Rachel Larsen Weaver
US photographer + artist-educator
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Rachel Larsen Weaver is an artist-educator and photographer joyfully living on the Maryland beaches of the Chesapeake Bay as a mother to five.
Rachel enjoyed writing as a child and she has always been a reader. Rachel studied an Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in College, creative non fiction and writing personal essays was her passion. She spent 10 years as a teacher and in her current life calls back to this in her mentoring roles.
When her 3rd son was born, she wanted to start a blog, and in an effort to provide good quality pictures - she bought a camera - and her passion for photography was ignited. She was inspired to improve the quality of her photos and soon she was approached to take photos for others. She delved into studying photography as an artform and heavily invested herself in researching photography, seeking mentors and improving her knowledge.
Her style of photography is reflective, deeply embedded in story telling and through her Long Form Sessions where she spends days with her clients in their homes, she is finding the joy in the hidden and messy places. She's about helping others see the beauty in themselves, the days, families, and worlds they create - and the homes that hold them. Her firm belief is that self-love and self celebration are not reserved for the thin, white, young, able bodied, cis-gendered female. She creates environments for people to be seen and to be heard.
Rachel is so passionate about sharing every body and leads by example with her own self portrait projects. She has worked hard on self acceptance and encourages others to do the same through her Finding Myself in Portraits project.
Her portfolio and practice is fat-affirming, mindful and genuine, focusing on the life and light of her clients. Rachel travels the country documenting mothers, bodies and details. Rachel’s unique ability to call people home to themselves, their bodies, their passions and their worlds is precisely the gift made manifest in her photo work. By grounding into presence and remaining stubborn in her commitment to joy, Rachel brings a clear sense of purpose (and humour) to her life and her work with clients.
Connect with Rachel website / instagram / facebook
Podcast - instagram / website /
Music used with permission from Alemjo my new age and ambient music trio.
When chatting to my guests I greatly appreciate their openness and honestly in sharing their stories. If at any stage their information is found to be incorrect, the podcast bears no responsibility for guests' inaccuracies.
Podcast transcript at the bottom of the page
Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of The Art of Being A Mum Podcast. I'm beyond honoured that you're here and would be grateful if you could take 2 minutes to leave me a 5-star review in iTunes or wherever you are listening. It really helps! This way together we can inspire, connect and bring in to the light even more stories from creative mums. Want to connect? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram tagging me in with @art_of_being_a_mum_podcast
I can't wait to connect. And remember if you or somebody you know would like to be a guest on the podcast, get in touch! I love meeting and chatting to mammas from all creative backgrounds, from all around the world!
Alison acknowledges this Land of the Berrin (Mount Gambier) Region as the Traditional Lands of the Bungandidj People and acknowledge these First Nations people as the custodians of the Region.
Welcome to the Art of Being a mum, the podcast. It's a platform for mothers who are artists and creatives to share the joys and issues they've encountered, while continuing to make art. Regular themes we explore include the day to day juggle, how mothers work is influenced by their children, mum guilt, how mums give themselves time to create within the role of mothering, and the value that mothers and others place on their artistic selves. My name's Alison Newman. I'm a singer, songwriter, and a mom of two boys from regional South Australia. You can find links to my guests and topics we discussed in the show notes. Together with music played, how to get in touch, and a link to join our lively and supportive community on Instagram. The art of being a mum acknowledges the Bondic people as the traditional owners of the land, which this podcast is recorded on. Thank you so much for joining me today. My guest today is Rachel Lassen Weaver. Rachel is a photographer, and an artist educator living on the Maryland beaches of the Chesapeake Bay in the United States, and she's a mother to five children. Rachel enjoyed writing as a child, and she was always a reader. She studied a Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing in college, creative nonfiction, and writing personal essays was her passion. She spent 10 years as a teacher, and in her current life calls back to these in her mentoring roles. When her third son was born, Rachel wanted to start a blog. And in an effort to provide good quality pictures, she bought a camera and her passion for photography was ignited. She was inspired to improve the quality of her photos, and soon she was approached to take photos for others. Rachel delved into studying photography as an art form, and heavily invested herself in researching photography, seeking mentors and improving her knowledge. Her style of photography is reflective, deeply embedded in storytelling, and through her long form sessions, where she spends days with her clients in their homes. She is finding the joy in the hidden and messy places. She is about helping others see the beauty in themselves, the days families and worlds they create and the homes that hold them. Her firm belief is that self love and self celebration are not reserved for thin, white, young, able bodied, cisgendered female, she creates environments for people should be seen and to be heard. Rachel is so passionate about sharing every body and leads by example, with her own self portrait projects. She has worked hard on self acceptance and encourages others to do the same. Through her finding myself in portraits project. Her portfolio and practice is fat affirming, mindful and genuine, focusing on the life and life of her clients. Rachel travels the country documenting mother's bodies and details. Her unique ability to call people home to themselves, their bodies and their passions and their worlds is precisely the gift made manifest in her photo work. By grounding into presence and remaining stubborn in her commitment to joy. Rachael brings a clear sense of purpose and humor to her life and her work with clients. The music you'll hear today is from my ambient new age music trio called LM Joe made up of myself, my sister Emma Anderson, and her husband, John. I really hope you enjoy today's episode. Rachel, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. It's lovely to meet you.
It's so nice to be here. Thanks for having me, Allison.
Yeah, you're in Maryland, Maryland.
Good job. Yeah. Yeah, we say Maryland,
Maryland. Yeah. Whereabouts is that sorry, forgive me. My geography is not great.
It's on the east coast of you of the US. It's the state that Washington DC the Capitol got chopped out of? Basically Washington DC, is in Maryland's region.
Yeah. Okay. Then I know. I know what you mean. Now? What happened there? Why did they do that?
So I was like, kind of Central Coast when it was the 13 colonies. And originally for Virginia had given Pete a piece too, because that's the state right below us. And it was a perfect square. But then Virginia took back their peace, I think during the Civil War when they joined the Confederacy, so now it's just like, the peace out of Maryland.
That's funny, isn't it? Hmm. When when I read that you're on Chesapeake Bay, which is really cool, because I've been we were massive fans of the Hamilton musical. And there's a bit with the Chesapeake Bay.
It's like anyone? Shout out. Excellent. What time is it? What day is it for you Tuesday?
It's Tuesday and it's 10am. Yep. So beautiful. Where it? What is it for you there?
It's 7:30pm. Monday
on Monday. Yeah, cool. Okay. That's one of the things I love about doing this is just like, I used to have a lot of pen pals when I was a kid. And I was always fascinated by what the weather was, like, where they lived and what time it was, you know, all that sort of stuff. I love. I love it. It's so cool.
We're both at like transitional seasons right now. Right? Going into spring. So it feels like we're extreme.
Yeah. So we're halfway, like springs officially started. But we're we're going to start summer, next month. So we're like, it almost feels like it's going back to autumn. Now. It's really weird. The mornings are really cold. But then the sun comes out and it's beautiful. Then Then it starts raining. It's like it's wearing a mishmash of everything right now is bizarre. What part of Australia are you? So I mean, Matt Gambia, which is right down the bottom. In South Australia. It's almost like there's a border between South Australia and Victoria. And I'm about 10 minutes from that two minutes drive. Right, almost almost at the coast, probably half an hour from the coast. So yeah, it's an interesting place because we get a lot of like the weather comes across, like the Tet the Tasman Strait is like freezing cold. So we get all that weird weather. But then sometimes in summer we get the northerly winds. And it's boiling hot, like 40 degrees Celsius. I don't sorry, I don't know what that is in. You're really hot. I know. Like, yeah, and we'll have days of that on end. But then it will just go back to like, I don't know, it's really weird. Really weird.
You have more seasons that Northern Australia. Yeah,
we're really distinct. Like out there. They have like a wet season or dry season pretty much they I don't think they dispense with the traditional, you know, summer or winter, spring or fall. You call it fall over?
Yeah. We call it either. It's allowed. It's actually
cool watching all these physical fall a lot of people from America and it's like it's sweater weather. No, this
was a good American accent there too. I love it. Everyone's getting like the pumpkin spice lattes and Oh, God love so you're a photographer.
