Now that Buffalo is on the forefront of the bonding (quite literally) mother-child frontier, maybe it’s time to see what some of these relationships look like up close and personal. Photographer Melissa Mune (The Bossy Photographer) has been working on a project that captures the intimate relationship between mother and child. The result of the work is captivating, especially in light of the ever present controversies that revolve around free the nipple and breastfeeding in public.
“Since May I have been organizing and shooting portraits of moms and their babies at local Buffalo landmarks and districts,” says Melissa. “Some are group shoots, some are solos. The project started small with just an idea to do one group portrait, but the response to that single portrait was enormous and I’ve spent the last 3 months shooting more with barely a break between shoots, editing and more shoots. The participants encouraged me to put together a book, and I’d been hoping just for a small show, so now that’s the goal – a book and a show of Buffalo’s beauty and beautiful mother-child relationships. Nothing is more peaceful to me than a mother and her child or children relaxing with each other in the beautiful scenes our city presents us.”
If you’re wondering how shoots of this nature go over in the public eye, Melissa tells me that while the vast majority on people weren’t bothered, there was the occasional nasty person who stopped and interrupted the shoot. But the incidents couldn’t disrupt the poise and grace that was being captured. Put simply by Melissa, “We’re enjoying our bond with our babies.”
The following commentary comes from a few of the mothers that participated in the photo shoots:
Corinne Eberwine, “Promoting more widespread acceptance of nursing babies in public is a topic that’s important to me, and being a part of these photos has not only given me some priceless memories captured in beautiful images, it’s been an uplifting experience to be a part of such a diverse & accepting group of women. There’s just love & community all around. There needs to be more of this, everywhere.
“I’m personally a modest nurser and although I don’t use a cover anymore I try to be as discreet as possible because I don’t like strangers ogling me. If nursing in public were more commonplace no one would even bat an eye. We’re a ways from that time yet in our society, but at least we’re moving in that direction.”
Naomi Marie, “It’s important to me: 17 years ago I was forced to feed my son in the bathroom everywhere we went, or to hide in the shadows. I was told I should be ashamed and to stop. Our nursing relationship didn’t make it past 7 months, I cried because he wanted my milk, but I told him no, all because people made me believe it was not ok! No mom should ever have to decide what’s best for her child on public shaming. Over the years it’s progressively gotten better. Now we have a 20-month-old and nursing strong.”
Colleen Fritz Budniewski, “Breastfeeding is natural and beautiful! I’m extremely proud and thankful to be able to provide for my son! I love showing off these group shots & solo shots of me and my little one to prove to people that it’s not something we need to be ashamed about, but to be proud of.”
Kati Fuller, “This project has strengthened the bond between Vivian and I. It has allowed me to feel more connected and in touch with the amazing fact that my body can nourish my child…and that there is nothing wrong or shameful about it. I have met countless other moms who are supportive and like minded and it’s absolutely wonderful. We have met some resistance at some shoots but most feedback has been positive and uplifting and encourages me to keep breastfeeding, even when it gets tough, it’s a beautiful thing.”
Jennifer Page, “This project is so vitally important to me, as a breastfeeding mother in America because we desperately need to make this a norm. Not only for current breastfeeding mothers, but new and future breastfeeding mothers too! If this series can help one mother feel comfortable enough to breastfeed in public, even take that cover off I consider this a victory for us!”
Janna Willoughby Lohr, “Buffaloves is important to me because the start of my nursing journey was so incredibly difficult and without the tremendous support of other nursing moms and people who were positive about breastfeeding I wouldn’t have had the strength or knowledge to continue. I want to not only feed my baby the best way I can whenever and whatever he needs me but I would also like to be an example for other moms, dads, and especially kids (some of whom will hopefully grow up to be moms and dads) to show that breastfeeding is normal and designed by nature or whatever it was that crafted all of us. Everyone who wants to should feel safe and comfortable to nurse their baby (or support the person who is nursing their baby) and I will work for that as long as I’m able.”
Portrait locations are Knox Farms, Cazenovia Park Creek, Rose Gardens, Silo City, Bidwell Park, Botanical Gardens, History Museum, Eden Country Club, unity Island, Richardson Building, Forest Lawn cemetary, Woodlawn Beach, Shea’s and Niagara Square.