Studio Notes: Sierra + Elliot

Now that I have this nifty blog, I’m very excited to have a dedicated space for creative journaling. I realize I have an outlet now for all my good creative vibes, especially after a great photoshoot or project! My good vibes today come from photographing Sierra and Elliot this morning for a maternity session. It was such a positive shoot, and I felt so creatively nourished afterwards that I processed everything and sent the photographs back as soon as I got home.

I like my sessions to feel like laid-back hang-outs or catching up with a friend, even if my clients are strangers. Sessions are almost always outside, natural light, and minimal equipment affairs. For Sierra and Elliot, we were working in her family’s beautiful 10 acre back yard, which was so overgrown and green from the rains. We set up next to the pond, and managed to get all the shooting done before the midday sun wiped us out. It was a gorgeous space to make images in, and the seclusion made it easy to feel comfortable and familiar. I was challenging myself to use my 35mm lenses instead of my usual lens, which ended up being the perfect lens for the occasion. It also helped that Elliot was sleepy and relaxed!

Chill Elliot

I have been so grateful to do maternity sessions before, but they were always for women and families that were still carrying. Until today, I haven’t had the opportunity to explore postpartum motherhood creatively. It was so rewarding to capture Sierra and her attitude toward motherhood/her postpartum body, because she is so empowered and self-accepting in her new role. Mothers go through so much physically to bring their children into the world and build their families, and I think it’s essential that maternity images pay respect to that. I also think it's important to celebrate and normalize women's real bodies during this incredible life experience: from breastfeeding to the postpartum baby bump to stretch marks.

Going into this photoshoot, I also had a lot of inspiration from female artists that have tread similar ground.

What I admire most about these works from Renee Cox, Mary Cassatt, and Gertrude Kasbier is the dichotomy of vulnerability and strength that they portray. There’s something so soft, yet so strong about these mothers and the way they protect and nurture their children, the way they lead them.

I was also grateful to explore maternity a bit because of everything going on with women’s rights in the United States right now. A huge aspect of my image making is personal experience and ideas, and I use self-initiated projects to sort out these emotions/ideas behind the camera all the time. While this wasn’t a self-initated project, I’m super thankful to Sierra for being open to my creative exploration during this session. We’re both thoughtful women who have something to say about everything happening in our culture right now, and I feel like some of our dialogue energizes these images.

Ultimately, I had an incredible Saturday morning capturing the connection between Sierra and Elliot. 💛 I’m hoping their family will be able to cherish these images for a long time.

See some of my favorites!

Any thoughts on how maternity is portrayed in art, photography, and media? Share below!

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