Heather Morton & motherhood

I used to be one of those people who thrived on late-night creative energy. In college I would go print alone in the darkroom until 3am (which admittedly was pretty creepy; one night the turning light-lock door spun around and no one was there. After that I tried to work when people were around...) and I always did better with paper writing when I waited until the day before and stayed up all night, typing furiously. Since having kids I've managed to force my night-owl self to go to bed at mostly-reasonable hours, which usually means about 10:30pm on average. But every once in a while I relive my pre-children days and get into the zone of that particular quiet, focused feeling that sometimes can only come in the semi-wee hours.

So I published my Mother/Photographer post at around 12:45am and then decided to do one last Google search and came across a link that for some reason I hadn't seen before. It was "Motherhood & Photography" on Heather Morton's blog. The title speaks for itself: the subject is right up my alley, and Morton talks about three women shooting along motherhood-lines (Edith Maybin, Julie Blackmon, and Tierney Gearon). Morton's post says it all, and wonderfully, so I won't elaborate on the photographers, but it's a great read so check it out. (I've actually seen Blackmon's work before and had forgotten about it; I'm more partial to her black-and-white "Mind Games" series than the more staged and surreal "Domestic Vacations.")

Also, Morton says that "motherhood seems to be the new black" in photography, which is heartening to say the least. I've been telling my husband James for a few years that pregnancy was the new black in celebrity culture, but now that women like Sarah Jessica Parker's kids are growing up there may be a shift toward trendiness in the mom department. Which may be good or bad, depending. I always did hate the term "belly bump," it gives me the willies. As soon as something full of depth gets turned into a one-liner on the cover of Us Magazine it tends to be romanticized and/or infantilized. Luckily fine-art photography can be a critique or counterbalance to such superficiality, and it would be wonderful if the complexity of motherhood via art became a movement of sorts, i.e. the new black. We shall see.


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