I am so much more than a photographer. I am a photographer on a mission. On a mission to empower women on their journey through pregnancy, birth and the breastfeeding years, educating our community in the process. It is my hearts desire that through the use of incredibly beautiful and inspirational images that I normalise the things that mothers naturally do. 7 years and it has been an interesting journey thus far with many people wondering why on earth one would want to leave the profession of Midwifery and photograph such things.
For me, apart from my husband, becoming a mother has been the greatest of gifts. It has transformed my whole existance, pushed and pulled me, made me stretch beyond what I thought were my limits, and has me reguarly shedding tears at the joy my children bring to me and the realisation of the love that God shows to me through them. Why wouldn’t I want to celebrate those precious fleeting moments through the memories that photography so perfectly preserves. It is my experience that many mothers feel the same. Secondly becoming a mother has also opened my eyes to the fact that our community has a long way to go in seeing the incredible beauty in motherhood. Our society has very strong opinions on what is beautiful and sadly in my eyes pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding just doesn’t rate. With soaring rates of traumatic births, caesarean sections, postnatal depression, low breastfeeding rates, relationship breakdowns we NEED to uplift and empower mothers/families and support them. I see photography as a powerful tool to do that.
So, it was with a great amount of sadness that soon turned into anger and frustration when I received a 3 day ban from Facebook for ‘violating community standards’ with a breastfeeding image that I posted. Now, if showing the world an image of what should be considered normal maternal behaviour is violating our community then in my view the whole human race is in a very sad state of disrepair. When I hear all too reguarly of the abuse and violence in our community and yet here I am promoting the beauty of human connection and the love that is foundational to building happy and fulfilling relationships then I really am at a loss as to the direction we are heading. Yes, Facebook is just Facebook but to me Facebook represents our community and if a huge multimillion dollar corporation can’t abide by the laws of our nation (ie the freedom to breastfeed in public that is written into Australian law which in turn should include the freedom to show breastfeeding images in public) then what message is that sending?
Just yesterday a photograph came up on my fb newsfeed of a black man in Johannesburg dangling dead 10m high from the electrical lines. He was a cable thief and the caption said “We are one less cable thief today”. It makes me so angry when such a shocking image showing the brutality and horror of life can remain on Facebook and yet an image capturing the beauty of human love and connection and be seen as violating community standards.
I remember only too well the incredible overwhelming emotion and love I felt when at a week old I put my premmie babe to my breast for the very first time. She was taken from me so swiftly at birth and I felt so disconnected from her and yet the simple act of putting her to my breast made me finally feel like her Mum. It was an incredibly healing experience. That simple act, which gets taken for granted, made me experience the emotional, spiritual and biological power of breastfeeding.
So I ask you…. What do you see when you look at this image???
Personally I see a mother who has wholeheartedly given herself… physically, emotionally and spiritually to her children, loving them, nourishing them and nurturing them. I also see two beautiful content children whom obviously have a very close bond, holding hands while feeding.
The bond that we as breastfeeding mothers have with our children is worth fighting for, it is worth celebrating and it is worth promoting. Hopefully one day we will see large corporations such as Facebook taking a stand against those discriminating against breastfeeding (by allowing breastfeeding images on their site regardless of them being reported) and mothers can feel incredibly well supported in the simple and yet powerful act of being a Mum.