Being a Mom & Photographer Isn’t Always Easy

(photo taken by Julia Bender)

Here’s the scenario:

You’ve spent the last 13yrs wanting to document every worthy moment through a camera and lens. You live in extreme guilt (and sometimes pain) when you don’t document said important moments. You try and tell yourself to be present, enjoy the moment as it is happening…and you do try and sometimes even succeed..but deep down you mourn the loss of capturing the perfect ray of light falling at the perfect moment illuminating the perfect expression or thought or mood. Deep down you wish you could have both, the experience and the recorded memory.

Being a Mom and a photographer isn’t always easy.

After being up for 48hrs+ strait, 27 of which I was in labor….17 of which I was in active labor…in my home..without pain medication….The number one thing people wanted of me was PHOTOS. “Where are the pictures?” “Can’t you just post a photo from your iphone” “We NEED to see her”.

I get it people and I truly did sympathize.

I wasn’t about to have the 1st photo of her shown to the world be a semi OK photo taken with a mobile phone. Sorry. This photographer knew her daughter deserved more.

So while she was yet one day old, I stole 10mins and tried to photograph my newborn. Emotions were running high. Family was waiting in the family room to meet her..but I only had 10mins of daylight, 1omins left of day one. 10mins to photograph a moment I had been anticipating for years..her 1st photoshoot. So of course I was in tears. “This isn’t what I wanted!”…”I need more time!”…Standing was still uncomfortable. My emotions were fragile and so was my body. I held my camera with shaky hands and proceeded to climb to a standing position on top of my bed to get the right angle. Grant was helping to hold me up and with tears running down my face, I took a few shots.

Taking photos has gotten a bit easier…but still it’s a constant balance between me as a photographer and me as a Mom. I know I am both..that won’t change but I have found that at times the need to give in to the lack of perfection. Giving in to the fact that executing the vision exactly as I see it in my mind won’t always happen.

Our families theme for the year is “Creating Space”. In this situation I have found the need to let certain things go in order to create space for others. I need to hold her and feed her and look at her AND not because she needs it but because I need it…sometimes more that putting her down to get the shot.

Which leads me to the reason of this post! (Thanks for sticking with me this far). My friend Julia was coming over to meet our little gal and I asked her to bring her camera and get a few shots of us as a family. So glad I did. We don’t have a lot of the three of us and the ones of her and I are always tinged with the stress of me setting up the shot, checking exposure etc. Julia came, shot and presented these beautiful photos…meanwhile I was holding, loving and kissing my best girl and guy.

I am going to get this photographing my own child thing down. Mark my words. Trust me I have already taken thousands of photos of her (not kidding). I am planning on posting some more images of our first few weeks together this week…that is unless I am too busy being present.

Any professional Mom/photographer combos out there that want to share their best tips for balancing the two roles?

TonyJ - Um, well, being a dad it pretty much disqualifies me for offering any tips. But I can offer some encouragement: You are doing an AWEsome job! I am thrilled to see the images of your beautiful child. I tip my hat (if I were wearing one, that is) and bow to you in honor of your ability to create and share while dealing with the new mom thing. Truth be told, my wifey and I spent the first 3 days of our newborn’s life in one corner of the house 100% in attending to the baby. We had no idea which way was up, on occasion I’d note it was dark out so it must be night but I had no idea which night it might have been. The next three weeks were a little better, I think I could identify the current date around week two. In other words, you have beat us already at balancing :) March 9, 2011 – 8:41 am

Kimberly - Oh Honey, what a beautiful post. Mom, Photographer AND writer!
P’s & B’s!
KimMarch 9, 2011 – 9:47 am

Lydia - I’ve loved seeing/reading your posts about being a mother to Nova. I would have never EVER guessed those beautiful day one photos came about in 10 emotional minutes. Can’t wait to see more!March 9, 2011 – 9:54 am

Lori - Oh my gosh! What a fascinating perspective. I’d never even thought of this…but I completely understand what you are saying. I always thought…and think…how lucky your kids are going to be to have such an amazing photographer/mother to capture each memory in beautiful detail. But I’d not considered how stressful that could be for you. Thanks for the insight and the post. Makes those photos all the more impressive and exciting!March 9, 2011 – 10:22 am

