As a new mum, I’m getting used to the new balance of activities in my life. My daughter is 3.5 months old, so we’re past the “total and utter shock” stage and into the “I’ve got the hang of this bit – for now” stage. Which means being a little more adventurous with going out, and getting back into a few things again.
Which includes photography, to a limited degree. 95% of the photos on my phone are of my daughter doing cute things or with various friends and relatives. But the other 5% aren’t. There’s a set of black and white photos, taken for my August photo challenge. And there are various creative snapshots of places I’ve visited recently. Photography is something I need to do, for myself (see the blog post Why I love photography). So I’ve found ways to make sure it still features in my life.
Here are my tips to help other new mums do the same, once they’re able to get out and about.
Keep your phone on hand. There’s nothing (creatively) more annoying than seeing a photo opportunity and realising your phone is somewhere in the nappy bag, underneath the pram, covered by a coat and three plastic bags..
Go for walks in nice places. Take advantage of being on maternity leave and get out there. Especially now the schools have gone back. If you’re a National Trust member or belong to another similar organisation, use your membership. Visit the local places, and maybe even further afield once you get more confident. And there are plenty of other places that are free or low cost to visit.
Set yourself a challenge. For an afternoon, a week, a month (even a year!). Pick a topic – a colour, a natural thing e.g. the sky, an urban object e.g. doorways, or just take a series of photos to capture the essence of daily life.
Use your smartphone. Even if you love your DSLR or other digital camera, don’t forget how often you’ll be interrupted. Just when you get the camera to connect to your laptop and download photos, your baby will wake up. That’s the way life works now! Just use your smartphone for the moment, so it’s easier to share the photos, and use Instagram filters instead of spending hours editing in photoshop.
Be realistic about what you can achieve. One photo a day on a phone is achievable. A creative portfolio, edited, printed and framed, and marketed for sale is unlikely to progress very quickly. Save the big projects for the future.
Work in small batches of time. I’m a big advocate of microblocking – 20 minute commitments of activity. I wrote a course on Twitter by just doing 20 minutes work a day. Yes it took a while, but if I’d tried to spend big blocks on it I’d never have found time. As far as I can ascertain, babies nap for anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours. If you get one of those long naps and have done the essential chores or admin things, you can probably find 20 minutes for sorting and sharing your images.
Find other creative mums locally. I always feel more motivated to do things when other people are involved. Whether meeting them to do an activity or just to talk about it. If there’s no obvious way to meet other mums with similar interests, get online – social media, blogs, apps – and set up your own group.
I’ve been enjoying being creative with my photography, and no doubt I’ll do another photo challenge in the coming months. I’ve also got plans to create some printed books of my photos.
I’d love to meet other mums of new babies who are interested in photography and other creative pursuits. So if you know of anyone like that in the Maidenhead area, please do get in touch.
View from behind the pram – colour version: