Dear every Mum…

Dear every mum I’ve ever known,

I’m done. I can’t and I won’t compete anymore. I’m not the ‘perfect mother’ because no one can be. My mother’s generation fought for gender equality, not for me to be pressured into doing everything. She fought for choices and this myth of the perfect mother is taking away my choices.

We live in a society where mothers are expected to bounce right back to bikini bodies after they’ve had a baby. If we don’t, we stand there looking in the mirror hating our bodies. Our beautiful, amazing, strong bodies that created life. We pull, poke, squeeze and berate ourselves for having stretch marks and not being stick thin. “I should look like her” we tell ourselves, comparing our new mum bodies to the bodies of Instagram fitness celebrities.

Instead of spreading myself thin trying to go to the gym at 5am before everyone is up, cooking the ideal breakfast, making sure the house is spotless, getting everyone where they need to be then rushing off to work, trying to combine parenting, housework and a career into the same hours I used to focus just my career on, I’m done. I’m choosing me.

Living life the way I saw in magazines, on Instagram and everywhere crippled me. It made me depressed and instead of being able to focus on my gorgeous bundle of joy, I am constantly worried about how I parent, if it’s right, how I should look and what I should do.

Let it go. Stop comparing and live your life with me. Be in the moment and trust yourself.

 

motherhood blog sydney

Behind every closed door or perfectly made up face, coiffed hairstyle and manicured nail is a different story. One we don’t know about. We can’t compare our everyday with everyone else’s highlight reel. The reality is usually far from the facade we’re presented with.

I’m tired of feeling the pressure to be everything to everyone. I’m a human, I made tiny humans, but that doesn’t mean I am no longer me. It doesn’t mean I suddenly have to work full time, exercise to have crazy flat abs and buff arms, always have my hair perfect, makeup done with contouring and fake lashes to boot, as well as dress amazing, do yoga daily, bake the cupcakes when my child has a birthday, cook nutritious meals each night and keep an amazingly clean home. I’m not superhuman.

Constantly comparing myself to the carefully styled images on Instagram, the curated photos and posts you choose to post on Facebook, the carefully worded conversations at the school playground making your life out to be amazing is not healthy for any of us. In fact, it’s ruining our relationship with ourselves and makes it harder to parent.

Suffocating in the sea of expectations of feel myself drowning. Each day I see another fabulous life on social media, another article about what I should be doing, how I should be raising my kids and how mothers can have, be and do it all because we are amazing.

I agree, we are amazing, but in our own way. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy!” Instead of comparing our lives to the pressure we feel from society to be the perfect mother the only person to compare yourself against, is you.

Be you. Love what you do. Enjoy your kids. Have your career if you want one. Choose what you want in your life and live it that way. Say goodbye to the myth of the perfect mum with me and reclaim your life.

Life is meant to be lived.

 

Love,

Amy xx

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    Lighting for Studio Baby Photography

    As a baby photographer, there are lots of options when it comes to lighting.  Lighting is one of the most important aspects of getting beautiful photos.  As you’ll soon see, there are plenty of options when it comes to choosing the type of lighting.  Over the last 7 years as a baby photographer, I’ve tried all 3 of the main types.  Here is an introduction to them as well as the pros and cons of all of them.

     

    Natural Light for Baby Photography

    Natural light is the light that most photographers use.  Indoor, outdoor, in-studio, wedding, at the park – you name it.  Natural light is used in every type of photography.

    Pros:  It’s free!  It’s everywhere.

    Cons:  You can’t control it.  You’re at the mercy of mother nature (rain, dark overcast days).  The colour temperature changes throughout the day which will alter your white balance.  The direction of the light changes and can be obstructed by buildings/trees etc.

     

    Strobe Light for Baby Photography

    Moving into artificial light – strobes have become more popular in the last few years.  I first moved into strobe lighting about 4 years ago after I got frustrated with just how inconsistent natural light can be.  (For more about my journey into studio lighting you might find this blog post interesting).  Basically, strobes are a light unit which are triggered by a wireless transmitter & receiver which cause a light to flash.  For nice soft light (a definite must for baby photography), you would typically use a light modifier such as a softbox or an umbrella.

