Kids were here // The project

ketti philips

If, like me, you love your camera and are totally obsessed with taking photos of your little one{s}, then you may have already heard of the brilliant collaborative project that is ‘kids were here’ originally created by the very talented Ketti Phillips.

It all started when Ketti noticed that her son had been playing with her husband’s belt as a road for his toy cars and those simple objects left behind on the floor told a story of life at that moment. A moment that ordinarily would have been forgotten in the coming months and years as her little boy grew up. Ketti was inspired to start a month-long personal project documenting the presence of her children without them in the picture; seeking out the small details that tell so much.

Ketti’s project inspired 24 other fabulous photographers from the USA, Canada and Australia to do the same thing and they all collaborated, coming together here once a month to showcase the traces of their children and their childhood left around their homes.

As an ex-wedding photographer, I wanted a little project that forces me to think creatively about the pictures I take in addition to our daily snapshots and this is right up my street, so I have unashamedly jumped on the bandwagon and begun my own ‘kids were here’ project.

I love that there are so many memories to be found in images that are devoid of people. Images of messes and mayhem that can be cleared away so quickly, serve as a reminder of the here and now. Your children’s childhood. Which, by the way, goes far too quickly! In our home, everywhere you look there are reminders of Jack’s presence; his toys and books are strewn around and always turn up in the most unexpected locations after a good old play, the bath tub is no longer a haven of peace and solitude unless you fancy sharing the bubbles with numerous toy animals and a tea set, and his tiny shoes nestle amongst ours on the shoe rack. His presence is felt everywhere and I want to document this precious time as a reminder of a wonderful childhood .

I’ll leave you with these quotes from 3 fabulous photographers from this collaborative project which will hopefully inspire you to do the same with your brood.

Ginger Unzueta

‘When I first began this project, I thought it would be fun to document the everyday messes my children make. As the weeks have passed, this project has really become so much more than that. It’s not really about messes at all, but about the stories they tell. It’s about traces of childhood I see throughout my home on a daily basis. It’s about the love we share together. It’s about living and being… creating, making, learning and trying. This project leaves me a beautiful story each month of the reminders that Kids are here now… and the time, well, it’s all too fleeting, isn’t it? We all need to embrace these moments and just live them too; because they really are the best moments of life.’ 


Stephanie Beaty

“These still life images serve as a daily reminder that my days are awash in chaos, whimsy, laughter and laundry (sometimes all at once). They capture toys and spills and puddles and piles. Sentimental, solitary moments of childhood ephemera. A gentle prodding to live in the now and stop looking toward the “then.” And though sometimes I pray for clean and quiet and still, I know all too well it will come. And I will yearn for tiny shrieks of laughter in my bedroom. For toys and loveys strewn about. For signs of a daily life well lived. For traces of my babies who once were. For reminders that Kids Were Here–and they were life and light and love.”


Jude Wood

“In the the moment is is easy to get frustrated with all the mess and clutter that results from living with children. This set reminds me how quickly it will all pass. One day the toys will be in totes no longer played with. I will miss this. I’m reminded to slow down. To not stress about it. My happiness is not dependant upon everything put back into place and a neat and tidy home.

One day we will have a wonderful reminder. Evidence left behind written upon our hearts and minds of our children. Photographs that will bring us back to this very day, when our kids were here.” 

judeImage credits from top: Ketti PhillipsGinger UnzuetaStephanie BeatyJude Wood

I will be sharing my own ‘kids were here’ images over the coming weeks and If you are tempted to do your own ‘kids were here’ project, please do let me know as I’d love to see the reminders that your ‘kids were here’ too.

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