Famous Vogue Photographer Captures Modern Motherhood in Her New Book
Is there anything more transformative then having a child? For famous fashion photographer and stylist Claiborne Swanson Frank (she worked at Vogue under editor in chief Anna Wintour for two years), motherhood completely changed her world. “In many ways, I was a child until I had my own children,” she tells MyDomaine. “My small reality of life and my own needs exploded with the birth of my first son. I suddenly felt a responsibility and purpose I had never known before.”
With this new insight, she felt inspired to tell a “modern story of motherhood” and a responsibility to "document and honor this profound human experience," which she packaged beautifully in her new book, Mother and Child. “My hope was to take portraits of mothers and their children that captured love and joy,” she explains. “To try to stop time in a series of portraits and show how this experience connects us all.”
The end result is nothing short of breathtaking. Frank turns her lens on 70 iconic women including Delfina Figueras, Nicole Trunfio, Carolina Herrera, Lauren Santo Domingo, Anne Vyalitsyna, Aerin Lauder, and Patti Hansen to name a few. While the imagery, of course, is captivating, it's the powerful stories behind each of the women and their experience as mothers that truly draws you in.
Ahead, we take a sneak peek inside the new coffee table book's photos (we predict its pink cover will be found in every fashion girl’s living room) and discover what being a mother truly means.
On Managing the Transition
“I think more than manage, I learned to make my career a focused part of my life and my passion while holding my children as my priority. I am still learning how to manage my life, my family, and my career. I love the mix though! I feel grateful to be able to be a mother and have a career I love.”
On Finding the Time to Write This Book
“As I am a photographer, and as this is a photography book, there was very little writing on my side. I shot on location and left my kids at home, so, luckily, I was able to have the peace and space I needed to create. What was hard to find time to do was the editing of the photos. I would edit my shoots at night once I put my babies to sleep. The night time is the only truly productive and quiet time I have. I spent many nights up past midnight editing.”
On the Biggest Lessons her Children Have Taught her
“My children are my greatest teachers. Seeing life through their eyes is magical. One of the greatest lessons I have learned from my children is the power of being present in your life and in the moment. I also have had to learn to have more patience, which has been something I am still working on every day. As a photographer, I have learned the power of watching, waiting, and being present in the moment and shooting from my heart, not my head from my children.”
On the Best (and Most Surprising) Thing About Being a Mum
“I think the greatest gift my children have shared with me is their love. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that they have so much unconditional love for me and me for them. I never knew being a mum would be as much fun as it is! And, at the same time, I had no idea how hard parenting can be. No one can teach you how to be a parent; you have to learn each day and find your own truth as to how you want to raise your children. Being a parent forces you to look at your life and the morals and values you want to install in your children. I believe parenting has forced me to evolve as a human being, and becoming a mother has made me a better person.”
On Practising Self-Care
“I think self-care is very important. I am a better mum when I am honoring my own needs and taking care of myself. I love taking long walks in nature, I love yoga and barre classes. I pray daily and love to journal. My rituals really ground me and help me to feel centered and strong in my role and as a mother and in my life overall. When I feel healthy, centered and connected to the universe, I can function from a higher place in all parts of my life.”
On Finding Harmony Within the Mix of Life, Career, and Family
“I run on a lot of green tea and coffee! In reality, I rarely feel balanced. Trying to find the balance between work and family is a daily struggle. But I love my family above all and I love my career, so I make it work.”
On the Importance of Creating Rituals
“I am starting now to wake up with a prayer of gratitude for all the good things in my life. I find that having a focus on gratitude and what you have attracts abundance into your life and keeps your heart focused on what is important.
“I then go to my kitchen. I make hot water and lemon and start my coffee machine and heat the bottles of milk for my kids. My youngest is 1 year old and loves his milk in the morning, and my 4-year-old still loves his too. I drink a glass of warm water with lemon and then I make coffee for me and my husband. I bring my children’s milk and our coffee into my room, and we all climb into our bed together and snuggle for a little while. This is my favourite part of my day.
“At night, after bathtime, I read each of my kids a bedtime book and after some more snuggling put them to bed. This can go on for hours. My oldest loves to find any excuse to hold off bedtime Once the children are asleep, some nights I’ll go out with my husband or friends. Other nights I will stay in and relax and have a mellow dinner at home. I am generally exhausted by the end of the day and love some quiet time. Before bed, I love watching movies and reading books. I think checking out at night and decompressing is a very important part of my day.”
On Learning Through Other Mothers in the Book
“I loved learning about how other mothers parent. It was so interesting and insightful. Overall I learned how truly universal and human the experience of motherhood is, and how this love connects us all. I also learned how each mother is doing her very best to be the best parent she can be. It’s the most important job we all have, and we each only get one chance to do it right. I felt inspired by how important each mother found their role was as a mother and how deeply they want to raise loving, kind thoughtful children.”
On Embracing Your Mistakes Along the Way
“I am always making mistakes and always learning from them. I think life is all about making mistakes and learning from them. I think in making mistakes, we learn how to make better choices in life and in work. I feel that evolving as a person and challenging myself constantly to be a better mother, artist, wife, and overall person is what is most important, and the mistakes made are required in order to evolve.”
On What She Wishes She Knew Before Becoming a Mum
“Once you become a mother, your life is no longer your own, and your heart belongs to your children. You never see life through the same lens. The beauty and power of motherhood leave you transformed.”