A cultural shift is occurring in which the concept of work and life being thought of as two separate entities is starting to disappear. As the line between them becomes less clear, the portfolios of our photographers are more frequently reflecting their own interests.
Carpinteria, Calif.-based photographer Mikaela Hamilton took a step in this direction being one of the two main photographers for Women’s Heritage newest book ⸺ a first for Mikaela ⸺ The Women’s Heritage Sourcebook, which aims to bring the skills of homesteading to everyday life.
Ashley Moore, Lauren Malloy, and Emma Rollin Moore are the three women behind the company Women’s Heritage and store Heritage Goods and Supply. Their mission is to bring women together and resurrect traditional skills from the past, giving them a place in today’s world. The sourcebook focuses on three areas: food, herbalism, and animal husbandry. With 275 full-color photographs spread out over almost 400 pages, this was a massive undertaking.
I was brought on a little after the start of the project to help! It’s a very photo-heavy book, so it ended up being easier to split most of the shoots between [the other photographer] Lauren Ross and me. I mainly focused on the food and herbalism sections.
The contents of the sourcebook include fermenting kefir, foraging for plants, making herbal remedies, and raising chickens, all with the larger purpose of creating a life that is slower and more present. This put Mikaela in the unique position of being both customer and creator because she herself aims to live more simply and naturally. For example, when she is not photographing, she teaches yoga at the Santa Barbara Yoga Collective.
This is something I would have purchased on my own accord because it hosts a ton of subjects that interest me, so to work on a project that focuses on things I’m already excited about and interested in is a dream.
The sourcebook was made with the same intention as its contents, to “breathe new life into the community, bringing people together in friendship and a common interest.”
Mikaela and the ladies of Women’s Heritage all live in the same community, in and around Carpinteria, and yet hadn’t worked together previously. Choosing Mikaela was a chance for these women to come together and strengthen their community through connection.
For Mikaela, it doesn’t get much better than photographing the very skills she is passionate about learning. It aided the project that Mikaela is also the target audience for Women’s Heritage, as she knew what kind of imagery would make these skills come to life and seem more accessible to the everyday home.
The main goal was to have beautiful imagery that collaborated with the wonderful stories, recipes, features & insight throughout the Sourcebook.
This was a long-term project, as the substantial and diverse contents of the book required a great deal of planning and coordination. Mikaela welcomed the chance to connect with the many women featured in the book and explore the area she lives in.
There were many locations, mainly in the Santa Barbara area, over a span of several months! Most of the food imagery was shot at Emma Rollin Moore’s lovely home in Santa Barbara.
It is inspiring to think that some of these traditional, bucolic skills could become a regular part of one’s life. Yet however possible it is to bring any of these skills into the home, the creation of this education book was no small feat. Mikaela had the opportunity to see how to bring people together in the context of nature and sustainable living.
I got a tiny glimpse at the effort, organization, and village it takes to bring a book to life! It’s so satisfying to see a body of work have a home outside of the digital world.
When asked what her favorite part of participating in this book was, Mikaela’s first answer was understandably about the delicious-looking food.
Getting to try anything Emma cooked up was a true delight. I also loved meeting & documenting so many interesting women.
This touches on the larger context at play here, when the idea of ‘work’ disappears and becomes part of the more sustainable, nurturing life that Mikaela seeks. Her substantial contribution is the bridge between the modern, work-driven world and the slower, ecological traditions of women coming together and connecting with the earth.