out location scouting). I have found that for the most part, my phone can do the job. Remember…you’re not trying to win any photographic awards with these photos…you’re simply documenting your life and the lives of your teens. No need to get super fancy here or you run the risk of not doing anything.

THE TOOLS THAT I USE TO DOCUMENT MY TEENS

  1. My camera on my phone - I have a Samsung. I go back and forth with wanting an iPhone or just sticking with what I have. Honestly…I think the differences are pretty negligible. It’s really just about using the tools that you have. Someday I might switch back but for now, I’m happy.(Although the available apps are different and I do believe that Apple has a bit of a leg up on photo editing apps…see #2)

  2. Editing apps on my phone - I don’t usually bother downloading photos from my phone onto my laptop to edit. I use apps that are available in the Google Play store but I know that there are some awesome apps available to Apple users that developers are slow to bring to Android users. I consistently use VSCO and love their platform. The presets that they have and the ability to create recipes has made this the only editing app that I use. There are others available that are amazing as well: PicTapGo, A Color Story (I do love this one too),

  3. Instagram - I’m a big believer in using instagram to document our lives and I love that each of my children have their own accounts. Not everyone would agree with me on that and that’s ok. You need to do what is right for your family and your social media rules. I have over 3000 photos posted to my Instagram account and I love looking back through my account and seeing the changes in the kids over the years. I always ask permission before posting a photo of my kids on my account as I ask the same of them :)

  4. 1 second everyday app - I haven’t been consistent with this awesome app since 2016 but I love looking back on this video. It’s something that I would like to try and work into my daily routine for the remainder of 2019…remember - just because you didn’t start on January 1st doesn’t mean you can’t start now. (see my video at the end of this post)

  5. Blurb books or Chatbooks - there are some great tools out there to make books from your digital images. I used to be an avid scrapbooker but my interests have changed over the years. I love looking back on the old books that I used to create when the kids were little, but for me creating a digital book with just the images is an easier way for me to get the photos printed where we can touch them and experience them.

MY ONE SECOND EVERYDAY VIDEO FROM 2016

This really was the coolest project. I have seen many out there that have done some amazing projects with this app with beautiful images and music and you can easily get stuck feeling like yours won’t measure up. I promise it’s not about that. I look back at this video and I am so happy that I captured these little moments. This is the most perfect video representing a year of my children’s lives. Doesn’t get much better than that.

What tools do you use to document your teens? Don’t worry about having the latest and greatest tools. Have the tools that work for you and your lifestyle. Make it easy on yourself or you’ll get stuck not taking any photos at all. Make sure that you aren’t getting caught up in capturing the most perfect “instagrammable” moments. We want to ensure that we are capturing real life. Ask your kids for help, make sure you’re getting in some of the images and most importantly…just do it. These years go by so quickly and our memories fade. Having photos ad videos to share with them and their children someday is something you don’t want to miss out on.

xo,
c

03 | what to document about your teen

When the kids are little it is so easy to know what to document - every little thing feels like a huge milestone. When they venture into the teen world everything seems to mix together. We get the big moments (learners permit and first day of school type stuff) but we often forget the everyday stuff. These are the things that their memories are made of. These are the things we will want to remember when they’re out on their own.

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ideas on what to document about your teen

Documenting the everyday little details can be daunting…what to you take a photo of? What do you do with that photo? My kid doesn’t want their photo taken…on and on. With this handy list, you should have a great starting point on things to be looking for when you’re thinking of documenting the everyday life of your teen. Something to remember and remind yourself…all of these photos are not meant to be posted online. These are for your memories and to document the lives of your loved ones…don’t use these images to embarrass your teen or to make them uncomfortable. Get them on your side with photographing these little everyday details.

01| home life

  1. bedroom

  2. what they do for fun

  3. sibling life at home

  4. sleep schedule

  5. eating habits

02| school life

  1. how they get there

  2. what they wear

  3. where they study

  4. their course load

  5. their grades

03| social life

  1. their friends

  2. what they do for fun outside the home

  3. sports or clubs

  4. dances or other after school activities'

  5. what the family does together

04| happy moments

  1. birthdays

  2. drivers license

  3. graduation

  4. winning moments in sports or other activities

  5. big accomplishments

05| hard moments

  1. losing moments in sports or other activities

  2. when things don’t go as planned

  3. messes

  4. sickness

  5. all of the “lasts”

This is not a complete list (there are so many things to photograph and document!) but hopefully it gives you some ideas on the areas that you need to be looking…and make sure you’re looking at those situations for ways to document the tiny details as well as the broad overall feel of the moment. We will dig into ways to do just that as we get deeper into each subject in the coming weeks.

xo,
c

02 | getting them on your side

Your child is growing up so fast…how is it that it feels like just yesterday they were following you around everywhere you went and now all you seem to get are requests for rides? These middle school and high school years seem to go faster and faster and all of a sudden you realize that the last photo you were able to get of your son was on the fist day of the previous school year. Now more than ever you need to be getting photos of your children, and the easiest way to do that is to get them on your side.

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photo disclaimer…I asked my son to pose that way for me, he’s really pretty great about allowing me to photograph him and now that he’s a teen I always make sure he knows what the purpose of the photo is before taking it.

5 TIPS FOR DOCUMENTING YOUR TEENS AND GETTING THEM ON YOUR SIDE

  1. Make sure you set clear boundaries and expectations with them about when and how you’re going to photograph them and what you’re planning on doing with those images. When you’re planning on posting an image of your child online, ask them first (don’t you ask the same of others when they’re wanting to post images of you?). Show them the photo, ask if it’s ok with them to post it. Explain why it’s important to you and let them know how proud you are of them. And remember, not every photo needs to exist online. Take photos just for your family…and print them.

