Childhood Unplugged Features Sharon McKeeman

She is a wife, mother, photographer and teacher among other titles I’m sure. So honored to be featuring Sharon McKeeman on the blog today!

I first came across Sharon’s work through checking out her self-paced online class through The Define School Lessons From The Masters.” Since then, I have fallen in love with her writing and storytelling through photography. She shoots digital but I absolutely love the way she captures the perfectly imperfect moments with film. Being a mother to only boys like me, I feel like we have this silent camaraderie. She gets it. The wild, adventurous, never standing still life of raising boys.

Welcome Sharon to Childhood Unplugged!




I know that your photography revolves around capturing your story. Tell me a bit about your unique story.

I first fell in love with images while exploring my Grandparents’ basket of old National Geographics and Life magazines and watching slideshows and super-eight video of their adventures. As a child I imagined and created as a way to enter a more exciting world. Then in college I studied drawing and painting, and became an art teacher.

I picked up a digital camera for the first time as a young mom and long time artist. My hours spent painting were quickly becoming a foggy memory as all my time poured into my new life as a mother. When I did make images, I wanted to document this baffling, exhilarating new experience of motherhood in real time.

As my children grew, I explored and learned this new medium of photography. Then after losing a son during birth I didn’t want to waste one minute of precious life doing anything other than what filled my heart and made my artwork feel powerful and alive to me. I spent my time photographing what was in my soul and before my eyes, eventually beginning a business where I capture the art of my client’s story right in the midst of the beautiful mess of everyday life. Recently I lost another baby during my second trimester. These losses have been so difficult, but our family is healing through time spent outdoors adventuring, exploring books, and discovering together as we homeschool.

What are some of your boys favorite activities to do unplugged?

We spend countless hours at the beach, read books together daily, build science projects and forts, re-enact scenes from our history lessons, visit our friends in the mountains, ride bikes to the abandoned field to search for ‘treasures’, nature journal, make crazy art projects, build Lego empires, and the list could go on, and on…

You wear many hats; mom, teacher, photographer, wife… What do you do to unplug and refuel. What inspires you?

Constant exploration in image making energizes me! If my artistic journey begins to feel static or predictable I search for something that will inspire me, instinctively looking for a ‘rule’ to break. My boys keep me adventuring and I love new experiences, but I also need quiet time at home in the routine of our daily lives to refuel. Reading fills my heart with the inspiration to keep my image making fresh and invest into my children’s lives. And writing is a form of prayer to me, spilling out my thoughts and feelings to my Creator, and sharing these words with others in order to connect with community. I also love teaching. Homeschooling is filled with magic and difficulty every single day. Teaching and writing classes for The Define School is an incredible outlet for me as someone who is passionate about art and loves to teach.

If you had an entire day to spend with your family unplugged, what would that look like?

Well, we spend many days unplugged so I will describe one… On the weekends we start off with my husband making pancakes and scrambled eggs or we grab donuts at our favorite shop. Then we head to the beach for an early surf sesh. The older boys surf with Dad while my four year old and I play in the whitewater. Afterwards we eat lunch at an outdoor coffee shop or have a picnic at a local garden or park. Then we head home where the kids build crazy contraptions in the garage and play games with the neighborhood kids while I edit images or write. If it’s warm enough we spend some time doing belly flop contests at the pool. And then everyone pitches in to grill dinner or sometimes we grab pizza or burritos, and head back to the beach to watch the sunset. We end the day snuggled up reading books before we tuck the boys in with goodnight songs and a tickle fest. I’m so thankful for all these magical times with my kids, but just to keep it real if that description sounded picturesque – The day is also sprinkled generously with kid’s arguments, complaints and grouchiness, but that’s real life lived and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Share with us a recent unplugged experience that you and your family shared.

Another special unplugged experience that we have somewhat frequently is when we drive up to visit our friends who live on a mountain about two hours away. Those days are filled with the kids making forts, climbing trees, playing in their hammock and tipi, shooting bows and arrows, hiking, finding pinecones and animal bones, building Legos, craft projects, visiting lookout spots, lakes and nature centers, and riding scooters and bikes. My oldest two boys also go on a campout every month with their Dad and hundreds of other Dads and their boys through a YMCA program. These campouts are epic and I’m so thankful that their memories will be flooded with these adventures with their Dad.

