Hi Skye, Can you describe yourself in a few words?
I’m a photographer and also the co-founder and creative director of Dossier, a biannual arts and fashion journal. I grew up in New York but moved to Paris when I was 21. I spent most of my twenties there—it’s where I started my career and I still work there a lot—but eventually I came home to New York. Now I live in Brooklyn with my partner, Jeremy, his six-year-old son, Stig, who lives with us, and our daughter Oona, who is 16 months old. I take pictures and I make the magazine, but I also consult and curate, so between those various things it can get a bit crazy. Jeremy is starting a non-profit called Worth Motorcycle Company, working with at-risk youth, so as you can imagine he is working all the time as well. It’s a lot of things in the air at once, and even more so because two and a half years ago I was living by myself. My life has changed a lot in the last few years.
Last time I saw you was about a year ago, and I was still pregnant. Oona was so adorable and you made it look so easy to be a mom, I couldnt wait for my baby to be born too!
Oh, that’s so nice to hear! I was just looking at some pictures from Pam’s baby shower (where I saw you) and thinking how tiny Oona was, and how new it all was then. Every outing still felt like a big deal. I feel like after she was born I really had to adjust, first of all physically, to recover from being pregnant and then nursing, but also emotionally, to get used to this new order in my life. I felt really off-kilter and raw for a few months. I’m glad that wasn’t as obvious on the outside as it felt for me then!
You are a busy photographer, and have your own magazine Dossier Journal, and a hands on mom! How do you get yourself organized? Especially with all the traveling!
Finding a balance between all of it is an ongoing challenge. I was working with another woman with kids recently on a project and we kept getting on the phone at 9 or 10 at night to talk about work. At first I thought it was weird and then I realized that like me, she was a mom, trying to juggle everything, and that’s when she was available, too. It’s not like I have some job that I can walk away from at 5 pm. I’ve worked really hard since I was 21 to build my career and I really love and value what I do. But at the same time, I have always wanted to have children, and I want to be present for this time, which is ultimately very short. I don’t always find it easy to achieve that balance, but I don’t see what other choice there is. I’m not someone who is going to press pause on my life, so the only way to make it work is to integrate kids into my world. It definitely gives me great respect for the women I see who have managed to do both things well.
Did you take any break before giving birth?
No, not at all! I was sending work emails when I was in labor. Oona came unexpectedly early. I was planning a home birth with a midwife, but I developed a serious complication late in my pregnancy and I had to be induced. I spent three days in the hospital in labor, and during that time I was totally sending emails for work, just trying to get everything in some order before she came. And after she was born I had a big meeting with a client five days later—again, because I should have still been pregnant—but after that I took three months off before I really started working again.
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I didnt see you pregnant, so I am very curious of your “pregnancy style”? Did you give into maternity clothing? Underwear? Anything you would recommend?
I was lucky because Oona was born in November, so most of my pregnancy was in the summer. I feel like it’s easier to translate regular clothes to a summer pregnancy—at least I didn’t buy any maternity clothes until I was pretty far along. I wore a lot of dresses and tops from Isabel Marant, Electric Feathers, Tucker, kind of flowy things, and I had some stretchy cotton dresses from Edith A. Miller I wore all the time. Once the weather got cold I switched to leggings and long sweaters, which is what I wore for a few months after Oona was born, too. I think the only actual maternity clothes I bought were t-shirts from the Gap and jeans from Topshop.
Did you have a sort of beauty routine during pregnancy? Favorite products you would recommend? Any tips how to look after your body, skin etc while pregnant? Any spa or treatment?
They say that stretch marks are hereditary, but my mother doesn’t have any and she told me she used cocoa butter during both her pregnancies, so I used it every day. I don’t have any either, so either I got lucky with my genes or it worked. Beyond that, my skin and hair were better during my pregnancy than they’ve ever been, so I didn’t have to do much for them. I did go for acupuncture and massages regularly, which I found to be really important, and I also saw a chiropractor. My back was an absolute mess, so i don’t know how I would have managed without them.
Photo: Ethan James Green
I did yoga fairly seriously for nine years and I’m embarrassed to say I stopped completely when I got pregnant. I probably went to four prenatal yoga classes. For a while I felt bad about it, kind of down on myself, but truthfully I was so tired when I was pregnant that I was just listening to what my body was telling me. Now, however, I’m out of the habit, and of course I’m crazy busy, so I’m doing well if I make it to one yoga class a month at the moment. My body has recovered surprisingly well considering how much I eat and that I don’t exercise—I gained 55 pounds when I was pregnant and I lost it all within six months just breastfeeding—but there’s an aspect of exercising that isn’t about that, that’s just about caring for yourself, and I really feel that missing from my life. Again, though, I try to not be so hard on myself. For me the experience of adjusting to motherhood has been a process, and the further into it I go, the more I’m able to reclaim bits of myself. I’m sure I’ll get back to yoga too.
