it began when i was quite young. i became fiercely maternal towards my dolls and bears, i began dreaming up long lists of baby names and i started looking after my little sister and cousins. when i grew older i became interested in parenting and childhood’s affect on later life, reading parenting books and watching my friend’s families interact. there is something about the young that has always fascinated me. a naive, pure happiness so easily broken. i started having nightmares about miscarriages and infertility. i asked my friends ‘is it normal to want to have a baby so much?’ but they didn’t understand.
a question that is often asked during interviews is, ‘what inspires you?’ my childhood inspires me! my life began on the water, inside a houseboat. my parents were wild, free and my father painted me while my mother photographed me and we were all wrapped up in the beauty of life. after, we lived in a caravan and soon after that, a house in avalon crawling with vines. my mama’s hair and my father’s beard was so long and i knew they loved me because they told me so, they said ‘i love you to the stars and back’ and i knew it was true. my father would tell me dreamtime stories with such passion they’d feel real and my mother would read me books late into the night. my father ran away to follow his dreams (something i struggled with but accepted, it gave me strength to do the same) and me, my younger brother and my mother moved to townsville. our love lane home was little but it had an enormous mango tree in the backyard. i’d sit on the grass, shirtless, gnawing on the juicy seed of a mango and it’d run in rivers down my skin. years later the smell of rotten mango is one of my favourite smells.
my mother began dating another man and the rest of my childhood was conventional. we had bedtimes, a suburban home and pay tv. i was sent to a private catholic school and my mother stopped painting, laughing. i’d hide in the stories i wrote, in the worlds i created. suddenly having an imagination wasn’t important and stories weren’t things to be told with passion, the tv was more interesting and i should watch that instead. my mother pulled me and my brother aside one day and asked ‘do you want to get our own home? we won’t have much money or pay tv or a big house with our own rooms but it will be just us.’ and we said ‘yes’ and meant it with everything. it took seven years and then suddenly we were no longer playing happy families, we were actually happy again.
my images are often coloured with memories and moments of my youth. i want to raise a child with the unconditional love, inspiration and adventure of my own childhood, so that they too can be inspired as i am. it’s what i always knew i was meant to do. the reason for all i’ve learnt.
much of society seems to think there is a ‘right’ way to live life. a formula. finish school, go to university, climb the career ladder, get married, settle, buy a house, have children, have granddchildren, retire, die. it’s strange that something so outdated is so widely spread. i was told i would never become a photographer if i didn’t finish school. people my own age sometimes ask, why are you acting like an adult when you’re so young? shouldn’t you be out partying and actually being a teenager? because there is a right way to be the age you are! well i guess i am a rebel by not being rebellious then. isn’t it all ridiculous? sometimes i think about this and ache to be brave and push aside my fear. and so i’m going to be loud about what i’m passionate about, even if i’m not supported.
why do i want children young? even though i’ve been in love with matt since i was newly fourteen, i have never had a single doubt in my mind that i didn’t love him. our love is something i can’t explain, but it has withstood disaster after disaster without crumbling. it is the only thing i can rely on in my life, the most beautiful thing i know. we are both writers and photographers, extensions of the other. some relationships are based on sharing the same taste in music, me and my lover share almost everything. ever since we moved into our own home together (a year and a half ago) we’ve talked about having children. we thought if i became pregnant, we’d explain it was an accident, scared if people knew we had consciously WANTED our baby they’d judge us negatively. it makes me wish that people would see us for our thoughts and actions, not how many days we’ve been alive.
i always saw myself as a young mother. a mother with enough life and energy to keep up with my children, enough imagination to dream up things along with them. one day maybe they will look back at all the photographs of me playing with them and think, my mama is pretty. people seem to think you should stop living when you have children, you should settle and stay. but i could never. they’d be missing out on too much adventure. all of us can travel and experience together, making memories, photographs, stories. the photographs i’ll take of them will be some of the most real images ever, so full of my heart and passion. when i think of them i hardly want to shoot anything else. most people may want to live first and then have children, but for me, having children will be living.
i am so blessed to have the job i do. i might travel across seas to shoot campaigns but i will always come back days later, with stories and pictures. my career has the kind of freedom very few do. the reasons for the negativity surrounding young mothers doesn’t make sense with who i am, regardless of age. and besides, i am not thirteen or sixteen, mentally i am not even eighteen! i know who i am, where i am going and who i love and that is beyond so many. my decision to have children early may be an unaccepted one, but for me it makes all the sense in the world. think, would the world be more disgusted if a 39 year old woman accidentally fell pregnant to a child she had no time for, or if a 19 year old had a baby out of love and a want to raise children? the most important thing is love and time to love.
disclaimer: i am not promoting teen pregnancy, i am promoting open mindedness and following your heart without fear.