Share with us one of your favorite images of all times and why?

On one of our trips up the mountain with our friends, we drove up a dirt rode as a thunderstorm was approaching. I’m not a fan of heights, but the drive was worth the view as the storm approached us at the top of the tree line. My oldest is stoic, a man of the wild already. He doesn’t like to have his picture taken, but in this moment he was in his element and wanted me to document it.

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Unplugging is so important and I know you do a lot of that with your boys, but electronics are awesome too! They are a vital part of our life. What rules do you have for watching television, playing on the computer, etc.? How do you find balance in both worlds.

We don’t have strict rules about time spent on electronics because my boys honestly want to be outside and spending time creating more than they want to be in front of a screen. I’m so thankful for this. I think a big reason they feel this way is that we spend SO much time outside exploring, that it’s in their heart. Also we just don’t have devices at home for them to play on.

We only have one TV, and we don’t have cable. Our kids are allowed to watch good movies and they love the Discovery channel on Netflix. We have an iMac that they use for, a few reading programs and Keyboarding without Tears. These programs teach the kids so much and also feel like fun video games to them. The rest of their schoolwork we complete using pencil, paper, books and hands on activities. I often find my oldest using the computer to look up designs for his current building projects or to watching tutorials on making origami animals.

I think we may be the only homeschool family that doesn’t own an iPad for our kids to use. We have the oldest Xbox made and only have one game for it. My kids are allowed to play video games at their friends’ houses, but they honestly want to spend our resources on surfboards, skateboards and campouts more than they want video games. We try to find a balance where they understand and appreciate computers and good media, but the only way I personally know to keep them playing make believe and exploring outside is to not have an abundance of screens in our home.

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handle on Instagram is @sharonmckeeman

Childhood Unplugged Features Ginger Unzueta

It is such an honor to have Ginger Unzueta as our second featured guest here on Childhood Unplugged!

The first time I came across Ginger’s photography was when I discovered the Kids Were Here blog. Since then I have become a great admirer of the way she captures the everyday and unplugged moments in the lives of her children. Ginger wears many hats and one of them is as a teacher over at The Bloom Forum where she teaches her online class called Everyday Beauty.

It has been wonderful getting to know her heart through conversation on social media. Being that she is a fellow Floridian, my hopes are that some day we can actually meet in person.



Your photography is centered around your family’s everyday storytelling. Tell me a little bit about the moment you knew this was so important to you.

I’ve always loved pictures and have always had a camera. Like many other mothers, my children really ignited the passion in ways I hadn’t known before. I wanted to tell their story and to tell it in a beautiful way.  In addition, my husband is a U.S. Marine and is often gone on deployments.  I became passionate about capturing the everyday of my family so that my husband could relive these special moments through our pictures and stories.  He continues to tell me that our pictures are such gifts to him.

There is beauty to be found in every day. I feel that God has given me this gift and passion for His glory. I pray that I will honor Him in all I do.

What are some of your children’s favorite activities to do unplugged?

We live in Florida on a lake and spend time by the water frequently. Our children love to swim, kayak, and fish. Most afternoons you will find them playing in the backyard. Our children love to use their imaginations and often make up plays or games together. They also each play soccer for the local soccer club. We love to go for walks and bike rides and also enjoy going to parks. Our oldest daughter loves to spend time reading, baking, and crafting. Our son loves to draw and build with Legos. Our youngest daughter can often be found painting, playing with her baby dolls, or dancing around the house. She also loves to help mama in the kitchen whenever she can.

 Being the busy Mom that you are, what are YOUR favorite ways to unplug? What inspires you?

I enjoy reading in my free time. I also enjoy anytime we can get outside and explore or spend time by the water. I love to sit on the back porch or down by the lake and spend time with friends or family. I love slow days where we can linger.

If there was a magical place to spend your day unplugged with your family, what would that day look like?

A magical day would be spent somewhere with sunshine, water and our family all together.

Share with us a recent unplugged experience that you and your family shared.

We enjoy family time unplugged daily.  I love the benefits of technology and social media, but I think it should be used in moderation. One of my favorite memories with our family is from last summer. We spent a week in the mountains of Georgia. It was a beautiful time, just the five of us, exploring and experiencing new things together. It was a week I will never forget.