Can you share with us what you do? How you got into it? Tell us all about what you do.
So originally my like, creative medium. What I studied in college, and when I started my MFA, do you have to ask isn't that translates right? Yeah, yes, it does. Yes, was in was in creative writing. And so writing was really my focus, creative nonfiction in particular, like writing personal essays. But when my third son was born, I wanted to start a blog. I like felt like it was the time where everybody had a blog, blog, too. And if you have a blog, you need pictures that nobody's gonna read your blog. So I bought a camera, really just so that I could have pictures for my blog. And because the writing was the part I was more excited about. And it's sort of, then I wanted my pictures for the blog to be better. And then people started around me started asking like, Well, can you take my family pictures or, you know, friends that were having low key weddings, that, that all the sudden photography was a bigger thing. As soon as people started to want to pay me, I felt an obligation to like, get good at it. And I'm just like, if somebody wants me to do this, I want to and I really dug into studying photography, as an art form. Like I feel very dedicated to photography. I spend a lot of time and money buying monographs. I love to have books of photographers work. I spent a lot of time studying that I try to go to exhibits as often as I can. Knowing kind of the history of it and who the the founding folks that have built something like that's a lot of my energy and I like to look into it because I think it kind of helps keep you from Instagram trends are, especially since photography is so easily shareable and it's easy. I feel like it's kind of easy to fall into thinking of it as a social media content, creative thing. And that's not how I see it, I want to make an image that does not just exist for social media.
And I feel like it gives a lot of legitimacy to it. Because you understand that you're like, it's like someone studying the, you know, their art form. Like if they paint a particular way they study all the greats from that style, or whatever, you know, you're really invested in him. And he's in he said, monetary wise, too. But you know, you're, you're really into it, you're not just like, click, click, click, put on Instagram, you know, hashtag, whatever. It's a real, it's a real passion.
And I can, like, nerd out so hard, I like, do like, I love books, I love studying. And so I wouldn't be a student for the rest of my life, if I could figure out a way to afford to do that. So I really do feel like a student of photography at this stage. And it really, I think, does help to create things that feel be, like I said, beyond what is of this moment, one of the things that I really think, studying that other work, when I'm just looking at social media as my inspiration, the things that do well, on a really small screen that you're kind of passing by quickly, aren't the same images that I want to return to again, and again, when public, like when I'm looking at larger in a book, and so it helps kind of realign me to my purpose to be looking at the thing that I'm trying to create, rather than the thing that's easy to consume.
Yes, yeah. It's interesting, I saw, it's just reminded me of something I saw the other day, someone who I'm not going to remember what it was. But it was literally about that. The popularity of Instagram, yeah, we can forget what's driving us because we get the likes and the comments or whatever. And that, you know, our dopamine brain goes, Oh, that's exciting. Everyone likes me. But then, as you said, like, this is not going to be an era that lasts forever, you know, this, this will be a little blip on the radar. And already people are getting back to printing. You know, there's a photographer I know, here, Matt Gambia, who gets all her field, things printed on films, like she's got a film camera. Now she's going back to the olden days, olden days, everything
I do everything on film. Yeah. And
it's wonderful, you know, and same thing that people getting back to records, you know, that physical, we're sort of like rejecting this mass consumption of instant stuff. And we're going back to the important thing. So I think you're right, not just, you know, focusing on what's popular now. But the things that have stood the test of time, and, you know, will stand the test of time, the things that you're creating now,
that's what I want to use as kind of my measuring tool. You know, I can't I can't be like, I mean, how many people do you know that are on Instagram right now that are like, so frustrated with that it wasn't what it used to be. And, and so I feel like it doesn't frustrate me deeply, because I don't feel a huge attachment, like pretty active user of it. And I like it, and I but it isn't the end all be all for me. And so I can kind of have a certain like, you know, casualness with it.
Yeah, that's it. Yeah. Yep. And that said something else that reminds me, so I'll do this a lot. Things will remind me and I'll go. And then I'll probably cut it out later, because I realized that I'm just rambling. But yeah, somebody somebody posted recently, they were leaving Instagram, because they weren't happy with one that somebody else actually owned their content. You know, we don't own what we put on Instagram, they could disappear at any moment. And to obviously, now with the changes in algorithm, they're controlling what people see. So they will like, come and join my email list, you know, come to my website, getting people back to that, you know, I used to work at a plant nursery, and we used to when people would come past the tool, and you'd say, Oh, would you like to join our email list? You know, the old the old thing of writing down your email, and it seems so pointless and dorky, but like that's what people are getting back to now, you know, this is motivation. I
send them Monday night newsletter, it will go. It's funny. We're recording Monday night, my time. It'll go out and a half an hour. It's become my biggest driver of business. It feels like my biggest creative outlet. Like I'm mostly excited about people coming to Instagram so that I can get them to my newsletter, because it was sort of like my first love to it gives me a space to do that. I can share the images that I want without censorship. It feels like a different investment to the people who like choose to read that newsletter that they open it up on Monday night, it feels like a ritual for some people. Or maybe I'm just that I'm like, giving you this thing. And I'm like, Cool, Rachel.
But I think too, like, that's your intention behind it, you know, it's not something that you can just scroll on, you know, it's a thing that is a special thing that people have chosen to be a part of, and that's thing you want them to appreciate? This is your this is your special way reaching out, you know?
Yeah, and that's really, I think, part li having that does make me feel a little less freaked out by the algorithm. You know what I mean? Where I'm like, Okay, it's gonna be all right, the people, because the people who were most interested in working with me, they've already, they're already over there, they're following, they're keeping in touch with me. And I think we underestimate us. I mean, I know some are artists or less in like, the direct marketing, maybe that so many, like, portrait photographers, we use Instagram, to get business maybe in a way that's different than some of your guests like when you have musicians and authors, it can be kind of a different relationship.
So I'd like to go back to this beginning for you with the writing, were you always into writing as a kid growing up?
Yeah, that's probably the thing that I, it's probably the career I most often returned to. I mean, I've wanted to be so many things throughout the course of my life. But I think writing frequently was the thing that I returned to is something that I loved. Of all always been a reader. I've always been a writer. But it was interesting to me because as I said, creative nonfiction was my, my main genre. And I feel like it makes the transition into the type of photography that I create feels sort of in that same in that same genre that I want to, you know, there are so many conceptual photographers that I really love, that I kind of like when they're kind of playing with surrealism, or, you know what I mean that they're, they're doing things that are kind of abstract, or they're doing things that feel like deeply creative. And they love it, and I'm inspired by it. But that isn't the thing that I seek to create, I think back on, on one of my creative writing professors, which sort of adorably My oldest is in college right now. And she has this professor who was like, my favorite professor, because she's going to the same university. And it's his last semester teaching anyhow, that's brilliant. And, yeah. And one of the things he had said about creative nonfiction was, you can write in any detail that you need to in your piece, and it doesn't have to be true. Like, you don't have to remember what they were wearing. As long as it could be true. You know, what I mean? Like, what is the thing that Allison might wouldn't be wearing? Or would be eating or? And so I think about that a lot. When I'm taking pictures, it's not that I'm pure documentary. I don't mind moving the situation, or changing it. But I still want it to feel in the realm of, could that be true? It's not like true for a mom to be like, hanging around naked in her kitchen with her children. Where I like, see lots of like, kind of beautiful, and like, I don't want to make that picture. Like I don't you know what I mean? Like, but if you are a lady that, like, hang around in your undies in your, you know, big T shirt, then that is interesting to me.
Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Yeah.
So anyhow, that's sort of like, I see how that writing background, how the how the details that I was most interested in like that, that that's then what I become interested in, in pictures. I feel like there's a real overlap between the writing I liked and the photographs I like and try to make.
Yeah, that is so interesting. So would you describe your style of photography as documentary style? Or what's the best way to describe it?
