My Life Parenting Photography

The Future of the Monthly/Yearly Photo Project

If you’ve been reading for a while, you’re probably familiar with my monthly photo project. I started when Eleanor was a baby. I bought the same pink bodysuit in different sizes, made a felt pin with a number in the center that could be switched out, and photographed her in the same chair and in the same setting each month to document her first year. As those first twelve months came to a close, I decided to continue taking the monthly photos until she turned two, and then yearly after that. I did the same thing for her little brother, August, and I’m doing it now for Calvin.

I love having the photos to look back on. It’s fun to see how each child has grown, and also to look at their photos side-by-side from the same ages. And I love that it has inspired so many others to take on the project, too!

Four Months Old

Babies are sort of universal. Assuming normal development, they grow at roughly the same rate, reach the same milestones, sit up, learn to talk, learn to walk, and so on. Of course they have different temperaments and each baby is unique, but documenting their growth through a series of photos isn’t violating any burgeoning personhood. They’re babies. They grow quickly, and it’s fun to see that in pictures.

As the kids grow older though, I hesitate to share as much. Their experiences are less universal and more specific to them as individuals. As they begin to choose their haircuts, their clothes, and the way that they want to present themselves, they should be able to explore their identities without strangers watching or commenting.

Eleanor will turn six next month. I’m planning to continue taking her yearly photo, but I won’t be publishing it. Five years old feels like a good place to end the series publicly, and I’ll do the same for August and Calvin. This isn’t to say that you will never see my kids’ photos as they get older (though I have dialed that back). There is a difference though between a picture that happens to have them in it, and a series specifically shot to show how they have physically changed as they’ve aged.

May my children never choose something as awful as the perm I got when I was ten (a body wave — so sophisticated!), but if they do, they can do it in relative anonymity, away from their mom’s blog.

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  • Celeste
    March 19, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Smart. I really appreciate your willingness to express your feelings on the topic. And, as someone who also had her fair share of bad haircuts, yeeeeeears of braces and poor clothing choices, I’m so glad I haven’t had to erase years’ worth of documentation of it online. Getting to choose how I am perceived online has been an empowering experience.

  • Jessica S.
    March 19, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Good for you, Nicole.

  • Laurie
    March 19, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Love it. I love seeing the pictures of your kidlets but I love that you are thinking about this and respecting their privacy and development. Lucky kids!

  • Sara Beth
    March 19, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    While sharing growth is definitely lovely (and inspiring for those of us without children yet for ideas in the future), so is respecting their privacy and independence from the blog. Very well said, Nicole!

  • Gretchen@BoxyColonial
    March 19, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Makes sense to me! I have 13, 11, and 9 year olds, and then a 2 year old, and I worry that people will think I love the toddler more because his pictures are all over the blog so much more….for the reasons you mention plus just the fact that he’s always with me. I also think about this when people complain about how everyone’s life looks perfect on facebook or blogs…those are the parts that I’m comfortable putting out there for public consumption (although no one’s leveled this particular complaint at ME that I’m aware of, so maybe I manage to make our lives look chaotic and terrible without even trying ;))

  • Laura @
    March 19, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Makes total sense – I tend to err on the side of total privacy when it comes to kids and blogging. (Sidebar: at first glance, I thought those three photos were all the same baby! So cute.)

  • JC
    March 19, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Incredibly well said! Kudos to you, mama.

  • Rachel
    March 19, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Good call :-)

  • Bethann
    March 19, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    Love your perspective! Thanks for sharing your reasoning and thoughts! I always enjoy seeing your children’s milestone photos! Thanks for sharing peeks into your personal life. I know it has to be unnerving at times the balance between blogging your personal home reno and still keeping your private moments private! You balance it well with grace and wisdom! Bethann :)

  • Amie
    March 19, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    This makes sense, and you articulated your reasoning very well. It’s hard to know what will be commonplace as an online presence when our kids are in high school, never mind an adult and part of the workforce! I too would rather my kids have a say in what was put online on their behalf, than for them to regret my decisions.

  • Suzanne
    March 19, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Amen :)).

  • Bridget
    March 19, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    I didn’t realize how long I had been following you and your blog. I remember seeing the baby pictures of Elenor and now she’s almost six! Your clean whimsical style has influenced my home and my wardrobe. Your work has inspired many outfits and projects. Thank you for all you have shared from your life, to make ours a little more lovely.

  • Annamarie H
    March 20, 2015 at 1:17 am

    When can we expect a photo of said perm?

  • S
    March 20, 2015 at 4:47 am

    Such a good mama! Well said.

