Sometimes, one session can be the “stone” for several birds at once. You see, Monica is THE mama behind Alaskan Earth Mama, which is Fairbanks’ source for locally-made holistic goodness, body care, and custom essential oil aromatherapy sessions. Monica wears many hats: in addition to being an independent mama, Monica is also one of the smiling faces that will greet you daily at the Alaska Family Health and Birth Center. Alaskan Earth Mamas’ products are prepared in her kitchen in her “spare” time (a story every mom knows too well, I think!).
Alaskan Earth Mama makes a range of herbal products in addition to its other services (which include essential oil education, customized aromatherapy bodywork, and a growling line of other offerings). AEM's products include balms and salves that aid in postpartum mamas' recovery; soothing sprays; and mama’s milk tea, to name a few. Around Fairbanks, AEM’s Soothe & Heal balm has a cult following, and every spring AEM’s all-natural mosquito repellent is pretty much the interior’s Most Wanted.
We’d wanted to do some photos to document her business in action for a while, but of course our lives were both hectic enough that we talked about it for a lot longer than we should have. When we were finally in a spot to do something about it, luck would have it that it was just time for Monica to be out harvesting cottonwood buds – a crucial ingredient with healing properties that is used in many of her products. And of course, if she’s out harvesting, the odds are that Matthew, her son, is harvesting with her – and so I floated my idea for Mother + Child sessions by her.
I originally began offering Mother + Child "little sessions" only during the month of May in honor of mother's day, but I've come to love them so much that they're now a permanent, around-the-year offering. These aren’t your everyday mini-sessions – instead, these are 40-minute sessions custom-designed and shot on location to document the special relationship every mother has with each of her children. My vision for these sessions was to find an activity that mother and child love to do together, to basically open the floodgates of everything that’s there already. The good *and* the bad – the eye-rolls, tantrums, or disagreements, but also the smiles, connection, cuddles. A real life – beautiful and raw.
I have a real passion for these sessions, not least because it’s so important for mom to get in front of the camera. Too often moms are hiding behind the lens, choosing to be the ones doing the documenting of everyday life – and even the moderately big events, sometimes – and are leaving themselves out of the picture.
Mamas, get in the picture. It is so important.
But back to cottonwood buds!
We gathered in North Pole in the streaming sun of early spring (and the slush of breakup) and it turned out that indeed, documenting an Alaskan Earth Mamas harvest session and coordinating a Mother + Child session was the perfect marriage. Mmmmmmmmmagic.
You can find Alaskan Earth Mamas products at Gulliver’s Books, Fireweed Boutique, Heart Stream Yoga, and many other places around town.