For a person who loves words I hate tried to figure though word is for it. Because I know it's not pure documentary because I feel like I am fine with adjusting the thing. Like, I often think about Sally Mann, who is one of my, you know, favorite photographers that I look up to, there's a picture where she has a bite mark on her arm, and it's called Jessie bites. And her son was Jessie. But she bit herself for that photo was in a biting phase, apparently, but then like she wanted to make the image. But she was like, this could be true, but it's not. So anyhow. So documentary feels like there's sort of a commitment to you don't alter the situation. And I'm not afraid to alter it so that it can in the period of time that we need to tell the truth that we need it to. But it's not lifestyle photography. It's not portrait photography yet. So
it's kind of a mix between conceptual and documentary. Maybe. Yeah.
I mean, that I mean, it couldn't be. Because if we think of the concept of speed, how much truth can we try to tell as fast as we can? I mean, which is funny that I say as fast as we can, because I, my preferred way to shoot is long form sessions, which are 24 Hour Photo experiences, where I like come into somebody's home, and I stay with them for a full 24 hours. Oh, wow. Yeah. So even when I say you're still trying to tell a whole family of a story, or a whole story of the family, even their 24 hours is so much longer. There's still so much story to tell.
Yet, it's still a short period of time in the game.
There's that part of me that keeps thinking like, How long could I make these go? Because I wish I had a week sometimes, you know what I mean? Like to make a body of work that feels like, oh, this could be its own book. This could be its own show, like how could this family you know, to show the nuances of it in the different relationships and how they shift in and out. That's sort of my fantasy.
Wow, I this is groundbreaking. You're the first person I've spoken to, or first person I've heard of that does this this is amazing. Like to spend that amount of time I love it.
No. Yeah. Because you really get to like, you know, I, I sleep in their house, I eat their meals with them. I wake up with them. I go, and because I say it's at least 24 hours sometimes because I'm flying places. We're driving like this weekend, I'll be driving down the coast. So you know, I'll spend Friday night with them shoot all day Saturday and then go home on Sunday. You really like you're seeing what know how the sausage is made? That's an expression that you use in Australia. Oh, yeah. You don't I mean, like you're in there. And I love it. It's like, voyeurism at its best. It's so exciting. I like fascinating. Yeah, it's a it's also interesting, sort of the backstory on it about a year and a half ago. Like so many photographers. I like needed to make a buck, as we often do. And I was offering, like, motherhood mini sessions, and I had a friend who was on the other side of the country who had done it so beautifully and pulled it off. And I was like, Yeah, was it okay, I'm just gonna like copy. And it flopped, like, not do very well. And I had that moment of like, oh, I don't think that this is what people want from me. I don't make portraits quickly. You know, even the way I was normally running sessions, I had a realization like, I think people want longer, not less time. I think people want to really get to show what's going on that we want to be validated in the work that we're doing in the in the thick of it. So I like got my act together. And I started long form sessions, and I booked more long form sessions that were like, nearly 10 times the price of a mini session, I booked more long form sessions that I had many sessions. Yeah, that's the thing that people wants what they want. Yeah. And it was different than what other people were offering.
Yeah, yeah. But isn't that interesting, though, that it's like, when you stay true to yourself, like that authentic openness? And I'm not, you know, I'm not being rude to you at all, because I think we all do it. And I certainly know I've done it with this podcast. You see how someone does it and you think, Oh, that looks good. I'll do that. Yeah. And it was probably great that it flopped because it went well. Hang on. So grateful. That's not me. Yeah.
Yeah, I'm like, it was and I think It's just the reminder, especially for like creative entrepreneurs, that we try a thing. And like, the next thing that could be super wildly successful for you can just be around the corner. And the more that we lean into the piece that we're really good at the part that feels the most aligned with the work that we're supposed to be making. But, you know, it's a little bit hard sometimes to like, brush off your bruised ego when you're like, Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Seems to be doing this so well. And I tried it and no, like, I had a real moment, like that dark night where you're like, I just was like, oh,
yeah, he's question everything, don't you? Yeah. I'm so glad you got going. Yeah,
you know, because I had, I mean, the big thing was, my oldest daughter was about to go to college, and I needed to make more money than I had been making. So I thought many sessions might provide that. And it didn't. So you, but this has been the end. So creatively fulfilling, it is the work that I want to be making, it's in the speed, one of the things about because I do shoot completely film, I can't, like film needs more light than digital photography. In low light situations, I can't be shooting very easily, like, I can do a flash, but that kind of, yeah, just the nature of it, you know. So it's not like 24 hours of a camera in your face, you know, in ebbs and flows, and that it'll be like, let's do this thing. And then it kind of settles back down. Maybe the babies are taking a nap or whatever. And then like, you kind of have the desire to like make kind of bubbles back up, like you do, like, you know what I mean? It kind of feels like almost three sessions over the course of the day, with some clicking in between. But I don't know the flow of it is so perfect, deeply exciting to me.
Yeah, I just love it. This is an awesome thing I've never heard before. And I'm so like, I feel like energized. I don't know, if anybody in Australia does this cube, please get in touch with me. Sounds amazing. So when you're in people's homes, like you say how you know that it sort of ebbs and flows. You spending a lot of time watching these people, you know, that must be a passion for you to I don't want to say analyze people, but you know, you're picking up the nuances. You're saying, you know, and your focus is on, you know, the mothering role. Yeah. Is that part of it interesting to to sort of the dynamics and how people interacting?
Absolutely. I mean, and maybe that's like a little bit the writer in me too, that I'm like, like to listen to the stories that I, I don't know, I feel like my friends and my family at this point. They like hearing about sort of the adventures of it. And there's no like, it's not not a priest or doctor or lawyer to tell your business to my husband once I'm done. No confidentiality agreement. But I will say I am not a fly on the wall, sort of. That's the other thing that makes me feel like not a documentary photographer. Sometimes. I'm engaging, we're talking, I'm trying to, through what you're saying to when you're speaking to like, what your motherhood experiences. What your experience because I mean, it is primarily mothers, I have done some sessions. With couples, I had one woman who was a single woman that had me come and do a long form. And it was so wonderful to see how somebody crafts a day. You know, it was, there was like really special moments where she was like, bringing out a 50 year old vacuum cleaner that had been her great grandmother's that was like part of her like Saturday ritual. You know what I mean? Like, yeah, things that you're like, Oh, this is what your day your life is like. But anyhow, so So the conversation is helping lead me to like what I think we should create, as well, that I'm not strictly observing. It's pretty. It's pretty dynamic. It does feel kind of collaborative.
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Like you're not standing back and letting them go and just click, click, click, it's you're involved, and talking about things. And yeah, I love it. You've just blown my mind. Honestly, that is just magic. And that actually explains now, why your photos are so amazing, because I had a look on your website. As I told you before I speak to my guests. And it also explains why your writing is amazing on your website because you're a writer and that oh make sense. Now
You fineries are so I don't know how to describe them. They're just delightful and divine. And the, the, the story that they tell is so significant like I, I mean, back in the day, I used to do wedding photography, because I loved I love the detail of stuff. Like I took a lot of photos of people's, you know, fingers and faces and, and there wasn't a lot of, you know, let's all stand up and take a photo of everybody. I love that detail. And I feel like this, this your photos they tell so much, you know, there's so much there, but it's I can't describe it in words. I'm not I've not a good way of words to zero. But you know that I don't know how to describe it. And you can tell I think the passion that you have for what you do, like, seriously comes out because you couldn't just go click click, click and get these photos. You know, there's a, it makes sense. Now it all makes sense.
There's one of my favorite podcast episodes like of all time, Malcolm Gladwell has a podcast because I just like met Malcolm Gladwell is writing so much revisionist history, and there's one I think it's called King of tears. But it talks about how country music One of the reasons that like country music breaks your heart is because it's so specific. And maybe we've kind of like used to make fun of it. Like, now dad that like sort of trope. Yeah. But, but those like real specific details, like through that, I think it speaks more to like the universal than anything else. And so that is often like what I'm looking for. It's funny, I've had like, portfolio reviews and critiques. And not everybody loves it the way I do that. They're like, You should have moved that out of the frame or whatever. But for me, it's those like messy bits, that feel. I don't that they give it the depth and the nuance that I mean, and I still want it to be pretty. That's, that's the thing. Sometimes I see strict documentary photography. And it's I don't know, in so in attempt to tell the story truthfully, I don't, I don't know that they're not always beauty isn't as much of an aim. And maybe I'm like a little superficial. I do want it to have that. And I also do think people, the clients who are hiring me, they want to see themselves in an honest way, but like, their best. I mean, like you still want to feel like beautiful and attractive in in that even if it is complicated. And you know,
yes, I think yeah, I think yeah, exactly. You can show the realness, but then within that, adjust it to, I mean, the person's got to look at it and like it to at the end of the day, don't they? They don't want to look go oh, this is so cringy I don't like looking at this photo of myself. You know, it's got to have that balance, I think yeah.
