Where I Teach on Tuesdays: As it Goes

I teach a middle school photo class once a week in a public New York City middle school, and I’ve been photographing there and at similar schools. The schools speak with the same visual vocabulary but time and students personalize the walls. Assimilation, teenage rebellion: institutional architecture, teenage dismay – and hearts.

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The Mind’s Eye

I’ve just promised to read a book on the critical theory of photography each month this year.

It’s the kind of thing I always want to do but never think I have the time. But Jo Lien, a photographer and English professor in Idaho, created a blog circle and it was just the commitment device I needed.

We started off with Henri Cartier Bresson’s The Mind’s Eye, and the quote that stayed with me was this: “[Photography] is putting one’s head, one’s eye, and one’s heart on the same axis.”

I recently photographed a stay-at-home father and his corporate lawyer wife for my project on Women’s Work. HCB’s words helped me ignore my thoughts that I should be photographing something grittier, or breaking news-y, or farther away from myself. I feel strongly about birth and other kinds of women’s work, and it’s relevant to my life.

My head is curious, my eye is interested, and my heart is full when I photograph these things. So on I go.

Here are some photographs of Aaron, Miki and baby Oliver during their evening routine: dinner, bath, and a family reading of Harry Potter. A framed picture in their living room says:

The measure of a man is not the size of his
paycheck, the car that he drives or the
clothes that he wears.

It is the strength of his hands that hold
you close, the intensity of his smile when
he looks at you and the size of his heart
that will always love you.

I love you, dad. Oliver

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Feel free to read the other blogs in this circle, starting with Annie Morris’ post (her photographs are dreamy and beautiful, and she lives in one of my favorite places in the entire world).

All of It: Daily Life

Picking the kids up from daycare, training for a run in honor of a friend lost to leukemia, bathing a child – small actions that add up to a life.

(More photographs of Jen as a working mother here.)

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All of It: First Day at Daycare

But before she went back to work, Jen had to get through dropping her baby off for his first day at daycare. The morning was hectic and rushed, but everyone made it out of the house (and Jen remembered all of her breast pump supplies).

She looked forward to being around other people and using her intellect more, but she felt a strong pull toward her kids as she left them at a local daycare. Jen’s working two days a week now, but her days in the office are intense and the work tends to leak into her days at home with baby Wiley.

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Remembering September 11th for the Daily Beast

Last month The Daily Beast asked me to photograph remembrances of the September 11th attacks for their Instagram feed. I walked and walked, shooting with my phone. I photographed a Green-Wood Cemetery grove that holds the graves of 9/11 first responders, a tower that looked disconcertingly like the World Trade Center, a memorial at the New York Fire Museum (where a fragment of one of the planes is displayed), One World Trade Center, St. Paul’s Chapel (the church became a place of refuge for Ground Zero workers – scuff marks from their equipment still mark the pews), the FDNY Memorial Wall, and the Tribute in Light (close up and then from Sunset Park). The memorial traces were moving and sad, and I was able to work discreetly throughout with my tiny camera.

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All of It: Single Moms by Choice

I photographed Talia Braude, a 39-year-old self-employed architect and single mom by choice, for The Daily Beast. Paula Szuchman wrote about women who aren’t waiting for a partner to come along before starting a family.

Talia’s matter of fact competence and sweetness with her baby Rian are impressive, and I loved photographing this little family.

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All of It: Me

And what does my baby do while I photograph working moms? Hangs out and eats at daycare with Alexxis, Iris, Elia and his friends (or, when he’s home sick, naps while I rush to get computer work done before he wakes up). Center-based daycares like William’s are the second-most common childcare arrangement for young children of working moms in the U.S.

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All of It: Tomara

Tomara works in administration at a university and takes classes so she can become an academic advisor. Her work is slow while classes aren’t in session during the summer, and sometimes the afternoons drag as she waits to go pick up her son Spencer at a home daycare in her neighborhood.

In 2011, 13% of young children with working mothers in the U.S. attended home daycares like Spencer’s.

(More photos of Tomara and her wife Kamdyn here.)

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All of It: Kamdyn and Tomara

Tomara used all of her sick days to supplement her short maternity leave, so she doesn’t get paid when she has to take a day off. This situation isn’t uncommon in the U.S., where 40% of workers don’t qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act’s protections.

I photographed Tomara and her wife Kamdyn as they got baby Spencer ready for the day. I’ll be photographing them as they work and live during their son’s first year.
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All of It: Jen

Jen and her husband work in communications for non-profit organizations, and they are both dedicated to social justice, work and family. I recently got to photograph Jen at work and, later, giving birth at home. Her husband, friend, midwife and three-year-old daughter Olive watched as baby Wiley joined the family.
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