Why I love working with mums: an interview with Karin Nagel of Peas in a Pod
Karin Nagel has created a really unique photographic studio in her space at Stackwood. Her business, Peas in a Pod by Karin Nagel, specialises in newborn and infant portraits.
Karin has a unique view of mums in that very early stage of parenthood, when they’re just settling into their new life. She is often the first person they see and the first time they’ve left the house since giving birth. It’s not uncommon, Karin says, for a mum to take a nap on her couch during a session.
I have a bit of insight into all this being a new mother myself (my baby is four months old at the time of writing.) I’m curious to know more about how Karin started her career in photography and why she chose to focus her studio practice on newborns.
In between feeds and nappy changes, we talk about her studio, being part of the community at Stackwood and, of course, why mums are awesome!
Tell me about the "Peas in a Pod by Karin Nagel" journey, how did it all start?
Its been a long, long journey! I have gone from being a wedding photographer, to photographing marathons, martial arts competitions and gradings, landscaping and so many other things, to finally finding my niche.
After countless hours, meltdowns and money spent on the other genres, I came to realise, none of it made me happy. I wasn't relaxed nor did I enjoy what I was doing, in fact I was more of a ‘drill sergeant’ and a workaholic. Something had to change.
I was browsing Creative Live one day, it’s an online education site for creatives, and I came across Kelly Brown, and Julia Kelleher. Kelly is one of the most inspiring people and photographers on the planet and together these two ladies awoke something in me, and I knew I HAD to be a newborn photographer.
It was as simple as that!
My parents always proudly displayed our photographs at home, there are portraits of kids everywhere! Of course as a teenager, I did find it quite embarrassing: my spiral perm, my acne! But it showed me how much we were loved and how proud they are of me and my brothers.
It makes me so happy to be able to cherish and keep those photographs and hold on to those stories.
And for me, seeing clients return for toddler sessions, and then for another maternity session, family sessions, another newborn session.. I’m literally watching these families grow before my eyes! It’s such a privilege to be able to do this.
You’re often the first person a new mum will see after giving birth, what’s that like?
Yes, often I’m the first person they see, the first time they’ve left the house. I see that my most important role is to make them feel comfortable, make them feel like they’re in a safe, relaxed environment.
I think that’s also a time when they can feel really vulnerable. So I try my hardest to make them see how beautiful they are in that moment: all that tiredness, the rawness that new motherhood has given them.
Some people say to me: ‘but you don’t have children.’ But I can just imagine how tough that time would be for them. I always try to put myself in their shoes. There’s a lot of judgement from other people, from other mothers too, around that time. About what you ‘should’ be doing.
There’s no judgement here. I just invite them into my space, and sometimes they’ll even have a sleep on the couch in my studio. I feel really touched that they feel comfortable enough to do that.
What’s your favourite thing about working with Mums?
Oh, everything about mothers is awesome! They’ve just given birth to a tiny human, an awesome little person and they’re still managing to leave the house. They’re still getting up, getting dressed, they’ve still got a smile on their face. I mean, that’s a super power!
What do you think are the main challenges for new mums?
I think not having enough sleep probably! But also being so hard on themselves. Because everyone seems to have an opinion about this stuff. I think cut yourself some slack, as long as baby is happy and healthy, you’re doing great!
How would you describe your photographic style?
I create uncluttered images using minimal props and light, neutral colours. These elements help to create an image that is timeless. There’s nothing superfluous or distracting. The aim is to create images that, when you look at them, 40 years from now, or even 10 years when the teenage years are upon you, they move you and bring back those intense feelings and memories that you've shared and created with your little one.
Strip it all away and you are left with an amazing image of your family. No distractions, like a frog or bumblebee outfit, just your little one, in their purest, most beautiful form, for you to soak up and cherish forever!
What has been the best thing for you and your business in the past six months?
I don’t feel like I’m constantly having to explain myself anymore, and what my work’s about. I have clients seeking me out now, whereas before, being relatively new, I was always chasing work. I’m not working so hard to sell myself. Now I have the space to talk more about the experience I offer, which is really nice.
What is your favourite part of working in a shared space?
My neighbours at Stackwood are amazing. I feel so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by people with a similar mindset.
The understanding and support from the other small creative businesses as well as from Stackwood is incredible. All the Stackwood residents empower and help each other wherever they can. I am truly lucky to be in this space.
Take a look at Karin’s website for more details about her studio and to book a session.
We have so much on this weekend for Mother’s Day at Stackwood. Treat mum to one of the many experiences and workshops on offer from our studios: check out Clean Slate Skin Care, Meraki Designs, The Wild Stem and Winterwares for details. The Wild Stem studio will also be open Friday to Sunday so you can score a stunning native floral arrangement for mum.
Images by Rae Fallon for Stackwood.
Interview and introduction by Amy Snoekstra.