In the 19th century as photography gained popularity as a medium and studios were being opened all over, early photographers were faced with the challenge of how to keep a small child still for the duration of the exposure. Some photographers used the unsubtle technique of hiding the mother, perhaps under a sheet or behind a curtain, to hold the child still. These images have become known as Hidden Mothers.
I work with the Wet Plate Collodion process, the same process that these early photographers would have used, and I wish to recreate a series of Hidden Mother Portraits.
However this time, rather than being hidden; I wish to boldly expose these mothers and their experiences of being a mother. I will photograph mothers breastfeeding their children, in a Victorian studio setting, and document their stories and experiences.
The hidden aspect becomes the remnants of how society stereotypes these women.
As a female photographer working in a male dominated industry, I constantly find myself spoken down to, overlooked and marginalised. As a female photographer and a new mother I have something that these men do not, access to other women in marginalized societies.
As a new mother and an artist this project will allow me to represent women of the past in stark contrast with the dilemmas and modern lifestyles of working mothers today.