When you first started taking photos, did you have any influence? Or did you just go intuitively into this is the style of photo that you're taking?
Now, one of the things I do not think I'm a very natural photographer, I've worked really hard at it. There are other things that I feel like have come to me. It's one of the reasons that I kind of like mentoring is because I'm like, Oh, I think I can tell you how to do this. Even if you're not like naturally good at it because I like I have put my time in I have studied, it was something that I wanted to be good at. So, so I don't know that I'm there. So there was influence, and early on. Like I also believe a lot and like finding mentors and teachers who can help you along the way. Early on when I was like getting hired, all the sudden to take pictures and I was like, well, one thing I realized was this was before I was doing long form sessions when I was taking a picture of my children, which is what was showing up in my blog. I was clicking when the light was blue Before when the moment had come, when it had sort of naturally appeared? Well, now all of a sudden, I had one hour in somebody's house. And I didn't know how to like, make that moment happen. You know what I mean? So your natural tendency, then is to, like, start posing them into groups, because you're like, I don't know what to do when I'm in there looking at you kind of like, what do we do now? Yeah, yeah. And so that's when I found, I, like, did the research and found somebody who I thought was making family photography that felt deep and rich, and not like the pictures I was seeing everywhere. And I went to one of her workshops. And in the years, since we've just developed a relationship that turned friendship, and that it was somebody that has really helped guide and I recognize the importance of that, that, you know, having somebody to look at your work and be able to give it an honest critique. And I've tried other mentors and programs I've seen sometimes you're like, Oh, that was not my person, like they're telling me about my work doesn't actually resonate when you're saying that. I felt like confrontational like, oh, you can't tell me to remove that picture. So anyhow, you find that person, that vision aligns with yours, and they help you to amplify your voice. And I think that that is a really, that was a really powerful part of my growth in learning.
Yeah. And so that's what drives you to help others then because it's like, you can pass on like he said, if you're not a natural habit, I've got some tips. Yeah, you can do it. Because that was me, you know.
I mean, it's funny, I was saying to my husband, I was like, I actually think I might be more of a natural teacher than a photographer, because I taught in public schools in the US for eight years. And then for two years, I did an online school class that was doing almost daily zoom calls for two years during the pandemic, like I have a lot of teaching experience. Yeah. So sometimes when I'll do mentoring sessions, and people will say, like, that was so wonderful. I've done lots of these. This felt like the best use of my money that I've ever done. Sometimes I'm like, did not just say the things that like any. Like, to me, that's where I think everything is some sort of like obvious, but you realize that maybe that's the piece that comes more naturally.
Yeah, and I guess hearing things like you could hear the same thing. 20 times 20 different people, but it's not until maybe you connect with that person, you resonate with that person, and then you know, you will allow yourself to hear it. You know what I mean? Or to you to hear it? Yeah.
Yeah. Because also like, if your friend who you feel like doesn't know anything about pictures is like, that's your best picture. You might be Yeah, who says like, whatever. You're an accountant, like Oh,
I love that. Now, I want to mention some really amazing things about what drives you to take these pictures, right? I love going to take some direct quotes off your website, okay, which I love. It says self love and self celebration are not reserved only for the thin, white, young, cisgendered able bodied female. When I read that, I was just like, Go girl, like, I feel like there's so many of us, because we've, you know, we might have grown up with magazines with the airbrush people on the covers, and then the social media shoving thin people down our throats, it's like, you just feel so unworthy of being in front of a camera, or wanting to be in front of a camera. You know, it's just like, you read that and you go, yeah, if I feel heard, I feel seen.
Well, like one of the things that I think has made me excited about photography. Like before I wanted to be a photographer, one of the things you know, I said there were lots of jobs and ideas that I would imagine that I felt like the straw like, I don't know that the work was supposed to be sort of about something and about something more that they're supposed to be an aspect of, like, activism or charity, or like that was so much. And sometimes I felt like I think maybe I wouldn't allow myself to consider being an artist because I was like, Oh, well, that seems like In almost selfish pursuit, I'm not saying that I agree with these ideas now, but you know, this was like my. But one of the things that I realized like as an image creator, as a person who makes images, that you wield a lot of power in, like what you show and where you show beauty and how you expand the definition of beauty, and how you allow other people to feel seen, and heard and accepted, when I was a kid, and I've always had a big body, like I never, there was never easy to buy clothing, I could never share clothing with my friends, I always felt like the fattest kid in the class. Because I was the fattest kid in the class, like, just in truth, that was just fact. I thought, when I didn't see people like me, in TV, or movies, or magazines or catalogs, I didn't think that the problem was them and representation, I thought that the problem was me. And if I could just make myself thinner and different, then I deserved to be represented. And, like, That's bullshit. And so now that I have like, a little bit of a platform, a little bit of a way to make images, a little bit of wit, a way to share those, I'm like, and I had to start, it's one of the reasons I'm, like, pretty passionate about self portraiture, because I wanted people of different sizes, and abilities and bodies to hire me. And I felt like well, I have to start by showing mine. Like, I feel like it's one of those things that especially photographers, if you want to be telling people, like, I want you to feel comfortable in your body, you kind of have to like, walk the walk and prove it a little like they can see through your BS. And so if you haven't really done the work, to love and accept yourself. The best thing I can do is model that. And then when I show up, I kind of show up and I give people permission to be like, Oh, yes, I get to do this too.
Yeah, it probably makes your clients feel more comfortable to be themselves because they know they're with someone who has done the same thing. You can just relax and it almost feels like a camaraderie that okay, you know, I've done this you can do this, you know, and you feel empowered. I guess that's been
that's definitely what I want. One of one of the stories I tell sometimes one of the bad mentoring experience, I went and paid for a mentorship with a wedding photographer when that weddings were still a bigger part of my, my work. And I really loved her editing and her low light. The way she did things This was before I was shooting film, either. But when I showed up to meet with her, the first thing she said to me was that I should not have plus size bodies on my portfolio or Instagram. Oh, it was like particularly shocking, I thought to tell straight to a plus sized person that I was like, oh,
did you like think Did you like walk out right then? No, because
I felt like $800 and I and I was like, Do you know what I mean? It was one of those times where you're like, what, like we hadn't even started we had like gone to get a cup of coffee. We hadn't even started the mentorship yet. And I was like, what, but you know, also, how hard is it to like, learn once you feel really shut down? Oh, yeah, actually, it was one of those things that was really invigorating for me. Yes. So like a screw that. Yeah. Like that is absolutely. I will use my like I said, my limited influence my limited platform to be like, That is not the story.
I would love if that person could actually see what you're doing now that she would just get a shock of how amazing it is and how wonderful it isn't appreciated.
I know though, it's funny, I had seen that at some point during the pandemic, that this person had been hired by a brand to shoot a plus size model. And that made me so mad that I was like I I think this woman is like entirely fat phobic. And now she's like, because she's being paid for the specific thing like yeah, it made my blood boil because I was oh, that poor body in front of her lens that isn't actually loved. That isn't like, there she is not seeing the beauty in that person. Like I don't, I don't believe it.