    Pros:  It’s consistent.  You can move the light instead of moving the baby.  The light colour temperature (and therefore your white balance) stays the same.  You never have to worry about the weather.

    Cons: Extra equipment which can be bulky and annoying to move.  Leads etc. which pose an extra safety hazard in your studio.  The light itself get incredibly hot and can pose a safety risk.  If your equipment fails or there is a power outage, you have no light.  Specifically for strobes – the flash (although minor) can startle newborns a little and disturb their sleep.  Parents can also be nervous about the flash hurting their baby’s eyes (there is absolutely no evidence that this is true – you might like to read this blog article I wrote several years ago about the safety of flash for babies).

    studio lighting for baby photographyIn my studio I use a continuous light with a softbox to create some beautiful soft light.

    Continuous Light for Baby Photography

    After trying both natural light and strobe light photography throughout my baby photography career, this is the type of lighting that I’m currently using and will likely stick with forever.  Continuous lighting is virtually identical to strobe lighting.  When I moved from strobe to continuous lighting, the only thing that I changed was the light head itself.  I’m now using the Godox SL-200.  It is fan-cooled with a constant white balance.

    Pros: All of the benefits of strobe light…. PLUS:  Constant light – no startling babies!  Fan cooled and less of a hazard in the studio.

    Cons:  Like strobes, you still have a rather bulky light to move around in the studio.

     

    I hope this has been helpful if you’re a baby photographer and are considering what type of light to use!

     

     

     

     

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      3 Tips to Help With Post-Partum Depletion

      While not as commonly known as post-natal depression, post-natal or post-partum depletion is a very real thing affect 1 in every 10 Australian mothers. Australian doctor and author, Dr Oscar Serrallach has shared the issues surrounding post-partum depletion and how our modern Western culture has severely impacted mothers and their capacity to parent after birth.

      What is post-partum depletion

      You’re probably familiar with the symptoms but were unaware it had a scientific term. Post-partum depletion involves feeling hyper vigilant, foggy brained, frustrated, overwhelmed, anxious, little libido, isolated, vulnerable, exhausted but unable to switch off. Sound familiar?

      Many women know they aren’t depressed, but something isn’t right so we tend not to get the help we need or go to the GP about it. When left without support, mothers with post-partum depletion are more likely to get post-partum depression and there is definite overlap of the two conditions.

      What can you do to help?

      If you have or think you might have post-partum depletion there are things you can do to help you recover.

      1. Eat as well as you can

      During pregnancy and childbirth our bodies have gone through significant change and our baby was reliant on our nutrients and stores. If we aren’t replenishing our bodies, eating well and ensuring we get enough nutrients, our bodies simply can’t cope.

      Angela Harris said, “After the birth of my baby I was exhausted and barely ate. Bread crusts, snack foods and soft drink were pretty much the only things I had. As a result, I became more exhausted. With a newborn, no sleep and no time for myself I couldn’t think straight. By the time Sam was a toddler, I was just eating whatever he left behind as a typical fussy toddler. With no real food or sleep, I began to feel like a zombie. This is when I knew something had to change.”

      “I went to my GP, had some blood tests and sure enough, my iron level and other vitamin levels were quite low. I needed some supplements and a drastic change in my diet. I had always scoffed at the advice about what we eat, but it really had a massive impact.”

      1. Get Sleep!!!

      As impossible as it seems, it’s essential! In ancient cultures and still today in many Eastern cultures, the weeks or months after birth are for the mother to rest and be taken care of. Traditions involving certain soups, teas and rest, along with massage are common across Korea, China, Japan and Indian. Ensuring the mother can rest and restore herself after the birth is viewed as sacred and necessary for the entire family and community or tribe as  whole.

       

      See if a friend or family member can watch your little one so you can get a full nights rest. If your baby isn’t sleeping well, get help with it. There are programs and clinics to help with sleep patterns. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture used in war! So get the sleep you desperately need and do not feel guilty about it.

      post partum depletion
      Being a parent is a tough gig! You are responsible 24/7 for the new little person in your life. It’s easy to become completely exhausted after putting everyone’s needs before your own

      1. Get help

      Sacrificing every part of  yourself for everyone else is no way to live. Our mothers typically had communities around them supporting them. Ancient tribes supported entire families when they had a newborn because they knew how important it was.

