Imogen Freeland on pregnancy and motherhood

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“Nothing about the connection with motherhood is linear. It really is complex, raw and sloppy, ” says Freeland, among the winners of Female in Focus 2021

Birth of a Mother by London-based photographer Imogen Freeland is an ongoing task exploring the varied experiences of motherhood. “I fantasised about becoming a mother for years. A long time before I fell pregnant, ” writes Freeland, in an starting statement to the work. “Though when it eventually came to me personally, pregnancy took me by surprise and challenged my objectives. ”

Freeland sought in order to photograph women who’ve many experienced pregnancy differently: prepared and unplanned, IVF, or through sperm donation. The lady also photographed women who’ve had terminations, experienced loss, or pre and post-natal depression. Her winning picture from Female in Focus 2021 [above] is of twin sisters Tessa and Melanie while these were pregnant at the same time. “It seemed such an incredible privilege to be able to capture them both together with each other just weeks before the first of the two gave birth, ” says Freeland. “Their travels to motherhood are both distinctive and yet miraculously in sync. ”

Here, the musician discusses her work, what she learned through making it, and her hope to motivate more honest conversations.  

BJP: You photograph the particular pregnant body beautifully, however in a way that also thinks natural and normal. Are these the best thoughts on the depiction of pregnant bodies in well-known media? Was this something you wanted to challenge in your work?

Imogen Freeland: There is often an unrealistic example of the female body in popular media that makes women really feel inadequate when they pursue and can’t achieve that impossible regular.  

Because of this, the postpartum body is often shrouded in shame instead of celebrated. Which brutally discounts the heroism of motherhood.  

I needed to challenge that and catch the intimate and genuine beauty of this physically transient and fragile time in a way that often goes unseen.

BJP: You connected with many other moms while making this work. Exactly what did you learn from all of them?

IF: I learned a great deal about the resilience of women. All of us have different desires and challenges. Nothing about the experience of motherhood is linear. It is complex, raw and messy for everyone, yet there’s constantly someone that has experienced that which you are going through. You are by no means the only one.  

I photographed women who’d had planned plus unplanned pregnancies, IVF, used sperm donation, had terminations, experienced loss, pre and postnatal depression… Each of their particular experiences is unique. I fulfilled and photographed a lot of strong women.

BJP: Do you think enough conversations are now being had about the varied experience of pregnancy and motherhood, is to do you think society adequately works on people to become mothers?

IN CASE: I think we are having associated with these conversations than ever before, but we still have a long way to look. Looking back to my classes years, I remember the focus always being placed on safe sex. However , we were provided little to no regarding the maternal experience. I learned about the challenges of motherhood first-hand and by means of those closest to me.

Modern society often represents the maternal experience in an idealised way that can create unrealistic goals and so when faced with a reality that doesn’t align with these it can lead to a feeling associated with inadequacy and personal failure. My hope is that my work can inspire a more sincere conversation around motherhood to shape healthier expectations plus reassure women that they are not alone in their experiences.

BJP: In a recent episode of The particular Messy Truth podcast, Treasure Fletcher and Ying Ang talk about becoming mothers, and how they felt the need to hide their pregnancies at the beginning simply because they were scared to lose work. Has becoming a mother affected your career as a photographer?

IN THE EVENT THAT: It’s sad how common this is. I’m certainly normally very aware of this with regards to discussions about work and exactly how I navigate these conversations. I haven’t had any glaringly obvious experiences exactly where it has lost me function, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if it experienced.  

I personally find it incredibly naive when somebody presumes motherhood will be a hindrance when it comes to my capacity to work simply because there has never been a time where I have already been more driven and complex when it comes to my ability to multitask, rationalise, empathise and discuss than since I became the mother.

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