Category Archives: Working Mother
I was so happy to see an excerpt of my working mothers photographs alongside a smart piece by fellow working mother Rebecca Traister. As is turns out, we were both on maternity leave when it ran. Doing it!
I worked on a piece about full-spectrum reproductive care for the New York Times Sunday Review with my frequent collaborator, writer Alissa Quart.
Buffalo Womenservices is unusual because it is a birth and abortion center in one. It is part of an effort to reframe reproductive care as a continuum — the phrase for it is “full-spectrum reproductive health” — that spans both birth and abortion. Facilities for each are typically distinct.
Combining the two in one place underlines how many women experience both birth and abortion. Three in 10 women will have an abortion in their lives; eight out of 10 will give birth. About 61 percent of women who have an abortion already have at least one child.
Kayla, the nurse pictured here, gave birth at Buffalo Womenservices before returning to work as a nurse who assists during the abortion procedures, taking breaks to pump breastmilk for her infant daughter. Like her co-workers, she believes that women’s choices around terminating pregnancy and around the way in which they give birth are related forms of essential reproductive choice. The facility’s doctor noted that all pregnancies are not the same, and women have a range of reasons for what they decide to do with them.
The women whose abortions I photographed were already mothers, and both of them took the interests of their children into account when making their decisions. The facility’s doctor expressed frustration at people’s tendency to project their own experiences onto other people’s complex lives.
My collaborator Alissa Quart and I were excited to receive a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to support a piece we did on the global care chain for the Nation and PRI’s the World. Who takes care of the nanny’s children? Watch the video to hear us explain:
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
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).
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.)
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.
And then working mother Jen was back at work, running a press conference about discriminatory policing, speaking to members of the media, and pumping (and washing breast pump parts in the sink). Jen pushes herself hard at work and in her personal life.
She was glad to be back working on a cause she cares deeply about, but felt the pressure to get a long list of tasks done in the two days her baby is at daycare each week, and wondering if she could ever feel she was doing enough for her children and job.
(More photos of Jen navigating the expectations of career and motherhood here.)
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.
I photographed anthropology professor Carla Bellamy and her daughters Dessa and Margo for the New York Times Sunday Review recently. Alissa Quart wrote about the high cost of child care and the middle class moms who are struggling to afford it. Says Bellamy:
“It’s not a tragic story, but is tiring and tiresome. I have a career, I work really hard, and yet I get no break.”
All photographs ©Alice Proujansky 2015