Connected by their role as a mother and their love of photography, amateurs and professionals alike unite online on Instagram, in Facebook groups and via learning communities such as Clickin Moms to share their images and grow as photographers. Each captures life as it unfolds around them in their own unique way: the highs and lows, the beauty and the mess, the milestones and the mundane.
For me, photography has never really been about recording every aspect of my children’s lives. That isn’t to say that my computer’s hard drive is not full of images of my children – it most definitely is – but what drew me to photography after my first was born was the joy in learning a new skill and having a creative outlet that is so often lacking in those early days of all-consuming motherhood when there is room for so little else.
As my world shrank to accommodate the demands of a baby, photography trained my eye to appreciate the raw and often unconventional beauty in the simplest details of my everyday life. My children grew, and so did the number of outings and adventures. My ‘big’ camera was just one thing too many to carry. So I upgraded to the small but powerful X-T20 and, finally, along with the tiny XF35mmF2, I felt free to take my photography outside into the surrounding forests and mountains that inspire us as a family so much. My camera became my faithful companion on solo outings with my children, providing precious moments of ‘me time’ and a welcome creative challenge.
As my interest in photography and my children grew side by side, so did my collection of lenses. I love the unique perspective created by the close focusing of the XF16mmF1.4, and the XF56mmF1.2 has also proved surprisingly versatile; in addition to using it for classic portraits, I enjoy its compression when shooting landscapes and how it isolates single details in the environment when wide open.
Yet photography and my role as a mother do not always peacefully coexist. I find it quite ironic that while putting the viewfinder up to my eye draws me into the present moment, it is also an obstacle to being present with and for my children. As with all things, being aware of this is the first step and I am becoming better at knowing when to put the camera down.
For Divya Wolf (@divyawolf), a lifestyle photographer based in Minneapolis, USA, becoming a mother meant taking on limited family clients and focusing on documenting her family and creating for herself. Her switch to Fujifilm coincided with the birth of her youngest daughter as she wanted a smaller system that she could use both with clients as well as on-the-go in her daily life. She then fell in love with the colour rendition, quality and ease of use. “My XF18mmF2 lives on my X-T3,” she explains. “It’s one of my favourite focal lengths and critical to my work. The lens is fast, light and small, which allows me to create whenever and wherever I feel inspired.”
Divya creates colourful, imaginative composite images relating to her experiences as a mother. “I feel they often enhance my ability to tell a story, in addition to aiding me with getting in the frame, especially with my young children,” she says. To do this, she uses the X-T3’s interval timer and phone app. “My personal work is a way of leaving a legacy to my children and family. Oftentimes my ideas are sparked from occurrences in our daily life and visually depicting my feelings has become a release in many ways.” She hopes that “with a bit of whimsy and levity these captures will preserve my voice for my children and family.”
Rebecca Griffiths (@becgriff.photography) is currently travelling around Australia in a camper trailer with her family. Her images are a mixture of strikingly raw portraits and evocative details. Like Divya, she was also drawn to the compact size of the Fujifilm system and the ability to use her phone as a remote. “It’s so important to also be in the photos,” she says. She enjoys taking intimate portraits of her children and other women and mothers. “I am constantly looking for ways to highlight and showcase the strength and power in vulnerability,” she explains.
For her, the XF35mmF1.4 is “a key tool in creating intimate, soft portraits” but she also loves the width of the XF16mmF1.4 for shooting in tight spaces, its slight distortion close up and how it allows her to “play with the full scene a bit more.” Photography is very much a creative pursuit for Rebecca: after a long hiatus she returned to it four years ago and now confesses to be “addicted to the process of growing creatively in this space.” She admits that, like myself, she struggles to photograph her children and be present for them: “I definitely can’t do both at the same time,” she admits. “I love documentary style photography but I don’t use it very often because that means stepping away from the family and not being in the moment with them.”
Léa Jones (@leajonesphoto) lives in Massachusetts, USA, but travels to France with her children every summer to visit family. She strives to record their adventures and their everyday, capturing the fun her children have with their cousins and hoping that they will look back on these photos with a smile on their faces.
After owning several X Series cameras, she now predominantly uses an X-H1, which is “just the right size for [my] big hands”, in combination with the compact XF23mmF2 for hiking or day trips. “If I want to be more creative I use the Mitakon 35mm F0.95,” she says. “I love that lens. It’s a fun challenge to get an image in focus at f/0.95 and the results are dreamy.” Her daily life is also the subject of much of the stock photography she shoots, providing her with a welcome extra income. Creative challenges also drive her work. She started creating diptychs in November 2017 and continued all through winter 2018. “I loved pairing images,” she explains. “It forced me to look at shapes, colours and textures.” The process was harder than she first thought, however. “It caused me to think a lot more about how I create my images…cropping becomes your best friend.”
My own experiences as a mother continuously inspire and shape my photography in a myriad of ways, and I look forward to seeing how this evolves over the coming months and years. What impact has becoming a parent had on your photographic journey?