You welcomed baby Stella into your life about one year ago. What are your favorite things about being a mom?
It’s so fun showing Stella new things and experiences and watching her take it all in. She loves music and can’t help but dance and wave her arms when a song comes on. We don’t have one, but she also loves dogs, it’s so fun to see how excited she is around them. I also love seeing my husband Eric with her – he’s a great dad.
Describe Stella’s personality in 3 words...
Adventurous, easy-going and fun.
What is your daily routine with Stella?
It’s different every day actually, we don’t really have her on a routine. Usually the one constant is I get her when she wakes up and take her into our bed to breastfeed her. Then she sits in her high chair and I give her things for breakfast to feed herself while I make coffee. We have a wonderful nanny for Stella four days a week from 9am-5pm and then I take Fridays off to spend the day with her unless I have a shoot. On Fridays I take her to swim lessons in the morning and then we usually go visit my dad at his studio for lunch before meeting up with friends for an activity at the park or a museum if it’s cold followed by happy hour. In the early evenings, I also often take her to events for work if she’s invited! My husband gets home around 7pm and then all go out somewhere or cook dinner at home. We made sure from the start that she is comfortable going to sleep in her stroller and with noise around her so that we could continue to go out to dinner and live our lives. So far it’s been working (most of the time!)
Did anything surprise you about motherhood?
It’s really hard! It was especially for me in the beginning. I went into it thinking that being a parent is a common thing that people have been doing since the beginning of time, so how hard can it be? I was really wrong. I don’t think people talk about the challenges enough and I hope that I can be someone who is honest about it. It’s so easy to see all the highlights of being a parent on Instagram or even when you just see someone for an hour or two – you’re not getting the whole story.
As a working mother, has there been any challenging experiences you’ve faced over the past year?
I told myself I wouldn’t travel without her for one year after Stella was born. That seemed like it would be a long time and I thought I might even love being on a flight by myself to get things done or just watch a movie! But now, I’m answering these questions from the plane on my first work trip without her and I’m wondering if I made the right choice. Photography is not just work for me, it is also my passion and it keeps me feeling like myself to have my own thing separate from being a parent, so I’m grateful to be able to do both even though it makes for hard decisions sometimes.
What are your favorite places around the city to hang out/eat with Stella?
Brookfield Place, Augustine or Tribeca’s Kitchen for brunch, Aurora or Ecco for dinner, Rosemary’s in West Village for happy hour. Oh and the new gorgeous Restoration Hardware in the Meatpacking, they have a coffee/wine bar on the 3rd(?) floor where you order and then you can take your drink and sit on the couches – there’s so much space and they don’t rush you out, babies love it. These are just a few of the places that have always been very accommodating with a baby/ stroller so I keep going back.
What is the best thing about being a NYC mom?
From the time she was born, being able to walk out the door with a stroller or carrier and within one block sit in a cafe, go into shops, meet up with friends. Stella loves being out and about and it has always been much easier for me to be out with her than stuck inside. We also love taking the subway everywhere, it’s so easy.
You’re the co-founder and a mentor for the non-profit program Through Our Lens Inc., which provides teen girls with photography education. Can you tell us what made you start this organization?
For years, my longtime friend Carolyn Pride and I would have conversations about the importance of representation and inclusion both in front of and behind the lens, and the lack there of. After years of talking, we decided to take action and do something about it and in 2016 co-founded Through Our Lens, a mentorship program that empowers high-school-aged girls from underserved communities to use photography a medium to build self-esteem and nurture creativity, and also gives them the tools, skills and access they need to succeed as creators and storytellers.
What’s the best thing about mentoring teenagers?
Getting to give passionate young people experiences where they can create and develop. It’s really wonderful to see what they choose to capture and also how something that we might take for granted after years in the industry is a really special moment for them and might be the moment when something clicks.
When starting out as a young photographer, who were your mentors? who really inspired you?
My dad, Arthur Elgort. Also, my mom, Grethe Barrett Holby – even though she’s not a photographer (she’s actually an opera director), she has always been my biggest fan and you need someone in your corner like that to keep you going.
As a busy photographer and mother, when you get rare moments to yourself, how do you like to spend those moments?
Playing the guitar (I take a lesson every week!), working out (I don’t do it enough), treating myself to a massage, facial or manicure.
Do you have any favorite spots to relax in the city?
I love relaxing at home since I’m out of the apartment so much – it feels like a luxury to stay in.
What does self-care mean to you?
Taking time to do what feels right for you in the moment. That doesn’t always mean relaxing – sometimes, self-care is taking the time to catch up on emails if it’s something that’s been stressing you out and you can’t relax until it’s done. Whatever it is that can clear your mind, and I think that’s different depending on the day and what you have going on.
What advice would you give to new working mothers about balancing work and motherhood and still making time for yourself?
I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t do it all. I had to start saying no to more things and focus on fitting in the things and people who really mattered most to me. What’s cool is how on both ends you start prioritizing and spending your time on more meaningful projects.
Where’s your favorite place to escape the city with Stella?
I love going out to my parents’ house in Long Island. It’s a place my family has been gathering on the weekends since before I was born. We go in the pool, spend time at the beach, have home cooked meals and there are (sometimes!) some helping hands if Eric and I want to go out on the paddle boards alone for an hour.
Where’s your favorite place to escape the city with just adults?
We haven’t had a trip away alone yet! I’ll let you know and in the meantime would love any suggestions!
And finally, what are you most looking forward to this year for you and your family?
Everything to come. It’s all so new being a first time parent so every day is exciting in its own way. Stella is starting to talk a little and I love hearing her voice. She also just has started to walk a little (she actually stood up for the first time alone without holding on at her 1st birthday party just yesterday).
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