  • Mo
    March 20, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Very well said and I couldn’t agree more.

  • Kelly @ The OK Momma
    March 20, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Good for you, momma. It’s such a fine line when showing images of our children online – the internet is forever! I’m also protective of my daughter’s online “identity” and as such have chosen to not show her face on my blog. It may hurt my readership but ultimately my first job is to do what I think is right for her. And for now, this is it.

    Kudos to you!

  • Heather
    March 20, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Good for you. I have several blogs that I follow that are written by moms, and as much as I appreciate the stories about the kids in the sense that it resonates with me as a mother, I do think it can cross the line into an invasion of the child’s privacy. I admire that you respect your children’s privacy. That dad who did the “reasons my son is crying” tumblr, for example, just made me cringe. Poor kid.

  • Celestte
    March 20, 2015 at 10:55 am

    I’ve loved this series but I think your decision is a good one. I am glad you are going to continue with it privately. It’s so much fun to see the similarities and differences of the siblings at the same age. I can see some of Eleanor’s expressions in August’ most recent photos and if I enjoy it how much more must your family.

    All the best.

  • ryan
    March 20, 2015 at 11:04 am

    My daughter is the same age and I have very similar feelings on this. I share photos on my private instagram but no longer include them on the blog. Although my son is a little younger I’ve decided that he deserves to tell his own story as well. I think we can talk about parenting and motherhood without turning our children into a commodity.

  • Bethany
    March 20, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Bravo to you, Nicole. I read a handful of blogs, and sometimes I cringe over the news that some parents feel comfortable sharing. I often feel that stories of their children and their milestones are theirs to share, when and how and with whom they see fit. So good call, lady.

    Now…about that perm…please do share. It’s the first day of spring and it’s snowing here on the East Coast, and we could all use a smile! Double points if it was a home perm, like my best friend’s mother gave her one year during middle school winter break. As I recall, her hair ended up as wide as it was long, but oh, I envied her! So chic, I thought!

  • Dajana
    March 20, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Your decision not only kicks ass but your children will appreciate how much you respected their right to tell their own story. Kudos!

  • AmyR
    March 20, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    I 100% agree with you! I don’t share much of my older children online for the very same reason – and some people think I only have one child as I’ve shared more about my soon-to-be-toddler since she was born. It’s hard though as they get older to put it all out there and I think it’s more than respectable to set some boundaries – they’re YOUR kids and this is YOUR blog. I respect you sharing your thoughts on this! :)

  • judy
    March 20, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    If I had a Mom like you documenting my growing up progress I think I would be quite happy-Your offspring always look adorable with one or two exceptions with Eleanor when I got a chuckle out of her obviously annoyed and bored response to being photographed. I think it involved a Lollypop but it was quite awhile back so I may be mistaken. Your kids are so fortunate to have a lovely home filled with books and projects and a great Mom and Dad. Still following after all these years and don’t they go by so fast!

  • Zoryana
    March 20, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    I really respect your decision to give your kids more privacy from the blog, the older they get. I’m sure they will really appreciate it once they are older.

  • Barbara
    March 21, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    i agree with your decision to stop sharing photos at 5 yrs old. There is so much growth & development that happens from 0-5 which is exciting to see the and after that it is more of a personal development.

  • Tanja
    March 23, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Good decision!
    All the best, Tanja

  • Sarah
    March 25, 2015 at 11:36 am

    I can understand and respect that. I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the years struggling with this myself. My daughter is 4.5 and shows up on my blog and IG feed fairly often. I like to document family outings on the blog (like a cut your own christmas tree adventure), and she’s usually the highlight ’cause she’s the cutest. But, I become more aware of her age as she grows older and develops her own ideas and tastes. I’ll definitely be more sensitive to her appearance on the blog as she grows older. Thanks for sharing our thoughts on the topic!

  • #58: Why We Stopped Sharing Our Kids On The Internet – Fruitide
    July 31, 2017 at 7:12 am

    […] featured on our special episode about sponsored posts) wrote a great post about this subject and why she planned to share less as her kids aged on her blog Making It […]

  • Margaret Schomaker
    April 29, 2018 at 7:53 am

    Good decision! It’s 3 + years after the fact, but it’s a new post to me. I followed one of your ORC stories in the past, and recently decided to read more of your posts. I randomly picked one in the summer of 2014, when you bought your Victorian house. And I have been reading every post since then in order. My grandchild is one, and my daughter takes monthly photos to share with family. She posts one on Facebook, but never with a clear shot of the child’s face, for privacy reasons.