But Isn't that an amazing gift from the universe though to say the thing that you're most afraid of? For whatever reason there's got to be something that's gone on in that woman's life. Here it is. And you can have some money for doing it and she would have been so conflicted she would have been doing need money or do I need to not do
it? No. It is like I want to Oh my god I have been a fly on the wall that circumstance but
you want to die. I would love to know now. out if that, if that changed her at all, if she in some way, developed an appreciation for a body, that's not the typical norm, which actually, I would argue that we probably are more normal than what, like, you know how, yeah, the site the size of clothes, the the, you know, the average size of clothes, the most popular size of clothes to get sold in Australia is a 14, which, I mean, fourteens aren't super small. But you know, it's, it's the other end of you know, the 810 12, you know, so, you know, our bodies are like, the normal
one. And one of the things I also realized, and I, that I always had this idea that if I could achieve the certain thing, then I would feel beautiful. And I realized, I met all of these beautiful, stunning humans, and they didn't necessarily feel that they were beautiful. And I realized that there was actually like, no direct correlation between how someone looked, and how they felt about their own self and their own body. And I was sort of like, well, if there's no correlation, I might as well just decide I love myself. Because, like, it seems like, you know, if people can do it the other way, then I'm just gonna, and also, I've always just wanted to be like, a little weirder than I am. I'm actually like, more. And I was like, you know, what I think my ticket will be is I'm just gonna be the woman who loves herself.
And but how bad is that? But that is groundbreaking, you know, is that new bad or was that that's what societies can do.
But like photography, it was something that I had to work on. I had always loved me as a person. But I didn't love the body that I was in. Like, I thought that my body was sort of unimportant. In the grand scheme of things. I was like, Oh, it's okay. I love my spirit of my soul. I love my personality, I love my intellect, it my body is just like the bag that carries that around. And one thing that had recently sort of occurred to me, no one thinks it's because it almost seems shallow to care about bodies. Nobody makes it shallow to think that a mountain is beautiful, or a flower or a sunset, like there are all sorts of other physical forms that we get excited about, like, why can't I be excited about my physical form? Or yours? Like? Yeah, yeah,
like, when you're saying that I'm, I'm thinking about, you know, I don't know what year I'm not a, I'm not a an art person. I don't understand a lot about things in art. But, you know, in some time in art, they were painting bigger bodies, you know, they will luxurious, and, you know, I can just have this image in my mind, you know, like, luxuriating on a reclined something, you know, and they were celebrating, you know, even the, what's the one that's coming out of the luxurious? Yeah, like, she's not a size too, you know, like, yeah, you know, when did we get to the, is it all about this selling, like advertising? And, you know, making money and capitalism is that, that switch that's going off some in some point in the world. I mean, I'm even thinking about in Mad Men, because that's one of my favorite TV shows. Love that show so much. You know, Joan, bigger bust round was like, you know, she had a really gorgeous figure, hourglass figure. She was, you know, craved by the men, you know, and you had all these little stick figure like Peggy and whoever running around, who people couldn't give a toss about. But then at what point did it actually go? No, we need the thinnest person possible. And that's all we want. It's
the thing that feels important to me is to be like, That thin woman is beautiful, that round woman is beautiful. That older woman is beautiful, that black woman is beautiful that like that the person with the moles the person with the hair, the person with the freckles, person with the stretch marks, like I just want, I want more beauty in my life. So I just want to keep expanding the definition bigger and bigger, so that it also holds me but that it holds so many people because then I get to experience more beauty. And like I am a glutton for beauty. I am totally a hedonist. I love pleasure. I love looking at things that I'm like, Yeah, that's good. Yeah. I just want to be like, how come there has always felt like there has been some control over women's bodies, no matter which way, maybe it's about thinness. Or maybe it was about that? Oh, you shouldn't be too strong. You should look like this or youth or, like, what is fertility look like? Whatever those things are. I just want to like, say be us to all of it to be like, there is so many ways for a thing to be beautiful. And I'm, I'm not interested in just seeing one flower. Like, why would I just be interested in seeing one body type? Yeah,
I love that. Like, yeah, and it reminds me too, because I actually had this conversation with someone on the podcast about why we'd want to Beauty but beauty is literally in the eye of the beholder because I love dead flowers. You know, dead flowers aren't meant to be beautiful, they're dead. But the color the roses when they die, their color comes out in a different way. And they, I don't throw them away. I just have them all around me because I just love them. You know this? Yeah, who decides what's beautiful, you know,
one of my like, one of my favorite concepts. And there was a book I returned to a lot. wabi sabi for artists, designers, philosophers and poets, I think. Anyhow, it is a, you know, it's a little it's a small little like treaties on the idea of wabi sabi. And the idea of like, the beautiful and like, the imperfect, the in let's think, the imperfect, the impermanent. And one other thing that I can't think of at this moment, but you know, I'm with you, when we start to see beauty as like the full cycle of life, even in the death that there's beautiful when we start to see that like that, that whole that that comes in every part of the cycle, like, we've just expanded how much beauty we get to experience and like, we don't have to hold on so tight to the beauty that we think exist in this moment. You know what the next one is good. And when that flower rots, it becomes more flowers. And that's also beautiful, like, it will feed the ground.
Yeah, cycle of life. I love that. Love it. You're listening to the art of being a mom with my mom, Alison Newman. That brings me to talking about there's a sorry, I'm just going to bring it up on your website. So I can say the right thing. Finding myself in portrait, a self love guide disguised as a self portrait primer. So this, I guess, is your way of saying encouraging people to unite except themselves find their beauty. And, you know, this is the medium through which you will work through things, I
guess. One of the things like in that digital guide, I don't like I see self portraiture as being one of the ways that we can access like a self love self care routine, I don't think I think to just start taking pictures of yourself without like having some of the intention behind it with some of the practice it can be. You know, it doesn't have the same meaning in the same depth. And meanwhile, like, you can definitely have like a self love practice and self acceptance practice that doesn't involve self portraiture, but I just liked the way that they come together. One of the reasons that I started with self portraiture was thinking, I want to show different bodies, I guess I have to start with mine. And it was sort of a hard reckoning at first, at first you see pictures of your body, and you're like, What the heck, I I was so used to the image that I saw on a mirror that I could adjust. Yeah, that I could see myself though, you know, how we all get your faces or mirror poses and like, Yeah, but then I was making self portraits. And I was seeing things that I had hidden from my own view, I did not know myself, completely and fully. And at first, it was shocking. But like, now I know me so well. Like, it doesn't surprise me when I see those things. Like, she is familiar to me. I know where her bumps are, and her cracks and her lines and her dimples. And, you know, I and I have a loving acceptance of her. And that has been a real powerful tool for me to be like I had, you know, can you think of all the times it's like your friend shows you a picture of yourself? And you're like, Oh, God. Yeah, at this point, I can be like, yeah, sometimes make that expression under those circumstances. And it's okay, because I also can do this thing, like, everyone I love. You know what I mean? Like, I don't, even the people I love very much. I don't always think that they're like, the hottest person in the world. Yeah. Doesn't mean that I don't see like their flaws are. But it does mean that like as a whole I love and accept them and I you know, see the beauty in them. I don't think that loving yourself has to mean that you don't see some of that and recognize that. But to say like, oh, I'm still worthy of my love. stretchmarks and all.
Exactly. Yeah. And this concept of you mentioned earlier briefly, that we have to wait until a certain time before we're happy, you know We have to lose the kilos. Or we have to, I can't even think of another example. That's the only thing I've ever had in my head, you know, until this happens until I get to this way or till I can fit in that dress, I won't be happy, you know, you just put your life on hold. And there's so many industries that just tap into that, you know that in the fitness industry. I used to work in the fitness industry for many years. Toxic as hell, when you're in it, you don't really see it. But you get out of it. And you think, oh my lord, you know, it should be outlawed.
Yeah. I can imagine that. That was like really painful. You don't even realize that it's going on, but you're like, but again, because I think we often just think it's about ourselves, and like, we're the problem. What they're doing isn't the problem.
Exactly. Yes. Oh, no, I mean, powerful way of looking at it. Yeah.
