As I hinted to in my daughter’s birthday post, I was lucky enough to be invited to help a very talented friend with a project for her business. Jen, professional photographer and mother of 4, (including twins!), has been shooting newborn and family sessions for years here in the Bay Area. She shot my husband and I years back when we were carefree and childless with few things better to do than document ourselves in all of our favorite spots in San Francisco. She then took what might be my favorite picture of all time in a newborn shoot for my daughter– I mean, who can capture a 2-week-old baby with such smiling eyes and a joyous expression? I’m pretty sure I cried for 15 minutes when she first sent me this photo:
So, when she texted me about a motherhood lifestyle project focused on the life behind the lens rather than traditional family portraits, I was totally game. Jen describes her motivation to feature moms so beautifully:
Even when the subject is a newborn, what I’m drawn to is the story of a woman’s rebirth into motherhood. Or 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 our lives that are typically documented–high school graduation and wedding for sure; maybe a head shot for work; and maybe maternity photos. After that, if she has professional photos taken, the focus really isn’t on mom; it’s on the kids. Motherhood is so transformative, so consuming, and, many would say, their defining title, I believe mamas deserve to be photographed simply for that reason.
I’m hoping 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. A counterpoint to the feelings of mom-guilt and self-doubt and plain old fatigue that are universal to the role of mothering.
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.
We went to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, where we are regulars on the weekend browsing for fresh fruit to taste and flowers to bring home. We meandered along the Embarcadero, (a daily occurrence for my girl and I) and then went back to my apartment to simply be the weirdos that we are.
Here are some of my faves from the shoot, which of course features just me and my daughter. I figure if there is ever an acceptable time to post an abundance of pictures of myself with my kid, Mother’s Day weekend is it!
Jen shared some of her goals for her future motherhood lifestyle sessions with me, including the following:
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.
I’m beyond flattered that when she decided to try this out, she thought of me. Jen asked me how I felt after receiving the images she created, and I honestly couldn’t be more delighted. Doing the shoot at home was probably my favorite part- my daughter was so comfortable in her own space and was willing to play and be her regular silly self, despite another person in the apartment lurking with a camera. Jen was so patient, waiting for just the right moments to capture, not interested in forcing anything. We had ideas for some pictures we wanted to try to make, but mostly we just played things by ear. As a mother herself, Jen can read her kid clients so easily, and being able to gauge the mood of a toddler is way more important than the adults.
Thank you Jen for the awesome session! You can see her edit of this shoot and learn more about her at this gorgeous website, www.jenjphoto.com. Today’s photo’s are all, of course, by Jen Jacobson.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO EVERYONE!
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