Alice Proujansky, a documentary photographer, as a mother of 2, speaks of how she managed to balance her career and motherhood. She also photographs women who continue to find work-life balance in their lives.
Yet that offhand comment — although perhaps meant harmlessly — spoke to one of her biggest fears. At 32, Ms. Proujansky had finally established herself as a documentary photographer. She worried that having a child would erase an identity she had worked so hard to achieve. How would she find work-life balance?
“It was really a complicated and shocking experience to suddenly have to negotiate these different identities as a mother, as a worker, as an individual,” she said according to this article on NY Times.
One way she came to terms with her dual roles as photographer and mother was by photographing other working moms. In April 2013 she reached out to several women in a variety of fields who kept their jobs and took care of their young children, women who manage to find work-life balance.
“When you have a baby, you get so wrapped up with being a mother, it’s hard to separate yourself out,” she said. “I wanted to find other women who similarly had young children. Everybody in the project had young kids because that seems to be when this crisis of identity happens.”
Ms. Proujansky photographed Petrushka Bazin Larsen, who worked from home with her five-month-old daughter, Ila. Ms. Bazin Larsen, whom Ms. Proujansky met in photography school, has since become vice president for programs and education at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and is expecting her second child within the next month.
Ms. Proujansky also photographed Lucy Lang, an assistant district attorney and philanthropist. In one image, Ms. Lang — the granddaughter of Eugene Lang — stands 36 weeks pregnant in a courtroom while she prosecutes two defendants for murder. Four weeks after the defendants were convicted, she gave birth.
While Ms. Proujansky calls each of the women a “projection” of different parts of herself, she did not limit her subjects to mothers. She also photographed a stay-at-home dad, Aaron Myers, his year-old son, Oliver, and his wife, Miki Kamijyo, a lawyer who works full time. The couple realized that Ms. Kamijyo brought home a larger paycheck and was more passionate about her career, so it was Mr. Myers who opted to stay home, although a few nights a week he teaches D.J. classes. Women with demanding careers and children are making it work, all over the world, finding work-life balance in a myriad of ways.
As the percentage of women in the labor force continues to rise (70 percent of mothers with children under 18 are employed or looking for work), and as studies reveal more information about working mothers and attitudes toward them, Ms. Proujansky plans on continuing her project, focusing mainly on mothers in the New York City area who continue to work by choice.
“I don’t want to pretend that this project is comprehensive,” she said. “It’s about this one particular segment of working mothers that are similar to me.”
Ms. Proujansky herself worked while pregnant up until she could no longer bend over and pick up her camera bag. During the first three months after giving birth, she still accepted work, but didn’t hustle for assignments. She has never photographed in a war zone — “when I see blood on the job it’s usually because someone’s getting born,” she said — so she didn’t have to make any choices about risking her life and leaving her child behind.
Now her children — William, 3, and January, 1 — spend most days in day care so that she can continue to work. Her husband, a carpenter, also helps with the children.
“My career has gotten busier and more interesting since I’ve had children,” she said. “It’s hard to spend a day worrying when I know that the day care clock is running.”
Read more on nytimes.com.