What inspired the idea of putting together a book around the topic of breastfeeding?
This book really aims at supporting our society in supporting each other. Working with gender issues is my main interest as a photographer and in this case the topic of the controversy of the breast was super interesting considering how much controversial content there is currently on social media about breastfeeding! The breast represents two very important roles for a woman: sexual/beauty and nutritive/Motherhood. These two roles are not ones that society likes to put side by side and it is exactly this which makes this piece of our anatomy so interesting and such an exciting topic to work with.
What would you like to achieved through this book?
I would love to see the breastfeeding percentage rate in South Africa double. We currently have one of the worst globally. I was really shocked when I found this out! 2018 statistics of the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed that our country has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.
Who is the target readership for this book? (only new mothers?)
The target readership for the book is definitely new mothers. The book makes the absolute ideal gift for any mother, especially a new one! I intend the book to be enjoyed by local and international readers alike. I’ve met with and photographed women from such diverse backgrounds (and locations) so I think the stories covered are more than just South African ones and the diversity is therefore interesting across many spectrums and for many people.
I think what makes breastfeeding 101 special is that it is a first-hand body of information – a hand book - directly from the women concerned about their breastfeeding experiences.
During the three-year project, what were your unique discoveries that most people do not know of?
Transcribing 101 interviews into their perfect mini, summarised versions of themselves while still trying to maintain the integrity and natural voice of each Mother was a really challenging process! And I’m relieved it’s behind me. My favourite parts? Learning totally new and often very surprising new facts about all of these women’s lives! And…so importantly: I loved working with the talented (and Woodstock local) book designer Gabrielle Guy. She did an outstanding job of putting this book into such a beautiful format.
Who did you work with in putting together the book? What did it take and how long it took you to complete and publish it? How many pages is it? How are the sales doing and response from readers since the launch?
I worked almost totally alone on this project for the first 2.5 years, thereafter I brought in Gabrielle Guy (Woodstock local as well) as my book designer. I had support from all the mothers, far and wide that I worked with through creating all 101 portraits. It was a long process putting this project together as I did it inbetween my normal commercial photographic work! I set up shoots and photographed mothers as often as I could and as far and wide as possible! I photographed mothers from Somalia, Germany, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Austria, Holland, Namibia, Malaysia, China, Portugal, South Africa and more!
The book is hardcover with 101 full colour portraits, 101 stories from mothers and it is 224 pages long. The launch of the book at The Book Lounge in Cape Towns CBD was a huge success, it was packed! The response has been outstanding. I’ve done multiple radio interviews, speeches and talks and articles and interviews. It’s been particularly well timed as I launched the book during World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August) and August itself is Women’s Month as well!
Please tell me about yourself professional and generally (outside work).
I’m a full time professional photographer and my main interest is working with gender issues and portraits of women and sharing women’s stories. During my time not photographing and retouching I love to enjoy our beautifully restored Woodstock home, ceramics, textile printing, painting and drawing. I love to socialise, entertain and cook at home and enjoy having sundowners while sitting on top of our roof overlooking Devils Peak and the Harbour (I think some of our neighbours think we’re crazy for doing this ;-)).
I’m very lucky: what I do is my absolute passion and I even do it in my spare time. I spend a lot of time working on pro-bono and interesting photographic projects which involve women and women’s issues.
Your general advice to members of the public?
That communication and support which can be shared and passed on between women is vital, it is our strength. It would be wonderful if more people showed their appreciation for breastfeeding instead of slandering it or giving mothers bad looks (this happens all the time sadly!). Its so important to remember to share knowledge and be open to cultural differences as well as to appreciate how hard of a job it is to be a breastfeeding mother.