| Interview by Ronnie |
'Storytellers' is our special interview series, in which we talk to creatives whom we admire and find out how they are each preserving their personal stories. Today's interview is with Christine Pobke, a Korean-American photographer who moved from Seattle to Canberra to be with the love of her life. Christine's images are imbued with love and warmth, and every time I see her photos and words in my Instagram feed, I can't help but smile.
Can you tell us a bit about you and your family?
We’re a multicultural family of four: I’m Korean-American and my husband was born and bred Aussie. We try to teach as much of all our cultures to our two girls, Pippa (nearly 3) and Elsie (9 months). As an example, I speak to our girls in Korean throughout the day, and I try to make as much Korean food for dinner as possible! We also celebrate American Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July as they’re the two US holidays that I have strong memories of growing up. From an Aussie point of view, well, let’s just say Pippa has the strongest Aussie accent I’ve ever heard so I imagine the Australian culture is strong in that one.
What is a typical day like for you?
Aside from days that we have play dates or day care or play school, we have pretty regular schedules (I can’t live without a schedule – Google Calendar and I are like two peas in a pod). We all generally get out of bed by 8am (the girls co-sleep with us and are late risers). By mid-morning, brekky is done and dusted, I’ve polished off two cups of coffee, and Pippa is ready for Play School to air on ABC2. We generally try to do at least one craft activity a day (whether that’s making play dough or painting or drawing), and we cook together at least once a day. Pippa either watches me or helps me (if it involves mixing or cracking eggs or ripping basil). And of course there’s the quiet down time, where the girls play or read or hang out in their room or the sun room (so grateful for this extra play room!), and that’s when I usually get about an hour of email/work time (or sometimes even just coffee and Facebook time). And then it’s tidying up time, get-ready-for-dinner time, and then bath and bed. Phew!
I love seeing your Instagram posts about Elsie and Pippa - they always make me smile. Do you usually share and write in the moment, or do you wait till there's a lull in the day to reflect and weave your words?
Generally, I Instagram and write when I’m either nursing Elsie or in that down time when the girls are entertaining themselves. I don’t Instagram as much as I’d like – it’s usually two or three times a day (if I had it my way it might be as much as eight times a day!) as they’re the only real breaks I get. I like to pick times where I can be reflective and thoughtful about what I say, as Instagram serves as a visual diary for me. I love going back in time and seeing the things that we were up to or the developmental milestones Pippa was achieving 83 weeks ago!
How do you feel when you see how much your two girls grow and change each day?
I feel both proud and nostalgic. Looking at Pippa and Elsie side by side make me realise how quickly time is passing. I feel proud when I see the skills they’re developing each day and nostalgic for the weeks that have already passed and the fact that I’ll never have them at that age again!
Is there a particular aspect of their childhood (or of your family life) that you wish you could freeze in time?
Mornings are my favourite time of day. I love waking up, arms tangled around Elsie, with Pippa’s crazy hair all over me. She always seems to have one hand on me and one hand on her dad, so she sleeps like a starfish across our king-sized bed. I love hearing Elsie breathe quietly (at least it’s quiet compared to her big sister’s loud snores), burrowed into me. I know it’s not always going to be like this, so I’m grateful to experience it every morning that I do.
What sort of keepsakes have you held onto from your own childhood?
Sadly, we moved around so much when we were little, there aren’t many photos of us or albums that we have been able to keep! There are a few prints of images of my sister and I when we were growing up, and I keep them close to my heart. Aside from those tangible photographs, we have the memories of our youth that my sister and brother and I regularly share with each other!
You're one of the regular contributors to The 5 Minute Project. Could you tell us a bit about the project and how it encourages you to capture snippets of your life?
Yes! I’m a proud member of The 5 Minute Project, a photography collaborative that Dana Pugh of Calgary Cananda started. It’s pretty amazing and simple: photograph five minutes of your life. That’s it. Five minutes of reflection and simple documenting. It’s pretty cool seeing what others get up to in their short five minutes, and it challenges me to think outside the box and get out there to document my own children with a camera other than my iPhone!
In January this year, you took part in the January Photo-A-Day Project. Your photos and words were utterly beautiful. What was your process for deciding which photo to choose each day?
I tried to use the same philosophy of picking a simple moment that I found to be representative of how I was feeling in that time. I tried to make sure that I didn’t just shoot when it was most convenient (ie. mid morning), I tried to make sure that there was a story with each image that went with each day. Variety is the spice of life! Sadly I didn’t complete the whole month of January – I was traveling in Canada, speaking at a conference hosted by NAPCP (The National Association of Professional Child Photographers) and the travel and time difference made it quite difficult to complete it all! Oh well. Next year, for sure.
Do you have any plans to combine your words and photos from the January Project into something tangible, like an album or a book? What about your everyday Instagram photos and words?
I don’t – not with the January PAD I did, mainly because I didn’t finish the month, and it makes me feel a bit anxious printing something that isn’t complete! As for Instagram images, I print them all using an automated program called Chatbooks, which prints out every 60 of my images into mini books! Great way to have an automated system of books printed every time I have taken 60 pictures. And they only cost $6 per book! The best app ever.
Would you consider yourself a memory keeper?
Not a memory keeper in the “Ronnie” sense of the word, but I am in the iPhone sense of the word! I would love to have more tangible products around my house but after having just moved, I’ve resolved to be a lot more conscious of what I “clutter” my house with. I want to be a thoughtful art and memory conserver, and I haven’t yet figured out a way to do so! An image here, a framed print there – I would love to be the type of person that changes out framed images once a year and updates albums every now and again!
What are the stories that you want to preserve, for yourself and for your family?
Our every day life. As a photographer, my favourite type of sessions are those that I capture at a family home, of a family doing mundane, everyday things. I would love to have images of my family and me cooking dinner together, or waking up together with Pippa’s crazy hair and Elsie’s leg draped over me.
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You can read the other interviews in this series here.