      Nihirika assumed it was homesickness since they had moved to Australia and had no support when their daughter was born. But after a few years of exhaustion, she knew something had to be done and finally went to her doctor.

      “In India, after the baby is born, the whole community helps. Our families would have been there, I would have had time to recover, rest and be taken care of. It is an important time in our culture. Moving here to Melbourne, we were alone and both of us had to go back to work quickly to afford to live after our baby. After a few years I was so exhausted I could not even stay upright for long. I finally went to the GP and my iron levels were so low I needed treatment in hospital but the wait here was a few months. My husband and I decided it would be best to send my daughter and I back to India for a while and to get treatment there immediately but also to have family support.”

      “As soon as I arrived, I had the support I needed. I was able to rest, had the treatment at the hospital and spent a month in India recovering. My family there connected me with more people in Melbourne and I made an effort to go to mothers groups when I got home to Australia, and find more of a support network for myself at home. Now, I feel so much better and can’t believe I let it go on for so long.”

      Being a mother in today’s society can be an isolating experience leaving you completely depleted. It doesn’t have to though. Diana from Mother.ly knew this all too well.

      “A little over a year ago, I was walking out of a play gym class with my toddler and newborn, when my toddler ran out towards the parking lot. Don’t worry, I caught him. But not without skinning both my knees (ps that hurts way more than I remember from my childhood) and almost dropping my newborn. It turned out fine, but all I could do in that moment was sit on the sidewalk and cry.

      I was just so, so tired. I felt depleted, overwhelmed and quite frankly, a little lost.

      And that’s when a mom—an angel—came over to me, bent down to help me up and said the words I will never, ever forget (and always appreciate) —

      You’re not doing it wrong. It’s just that hard.

      As mothers, we know it’s a hard gig. That’s why it’s important for us to support one another, recognise the signs and get help when needed.

       

      What have you done or what do you recommend for post-partum depletion? What was your experience?

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        Top 5 Tips for Displaying Your Photographs in Your Home

        Photos aren’t meant to be hidden on a USB in a drawer somewhere.  They should be displayed in your home for you to enjoy every day!  But choosing the right images, suppliers, and position for your wall art can be confusing.

        Here are my top 5 tips for displaying your photographs in your home:

         

        Tip 1:  Design a Wall Art Collection

        A collection of canvases or frames is the best way to create a stunning feature in your home.  It can be difficult to visualise how several images can look on your wall.  The best way is to ask your photographer to put together a wall art display guide using your images.  You may even be able to send your photographer a picture of the place in your home that you’re planning to put your images on to get a real-life view.

        displaying wall art photography at homeUsing wall guides is a great way to put together a design and to be able to visualise exactly how your images will look on your wall

        Canvases and Frames can be a large investment, so I offer discounted collections in 2 different designs – the Jigsaw (4 images) and the Trilogy (3 images).

        Tip 2:  Purchase quality products

        There are so many online options for printing products.  Many people after seeing a photographer and getting the digital files, shop around online for the cheapest priced canvases and framed prints.  Don’t be fooled!  Many of these cheap products are of a poor quality and will not stand the test of time.  I have seen many albums which are falling apart and canvases which are becoming discoloured within a year of purchase.

        As a photographer, it’s important to me that my clients receive the best quality products available.  I’ve spent time finding the best suppliers in Australia – many of whom offer fantastic 75 year guarantees!  As the old saying says: “you get what you pay for”.  And this is the truth!

         

        Tip 3:  Buy the biggest sizes you can afford

        When it comes to wall art, the bigger the size the better.  The most common mistake that people make is to have a canvas or a frame that is too small for the wall where it is being displayed.  Using a wall guide display can help you visualise the right size for your wall.

        amy tong photography wall artUsing a wall display guide is a great way to be able to visualise the correct size for a frame or canvas on the wall. Many people mistakenly purchase smaller displays that don’t look right on bigger walls. This is an example of an 11×16 inch display.

        best newborn photography near meLarger displays have better presence on walls.  This image is a 20 x 30 inch framed print which looks beautiful on the large walls in a bedroom or nursery.