Share with us one of your favorite images of all times and why?

I took this image a year ago. It is still one of my favorites. Annually, we spend a week at the beach with my parents, siblings and all the cousins. This place holds many special memories for each of us.  

I know that most of your time together with your children is spent unplugged, but I’m sure your children do spend some time watching television or playing with electronics. How do you find that balance?

We are a homeschooling family and much of our time at home during the day is spent learning, creating, and exploring together. Our children do enjoy time on the iPad playing games or watching TV, but it is limited. We limit, not only the time spent watching television, but the shows that they are permitted to watch. In addition, none of our children have their own iPhone or iPad to use. Any time spent on these devices is shared between all three children. There have been many holidays and special events my husband has had to miss while he was deployed with the military. I am so grateful that through technology we have been able to include him via video chat and email. I am grateful for the benefits electronic devices can bring into our lives.

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Childhood Unplugged Welcomes Dera Frances White

We are beyond thrilled to have Dera Frances White as our first guest here on Childhood Unplugged!

I first came across Dera’s blog through following You Are My Wild; a weekly portrait project that brings together 14 photographers to document how they see their children.

I was immediately captivated by her stories and images. She has a way with words that leave you nodding your head in agreement as you are reading and laughing out loud by yourself because you can relate to every word that she wrote. Dera lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two daughters Fiona, 10 and Neve, 8.

Thank you Dera for taking the time to answer a few questions and sharing a handful of your lovely images. You can find more of Dera’s stories and photos on her blog at


How long have you been a photographer? 

I have been doing film photography since high school.  My dad was a photography teacher, so we always had great cameras and access to dark rooms on hand.  I was a dual major in college- experimental video and photography.  But I’ve only been doing digital photography in the workplace since 2010.

What do you enjoy doing unplugged? 

We draw A LOT.  It seems to be our default mode around here.  Bored?   Draw.  Angry at sister?  Draws mean pictures of sister.  Happy? Draws sister & self as princesses.  That sort of thing.  I find these epic books they’ve made lying around the house all the time.  I hope they never stop making them.  My husband is an artist and designer, and he’s always lost in his sketchbook.  Since we met in art college… that blasted sketchbook and guitar.  Personally, I don’t do nearly enough of the things I love on the daily- sewing, photography, general art making- so I try to pour my creativity in those things that are built into my day already- cooking, writing (blogging specifically), making a nice house, and creative parenting, aka experimental parenting.  Haha- you can use your imagination with that one.

Things you enjoy doing with your children? 

We love driving into the mountains.  We’ve got our favorite little destination spots- a friend with a farm, overlooks perfect for picnics at sunset, dusty roads with friendly horses, bubbly creeks in the summer, and a circuit of great roadside produce stands in the spring, summer, and fall.  In the winter, we just hibernate and eat cookies, and gripe like Southerners about 40-50 degree weather.  We often bake together, and sometimes we even get crafty.  I’m sad to say that my girls are growing out of the fairy thing, but we used to LOVE making fairy houses out of sticks and moss and stones.  We would put them under our favorite trees in the yard, adorned with acorns or flowers, and wait to see if there was any evidence of fairy activity.  Pretty magical times.

Personal projects that you do? 

Last year was my first collaborative photo project, the “You Are My Wild” project.  It was intimidating at first, being thrown in the mix with 13 super talented photogs from all over.  But in time, the project became quite meaningful to me in many ways.  I fell in love with the other kids, waiting for their faces to appear each week.  I fell in love with their parents and the way they saw their children; a few who I had the privilege of meeting during the course of the year.  And I fell in love with the idea of making meaningful time with my own children every week, with or without the camera.  If you can set aside intentional time with them, there’s almost always a good photo-op built into those moments.  (The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly).

What is your favorite style of photography? 

Glamour Shots.

Just kidding.  I guess if I had to pick a style I would choose photojournalism, but only because it’s inherently best at storytelling.  I just like visual stories.  Even if things have been styled a bit.  I am a narrative junkie, in any medium.  I would take ugly & gritty but captivating any day over pretty & clean but sterile.

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We are happy to announce that we will begin featuring others right here on our Childhood Unplugged blog! That’s right! If this is something you are interested in, please head on over to Submissions in the menu bar and check it out!