As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve become quite interested in photographing moms. After photographing newborn and family sessions for years, I started to realize something. Even when the subject is a newborn, what I’m drawn to is the story of a woman’s rebirth into motherhood. Or when shooting with a family, what I can’t shoot enough of is that mother-child connection. As a mom of four and a photographer, I ache to have my time with them documented–in an honest, artful, and–let’s be honest–flattering way. I got to thinking about the milestones in a woman’s life that are typically documented–high school graduation and wedding for sure; maybe a head shot for work; and maybe maternity photos (bravo for that!). After that, if she has professional photos taken, the focus really isn’t on her; it’s on the kids. I would argue that because motherhood is so transformative, so consuming, and, many would say, their defining title, mamas deserve to be photographed simply for that reason.
In thinking about moms I know who I could try this out with, I thought of Martha. I’ve worked with her before on other projects and she’s quite comfy in front of the camera. She blogs about motherhood–specifically exploring the angle of being a working mom–so she would likely be game for it. Here is her reaction when I pitched it to her:
“Can we get an AMEN for this wonderful concept? How often does the supposedly straightforward task of getting your life together for a family picture exhaust you before you even start? And then you get them back and someone isn’t smiling, or you don’t like your hair, or your toddler is a maniac and you feel like you failed at mothering again. I loved this concept, and so there was simply no way I could turn down the opportunity to just take some time with my daughter to do the fun things we already enjoy and have someone crazy-talented capture a few of those moments on film. I was pumped.”
Martha’s an urban mama, so we decided to shoot at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market and the Embarcadero in her San Francisco ‘hood–a regular weekend outing for them–and finish off for some relaxed shots at her apartment.
You can see Martha’s favorites and read her reaction to the experience on her blog, iamaworkingmomblog.com Be warned that you will get sucked into her witty writing and her Moms to Marvel series!
I’m driven to shoot more sessions where the focus is on the mom, where the story I tell is her story, and where the resulting images can be a source of satisfaction and fulfillment. A visual, concrete counterpoint to the feelings of mom-guilt and self-doubt and plain old fatigue that are universal to the role of mothering. I’m aiming to photograph moms who:
a) embrace motherhood and want to remember themselves enjoying it; they value their role as something worthy of capture in and of itself
b) aren’t looking for canned smile-at-the-camera shots. These will be very interactive, a little artsy/unexpected, and, hopefully, soul-stirring. A mix of quiet, sweet moments and playful ones. At home and/or out & about, doing things that are true to the mom and her kiddos.
c) are willing to be vulnerable. What I’m hoping for isn’t just an idealized version of her experience; I want it to be in a way real and raw, because mom-ing is messy and frustrating and thrilling and sweet and full of all the contrasts imaginable.
If that describes you, I’d love nothing more than to explore your experience of motherhood together! Let’s talk.