Ep 295: Raising Teen Change-Makers

Kate Parker, author of Force of Nature, joins us to discuss how to cultivate teen activism and empower them to raise their voices about vital issues. We explore the impact of authenticity in photography, the importance of encouraging teens to speak out, and practical tips for capturing meaningful moments with your camera.

If you've enjoyed Talking to Teens, we'd love if you could leave us a five-star rating, and if you have time, a review! 

Full Show Notes

In today’s digital age, teenagers are constantly bombarded with idealized images and messages on social media. Often, these images are meticulously curated and edited, setting unrealistic standards for beauty and success. For parents, this raises a crucial question: how can we help our teens rise above these false ideals and find their authentic voices?

This week, we’re speaking with Kate Parker, a renowned photographer and author of several influential photo collections, including Strong is the New Pretty and her latest, Force of Nature. Kate’s work focuses on capturing the real, raw moments that highlight the true strength and beauty of young girls. By putting forward authentic and unpolished images, Kate encourages both teens and adults to embrace their genuine selves and to celebrate their unique voices.

In our discussion, Kate shares the insightful journey behind her first book, inspired by her desire to present her daughters in a true and unfiltered light. The project started with personal portraits but grew into a celebrated movement as her authentic representations resonated globally. Kate’s book, Strong is the New Pretty, has been translated into multiple languages, proving that the message of unyielding authenticity transcends cultural boundaries.

Fostering Teen Activism

One key theme in Kate’s latest book, Force of Nature, is empowering teens to raise their voices and advocate for change in their communities. Divided into sections—Find Your Voice, Use Your Voice, Sustain Your Voice, and Amplify Your Voice—the book showcases young girls who have taken impactful actions, from writing op-eds to suing the government, to advocate for causes they believe in.

Kate underscores the importance of parents actively encouraging their children to speak out. When kids come to us with complaints or concerns, we should nudge them toward advocacy by asking how they might change things and offering our support. Parents can play a crucial role in providing the initial push that helps teens realize their potential for making a difference.

Capturing Real Moments

Kate’s photography captures the essence of real experiences, whether it’s a girl fully immersed in her sport or kids engaging in community advocacy. To achieve this, she uses techniques that facilitate authentic expressions, like giving kids fun tasks or making them laugh naturally during a shoot. This approach not only makes for compelling images but also reinforces the idea that genuine, unfiltered moments are the most beautiful.

Speaking on giving advice for at-home photography, Kate recommends avoiding posed and forced smiles. Instead, she suggests crafting moments that elicit genuine joy and interactions. She also shares technical tips, such as shooting during the golden hour or using natural light from windows, to elevate the quality of photos.

Encouraging Passion and Inclusivity

Throughout the episode, Kate offers insights into how diverse backgrounds and experiences contribute to the rich tapestry of voices showcased in her books. Stories of girls who faced challenges—whether due to disabilities, societal norms, or personal adversities—highlight the resilience and ingenuity required to advocate for change. For parents, this serves as a potent reminder to foster an inclusive environment where every child feels valued and capable of making a difference.

In the Episode…

Our conversation with Kate Parker dives deep into multiple aspects of raising confident, outspoken teens. Here’s a glimpse of what we cover:

- How to encourage teens to find and use their voices
- The impact of authentic photography on self-esteem
- Practical tips for capturing meaningful photos at home
- Stories of girls making significant changes in their communities
- The importance of passion and confidence in teens

If you’re looking to inspire your teen to become a proactive changemaker or want to improve your family photography skills, this episode is a goldmine of insights. For more from Kate Parker and to follow her ongoing work, visit her Instagram at @katetparker. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast for more enlightening interviews and parenting tips. Thanks for tuning in!

Follow us on Social Media! We're @talkingtoteens on Instagram and TikTok

Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
Kate T. Parker
Kate T. Parker
Mom, photographer, NY Times bestselling author of #strongisthenewpretty, #heartofaboy and #playlikeagirl
Ep 295: Raising Teen Change-Makers
Broadcast by