Photographing Teens: Why I Want To Shoot My Kids Now More Than Ever

Taking images of your children at all stages of their lives not only gives you a visual growth chart, but allows you to capture fleeting glimpses into their personalities that you will want to look back on for years to come. Those early years are absolutely paramount; first smiles, first steps, first toothy grins, first haircuts. Not a single moment is missed. As a momma to three boys who are growing up faster than I can keep up with most days, I know all too well how fleeting and precious time truly is. All of them have birthdays coming up, and we are moving into big life events with each one. Anthony will be 19 on August 1st and began college this year at Western Carolina’s Honors College. Joseph turns 15 on July 13th and is my living, breathing mirror every day. He is eligible (note that I said eligible!) for his driver’s permit and will be going into his sophomore year of HS and is also ready to start working. Then there’s my baby Matthew, my very last, who will be 13 on September 1st. While I’m not near ready for him to be a full fledged teenager, I am so very proud of him and how far he has come in such a short time. Shy by nature, he has really come out of his shell this year. My husband Rob and I are truly proud of all of them. 


There is a quote by Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project, that has stayed with me and speaks to my heart. ‘The days are long but the years are short’. Truer words have never been spoken. We all have those points of mommy exhaustion in our lives – you know the ones I’m talking about, mommas. When they’re tugging on your legs and all you want to do is go to the bathroom by yourself without company. Those nights when ‘Mommy read me a bedtime story, can I have a glass of water, please rub my back, rub my arm, rub my other arm, please read my another story’ feels like you are running a marathon, not putting a toddler to bed. And then it happens. So suddenly that you barely have time to realize what’s just happened, but make no mistake…it has. You’ve mysteriously gone from sippy cups and diaper bags to cell phones and dirty smelly baseball gear. You’re no longer singing the theme song from Dora The Explorer and Blue’s Clues (at least that’s who is was for my kiddos!). Now you’re moderating their Spotify playlists to make sure they aren’t listening to anything that isn’t at the very least edited for radio. Those little human beings that couldn’t get enough of you? They now retreat to their respective corners of your home when they walk in the door after mumbling ‘I don’t know’ when you ask them what they learned that day in school and you won’t usually see them again unless you yell dinnertime or tell them that someone’s on the phone for them AND that it’s a girl. Welcome to the wonderful world of adolescence. Welcome to my world. 




While attitudes can run as rampant as smelly socks in my house at times, I love bringing all of that to life and more in the images of my boys. It’s who they are, right now, in this moment of THEIR lives. I have hundreds (and I do mean hundreds!) of photos of them at every milestone and everything in between of their lives, but documenting these particular years have been the most precious to me. Right now is when they are the most incredible unique individuals that are on a journey and while they may try to amble around as if they know themselves better than I ever could, I know better. I get to sit back and watch as every inch of God’s ultimate design; every extraordinary piece of what makes each one of them special unfolds right before my eyes. All of that and I am blessed to be able to record it all through my lens. While I cherish them now, I also cannot wait for the day that they share these images with their own (gulp) children one day.





Since they are individuals and very much like their momma (some may say stubborn, I choose to call it independent!) I have to be realistic in my expectations these days when I want to take images of my kids. I’m not going to get hundreds of images anymore. There are definitely days where I am more intentful about shooting than others and I let them know ahead of time. This is more or less so that they can resolve themselves to the fact that it’s going to happen…running is not an option, lol. People joke that I have a lot of sleeping photos of my boys and yes, it is true. While the obvious answer is that they cannot run or argue with me while they are sleeping, for me those moments allow me to still see them looking little. Not so easy for me these days when they all shave, they all outweigh me, they take turns seeing who can carry me around the house the furthest and all but my youngest is taller than me. Other times I catch them doing something amazingly adorable (yes, teenagers can still be ridiculously cute!) and I have to grab my camera and embarrass them to death and sometimes, if not always, even myself. 





There are also lessons I’ve learned along the way. While I’m a perfectionist by nature, I have learned to let go and not dissect each image. What I could have, should have, would have done technically is set aside for each awkward stance, each goofy grin and yes, even each eye roll. And on the exceptional occasion that they do let me in and even (very rarely) ask me to take their pictures? I savor every millisecond of it. Because much like those little ones tugging on your leg while you’re trying to have those few seconds of time to yourself? It is all over before you know it. Please trust me when I tell you, there is only way you will ever be able to relive those moments… if you were lucky enough to capture a photo of them.




Sarah_ProfilePicSarah Mazza – Guest Post
Hi there, I’m Sarah…I’m a lifestyle and fine art photographer based out of the Northern VA/D.
C.Metro area. I’ve got a wicked awesome husband and three amazing boys, and when they aren’t keeping me super busy or I’m not shooting sessions? You’ll usually find me with a hot cup of coffee or tea, knitting furiously while trying to do ten other things at the same time. One day I’ll figure out a way to workout and knit simultaneously…it will happen. ;)

In my (favorite) Shutterbag: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon AE-1, Pentax 645N, 35mm 1.4, 50mm 1.4, 75mm 2.8, 85mm 1.4, 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm 2.8 USII, Lensbaby Composer with Sweet 35 Optic
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