GayleV - While I fall somewhere in between photographer and mom right now, I thought I would share a thought or 2. First, those first weeks after your baby is born are a wonderful, chaotic, painful, sleep-deprived, emotion-filled MESS! Every previous routine has been dumped on it’s ear. You are finding a new normal (don’t worry–it will emerge sometime in the next few months ;) !!) I think you did exactly the right thing by asking a friend to get a few shots of your family and baby. I have 4 kids and didn’t know anything about photography when my first 3 were born. When my last son was born, I was determined to capture LOTS of moments and photos of him. BUT, I also asked a good friend to help me capture his newborn photos when he was just a day or two old. I knew I wouldn’t be in any condition to give it my full attention. I am SO glad I did that because it allowed me to be in the pictures and I didn’t have the added stress of setting up the perfect shot while recovering/nursing/soothing/cuddling my baby. I captured his 1-week, 2-week and everything else. Second, be okay with the imperfect photo–some moments are just precious even if the shot isn’t. As a photographer, you’ll get plenty of perfect ones, too! (Found your blog through a ReTweet on Twitter–isn’t social media great!)March 9, 2011 – 10:47 am

David - It is often difficult to simultaneously soak in and document a moment. Many times the former is more important than the latter.March 9, 2011 – 11:31 am

Lillie - When I look at your blog… I’m not sure what to call myself since I’m certainly not a photographer like YOU are a photographer. You are wonderful. I’m LOVING these of your darling baby girl and can’t help but check back daily. But to whatever degree, I do “photograph” and I just had a baby boy 10 weeks ago, my first boy, and third baby. And my first baby since I’ve really been into photography. I thought I would take so many amazing photos and have time to try everything I’d ever wanted to try and I felt JUST like you. Plus of course I had my 5 and 3 year old needing me to and it just didn’t always feel right to make getting a photo the priority… but then the first couple of weeks went by so quickly… it is SO hard. And no matter what you get, you’ll know all of the magical shots that you “missed”… but there will be more than you know what to do with that are more beautiful than anyone else has of their baby. So I’d say you’ll be alright.

My little guy has luscious full cheeks like your Nova so I just feel extra in love with her. Well done.March 10, 2011 – 4:55 pm

janet stoker - being the youngest of 5 children there are literally no pictures of me, anywhere. The youngest photo I have found of myself I am about 3 months old. There are maybe 6 total the first year of my life. Besides the fact that my youthful good looks went undocumented, I always swore that I would always take a million pics of all my kids. I do scrapbooks for them all and Charlotte has like 3 huge ones the first year of her life. Elliott has way fewer pics, and it makes me sad, but also forgive my parents a little bit.March 13, 2011 – 11:25 am

felice - I love you. You are awesome and she is gorgeous. Everything is emotional at first, but you will find the perfect balance. But I am glad you are using your friends. That’s what we’re here for.March 13, 2011 – 6:12 pm

Lindsay - Oh dear. I hate to tell you you might never find the balance. It’s super hard. Even as they get older and you don’t have to hold them all the time. Then you have to chase them, and carry things, and be a mom. Taking pictures at the same time is tough. And I’ve found since starting photography, I take less pictures of my kids because I want the light to be just right. It’s so hard to take non-manual pictures, but sometimes you have to. Because the moments pass that quickly. So you have to be okay with a point and shoot shot a lot of the time. It’s not perfect, it’s often not pretty, but you still capture something. A moment you want to remember. Not every picture you take of her can be professional quality. Let that go as early as you can. And, I still strongly believe in hiring someone else to do some of the monumental photo shoots. When my baby just turned one, I had a friend photograph him eating his cake, etc. because I wanted to be a mom and just enjoy the moment….not worry about camera settings.
Finding balance as a mom and a business owner is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. And I’m still trying to figure it out. But I know there’s a way to make it all work. I know there is.March 17, 2011 – 4:38 pm

Kelly - Oh friend, I do not know you, this is my first time to come to your blog (via a link about that super cool bicycle wedding) and yet I feel compelled to call you friend because I *know*. I am not a professional photographer but your description of how you felt after bearing your sweet baby and the pressure of people wanting to see pictures and the tears and oh just all of it rang so true with my experience as well. We’re at 11 months now and oh my it’s fun! Give yourself grace, remember that rest is your best friend and enjoy the journey with all it’s ups and downs. I hope you will find a contentment in a balance that works for you. Happy mothering and happy shooting! KellyMarch 18, 2011 – 12:12 pm

Brit Mann - Gorgeous. Congratulations!March 31, 2011 – 1:42 am