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Portraits of Motherhood

Earnshaw’s tells the story behind this month’s road-tripping photo shoot that resulted in sweetly intimate—and eye-popping—fashion pages.

Award-winning photographer Zoe Adlersberg and Fashion Director Mariah Walker brought their creative A-game, as usual, to this baby/toddler issue. They started with the concept of coming out of the grayness of Covid into a positive expression of upbeat color. Then they brought in their subjects: babies and their mothers from different ethnicities and walks of life. Adlersberg said, “We wanted to show portraits of motherhood in New York and present diversity in all its shapes and forms.”

Adlersberg and Walker wanted the focus to be on the mothers as much as their little ones, and they wanted their subjects to feel at home—which is a departure from most photo shoots, as Walker explained. “Usually, we ask the models to come to a studio, but we thought that by going to them we would capture something different. Also, it’s a different way of working because when you walk into someone’s home, you need to be able to adapt to their space.” Although they were shooting the models in their own homes, Walker and Adlersberg used stripped-down backgrounds that would have a dual effect of equalizing the subjects and pulling the viewer’s focus to the clothing.

They harnessed the talent of casting agent Julia Samersova—with whom they had worked before—and she found models with the right personalities to match the mood of the shoot. Clelia Bergonzoli worked her magic with hair and makeup, making each mother—some of whom had never modeled before—feel special and cared for. It was truly a collaborative effort, Walker enthused, that resulted in an environment of trust with the families.

The two-day shoot took the creative team to several diverse neighborhoods across New York City – they went to Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. “We were lucky to have such talented, passionate, generous and helpful team,” Walker said. Enjoy all the rich, unique beauty of these portraits of motherhood in “Sweet Child of Mine” starting on page 22.

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