Inspirational Woman: Fiona Freund | Photographer, Art Director & Creator of #MotherWorks

Fiona Freund

I am a photographer and art director and creator of #MotherWorks.

I have been shooting the great the good and the glittery for over 20 years. I have been very lucky to travel the world for Vogue, the weekend Guardian and many more. I live in Brixton with my 2 boys, 10 and 13 and their father. As well as shooting portraits, headshots and group shots for corporate and creative clients I am the creator of #MotherWorks a photographic exhibition, campaign and book celebrating the the duality of the lives of working mums, the women who hold the economy up with one hand and a baby with the other. An on going collection of photographs that capture the worklife/homelife balancing act that working mothers perform every day. By bringing the exhibition into the workplace I help organisations make their working mothers feel represented and recognised, enhancing loyalty and encouraging returners. By speaking about the campaign I want to raise awareness around the issues facing working mums and change workplace culture for good.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Both my parents were photographers, so after a brief exploration into stand up comedy and singing backing vocals I followed in the family footsteps and picked up a camera. I learnt at a local adult education course, put a portfolio together and started knocking on doors. Within 2 years I was shooting portraits and fashion for the Observer Magazine and the Guardian and then Vogue. I have enjoyed working with an eclectic range of brands and clients. Starting a family made me more focused on how I could use my skills to help people and as a force for good.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Photography is a very male dominated industry I still find if I turn up to a shoot with a male assistant ‘the team’ will invariably approach him, introduce themselves and initiate a conversation about the days creative objectives. And don’t hide their surprise when I point out the actually I am the photographer. Being a creative and self employed requires a lot of resilience and self belief, which isn’t always easy to maintain.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I am very proud of #MotherWorks, the The response has been overwhelming: from the amazing group of busy mothers who have all said yes to being photographed and to share their personal experience, to the many women have told me how much they can relate to every images and every story.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I have an instinctive eye for composition, it’s hard to explain but I know when to take the shot, the moment that captures the story. I am a people person and I am passionate about sharing women stories.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Working with a photographic assistant means you are always teaching and sharing as you work. I have loved to see my old assistance building their own careers and helping them where I can. I have some amazing women friends in my network, both creatives and campaigners. I also have some entrepreneurial mentors. It is great to have different people who can share different skills.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

I would change the way women are visually represented. Things are starting to change but we still struggle with accepting women who are not young and ‘pretty’. So much money is spent on plucking and shaving and plumping and stretching. I want to show that women can look (and feel) wonderful whatever size, age or culture they are.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Be as kind as you can be, especially to yourself.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Mothers are not the only group who feel excluded in the work place. I am developing other photographic campaigns to highlight the many diversity issues that need addressing.

#MotherWorks will be shown in the Upper Waiting Gallery in Westminster for International Womens Day 2020 and in Brixton Library for the whole of March next year, there will be lots of events supporting working mothers from every part of the community, please come and join in the celebration!

The #MotherWorks book is available here.

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