But I think when I think about like, it can't be the other thing. And unlike you, it's always easy for me to think about it in terms of weight, because that had always sort of been my thing, but I realized other people, they think that maybe the Botox, or they think that if their hair is different, or if they're, you know, they've got what there's just a million ways to feel uncomfortable in your body and we have been sold for so I mean, one thing that I have to say is, I do think that that is changing to some extent, like and one of the things that I encourage in that guide when I talk about this sometimes, in other places. Consider what media you're consuming. If everything on your Instagram feed is thin, white, heterosexual women of a certain age, you need to diversify that. If all of the TV and all of the movies everywhere you're buying clothing from kind of makes you feel bad because you don't see your body represented in it. There are ways to not do that anymore. Like there are I love when I'm watching television shows, they tend to be like a little more on the RT side. But when you're seeing skin that looks like real skin, there's a TV show. I don't know if it made it to Australia, Betty, it's like a skater girl. Not sure. Borders in. In New York. The first season was like New York in the summer. And it was just like, so beautiful. I mean, the cinematography of it was beautiful. It was interesting to me at one point, there's a character that just had lots of acne on his face. There was no mention of it. It wasn't a part of the storyline. He wasn't being made fun of for it. It was just like, yeah, here's some real skin. And it just was treated as normal. And it was so fascinating to me how that made me feel that I was like, That is exciting. Yeah, see that? Yeah. Yeah. It was shocking. The first time I saw catalog where I felt like boobs, stretch marks, and it was like on a plus size model, they'd always had plus size models. But I was like, Oh, my literal thought was, oh, somebody messed up, they forgot the airbrush. They're gonna get in trouble, like, somehow that had like, passed by editors. Because it was so novel to me at the time that I was supposed to say that.
Yeah, I actually feel like, it's one of these moments that it's happening now is that advertisers have realized that we want to see normal bodies. And it's, I mean, certainly the the things that I see anyway, it's, it's so noticeable now that it's just becoming normal. You know, like, when I first saw it, I remember saying, Ah, it was some, it was, like, some rolls over the top of a pair and leaves in it. And it was just like, Oh, I wonder if they meant to do like, same thing did was Did that go through somehow. But now it's everywhere. It's like, it's becoming so normal, that it's not a big deal. And I think that's really important that when it stops, like, the acne, it stops being shocking. It's, it stops being out of the ordinary, then that's really good. You know, that's where things have really changed, you know?
Yeah. And, and I feel excited for younger generation. I'm, it's interesting, because I know that people give social media a lot of hard time and the effect that it's having on our teens, in part because my oldest my 17 year old daughter, like, I don't know, the part of Tiktok and Instagram that she seems to be interested in is like that, you know, queer people of color content creators. So like she's isn't I mean, there is a way to has given marginalized voices. A platform. Yeah. And I think that that can be exciting and that like we need to remember that that It is also happening. Yeah, in a way that I think is really powerful.
Yeah, that CD, isn't it? I think. Yeah. And certainly a lot of conversations I've had on this on this podcast is like, you know, in Instagram, and I'm not on Facebook a lot now, but and I'm not on Tik Tok, because I feel like, it's just another thing for me to see, am I not doing anything? Yeah, I thought but you know, Instagram, it's got its place, you know, my, you know, people I speak to mostly have a business. So, you know, you've, you feel like, you've got to be on there to get yourself out. And then we're so quick to bag at art shows this and shows that, but you're right, if you shift your focus, and you say, right, I'm not seeing what I want to say, seek out the things you want to see. Because they are there. Like you said, the these marginalized voices, they are there, and they're trying really hard to be heard. And that's interesting you say about your daughter, I think a lot of the time, we don't give our kids enough credit for actually how switched on they are about the world. You know, I think we're coming at it from our world of, you know, we're all on social media now. But we didn't grow up with it. So we we've been through this year of fear about it. And you know, they're predators and whatever. So we can come at it from that, which obviously is important. I'm not diminishing that at all. But we can come at it from that fear perspective. But like my example of my son, who's 14, and he got on to Arkin, he got on to Facebook once, as I said, I You can't be out to your 13 or whatever. And he didn't tell me that he'd been on it. And so I had this conversation, are you not going to tell me if you're doing this stuff? And I don't mind you doing it? But tell me he goes, Oh, yeah, I was on it for about 10 minutes. And I thought this is a load sheet. So I uninstalled it, you know, and, and he has this very, I don't say jaded view, but he's very questioning about why people do what they do. On these platforms. You know, he sees the girls at school, particular groups who record the Tick Tock dancers. So he's like, Ah, I'm not gone there. Because all they do is those stupid dance, you know, like, kids aren't stupid, you know, and they're quite painful at times, you know, to make their decisions and say, This is what I want to consume, probably more so than what way? You know.
I've heard a lot of things and it's like Millennials spend more time on their phones, the Gen Zers do and I feel like, you know what I mean? Like, there's a lot of, maybe we're given them a hard time. In places, I'm not saying that there aren't mental health consequences. Some, but I think some of the conversation shouldn't be whether this is good or bad, but like, how are you going to use it? What are you going to do with it? Yes. What? And like, have those conversations rather than just acting like, the only conversation is, what? What platforms are you on? And how much are you on there? Yeah, like if for what purpose? What are you trying to get out of it? Who are you seeing? Like, you know, he knows me. And you know, there's also how you get to have all sorts of meaningful conversations, especially with your tweens and teens getting older. Yeah, so some interest in those places, opens up a lot of conversation.
Now on that we should talk about your children. Now, we let's mention that you do have children. Tell us how many do you have?
Five? Yeah, they run the age gamut. There's Awesome. Yeah, so I have a 17 year old, 15 year old, a nine year old, a seven year old and a three year old. Oh, beautiful. I mean, one of the things I live in the same small town that I grew up, and within like, I'm one of six kids and five of us still live within a two mile radius. Yeah, my mom is here. My dad, my grandma, my aunt, my cousin's like, you know, there's six, soon to be seven nieces and nephews who you know. So one thing about having a big family is just that I have such a support network that I don't think everybody has.
Yeah, that's so true, isn't it? Yeah. And yeah, having five it would take a lot of time to do things. We'd need that some food.
But then also, my kids are so spread out in age, it really helps. My oldest is home from college this weekend. But like, you know, if we're about to go somewhere, she's helping get the three year old dress or their energy. Do you know what I mean? There's because I do so much traveling for work these days where I'm going away to shoot these long form sessions. Oftentimes, you know, my 15 year old is baby is watching his younger siblings, we live really close to the Chesapeake Bay. So he'll like take them to the beach or take them to playgrounds and kind of, you know, help do things while my husband's working. Anyhow. So it's really a it's deeply a family affair. Yeah. Yeah. And they're like, really team players about it.
That's awesome. That's something I wanted to ask you actually about, you know, having your children see what you do for them to see you as I put this in air quotes more than just mum because we're never just mum.
Yeah, no, I mean, I, I am not like a martyr by nature. Like, I love mothering. I love my kids. There's, but like, I, I didn't want that to be my whole identity. Like, there's other things that mattered to me. And I'm okay with them realizing like, we do things with each other and for each other, and we go hard as a team. And also, we get to have our own lives and our own passions. And I want you to see that, like, I'm going to pursue those. Especially because my oldest is like you she wants to be a songwriter. That's right, because that's your Yeah, medium.
Yeah. Well, yes. I mean, I have a day job, but my my love my first my first one is music. Yes. Yeah.
I feel like I've shown her like, this is how like, you are gritty and you work and you like, keep going. And, you know, I like we talk about those things and how you market and how you network and how like, because if you want a career in arts, either you're gonna have to have a day job and it's like more a hobby, but if you want a career in IT, like you're gonna have to hustle. That's a lot of work. And it's a hard slog. Yeah, there's much easier ways to make $1
Yeah, it's it's the constant pool, isn't it? It's like the creativeness is always there. And it's like, like, I'll be on my day jobs with children. I work in the kindergartens here make Gambia and, you know, you're thinking of stuff, you're always got that that brain on it, like, Oh, that's a good chain quickly, running to the toilet and record it in my phone. You know, like, it doesn't turn off, you know? Yeah, yeah, you'd be this say
really love that visual. Details I live for
God. So with your traveling, you said you'd go away a lot to do these long form sessions. How do you sit with the concept of mum guilt? What does that does that even exist in your world?
