Celebrating Motherhood: Documenting a Baking Story

As a mom, I enjoy spending Sunday afternoons, in the kitchen, baking with my littles. I always think about how special these moments are to me and how my littles will grow up with fond memories of the everyday things we do.

For many months I had dreamed of shooting a baking session and was absolutely elated when fellow photographer, Laurie of Laurie Rae Photography was eager to let me come into their home and capture some everyday moments of her with her children, Lydi and Rhett.

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The key to any documentary session is to give the session a purpose.

A baking session will naturally be guided by the steps on the recipe. It keeps the clients distracted and busy while the story unfolds before you. As the photographer, it made it easy for me to anticipate and plan for the next shot. My clients naturally relaxed as they began to measure and stir and my job was merely to witness and shoot.

My objective was to provide minimal direction as I wanted this session to be real. I wanted to document the real moments. The real joy. I wanted to capture the memories that Laurie creates with her little ones each time they bake together.

Clients tend to get nervous about allowing a photographer into their home.

They worry that it’s not good enough or not fancy enough. Laurie’s kitchen is a real working kitchen. She has a creative eye and has decorated it beautifully, but it’s a real kitchen. It’s a farm house kitchen and is the heart of the home. It’s where meals are made, stories are shared, and bellies are filled.

I always remind my clients that it is the emotional connection that I aim to capture, not the style of cabinetry nor the brand of appliances.

I hope that clients become more at ease with in-home sessions as they begin to see that we’re there to document their lives, not the stuff in their lives.

The space was filled with beautiful directional light and I was able to have them working in the pockets of light that the kitchen windows offered. It was an overcast day, so the light filtering in was soft and lovely. I enjoy shooting into the shadows to create a dramatic effect, so in many of the shots I placed myself so that the window was behind my subject.

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Storytelling lies in the details

I love shooting all the bits and pieces. Capturing the canisters, the recipe card and the beaters really adds to the documentary feel of the session.

My primary goal was to capture connection between mom and daughter. This session was about celebrating motherhood – the everyday moments and cherishing the normal things that moms do with their little ones.

I wanted to capture the spontaneous giggles and joy, so I kept my shutter speed around 1/400 to keep the images nice and sharp. I pushed my ISO up around 800. I used my 35mm f/1.4 Sigma Art. This fast lens is tack sharp and is a wonderful focal length when shooting indoors and in tight spaces. The bokeh it produces is beautiful. I love shooting wide open and most of the session was shot at f/1.8.

Laurie is an amazing mom. Her kitchen and her two adorable kids were covered in flour by the end, but there were some amazing memories made that day. How do I know this? The moment when Lydi looked up at her mom and told her that she loved her, that’s when I knew that this session was real. It was truly telling their story.

Mother and child, side by side in the kitchen.

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Homework: What old family recipe can you dig up and document its making?

Writing + photography contributed by Marsha Peacock

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Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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