  2. Don’t use the photos that you take of your child to embarrass or tease your teen and try not to bribe them for photos. This is important because it builds trust with your child and you become more of a team.

  3. Talk to them often about their lives and what is important to them…if they ever ask for you to take a photo of something that they love, do so without hesitation. Ask them to see the photos that they take on their phones…selfies are awesome (ask them to send you a couple) and see what else they are taking photos of.

  4. Explain why it’s important to you to document their lives and the role those images will play in their own lives when they are older. If you have images of yourself from your teen years, show them. Tell them about your life at that time. I love looking through old photos with my kids, showing them the things in the background, some of the furniture that their grandparents still have and the strange technology that we had “way back then”. You don’t want them looking back through their teen years and only having yearbook images to prove that they were there…and you can’t rely on the 10, 000 selfies that they have on their phones.

  5. Ask to take photos with your teen. GET IN THE PHOTO WITH THEM! If we expect to take (and potentially post on social media) images of our children we must show them that is a safe and reasonable request. If we are constantly shying away from the camera ourselves and saying “I just need to lose a few pounds first”, how are we going to instill confidence in our own children? And the most important thing to remember? They love us, they simply see their parent and they want to exist in photos with us. Trust me. There will be a day that those silly photos you take with your child will be some of the most important things that they possess.

If you’d like to read up on more tips to document the everyday, take a look at the blog series I wrote a while back about Documenting Your Everyday. And come back next week…we’ve got more to discuss.

xo,
c

01 | documenting everyday life with teens

Tell me about when your child was little - better yet, show me. I am willing to bet that you have tons of photos and videos and maybe even albums full of little moments of their lives as young kids. Now show me a recent photo of your teen...tell me about their everyday moments. Are we losing touch in the hustle and bustle of our overly busy days? Do we struggle getting them in front of the camera for a year end photo for the holiday card? Or do they just "refuse" to let us take photos of them anymore? My kids are nearing that moving out of the house stage and I don’t love it. I’m proud of them and know that we’ve taught them well…but I want to make sure that we’re documenting the memories that we’re making now for our future.

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A couple of years ago I wrote a series on the Carrie Owens Photography blog about documenting your everyday life and all of the little components that go into that. (Documenting your Everyday Life) Now that my children have all moved into that teen area it's gotten more difficult to document their everyday lives the way we used to so I thought it would be a great time to revisit many of those tips and ideas.

me, typing a paper, sophomore year (1990)

me, typing a paper, sophomore year (1990)

This year long series will be held here on the Carrie Diane blog as I will also get into what to do with those images and some tips and tricks on getting those teens of your on board with your efforts. I would love to hear thoughts and ideas and questions from parents of teens and tweens and even adult children or those that are away at college - what are you struggling with? Do your teens put their hand in front of their face every time you try and take a photo? Do you feel like you're invading their space by taking photos? Do they demand that you don't ever post a photo of them on social media? I get it - and I get all of those responses from my own three at various times and in various ways. I have come up with some really great solutions that have put us all on the same page and we can all get what we want out of the deal.

WHAT WILL WE FOCUS ON?

  • getting your teen on your side (it was so much easier when they were 2)

  • capturing everyday moments (everyday moments are quite different from 8 years ago)

  • capturing traditions (how have traditions of your child changed over the years)

  • capturing those moments you don't want to forget when they've moved away (yes - even the not so great moments)

  • getting images with you AND your child together (very important!!!)

  • social media and privacy issues for your teen (let your child lead in this area and be sure to have an open dialog)

  • what to do with these images (the answer is not to leave them on your phone)

  • phone and camera tips - as well as some social media tips from the teens themselves

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

When our children are little and brand new and going though all of those amazing milestones we cannot wait to snap a pic and share it with the world. This is great - even if we aren't sharing those photos with the world, we're telling them (in a way) how proud we are of them, how much we love them, how important they and their stories are. Once our kids start growing older and becoming more independent those photo ops change. They don't necessarily become less frequent - they're just different. We need to actively look for them. Their stories are just as important to tell (and we need to make sure we're getting their permission on where and how we tell them). These are the years that they remember and having their stories told from your point of view to look back on are more valuable than you can imagine.

me, first day of school, junior year (1990)

me, first day of school, junior year (1990)

I'm sure you're still getting those first day of school photos...when they'll let you. Those are important. I love looking back at mine (my mother was adamant about getting these shots - she even had my college roommate take my first day of school pic my freshman year). I love to see the clothes that I wore, the car that I drove, the way my hair looked. There are many things that I wish I could see, but having these images reminds me of things I might otherwise have forgotten from this time in my life.

me, first day of school, senior year (1991)

me, first day of school, senior year (1991)

Other than these images, birthdays and holidays and images before dances there aren't a lot of photos from my teen years. And that's ok. I was busy, my mom was busy and there wasn't a camera attached to our hands at all hours. That's simply not the case today.

me and erin, a random shot, december junior year (1990)

me and erin, a random shot, december junior year (1990)

This photo above of my best friend and I at her home in a random little moment means so much to me. We've been best friends since we were 5 yet have seen each other just once in the past decade. But we're still close, will always be close. Seeing that photo, I can hear her laugh. I can remember what it felt like being in her home. I remember her family. I remember our matching J. Crew jackets. I don't know why I'm smiling so big or what we are doing but I can feel how much our friendship still means to me.

I know that my kids have a lot of pics on their phones, selfies and photos with friends. I know they have instagram and other ways of sharing those images, but I want to make sure that I'm continuing to tell their stories as well. That we continue to create memories together and document those times for them (and for me) to relive when they're older.

Don't stop taking photos just because they're growing up...don't think that a photo of them walking away from you and into practice doesn't tell a story.

everyday life is in the details.

xo, c