I feel I feel more guilty that I'm gonna say I don't think it does. Because I feel I'm like, Mom. Okay, so one thing to know about me, I got pregnant with my first I was only 19 years old. When I found out I was pregnant. I was not with my husband and I were not together at that point. It was like, totally an accident, and it was not planned. And so I sort of was like, Okay, I'm gonna do this. I'm gonna, like, try my best. But there was a part of me that maybe because I wasn't like, a thing that I had planned and gone into real intentionally at the beginning, that I was like, we're, we're in this together. I'm gonna give it the old college try. Don't know that. In some ways, I think it's what has been my saving grace, though. That has been like, I'm pretty good at presence and trying to decide like, if this is what's in front of me, I want to make the most of it and have but to some extent, I feel that way about my kids to like, this is the mom you were dealt. And she loves you fiercely. There are things she is great at and there are things that she is not. And one of the things that is important to me is I try to find a moment, moments of deep presence with my kids that I'm paying attention that I'm listening that I'm there with them. And I do not hold myself to a standard that that has to be all day every day. I think that some I think that sometimes moms act like if I'm not giving them everything which none of us are even capable of, then they're then they're feeling guilty every time they pick up the phone where I would much rather kind of have like a clear delineation of like You got your time, and now I'm having my time. And that's okay. Yes. Yes. I don't have to be your everything. And you're not gonna be my everything.
Here here. Yes. Round of applause. Yeah, honestly, I feel like that that's something that I am really strong on his like, I'm not gonna leave behind the Allison that I was before I happen to have children, it hasn't made me a completely different person, obviously, I've changed, of course, we all change, we. And even if we don't have children through periods of our lives, we change. But just because I have these little people here does not mean that I stop. And everything I've ever done is just watch from the page, because I am now a mother. And I want my children in a respectful and kind way to understand that I am still May. And when they rush in here and say I need this, I need this, I need this. And I've just spent, you know, two hours playing out the back or whatever. I actually right now, I'm right in the middle of something that I've really liked to finish. Come back to me in 10 minutes, you know, and there is nothing wrong with saying that,
you know, don't feel like want to teach your kids that they get to have like some boundaries. And like, everybody doesn't stop the the world. One of the books that was like super influential when I was pregnant with my first. Yeah, I have not watched a lot of Oprah since but at the time, I was like watching a lot of Oprah I was a little depressed or lots of the pregnancy. But I remember, there was a book called Confessions of a slacker mom, I wish I remember who the writer was. But I like loved that book. It did give me a certain permission because it was talking kind of about the benefit of being a slacker mom, that doesn't jump at your kids every whim. Because like, What good are we doing for them? This little shits? They're gonna think things about them like that is not?
Yes. So you're actually doing them a disservice by sending them out into the world thinking that, you know, everything revolves around.
Yeah. Well, so like, yeah, wait, turn, you will figure it out. And, and but then they're, I mean, I like family dinner is really important to me. That's like something that I love. I don't mind the emotional labor of the fact that I'm like, the one who buys most of the groceries in the house, that I'm the one who prepares most of the food that like dinner is sort of my domain. And it's a thing that I give to my family because it's important. And that's a time where like, we do come together and we and then I don't mind that I like leave the dishes for them and then come up here and this record this podcast with you like, yeah, yeah. You know what I mean? Like, now it's my time.
Yeah, exactly. And I think it's so important for, you know, your children to see that because they're going to take that into their life. You know, I feel like, you know, my parents was not, it wasn't like this, you know, I felt like, if we wanted something, you know, they did it for us. There wasn't? I don't know, it's like, it's a different a different time, I think of setting boundaries and saying, hang on a sec, you know, particularly women, you know, yeah, this is not okay for us, you know, I'm putting my hand up. As I say this, it's like, no, actually, this is not okay, now is the time that this is going to change. And we pass that on to the next generation. Hopefully,
yeah. Because how many of us have mothers that we love so deeply, but we're thinking I wish you had kept more for yourself? I wish that you you know what I mean? Like, you were doing it all for us. But like, I want you to have, you know, the people we love, we want them to have held on to that. So really, we're doing our kids a great service to hold on to a piece as when they're adults. And they're not going to feel like we depend on them in the same way. And I don't know, I think that's says a woman who sees her mother every day and I absolutely depend on so.
I've got my family here. You know, my mom and dad, okay, I was the same thing. I was born in this town, I have no reason to leave, leave this town. My sister literally lives around the corner. You know, she's just over there. But you know, that, that family thing, I'd need that support. I'd be I'd be stuck through that. I couldn't do half the things I do if I didn't have mom, you
know, and I want them to know that like, Hey, you can stay and you can do this. Like, I'm going to be okay either way. Like, my happiness does not rely on your constant presence necessarily. Like, I mean, and I've gotten especially because my first isn't in at home in the same way. When I realized like, oh, no, there's still like a really meaningful, deep connection that we can have even when we're not seeing each other daily.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, I've had a visitor I'm speaking okay family. Come say hello. Just take me is this
bagpiper? This is Rachel. No. This is not the bagpiper. This was a little i
This is little Lisa's degree.
How old are you, Digby? How old are you? sound a bit louder. Seven. I heard I've got a seven year old to
me. How are you going? Do you need something in particular? Or are you coming in to say hi? All right. Yeah. It's a Yeah. So yeah, I'll be out soon. Okay. Come on. Face. That way. All right, there we go. See how we go for the night? Yeah. That's how we make it work. To being a mom.
You read this book has been like one of my favorite books this week? Or this year? Baby on the fire escape?
Oh, no, I don't know that one. Okay, so I'm writing the art of being a
mum. So this is it's a book that looks at different mother artists, mostly that were born in about like the 1900s. Because they wanted to look at like the whole course of their career. Yeah, but one of the things that they see the power of interruptions, like all mothers, it's the thing that like both our daily work, and also the trajectory of our careers get interrupted by childbirth by all of these things, but also like the daily will be trying to, like record a podcast. And anyhow, it's a great read. And it's like, really inspiring.
I'm frightened that one day and I'm gonna check it out. I love that. Because I mean, it's it's inescapable, isn't it? Like, it's just you can't split yourself into who you are. You just you always.
Yeah, I mean, the Myth of Multitasking, you can only single task back and forth. And yeah. And something interrupted.
Yeah, the other thing I wanted to mention that I thought was really relevant of the way that you photograph is that you're talking about being present helps you with your lack of mum guilt, which is awesome. Yeah, we can all take something from that. Like, you can only do what you do in that moment. And there's actually no point, thinking it later, because you can't change the past or that sort of philosophy, but the presence in the imperfections, you know, life's messy, and that's what it is, you know, you know, I think the way that you photograph, it shows real life. And I, we've we've sort of talked about this in other ways, but I don't know, there's just so much to be said, for that acceptance in the moment. This is who I am, this is what's happening. And that can really give you peace, I think that you just go I did what I did. I've done what I've done. End of story. Yeah,
that like it. And I know that that can be easier said than done. And the kind of thing that takes some practice. And I think, you know, that, that there are things that we can do to, to work on the release. And to, you know, one of the things I talk about, sort of frequently, like in my newsletter, and things like that is what is coming back into my senses as often as possible. When I'm feeling like I've, I'm moving out to be like, okay, my feet feel like this on the ground. And my clothing feels like this. And this is what I'm smelling. This is what I'm seeing. One of the practices and presence that I also like, tried to do, especially when things are starting to feel really chaotic, is I it's kinda like a gratitude journal, but I call it poetic sparks, where I'm just trying to like notice, to spend my day like noticing the little bits of beauty no matter what else is happening, and then that I write them down because it then helps, like, when I know that I'm gonna write it down, I hold on to them differently. And then I also get to experience them a second time in the writing. And then maybe I even get to experience them a third or fourth time if I revisit that writing. Yeah, and if you remember it in a different way, that it becomes less fleeting, but it does help me kind of just ground back into it and also to realize like, it would be things that are very sterile aren't where I find the most beauty. Like, you know what I mean? The things that are feel me The most perfect
Yeah, yeah. Interesting. Yeah. Yeah.
