Alexi first and foremost congratulations on your new son! Can you tell us how old Sole Luka and Leone are?
Thank you! Sole Luka turned 3 one month after Leone was born. Leone is now 7 weeks old.
What do you enjoy doing with them the most? Do you have any favorite “bonding” activities?
Over the summer I took one month off for “Baby Moon” and another month off for “Paternity Leave”, one month being before the birth to hang out with my eldest son and spend some quality time with my wife, Giada, and the next month to help with the new arrival.
This summer was incredible! Sole Luka and I spent everyday together from the moment he woke up to the moment I put him to bed. In the city, we would go on my bike (with his seat on the back) and ride along the West Side Highway, stopping off to look at boats and play soccer on the grass. Also, everyday I would teach him swimming for an hour. He went from nothing to swimming under water in 3 weeks…! If we went upstate, we spent the day in the garden finding butterflies, building tiny boats from leaves and sticks, swimming and playing with airplanes.
Apart from these activities, the one thing that I enjoy more than anything is being on the floor with Sole Luka. He uses my stomach as a trampoline, we do “superman” holds, we tickle, we hug, I never knew such a deep happiness like that. It’s all consuming.
Also over the summer, Sole Luka asked for the first time when I was going on a plane again and if he could come too. “I miss you Daddy”. My heart crushed in on itself! So after having seen the benefit of all those books like “I’m a Big Brother Now” and “Once Upon a Potty”, I wrote and published a picture book on Blurb.com called “Daddy Goes On a Trip”. It tells a story of Sole Luka and his Daddy and all the things that Daddy asks Sole Luka to do when Daddy goes away for work, such as making sure Mummy eats all her breakfast, playing with baby Leone and making funny faces with Daddy everyday on Skype. It’s now his favorite book 🙂
What is a typical family day like for you, Giada, and your sons?
Everyday I want to be the first person to go inside Sole Luka’s room, to get that first “HI!” as he jumps out of bed. We usually have about two hours alone together as Giada is catching up on sleep with the baby, Leone. We get changed together, we discuss what he dreamt about (usually a fire engine or deers in the garden upstate!), I make his oatmeal and we eat breakfast together before taking Santino, our dog, out for a walk.
On our return, he asks me to make Mummy’s breakfast (Steel cut oats with banana and walnuts or poached eggs) and the we creep into her room, climb into the bed and Sole Luka tells Mummy how he slept “all night long” and then usually a tickle-fest begins.
The rest of the day is spent doing errands together, going on scooter rides in the park, going to lunch en famille, having an afternoon swim and then bath, books, “Thank you’s”, and bed.
You are a very hands-on dad, a loving husband, and a renowned photographer all at the same time. What is it like to juggle family and work? How do balance your time, especially now that you have two boys?
After getting married in 2009, I needed a role model of a fashion photographer who was successful, faithful (!) and had a great family life. Someone told me that Michael Thompson was such a person, so I wrote to him to ask for advice! He was such a gentleman and so generous with his advice. It was all about balance, making an effort to “keep” time off and not caving in when jobs come along (as they inevitably do) and to make home life a priority.
Then two years later, my step father passed away. He had brought me up since I was 2 years old. On his last days we talked a lot about life and parenting. I came away realizing that if I had to have my “last month” I would want to make sure that I had spent as much time as possible doing the important things in life. So i spoke to my agent Anne du Boucheron (a past interviewee of Romy and the Bunnies) and she understood immediately and now we work together on a weekly basis to keep balance and a wonderful family life.
You have always been very fit and well-groomed. Can you share any workout or vanity tips for dads?
After Sole Luka, I realized how much i was mis-using my back every time i picked him up, carried him on my shoulders or swung him around. That, added to the fact that I am a photographer who gets in ridiculous positions all the time, plus all the traveling, I needed my body to stay “young” so I started Pilates. So now I try and do that whenever i get a free moment (which, since baby #2 is never…)
What habits do you recommend “fathers-to-be” develop in order to become a supportive husband and a great dad? What did you learn from your own experience throughout Giada’s pregnancies? What do you think are the best ways a dad can pamper and take care of the future mommy?
As soon as Giada was pregnant with baby #1, I went into Daddy/Husband hyper drive! It was all about making sure she had her green juices and was eating 3 meals a day, drinking lots of water and lots of leg massages!
What I learnt from Giada’s pregnancy was a massive admiration and fascination with the power of the female being. I was so inspired that I started a large body of work on the subject. The fact that a woman can be a beautiful, sexual, sensual and seductive creature and at the same time create and nurture new life. I really tried to explore these dualities at work in a series of very “kinetic” nude images of my wife pregnant and not pregnant.
Another must-do is a “BABY MOON”. A time for you both to have some amazing quality time before your lives go crazy with babies! Before Sole Luka, I took a month off and my wife and I rented a house in Sag Harbor and looking back it was the important thing we did before the baby’s arrival.
You must travel regularly for your jobs. Do you frequently travel as a family too? What are your favorite destinations?
We have in the past traveled as a family for my work, but since Sole Luka started classes, I try to travel less and make each trip shorter, LA and Miami being our main destinations. In Sole Luka’s first year we traveled a lot seeing all the families in UK, Italy, and Puerto Rico. He was christened in Rome at the same church where Giada was christened and by the same priest that christened her!
Can you share some tips for traveling with kids? Does it get easier or more difficult to travel as they get older?
Baby stage is easy as they just feed and sleep. Then it gets trickier as they become mobile and don’t like the idea of sitting for too long. Around two and a half years, its gets easier again and toys and iPads become a Godsend. Always have a bag with new toys which are gradually “released” every 3 hours! The same with new apps for your iPad. Keep them hidden until absolutely needed! Also, talk about the trip as long as possible before it happens so they get used to the idea.
What has the experience of fatherhood been like so far? What things have your boys taught you, or perhaps surprised you with?
It’s life changing! It puts everything in perspective. You understand your own parents more and realize that if you feel this much love for your baby, then imagine how your own parents felt. I spent the first month of Sole Luka’s life ringing my mum daily in UK to tell her I loved her! In the end she told me, “I love you too Darling, but I’m at work so please stop”!
When momentous things happen in my life, whether it be meeting my wife, getting married, the birth of my first born, I tend to get very creative. I either do art projects, write poetry, or make books. Becoming a father, I suddenly understood my own father’s desire for me to grow into a “good” man. So for my son’s first birthday I wrote a book for him called, “Notes for a Young Prince”. It is essentially a one note per page book for a “coming of age” young man. The notes touch upon subjects such as, Romance, Love, Chivalry, Duty, and Spirituality. Being inspired by my son, I wrote the whole book in two days!
Being a father really just makes me want to be a better man and hopefully a good example to these boys. 🙂
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