05 Apr Talking Little Lunch, School Bullying + Photography With Kate Berry
We chat to Aussie mum, photographer and previous Lunch Lady Magazine Editor, Kate Berry, about how she dealt with her child being bullied at school, and how she turned a popular blog into one of Australia’s well-loved magazines.
How did you break into your line of creative work?
I have always worked in some kind of creative job. My first real job was a stylist assistant when I was 19. I got really good at taping up the bottom of shoes and taking coffee orders.
I’m now a creative mum who loves taking my girls off the beaten track in life and on the road. I’m a serial collaborator, I love making stuff with people with big ideas. I also just like people. A lot.
What makes you jump out of bed in the morning, and what has led you to the path you’re on today?
Each new day is exciting. I know it sounds a little corny, but it’s true! Who knows what’s going to happen today? The possibility of each day makes me jump out of bed.
I’ve recently quit my job (at Lunch Lady Magazine) to start working for myself again. So that’s what’s put me on my current path of looking for the next big thing.
You were the creator and Editor of Lunch Lady Magazine, what inspired you to start this publication?
The idea to make my Lunch Lady blog into a magazine came out of wanting to put all my eggs in one basket really. I was working three jobs; as a designer, photographer and running my Photo School workshops. I thought if I pooled all my skills into creating a magazine, then life would be a lot simpler.
A week after coming up with the idea of making the magazine, I was contacted by Louise Bannister and Lara Burke, of We Print Nice Things, who thought the blog would make a great magazine, and that was that! Lunch Lady was created on the kitchen tables of each of our homes. Lou and Lara still publish Lunch Lady and are now up to issue 10.
What do you hope readers will take away from the magazine?
I always wanted to talk with parents without any sense of judgment. It’s hard being a parent…really hard. So just to know there are others out there finding it just as hard, tiring and confusing, can give a tiny bit of comfort.
People often say that parenthood changed them. Do you feel that’s true for you?
Oh for sure. Before my first daughter was born I was totally misguided and spent a lot of energy trying to impress the wrong people.
Now I know there are only two people I need to impress and to take into consideration. This has made decision making a lot easier. I find that focus quite liberating. I will also NEVER EVER complain about having nothing to do.
Do your children inspire your creativity, and if so, how?
I think so. I loving going on road trips with my kids. It gives us time to talk and get deep into crazy ideas and conversation. Now that they’re older and have their own thoughts, it’s so interesting to hear their take on the world. It’s in the quiet moments of these trips I usually come up with my most hair brained ideas.
We read that that your daughter was bullied at school for her lunches?
Yes, I turned up to school one day at lunch to surprise Maya (she was still at an age where this wasn’t embarrassing). I saw she was sitting alone and asked her why. She said that people thought her lunches were weird and therefore she was too. It broke my heart. I felt like such a terrible mum making her lunches that put her in that situation.
I asked her if she wanted me to make lunches like the other kids. She told me that they were the ones missing out.
How did your daughter overcome the school bulling? What were some things that helped her overcome these challenges?
I know this isn’t really that helpful to other parents, but I actually took her out of that school. It wasn’t the right fit for her. I know from my own schooling experience that a school that doesn’t fit can make your school years miserable.
The school I moved her to changed her life. She was a totally different kid. Seeing her come out of her shell was a really wonderful mum moment.
What do your children love about their homemade lunches? What are their favourite lunches?
Now that my kids are a little older, the thing they love best about homemade lunches is making things themselves. They have some go-to recipes that they love to whip up, and the satisfaction, when they’re putting a biscuit or a piece of cake they’ve made in their lunch box, is all over their face.
My daughter Pepper loves making chocolate and date biscuits and Maya loves making lemon and rosemary cake.
You are quite the photographer. Any tips for parents who are wanting to learn more about capturing the special/everyday moments in their kids’ lives? When’s a good time to get the camera out!?
Aw, thanks! That’s such a nice thing to say.
I do love taking photos of my kids, but I am also respectful of their boundaries. I know there’s times where I am not keen on having my photo taken, actually I am not sure when I am ever keen for that to happen!
I find it is always best to shoot photos as things are happening. Stopping the fun for a non-candid shot can ruin the fun and make your photo lose what you wanted to catch in the first place.
But if you are wanting to try and set-up some good conditions for photos, try not to have your kids staring directly into the sun. This will just give you a picture with squinting kids, they’ll also be not too happy looking in that direction.
Shooting in shady even-light spaces is good, and I’m a big fan of shooting at either ends of the day where the light is golden, the shadows are long and there’s a sparkle in the air.
I have an online photo class you can take (it’s super cheap) and it teaches you how to take ace photos with just your phone.
We’re all about celebrating Australian motherhood and creativity at CHILD Magazines, what does it mean to you to be an Australian creative, who is also a mother?
I think we’re pretty lucky, in Australia, to have such a healthy creative scene. A lot of my friends are creative mothers and I find the supportive and collaborative community a constant inspiration.
I also find, because I am in the country, I have the space, the fresh air and the freedom to be a little more loose in the way I choose to live my life. The biggest lesson I want to share with my girls is to never let fear be a factor in your decision making.
Thanks for having me!
Kate Berry, 41, is a photographer and previous Editor of Lunch Lady Magazine. She lives in country Victoria with her partner Rohan and daughters; Maya, 13, and Pepper, 8, and Rohan’s girls Helena and Tia. You can find out more about Kate’s creative projects via her website and Instagram.
Interview by Jenna Templeton // Photography Kate Berry