I met Pamela literally at the beginning of my career as a family and maternity photographer. Everything was fresh and new, and I was shaping my business with each client I met. Maternity photography wasn’t even a thing back then. I was doing it because I wanted to capture this unique shape. She came back into my studio nearly 15 years later to have me do some family photography of her and her now teenage boys.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Seattle in the 1960’s-1970’s, and always wanted to be one of the Supremes. When that didn’t happen, I decided I should become a lawyer. I didn’t think about becoming a mom until much, much later, and I think it surprised a lot of people when I did.
Then I was married, now, I’m a single mom. Much of my life is focused on my sons, my two very favorite people in the world. Life is busy. I don’t sleep enough. I keep wondering when I’ll have time to knit socks again, whether I’ll even remember how to turn a heel. Many days, most of my energy is spent trying to co-parent in a way that gives my kids a secure foundation for their lives.
I love taking time out of each year to travel with my kids. We’ve taken many trips to National Parks – Arches, Zion, Denali, Glacier — slowing down to enjoy amazing places and the joy of having nothing to do and nowhere to be. This past summer, I watched them skip rocks at Lowell Point, in Seward Alaska, in the bright sun with tall mountains all around us. It reminded me of the time five summers ago, when they skipped rocks, outside our rustic cabin on Lake McDonald in Montana. I hope they always skip rocks.
- Please tell me about what drew you to my work, why you trusted me to take these special photos, and how special these photos are over time.
The first time I saw Jennifer’s work, I was shopping in a maternity/baby shop on Madison. I loved the way the black and white photos revealed the simple beauty of the pregnant women and the shape of their bodies. I wanted to capture myself like that, so I booked an appointment.
Back then, her studio was in a house near mine. I’d never met Jennifer before, but she somehow put me at ease about the whole idea of being naked in front of her and her camera. (Once you go through the process of giving birth in a room full of strangers, you realize how easy this kind of naked is.) The photos were amazing, and I had more shoots with Jennifer after my first son was born, again when I was pregnant with my second son, and again after he was born. I keep a collection of these photos next to my bed. Sometimes I forget they’re there, but every time I stop and look at them, I remember that amazing time.. I was in love with my sons from the moment I met them. Jennifer captured that, in black and white.
For my 50th birthday, my former husband bought me a gift certificate for a photo shoot with my now teenage and pre-teenage sons. It was about two hours before we were supposed to be in the studio that I realized the dark shirts they had without logos no longer fit them. We rushed to Macy’s and scoured the men’s department for logo-less shirts, which are not so easy to find. In spite of arriving in a frazzled state, Jennifer had us all laughing and hugging and smiling. Those photos, taken almost 15 years after the first, once again captured my love for my sons. This is why I come back to Jennifer.
- Please feel free to include anything else you like that is interesting about you or your parenting philosophy. I find you inspiring and would like others to be inspired too.
Parenting involves a constant balancing between who you want you and your kids to be and who you and your kids are. The goals are to let them be themselves, within boundaries, to constantly model the values you want them to have and to give them truly unconditional love. This sounds easy, but it isn’t. It’s ridiculously hard.
While I can look back and see many things I wish I’d done differently, I try not to spend time there. My kids and I have faced medical challenges. Those experiences crystallized for me the importance of the present. Every day has moments, sometimes only small moments, when we can truly connect. Sometimes it’s that short car ride, when we all laugh over “second date update” on the radio, sometimes it’s staying with them while they fall asleep, sometimes, it’s a bone crushing hug from my son who now outweighs me , and sometimes it’s the genuine caring that prompts the question, “Mom, how can I help you?” This is what makes me happy.
Every mom needs something she does for herself. For me, it’s going to Gold’s to lift weights, meditating at my church, never missing Swing Years and Beyond and keeping up with my most precious friends who forgive my long lapses of not being there because I’m busy being a mom. Or a lawyer.
When I saw the proofs from my most recent shoot, I saw how much I’d aged. But I didn’t care, because I also saw how, instead of babies waiting to be born or toddlers, I now have sons I admire, who love me and each other, who have amazing and genuine smiles, who are happy. And once again, Jennifer captured that for me, in black and white.