And then acceptance to be like, actually like, when I'm in really like beautiful, perfectly styled super clean, super minimal homes. I find it less exciting than like, seeing the things that are left by the front door and like what story does that tell? And what does the like? What did the dirty dishes on the counter? Like? What did they hint that? I don't know. And all of those things and let me a bigger slob in my own home. Like it's a win whimsically. The shovelled a whole aesthetic like
God, I love that. That's the new. That's hashtag. Yeah. But the other thing, sir, I keep referring to things you've written, but they're just they're powerful things, the joy in the mundane. And that is something that reminded me immediately there was a guest I had on last season. What was it early this year, I can't remember. Monica Crowley is an Irish artist. She's a printmaker, and a painter. And she is really similar in the way that she looks at it. It's like, you're gonna be at bed at the sink, washing dishes a lot, as a mother, and to actually find the joy in that. And she, she created this entire artwork, of all the experiences that she had standing at the sink and doing the dishes, I feel like we can get really caught up in celebrating the big things that happen. But in the meantime, we're actually just living our lives, and we're missing the life that's happening in front of us, because we're waiting for some big event or whatever, you know, it's existing and happening right in front of us. I feel like we diminish that.
Yeah, it's like, it's we're just waiting for vacation. And especially if you were in the US, we don't even get the vacations that you Australians get, like you get a lot less of it. It's like if that is every week is just been waiting, if we're just waiting on the weekend. That's a whole lot of life to not be appreciating. And like. So I want to be able to say like, what can I do in the moment of folding laundry, which is like definitely my least favorite chore. If you can see the pile of clean laundry that is to the right of me right now. It's like, it's like been worked on today and it's knee high. Like it is significant. In that moment, what can I What pleasure can I can I get from it? And if I can't get pleasure from it, is there a way that I can add something to it? Is there like music, I can listen to our podcast? Or if I asked my husband to come in and help me and then we're talking while we're doing it, like what can happen so that this doesn't feel miserable? And like just a chore that I have to do. I'm like always try. I'm always trying to hack my joy to be like this be more fun. Because I wanted to.
Yes, and we are in control of that. And I think that harks back to what you said earlier that you don't have a martyr mentality at all. It's not like Well, here I am suffering again during this folding of watching you know, it's like right how can I turn this around? And that's a really powerful thing to first recognize and then actually go and do you know you're in control of how you want to feel just powerful. Yeah, I love them. Love it I feel like we could talk for hours about this. This is so far. Oh, now I have to tell you about when you were talking earlier about artists sorry, particularly photography. When you want to portray something. You know, you've got to be that authentic yourself, you know, acceptance of your body and showing yourself. There's a photographer here in Mount Gambier. Her name's Louise Agnew. And I think you would love her stuff that feels familiar. She had she was a guest on my podcast a little while ago, but she shows herself in raw vulnerable and she's incredibly inspirational looking at her work right now. Yeah, yes. And I think that, especially in a town, like, you know, small town mentality, everyone's judging everyone else. What's that person doing? Blah, blah, blah. But you know, she's got this platform and she's, you know, projecting this stuff and it's influencing a lot of people and making a lot of people feel really comfortable in their own skin. So yeah, I was gonna say if you don't know her she's a really good one to seek out she's, yeah, talk about walking the talk or however you say it. She's she's doing this stuff. Yeah, no, i
i Absolutely. It's funny though. We're talking about like, the small town Enos of it sometimes. Yeah, it's funny. Like, sometimes I'll post maybe a less, like, personal like, full nude self portraits out there. But sometimes there is like a little bit of burying some skin. Like, have posted it. And then you are at the grocery store. People that you know, like it's one thing to show the internet. It's so much more embarrassing when it was like your old Sunday School teacher or like, your neighbor feels like a little weird right now. Like
being authentic. That's like, um, yeah. Okay, now I have to show my face.
I get particularly embarrassed to act like the internet exists that I want to be like, can we just pretend it doesn't right now? Like, you know what's going on? Can we? Yeah. Let's just keep the conversation on like the cantaloupes look good today, right. Let's not let's not, let's not talk about my really, really? Yeah.
Oh, man. I love that. So can you share with us? I mean, obviously, I'll put all the links in the shownotes for people to find you. But where's the best place for people to get in touch with you?
I mean, my favorite thing is, if you would, if you're interested in weekly shares, my newsletter is my favorite. And you can find that either on my Instagram, that it's in the link profile, or on my website. It'll direct you there. And I'm Rachel dot Larson dot Weaver on Instagram or just Rachel Larson. weaver.com is mindful. So yeah, my newsletter is my favorite thing. Yeah. mentioned, but I like Instagram a lot. So yeah, I like it while the getting's good, who knows how long we have it for now? I'm enjoying the present. Yes. Oh, the newsletter. I mean, Instagram seems to go away anytime.
Yes, and I think that's the thing too that acceptance of of the future to like we're not in control of some things and that can either scare the crap out of you or give you a tremendous amount of peace that it's like this acceptance of what will be will be and you know,
and I try to hedge my bets a little like email list as that or but like Don't be can't count on any one thing as being our as being our Savior. It's not going to be it I'm can't control if Instagram becomes all stupid reals there's nothing I can do about like I'm I'm just not there's like important things that I need to be fighting. Yeah, algorithm is not one of them.
It's not gonna be Yeah. Can't fight the machine.
Yeah, hard pass.
Is there anything you want to share that's coming up, or you want to give some things a plug? Um, well,
at the end of October, I will be announcing the next round of mentoring sessions, which is like more useful for folks in America than Australians. Because they're like, an in person, or because there's an in person component to it. But um, when this airs, I'll be in the middle of the retreat, where people are coming to my hometown and staying in my childhood home and will shoot portfolio building sessions that are like, catered exactly to the portfolios they want to be making that I've arranged all the shoots around their specific goals, but I'm going to be announcing dates for them. next two sessions. So if you're interested in, in doing that kind of work, if making images that show beauty like across difference, that feel really rooted in presence, and imperfection, and join them in and date and all of those things that we've talked about. And if lots of the people who are joining these are folks who are interested in learning more about long form, and how they can bring that into their own business models, come check it out, fit for you,
yeah. There's an image on your website. I've done yoga for a long time. And I had a small period of my life where I was quite thin. And that was a very short period of time. But now I've gone back to how
I had that myself. Yeah, yeah.
But it's interesting that I'm hyper mobile. So I'm quite naturally bendy. Anyway. Yeah. And there's an image on your website of a lady. She's pretty much nude. But you can't I mean, she's got a leg in the spot. You can't see a bottom half. But, you know, she's doing this massive back then. And oh, yeah, I was like, I've found that so inspiring. Because it's like, I'm big. And you don't have to be skinny to be flexible. You know, like, yeah, I feel like, that's this thing that's still in my head from the gym. The gym days when I was instructing people was like, I don't know, it was like, it just reminded, like, I know this stuff. Like, I know, I live this life. I know it. But it reminded me like this thing that still stuck in my head. So I just banged myself on the head and attempt to get it out. You know, just reminded me that anybody can be flexible. You know? Why is this thing that you have to rethink to reflect? Sorry?
That's like it. That's one of my favorite images that I've ever made. I love that picture. Yeah, it's just you. Yeah, it's true. But you're absolutely right. Like, we have these ideas about health and how it relates to body size. And they're frequently like, just bullshit, like, your strength, your flexibility, your endurance, what you're getting what I mean, like all of these sorts of markers that are actually important, like blood pressure, any of those things. They don't have to be related to weight. But we put so much idea on like, what the size or what a number says versus like, well, what is it doing? Also, you know, then there's a whole argument to over like, and you get to be loved even if your body can't do that, because there's a whole lot of non able bodied people that can't do those things. Yes, absolutely. I don't know. It's just not reserved for like gym rats. Yeah, yeah.
This is a really fun talk. It's been one year ever. I'll have to do something new and exciting. So then I can convince you to let me come back on. Oh, I've got this new thing to talk about. Let's have another case.
Let's Let's do it again. Thank you so much. It's been so lovely speaking to you, all the best with everything. And I'm really, really happy to see you doing this stuff, because it's so worthwhile is the word I'm looking for.
It's really, it was really nice talking and thanks for giving. Mom's an artist and Mother artists like a platform. It's,
it's my pleasure. I love that. I'm just grateful people want to talk to me. Yeah, yeah. Thanks for your company today. If you've enjoyed this episode, I'd love you to consider leaving us a review, following or subscribing to the podcast, or even sharing it with a friend who you think might be interested. If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on the podcast. Please get in touch with us via the link in the show notes. I'll catch you again next week for another chat with an artistic Mom