I hear from our common friend Pamela Love that you take Oona on a lot of trips with you, how does that work? I used to do it with Romy but I am so strict with her sleeping pattern that I am now afraid to break it next time I travel…
I travel so much for work that if I didn’t bring Oona I wouldn’t get to see her. I don’t take her on every trip, but whenever it’s reasonable I do. For example, this past month I went to Haiti for four days, where I didn’t take her, to Sweden and London for like 10 days—that trip I brought her on—my mom lives in London so she came to Sweden to watch her—and then to New Zealand, which I left her at home for. But because I was leaving Oona I flew to New Zealand for 48 hours and came right back home as soon as the job was done. She does great with the traveling. It’s really me that it’s hard on. She’s gotten to where she gets on the plane and is excited. She starts waving to people and playing with the seats. But to keep a baby happy on a plane you have to be willing to work, so I just forget the idea that I might get to read or watch a movie or sleep. I spend the flight really paying attention to her needs, and she usually does great. It does mean that when I don’t have her with me, being on a plane feels like a vacation. When I flew to New Zealand I literally didn’t want to land after traveling for 22 hours. I would have happily watched another movie and relaxed a bit more!
What are the “must have” that you take with you on a trip with Oona?
It changes for every trip, as she changes. I always make sure I have a lot of different books and toys for her – new toys are great – lots of food she likes, drinks for when the plane is taking off and landing so her ears don’t pop. The last flight I took with her she was able to watch Sesame Street on my iPad, which is the first time I’ve been able to do that. Before I had kids I would have been absolutely shocked by that sentence I just wrote – letting a baby watch videos! – but one of the best things I’ve learned is to adjust my ideas about how things should be to accommodate the reality of what they are. If you’re traveling with kids, anything that keeps them occupied is awesome. When I was pregnant with Oona I had a job in South Africa and Jeremy and Stig came along. Stig was only four and it was a 26 hour flight and we just let him watch movies the whole way and he did great. So the iPad is a pretty magical invention.
Beyond that, wherever I go with Oona I try to make sure she has a setup that’s as familiar as possible. I make sure there’s a crib for her, a highchair, that she has her blankets, her pillows. She sleeps with a sound machine that makes a rain sound in her room, so I have one on my phone. I keep her routine very regular so that no matter where we are, she knows what to expect.
Where are the best places you guys travelled to?
Oona has been all over with me. She’s been to Paris, London, Sweden twice, Norway, Denmark, California, Miami a few times. Her little passport has a lot of stamps! I think the best trip we’ve taken was to Norway. One of my closest friends, Valentine Fillol-Cordier, was styling it and she brought her daughter Gigi, who is just a few months younger than Oona. We had the two babies in a little house on a fjord with my sister, who came from London to watch them. Valentine and I would go off and shoot and come back and take over with the babies, feeding them and washing them. Valentine and I traveled a lot together before we had babies, so it was really quite sweet and fun to be doing it so differently.
What are your favorite children’s wear brands?
There are so many good ones! Having a little girl, I find that I don’t even care about buying clothes for myself anymore. I just want to buy clothes for her. And they’re so nice that I actually had the experience the other day of getting dressed and wishing that something in her closet was my size. When I was pregnant I was in Paris during the sales so I bought a ton of clothes that she is just outgrowing now. Some of it was nice, like cute Bon Ton dresses, but a lot was just Petit Bateau and other simple brands from the Bon Marché. My friend Bronagh has the beautiful children’s store Sweet William, so I shop there quite a bit. She carries a lot of European brands, such as Talc, Bobo Choses, Popupshop, Mini Rodini, and ones that just feel European, like Anais and I and Oeuf. But I also have great things for Oona that have come from H&M and the Gap. My mother also saved a bunch of things of mine that I’ve dressed her in. Some of it is so cute—real vintage!
What are your favorite things to do together?
I think the things I enjoy best are the everyday moments. I love to read and I love when Oona brings over books to me and wants to sit on my lap and read them. I like being the face she sees in the morning, being here to put her to bed at night, giving her her bath, dressing her in clean pajamas, cutting her fingernails. She and Stig both love music so sometimes we have dance parties before they get into the bath at night. They take off their clothes and dance around naked to Led Zeppelin. I feel a satisfaction from caring for them that I couldn’t have really imagined.
Can you sum up a day in your life, how you organize your time between “me” time, mommy time etc?
On a day when I’m not shooting or traveling I get up with Oona when she wakes up, around 630 or 7. I usually bring her into my room and she plays on the bed while Jeremy and I try (usually unsuccessfully) to sleep for a few more minutes. Then Stig gets up, I feed the kids breakfast while Jeremy gets ready, and then he takes Stig to school. I hang out with Oona until she takes her nap around 9.30. Her nanny gets here at 10, and I work or go do appointments until 3 or 4. Then I spend the afternoon with Oona and/or Stig until they go to bed around 730. Jeremy and I try to have dinner together and then I start working again until late. I don’t have a lot of “me” time these days.
Thanks so much Skye!
Photo: Ethan James Green