I’m a photographer, who also happens to be a mother. One isn’t defined by the other. My personal work, that which makes my heart sing and ignites my passion and creativity, revolves around my family and my daughters, but my skill and craft is not dependent on being a mother. So why do so many people find it necessary to belittle photographers who are also mothers? Unfortunately, I know the answer to that question – because it can be an awfully competitive industry, and because there are plenty of people out there who are taking photos and charging money who haven’t taken the time to learn the craft or set themselves up as proper business.
But I meant that question more as a rhetorical, introspective one. Amongst the many veiled insults that are thrown around, and the awful things we say about ourselves and our own work, I often hear, over and over, terms like, “momtographer”…. “mommy goggles”… “just my kids”…. There isn’t much you can do about the people “out there” who say things like that – my best advice, and the advice I try to follow myself, is just to be kind. If someone is rude to you, smile, move on, and produce some amazing work to show them they are wrong.
But what about the person you can control… yourself? How many of us are guilty of dismissing our work with the term “mommy goggles”?
Here’s the thing – when you use a term like that, you are belittling not just your own work, but your own worth as a mother. There are enough people out there willing to tear you apart and tear you down. Don’t do it to yourself.
As mothers, we are tasked with creating, through blood or adoption, a connection with our little person, and then loving them like no one else can.
We cherish, we care, we know, we pay attention, we observe, we listen, we kiss, we clean and cook and launder and pay bills and drive endlessly, we chase monsters, we sing, we giggle, we create memories – we love selflessly and fiercely.
We are our little people’s rock, their everything, their true north and the thing they call home. In order to do this, to BE this - we have to SEE our children. Really see them, their emotions and personality and environment and being.
And if you, as their mother, as the one person on this earth who knows them more intimately then they know themselves – if you can take that love and detail and capture it in a photograph? What power.
So the next time you take an image, and think, “gah, mommy goggles” – stop for a minute. If you know what you are doing with a camera, if you can critique that image and find worth in it, then it’s probably a good picture. Heck, it’s probably an amazingly insightful picture. And if it’s not? Then judge it for what it is – poor composition or lighting or moment - but never dismiss it for being good only because of “mommy goggles”.
Because the vision we have behind us as mothers is some of the purest on this earth.
Some photographers spend weeks, months, even years with a subject trying to connect and find a meaningful way to photograph it. The connection is elemental and necessary for an image to be powerful. And as mother, you already have that thing. So rock it, capture it, embrace it, but don’t ever, ever dismiss it.