The images capture the sacred chaos of being a mother

Family portraits often evoke a smiling family in their Sunday best, staring at the camera in a depiction of a picture-perfect life. But for Iowa-based artist Katie Golobic, those aren’t the images she lives for, though she admits to having a few on her walls. Rather, a look at her own work reveals a photographer in pursuit of extraordinary and decisive moments between the chaos and banality of motherhood.

“My work is my children,” she shares. “That’s why I photograph. I photograph because of them. If they weren’t there, I probably wouldn’t be shooting as much or with the intent that I do.

“Sunset rain.” Katie Golobic

A documentary love letter

Golobic’s artist statement boldly proclaims that his work is a love letter to his children. Her Leica M10 Monochom is always at hand, and with it, in black and white, she faithfully documents this season of her family’s life.

“The timelessness and the stripping… You see the moment for what it is and you’re not distracted by anything else,” she explains. “It helps me convey what I want to share with the world. This timelessness is important to me.

His current running series, “Saturday Mornings on Rosedale”, is an ode to childhood and all the play, excitement, adventure, chaos and wonder that comes with it. She plans to work there as long as her children allow her to.

child's hand full of glitter.  how to take pictures of children
“Hands of summer.” Katie Golobic

“It’s really for me to watch the scenes unfold in our house and elevate some of the everyday moments that happen,” Golobic explains. “Saturday mornings…it’s often the time when at least [we’re] all together. I just wanted to evoke the feeling of being at home with your children, and a lot of people think of Saturday morning cartoons, or Saturday morning pancakes. It’s just a bit of that feeling.

Although she cherishes the story behind each photograph, there is one that stands out among the rest: a snowy day, freezing cold, and a walk down the driveway to collect the trash, if only to step out for a moment. The effort culminated in a joyfully chaotic scene: her then three-year-old son attempting to haul the can down the aisle, his siblings in tow.

a young boy tries to carry a huge trash can down a steep driveway
“On the top of the hill.” Katie Golobic

“It looks like one of those old paintings, Norman Rockwell, that classic American life,” she recalls. “I love how the house is always so tilted. That’s how it feels. It’s almost perfect, but life isn’t, and as a mother, it’s not It’s messy, there’s chaos. That best sums up how much I love photographing, photographing chaos. It’s still beautiful, you know?

So what does this love letter entail? These photographs are not destined, like so many others, to be sucked into the whirlwind of .jpegs that will never see the light of day. Instead, Golobic prints scrapbooks, amassing favorites each year for every child they will one day receive.

“This is my gift to them [to say,] “It was a blessing to be your mother, and it created magic,” she says. “I post less and less online these days, just because I want it for them. I want them to have those sacred moments for themselves, and I’ll share great ones here and there. But, it’s really for them.

a woman's back with water drops in the sun.  black and white photography
“Untitled.” Katie Golobic

Finding a balance between mothering and photography

To create his images, Golobic usually takes his Leica, mounted with a 35mm lens. To my surprise (and admiration), she chooses to work in manual focus, despite the fact that her subjects are young (ranging from two to nine years old) and always on the move. She’s learned to embrace things like motion blur, but also admits that working within the confines of her medium has honed her concentration skills. Ultimately, however, it’s not a pursuit of perfection. It is a documentary pursuit of love.

The mother-of-four didn’t seriously, as she puts it, start photographing with intention until about five years ago, when the loss of a newborn baby prompted her to redouble her efforts to document his family. Golobic quickly discovered that it was also a way to keep his sanity on certain days.

a girl is sitting on a bed in the shadows.  how to photograph children
“Puppet show.” Katie Golobic

“It became a therapeutic thing for me,” she recalls. “It’s an easy way to pass the time as a mom. You’re just kind of standing outside in the cold, watching them. It’s like, ‘How can I do this, but I still feel like my brain isn’t turning to mush?’ Then it becomes a kind of game; it becomes fun to compose things differently or watch the cold light. »

Now she walks the line between mother and artist, always ready to record whatever comes her way. Her documentary approach means she never tries to edit a scene, which sometimes leads her to snap a quick shot before the “mommy side” kicks in.

a boy hangs from the back of a sofa in pajamas.  how to take pictures of children
“Untitled.” Katie Golobic

“Most of the time when the mood hits me or I hear something happening, I quietly try to see what’s going on,” she explains of her creative process. “For me, it’s also authenticity. I’m not trying to modify a scene. Safety obviously comes first; the mother’s gene sets in very quickly. But sometimes it’s like, ‘Oh my God, that’s really cool’, click, and then, ‘Okay, hey, let’s stop this.’

When asked who she does this for, creation, photography, the answer always leans in two ways. It’s his job. Being an artist is part of who she is and always will be. But there’s no doubt that his family is the “why” of it all.

“Right now I’m doing it for me because it fulfills me artistically. But at the end of the day, I do this for them, you know?

Encourage parents to document reality and chaos

When she first entered the world of photography, Golobic remembers seeing nothing but formal, beautifully composed family photos. Beautiful clothes, beautiful hair, everything screamed perfection. Taking a documentary course changed her perspective and her trajectory.

“I [was] so frustrated before. My house was not pretty and the children were not well dressed. So it was like, ‘No, they don’t have to be, it doesn’t have to be. These are my people, this is where I’m supposed to be. I like the banal and disorder; that’s the kind of person I am. I’m talking shit. Motherhood is beautiful, it’s that amazing gift, but every day isn’t sunshine and roses, and that’s okay.

girl runs outside while her sister looks out the window.  how to photograph children
“Fishbowl sunset.” Katie Golobic

For parents who want to document their own families, Golobic encourages them to get started. With a phone, a point and shoot, a film camera, it doesn’t matter. Go out and photograph the mess. You will not regret it.

“You’ll never see that moment again, and life changes in an instant,” she says. “Photographing kind of takes you away from the present, but for me it records that present moment and reminds you, ‘Wow, it happened’ or ‘Wow, look who got together’.”

Working with children – yours and those of others

One thing Golobic is adamant about is that her children have a say in the images she creates. If they say no, it’s no. She doesn’t force him.

“Your kids take the lead,” she says. “If they say they don’t want their picture taken, don’t take it. I never forced my children to take a picture they didn’t want to take. I never made them do anything they didn’t want to do, and that’s really something that’s at the core of my artistic process, not editing or directing a scene. It’s not my nature, but my children never listen to me anyway.

Of course, sometimes we imagined a composition that we really hope to play, or hope we can somehow conduct, to no avail. Do not be discouraged. Roll with the chaos, and something good will come.

the boy looks through an open door, the reflection of the photographer in the window.  how to photograph children
“Pieces of my heart.” Katie Golobic

“Embrace what’s in front of you and just take their lead,” advises Golobic. “Honestly, what you expect of them isn’t going to happen, and what they end up doing is probably more gold and shinier than you could even hope for.”

And for parents who need an extra boost, who might feel everyday life isn’t fantastic enough to justify the effort, she acknowledges that while sometimes it feels like “nothing special” , parents have a unique window on their family. ‘ lives – and that in itself is extraordinary.

“You know [your family] better than anyone. That’s what I try to remember when I’m grumpy and haven’t traveled anywhere. As mothers… we are the only ones who know this.

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