Unless you are a mother, you probably have a vague picture of what parenthood looks like in a small corner of your mind. It can’t really be described, unless you’ve felt it. Anna Ogier-Bloomer is an autobiographical photographer who has been photographing her family for 15 years before she gave birth to her daughter, Violet. But, after she gave birth, she started her new series, ‘Let Down’, which chronicles her first two years of motherhood. A period that can be both physically and psychologically very demanding and exhausting. Her photos are indeed powerful and relatable.
Once you become a mother, you expect your life to be fulfilled with joy and excitement every day, but the reality is that you have to be brave and strong through the first years. When Anna became a parent in 2013, she decided to capture her experience in the best way.
Her ‘Let Down’ series shows the first two years of motherhood with all the gritty details.
Here is week one in 2013.
“The first two years of motherhood were a complete shock to the system ― unfathomable love for another person and completely unexpected challenges. A wise friend, and lactation consultant, told me that when it comes to babies, the only constant is change. She was absolutely right. Any time we thought we’d finally adjusted to a challenge, our daughter changed into a whole new person overnight, with new needs, new interests and new tendencies.”
Anna’s daughter didn’t sleep for more than a few hours at a time during the first two years. Many mothers would relate to this. Also, Violet constantly needed to be held. According to Anna, she and her husband were in survival mode for that period.
Focusing on her photography felt impossible, especially when she went back to her full-time job as an art professor. At this time, Violet was 3 and a half months old.
Ths picture is of her first night home.
“Being a mother is the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I was surprised by what a physical toll it would take on me for the first two years.”
Interestingly, the physical was the main inspiration behind the ‘Let Down’ series. A major part of the project centered around breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding is one of the greatest joys of my life, but it was very difficult at times, too. I wanted to investigate the complexity of doing the most difficult yet most meaningful work I’d ever done. The physical act of motherhood begins at conception and continues to evolve through a child’s life.”
Here is a picture of scratches from breastfeeding when Violet was 9 months old, in 2014.
Thanks to the help from her husband, sister and the camera’s self-timer, Anna managed to make art out of her difficult experiences and all of her feelings. She focused on details like the engorgement of her breast, the pain caused by Violet’s scratching, as well as the emotional joy.
“These things simultaneously bring excruciating physical pain and unparalleled emotional joy. Through images of my own mother, I attach a thread from one generation to the next. I confront the complexity of these seemingly contradictory states of being, and the ways in which women feel the pull of motherhood, their children, and their physical self and appearance in a way unlike anything or anyone else.”
This is a picture of co-sleeping with Violet and Anna’s mother.
“I want those for whom these images, this subject matter, the idea that toddlers want to nurse even while their mothers are using the toilet, are outside of their realm, to have a better understanding of what the complex and vital experience of mothering and breastfeeding is really like.”
Here comes the daddy, too, giving Violet the night feed.
Anna claims that becoming a mother changed how she viewed her own mother, too.
“I understand the pain she feels when one of her three children, all grown, suffers, experiences heartbreak or disappointment or becomes estranged. I understand the desire she has to make it all go away, to come fix it for us even though she can’t ― the deep pain and sadness I feel when my daughter is hurt or sad is something that doesn’t disappear.”
She continues: “My child is a part of me. And I hope viewers see their own mother, or all mothers, in a new light.”
You can see the full collection of photos on her website.
Here are some pregnancy photoshoots for a change.