Eight years ago, I met Tara to photograph her for the first time, pregnant with her first daughter. Little did I know that she would become one of my favorite people or that I would be lucky enough to be her maternity photographer for all of her children. I also went on to document her this past fall at her Connecticut home one weekend, and it was truly special.
This is a special Mother of the Month because not only do you get to read her words, but also see eight years of photographs. I love seeing the progress of my work. I started in film, and ended with digital. You also get to see one of the photo walls that they have created in their home.
Enjoy this special post. Happy New Year!
Tell me a little bit about yourself, Riad and how you met. Why you decided to have children. What was the journey to becoming parents like? Was it an easy process?
Riad and I met our first week of college, were friends for many years, and then something happened, shifted, changed. And that was it. We had known one another for more than 10 years by the time we got married. We met as teenagers, and he proposed to me in Hyde Park in London on my 30th birthday. There was no decision to have children—it was always known. A couple of years before he proposed—or maybe it felt like that, it could have been a couple of weeks before—I remember being somewhere at dinner, and we talked about, I suppose, a bit of urgency that I felt to get married and start having kids, and I said, “I can’t wait to meet them.” I think we always knew we would have children, and they would be everything.
We didn’t know that it would be a somewhat difficult journey. Compared to what some families endure, it ended up being quite straightforward—that is, once we figured out that there were several fertility challenges we needed to overcome. But after trying few months, I was pregnant with Serena, our first, whose middle name is Hyde for the spot where Riad proposed. That was when I met Jennifer for what would be my first maternity photo shoot. I didn’t even tell Riad about it. Once I saw the images that Jenny had created for other families, I knew I wanted those for us. Eventually, along came India and then Conrad. Two brilliant, hilarious, enchanting girls and a deeply intelligent, happy, darling little boy.
How do you want to guide these little people in the world? What is your secret to a good relationship? What is your secret to happiness?
There isn’t really a secret to a good relationship that I know of—it’s both a lot of work and completely instinctual at the same time. Perhaps like parenting, in some ways, although it’s a much wilder ride. Any time I think we’ve nailed it, the next day everything could completely fall apart. But I think that if we stay focused on the important things—love, kindness, and family; books and music and art; a balance of city bustle and country calm; being of service to others whenever we can—that’s a good beginning and a solid foundation for happiness and an appreciation of the most precious things in life.
We want the kids to be inspired and inspire others. To maintain their sense of wonder and curiosity long after childhood. To know and remember that learning is everywhere. And that family is everything, and family can be defined in so many ways. We’re grateful to have them and grateful that they will have each other.
Tell me about why you decided to have professional family or maternity photographs, and why you trusted me to take these special photos.
Photographs have always been important to me. I think because I am an only child—there were definitely a lot of photos of me around, but not many family photos, me with my mom and dad. I always wanted more of those. When I got pregnant with Serena, I thought about maternity photos, but I knew they had to be right, something that I would consider hanging where I could see it every day, rather than tucked away out of sight. I probably searched 30 times for a maternity photographer, and on the 31st search, Jennifer popped up, and I immediately knew that she would be the perfect person to do these. Now we have an entire wall of our apartment devoted to the photos that Jennifer has taken of our family over the years. My favorites are the ones of the kids and Riad. I love it when he is in the photos because that is how our family is—it’s both of us with the kids and all of us together.
Please feel free to include anything else you like that is interesting about you or your parenting philosophy. AKA books you read, or like whatever.
Books are everything and everywhere in our house. Before India was born, I brought home a copy of The Little Prince from Iceland, and now I try to pick up copies when we travel—we have Iceland, Catalan, Danish, Italian, and of course French. We also bring home snow globes whenever we can, or ornaments that we hang on the tree Riad chops down every year at the Christmas tree farm in Connecticut. The tree is always named “Bob.” We’re on Bob X this year, plus Emma II—that will be the girls’ special tree.
To see more work like this, please visit my Mother of the Month archive.