Why I Took Photographs Of My Children

July 11, 2009

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When I was a young girl growing up on a dairy farm I experienced an awful lot of life. I was the oldest of five with two sisters and two brothers, and living on a working farm meant that we were always working. Whether that meant milking cows, running a tractor or doing our school homework, our lives were full.

And the time went by so quickly. My father taught each of us how to run farm machinery as soon as we were big enough to reach the controls, and safety was always an issue. Until we could prove to him we understood the dangers of the equipment we were not allowed to operate that equipment.

I suppose that is why I have always been interested in mechanical things, and why a number of my siblings grew up to be engineers, captain large ships in the U.S. Navy and why I fly airplanes.

But early on I became fascinated with cameras. My first camera, purchased with baby sitting money, was a Kodak Starmite and I had plenty of things to photograph. My favorite subjects were my younger siblings and the farm, and so I collected a ton of photographs over the years.

Today as a grandmother I look back and realize how lucky I was to have taken an interest in photography early on. It is amazing to me how quickly time has gone by, and my own children are having children of their own and are now all in their 30s!

When we are young we think we are going to live forever, and that we have all kinds of time to accomplish the myriad of things we have planned for our lives. When you reach my age you realize that you ran out of time, and much of what you planned to do simply went by the wayside.

Which is what I would like to talk about today.

Modern cameras come in all shapes and sizes, and have capabilities I never even dreamed of when I got that first Kodak Starmite. As I look through my aging and fading prints from years ago I realize how lucky we are to have all of the technology available today.

But technology is only useful if we use it. Young families today need to slow down and take time to realize that those “firsts” that your children do will only happen once. That’s why they are called “firsts”. And if you don’t prepare yourself to photograph them when they happen you will never have a record of those “firsts”.

And all of those activities that fill our young lives as our children’s lives accelerate from birth to college graduation provide opportunities for us to record each special event as they happen. But why would we care if we photograph our children at each of these events? Who will ever care enough to take the time and look at those old photographs of our kids?

Well, one of the reasons why it is important to photograph our children is that they change so much over the years. The little toe headed boy turns into a strong dark haired man working on DC 8s and flying all over the world. That petite little girl has grown up and is having her own children now.

And then the grandchildren start coming around, and they are filled with curiosity just like we were at that age, and like our children were at that age, and they want to “know” about their parents, their grand parents and their history.

I am sure all of us have seen those ads on tv about family tree history; I think the website is www.ancestry.com. We have friends who are researching their family history, even traveling to foreign lands to research where their ancestors came from and what records of those ancestors remain.

So the answers to why photograph your children are all around you. They are your children, your parents, your grandparents and your extended family. Don’t put it off, take the time to learn how to photograph your children and take lots and lots of photographs of your children as often as you can.

Believe me when I tell you that you will be glad you did. One of the advantages of becoming a grandmother is the perspective on life you have. It is only after time has passed that you realize how much you wish you had recorded those special events in our children’s lives.

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

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