On Seeing, A Journal. #480

Growing Up: Austin Chang

May 24, 2022



About 18 years ago I did an advertising shoot for Sandisc. One of the ten different “models” included in the shoot was a five year old boy Austin Chang. He was one of the freest, fun, creative and truly brilliant model “performers” with whom I have ever worked.

Here he is, in the air, off a low trampoline, becoming eight different “Austins.” Having so much fun, aided by applause from an audience of advertising people, assistants and others helping with the shoot and his father, he couldn’t get enough.  He kept telling me, “I got more stuff I can do.”



After the shoot, I mentioned the “Growing Up” project on which I was working to his dad, and asked  if I could include him in the project.  His, “Of Course,”  was a gift that has continued to the present day.

Here he is over the next 18 years.


5 years and 23 years old


5 years old


6 years old


8 years old


9 years old


11 years old


12 years old


13 years old


15 years old


17 years old


20 years old


23 years old



Thank you, Austin, and please thank your parents—it has been wonderful watching you grow up and develop into a serious and  accomplished young man.

Please do return in a year or two.

The “Growing Up “Project:
I have studied over 200 children from childhood into their 20’s. I began with some when their mothers were pregnant, and others, as was the case with Austin, started about the time they could read and write. For all of them I made annual studio portraits and asked them to write answers to a series of questions, a kind of diary about their lives, their feelings, their hopes, their regrets.

I am interested in everything about human development. I am fascinated by maturation, growth, emotional, educational and physical development. My exploration, a major 30 year odyssey, has been an adventure that has yielded riches beyond my imagining.

Permission was signed by the parents of each and every child every year, and by the participants themselves once they turned 18. In addition, we’ve now sent copies of all of their writings and edited photographs to the participants for whom I have finished all my editing and have received full written permission from that group to publish and post.