Photoessay: Growing up

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I have come to the conclusion that four year olds are mostly like uninhibited adults. At least mine seems to be; I suppose their actions make sense in their minds with their limited understanding of the world, and when you disagree – there will be hell to pay because there is no way anything could possibly be different to how they have imagined. (Arguably, this is the same with a lot of supposedly fully grown adults I have to deal with, too.) There are moments when they are remarkably mature and self-sufficient; there are others when we are reminded that they sleep the sleep of innocents and don’t carry any of the worries of reality. They are a bundle of nerves and listen almost solely to the lizard brain. There is no self control and that leaves parents torn between the short term pain of trying to impose it, and the long term gain of raising a person who doesn’t bang tables to get their way. Just looking at these images has driven home though how much she’s matured over the past year, though she probably won’t be self-sufficient for another 15 years or more – and getting seemingly longer with every generation. To think there are entire species whose lifespans are much shorter than the past four years; and intelligent ones who are fully mature and ‘adult’ after just one or two years. We humans are probably the only species with the luxury to explore and pursue something higher up the pyramid of needs than mere sustenance and survival – we should not waste it on pointless diversions… MT

Shot over the last year, mostly with the Nikon Z7 and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

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  1. Chalaphan says:

    Ming, it’s time for the 2nd lens, oh sorry, the 2nd child. The 2nd child will be different. It is the same as you have another lens with different focal length.

  2. Larry Kincaid says:

    Well, in the last photograph you can see the young woman who’s coming your way. Sneaks up on you, then appears overnight. We now watch our children raising their own children. “Grandchildren are great, all the fun and little responsibility because they come with their own nannies, their parents.” At the 4-year old stage, they naturally know how to assert what they want. We warn that if you’re too overbearing at the time, then decades later they may have to take assertiveness training to learn it all over again. Your normal 21st century time demands (17th century farming had no such demands?), needs to heed the inherent fact that you can only experience and enjoy them as they are today . . . well, today as in now. Tomorrow and next week, month etc. as you’ve shown they will be a different person, as will you as a matter of fact. So, you have to enjoy them now, as best you can. Ten years from now you cannot go back and try again. The good news is that 14-year olds are also marvelous to have as well, but for many new reasons. You will continue to discover as you already have that children teach their parents as much as the other way around. Personally, we would love to have our children back at each age, because each one was so enjoyable. But alas, only for a weekend, not for the whole year! These are great photos, enhanced by the monochrome that as usual seems to display what matters most. Lots of beauty there. Glad you shared some of them with us.

    • 17th century farming was mostly limited to daylight hours – 21st century virtual farming is limited to daylight hours in your major markets, which means being on call 16-18 hours a day…

      As for the young woman sneaking up – I think it’s already happened! And then at some point you have to let them go…

  3. Of all the photos we take during our lifetimes, none are more valuable that those taken of family. There’s a saying that one should “photograph what you love to photograph!” You have captured love with love! Well done, sir!

  4. David Burns says:

    Oh Ming, those images are truly stunning!

    I have five children and I have taken pictures of them all through their lives. The eldest is no 45 and the result is that I have thousands of transparencies and negatives as a record of their childhoods. I am now working on a collation of images of their individual childhoods in a self-published book for each of them as a Christmas present. These images are possibly the most precious things I own and even though they sometimes got fed up with me poking cameras in their faces all the time, now they are very grateful. Of course, I am now inflicting the same experience on my four grand-children.

    I have always maintained that the most important rôle of photography is the family photograph. After a lifetime of taking photographs in many different genres, I have not changed my mind.


  5. GD Morris says:

    It’s possible that one day in the way distant future your daughter will greatly appreciate the opportunity to look back at her youth you captured.
    I’ve been shooting slides my father took in the 1950s and 1960s of my sister and I growing up (I am using a Nikon D7500 and the Nikon ES2 slide holder and the 40mm Micro lens).
    One of my favorite shots I’ve digitized thus far is a picture taken of me standing in the middle of an intersection in Tijuana Mexico on September 30 1957; I was 6,
    Your daughter may look at the shots of her jumping in the stripped outfit and maybe she’ll be full of warmth at the memory of loving parents and the wonderful home she grew up in.

  6. I always wonder if she is going to love you or hate you for documenting her childhood so well. I suspect it will be a bit of both. Nice images, dad!


  7. Congratulations to your beutiful family! Little one seems to have fire in her eyes! Ah, fathers and daughters! Those happy days, when the daughters are that young! As they grow up “it” gets more and more difficult for fathers… until the daughter meets her partner… 😉 Be strong Ming, enjoy her now!

  8. A true Princess. Lovely images, Ming. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Wonderful post .Pictures are exceptional.

  10. Kristian Wannebo says:

    Thanks, Ming, for sharing !

  11. One of the most important reasons to have a responsive camera; to capture the fleeting moments of childhood. They change so fast indeed. Enjoy every moment.

  12. Truly endearing … !

  13. I see she has her own Ming watch! Good taste.

  14. Horn Kjetil says:

    Unfortunately I discovered photography just 4 years ago when my children were 8, 14 and 17. Before that time I did not pay enough attention to this invaluable capital of memories. And, I think, of great value both for the elder generations and for the children themselves (at least when they approach 19-20). My next big chance comes with grandchildren and here is my somewhat prosaic, technical question. When photographing 4 years old, how do you set up your camera to focus? It must be both quick and accurate.
    Thanks for your steady flow of great articles!
    K Horn
    (No grandchildren yet)

    • Single point and quick on the joystick if she’s relatively static, or multipoint face tracking AF-C if she’s running around a bit.

  15. pierre Wachholder says:

    happy birthday to the little princess
    best Pierre

  16. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    The reason you have taken time off from your professional photography to capture these images is because you are living through one of the most magical periods of your life.
    Australia’s national broadcaster had a report on a survey someone did, of 25,000 kids in 15 different countries, over a period of 10 years – or was it 10 countries and 15 years? The survey had established that when parents spend as much “prime time” as they can with their kids, between the ages of 0 (birth) and 5, it does a huge amount for the development of the kids’ brains – and it actually raises the kids’ IQ.
    Right at the end of the program, they dropped this on their audience – “It does more for their intellectual development than a 12 year education at the most expensive private school in the country. And all it costs is love!”

    • Actually, I think it’s more than that. You also need to condition yourself to push through the not so pleasant parts…I admit my wife is much better than I at this.

    • This is one of the places where society’s expectations are most misaligned with human biology (along with the 9-5 workday): the prime childbearing years tend to be coincident with the most critical periods of the parents’ careers. Having children earlier is difficult because you won’t have the savings to support them and having them later puts all sorts of health risks on the table. First world problems to be sure…but rather serious ones.

      • I’m not sure how this would be done otherwise, though. The period of peak energy/ productivity for anything – children or career – is only at one point in your life…

        That said, the 9-5 workday no longer exists. It’s pretty much 24/7 now regardless of where you work or what you do.

  17. On Sat, Oct 5, 2019, 7:01 AM Ming Thein | Photographer wrote:

    > Ming Thein posted: ” I have come to the conclusion that four year olds are > mostly like uninhibited adults. At least mine seems to be; I suppose their > actions make sense in their minds with their limited understanding of the > world, and when you disagree – there will be hel” >

  18. Loved it! The picture where she shed a tear was like “I thought you said you love me.” look. Haha!

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