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  • Kate Bek

Here's To You, Mom.

Things Mom Wants:

Being with you. Memories of you. Photos of you.


On some years, my birthday falls on Mother’s Day, and this happens to be one of those years. There’s something extra special about sharing May 13 - the day my mom first became a mother and the day I barreled into the world.


Every year, I head from Chicago to my hometown in Michigan to spend Mother’s Day with my parents, sisters and our families. It’s about this time that I call the local Grand Rapids market to order a bouquet with irises for Sunday pickup. Irises are among my mom’s favorite. They're the the same flower that lined our house growing up. There’s nothing like that deep, iconic blue-violet my mom will always favor. As Bek kids, she would bundle us up with armloads of them for Mother’s Day gifts we would give to our school bus driver, our teachers, our neighbors and family. There’s a history of motherhood and joy in irises and the color blue in our family. It’s just one of the tiny traditions that have lived on since childhood. It’s times like this I am reminded (and re-reminded) of how traditions, stories and memories take root and shape the history of families.


And no matter what, on Mother's Day there’s going to be a photograph taken - another tradition. Only these times, I’m never behind the lens. The standard is a typically awkward snapshot taken after my dad’s camera has been materialized out of thin air. Sometimes it’s blurry, sometimes there are tourists waving in the background, maybe we’re in a parking lot. None the less, it’s pretty much guaranteed that everyone will look confused and be absolutely taken off guard. One of my sisters is going to be blinking, someone’s definitely eating french fries, the dog is running away or somebody is off talking to those tourists. These are our signature family photographs. The photo is sure to make its way on to social media. There’s nothing we can do about it.


Like most moms, mine already has everything. She has her family, her memories, her health and a lifetime of adventures still ahead. My gifts are small - a little tradition, an awkward smile, and me. I’ve just finished editing my first spring Chicago family session from last week. We photographed the session in the family’s nearby park in the Roger’s Park neighborhood. I know years of time in this park lie ahead for this family and their baby twin boys. There will be picnics, there will be new steps, first times on the swing, monkey bars and learning to ride bikes. There will be fall leaves and snow falls and more spring flowers. Traditions can start young, old and everywhere in between, and I’m fortunate to capture them at every step of the way.





This season, I’ve had an overwhelming number of requests for photo sessions as Mother’s Day gifts. I’m so excited for what lies ahead for these gifts -- from cool urban maternity graffiti sessions to photo sessions with grandparents on Navy Pier. I’ve had dads and husbands book family sessions as surprise gifts to their wives. I have families traveling from across the country for mini-shoots during their Chicago vacations. I’ll be traveling too! I’m headed to Illinois forest preserves, Milwaukee and even Northern Michigan. The diversity of Mother's Day shoot ideas, requests and families is as unique as the families are. A photo session gift is not just giving incredible photographs. I'm so excited for these moms to open their gift certificates, because I'm sure they know it's more than that. It's the gift of being together, the gift of capturing a moment in time, and the gift of seeing and experiencing your family's joy, love, quirkiness and tenderness in a genuine, captivating and heartwarming way.