         

        Tip 4:  Take care of your canvases and framed prints

        When you have your beautiful canvas art and framed prints on display, there are some things you should do keep them in pristine condition for the years to come.  To clean, use a duster or a cloth to remove dust.  If necessary, you can use a slightly damp cloth with water only.  Don’t use any solvents or cleaners.  When choosing where to display your images, keeping them out of direct sunlight will ensure that they last as long as possible.

         

        I hope this article has inspired you to get your beautiful images on your wall.  Enjoy them every day!

         

        Have any questions?  I’d love to hear from you.

        Amy x

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          Thinking of becoming a baby photographer? Read this first

          Are you thinking of becoming a baby photographer?  I totally get it.  I was in your shoes 7 years ago.  The allure of becoming a baby photographer is huge…

          – flexible work hours
          – the ability to balance being a Mum & having a career
          – spending time cuddling gorgeous babies
          – earning a living from something you love doing

          But if you’re considering taking the plunge and becoming a professional baby photographer.  I hate to break it to you.  It’s not all roses.

          Building a successful baby photography business can be really hard.  I would even argue that it’s harder now than ever before.  Certainly, when I first started almost 7 years ago I don’t recall the same struggles that there are now in 2018.

          I hate to burst your bubble but the numbers aren’t pretty…

          95% of photography businesses fail within the first 5 years!  Yes.  You read the number right.  As shocking as it is, it’s important that you understand this if you are considering this as a career change.

          Why do they fail?  I would argue that this figure has a lot to do with people not charging enough for their work.

          so you want to become a baby photographerSure, being a baby photographer has it’s perks. But don’t let the sweet faces deceive you. Running a successful and PROFITABLE baby photography business is no walk in the park.

           

          The explosion of online photography education….

          The number of new baby photographers that have started out in the last 3-4 years is absolutely staggering.  In my opinion, this is largely due to the absolute saturation of online courses, workshops and tutorials in the baby photography market over that time.  Just about everyone is now offering workshops, tutorials and more.  What used to take years of practice, trial and error, and thousands of dollars in in-person workshops, can now be learned in the space of only a few days and only $100 online.  What I wouldn’t have given to have had the amount of online resources available to me when I was first starting out!

          Whilst this is all great at face value.  I can’t help but feel that the negative of the widespread access to all of this low-cost learning, is an enormous number of people becoming baby photographers.  Of course, in economic terms this means an over-supply of photographers, and a dilution of the value of what we as photographers are able to charge.

          Many people when they first start up, charge very little for their work.  I know that I was in this position when I first started.  I think when someone is still learning, and their work is not yet of a high standard, this isn’t necessarily a problem.  What I do feel is a problem though, is that there are some photographers who aren’t charging what they should when their work is really really good!  Potential clients are overwhelmed with the number of baby photographers available to them.  Of course, they’re going to find the cheapest photographer available.

          Inevitably, these cheap photographers can’t stay cheap forever.  They’re either going to go broke (or discover that working at McDonalds for minimum wage they’ll actually earn more for the amount of hours they put in to a session), or they’ll have to increase their prices to make a sustainable business.  But… there is always another person with a shiny new DSLR equipped with the knowledge from the latest online workshop just waiting to take their place in the “$100 for all the digital files” game.  And so it continues….

           

          Do your numbers

          If you’re thinking about becoming a baby photographer.  Please think long and hard about this decision.  Do you really want to make this a business that earns a decent living and contributes to your household income?  Or do you just want to keep photography as a fun hobby and take photos for family and friends?  If it’s the first option, then you need to be prepared for the hard yards.  Get serious about becoming a great photographer and charge what you’re worth.

          Find out what other photographers at your level are charging in your area and don’t undercut them.  Work out how much money you need to earn a year (minus tax and the cost of doing business/equipment/insurance etc), divide that number by the number of sessions you can do a year, and you’ll find your minimum profit per session that you have to make.  If it’s anything less than $500 per session, you may as well go get that job at McDonalds.

          Do the numbers.  All photographers deserve better.

           

           

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