I didn’t want to be a mum, with Sophie Ebrard

9 July 2020

Journal

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In January I flew to Amsterdam to meet with Photographer Sophie Ebrard. After phone calls and emails back and forth in the latter half of 2019, I knew Sophie’s voice was an important one to be heard.

Sophie’s discomfort with the motherhood transition is common, but more commonly left unheard. The resistance to becoming a mum stayed with Sophie for years following her pregnancy and the birth of her son Jules. It’s this experience that inspired Sophie’s body of work, I didn’t want to be a mum’ which exhibited in Amsterdam in 2019.

Knowing that Sophie & I shared something, I realised she had given a voice to some of the feelings that I too experienced, when I transitioned into motherhood. We fixed a date and I flew to Amsterdam to interview Sophie for the Real Talk Podcast. 

Her narrative on motherhood is open and raw, uncomfortable to hear at times. Sadness, hope, brutal honesty and vulnerability are all words I would use to describe our conversation. For many people motherhood is hard, not just hard, it’s life changing. The loss of identity, independence and sense of self can be overwhelming. Sophie gives a voice to this through her work. 

The exhibition was a fully immersive experience, from the sounds of labour when you enter the space, the images of Sophie’s skin being pulled and kicked, right down to creating a scent that replicates a newborns’ smell. The exhibition walks you through a multi-sensory experience until you come to find an image of Jules and a journal Sophie has written for him. 

About Sophie

Beautiful work … a great eye and narrative sense, and a unique perspective.’ James Cameron

Sophie Ebrard is a photographer and director based in Amsterdam.

Ebrard’s images are drenched with natural light, intimacy and beauty. Filled with movement and energy, each still contains a story, a personal tale. She invites the viewer to take a glimpse into worlds that are out-of-bounds. In a culture that is obsessed with authenticity, her photographs are real and my shots are cinematic.

At the National Portrait Gallery her work was exhibited as part of the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize selection 2015. Her collection Dunk Elite’ won the Association of Photographers award in 2016. It’s Just Love’, perhaps her signature collection, exhibited in Amsterdam and Kyoto and made headlines internationally in outlets such as Vanity Fair, Time, Marie Clair, the Guardian, the Huffington Post & Dazed. Her latest exhibition I didn’t want to be a Mum’ is an immersive experience that explores the ambivalent feelings and struggles of motherhood. Launched during Unseen 2019, the brutally honest exhibition brakes a taboo very few mums dare to speak about. 

Her work is widely eclectic yet marked by a distinctive aesthetic and approach. To every subject – from the porn actors of It’s Just Love’ to the Argentine family of horse-farmers in Finca La Prospera’ – Sophie brings the same eye for compositions at once artful and spontaneous, the same effortless compassion, humor and elegance, and a chameleon ability to form the sort of bonds and intimacy that bring portrait photography to life.

Sophie’s commercial clients include Rolex, Heineken, HSBC, Samsung, Stella Artois, Timberland, Volkswagen & Google.

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