Photographer Claiborne Swanson Frank:
My New, Slightly Less Hectic Routine

Claiborne Swanson Frank

| fine-art portrait photographer

  • Mother And Child book Mother And Child Assouline, $85

Claiborne Swanson Frank’s Mother and Child—a poignant book of photographs and essays on moms and kids—was an all-encompassing, 24/7 project that left the photographer as drained as uplifted. “I shot most of it from May through October of last year,” she says. “I had a two-year-old and a five-year-old, and while the work was exhilarating, I didn’t leave much time for myself.”

The New York photographer and author (her previous two books, American Beauty and Young Hollywood, are remarkable) discovered goop’s Mother Load vitamin protocol earlier this year, and she says it sparked a switch in her attitude toward self-care. “The book sort of owned my life, seven days a week, for a year, and I really felt depleted,” says Swanson Frank. “When you’re a busy mom with a busy job, it’s hard to get all the nutrients you need. I’m so into the vitamins. Not only do they check all the boxes—the omegas, the magnesium, the antioxidants—but there’s something so brilliant about the single-serving packets they come in. They’re a convenience I would never have appreciated if I didn’t have kids. If I’m traveling, if I’m running to something, I just grab one. I feel like GP was looking at the world of women and work and mothers and thinking about how we think as she was designing them. They’re just a smart way to nourish yourself.”

Taking the vitamin protocol had a domino effect, Swanson Frank found. “You do one thing consistently, and doors start opening, and then you can find that space and time you thought you no longer had,” she says. “Every day, I started thinking: What’s one thing can I do—yoga, bike ride? What is today?”

  • The biking is especially good at her weekend home in the Hamptons: “I’ve got a child seat on the back of my bike, and I love being in nature with my kids, so we go everywhere,” she says. She also keeps a journal and has stepped up both yoga and SoulCycle. “I’m taking more baths, doing a ten-day meditation challenge. I start with some affirmation cards in the morning with my lemon water and coffee—even just taking those three minutes to set up the day in my mind makes an enormous difference.”

  • She bikes to the farmers’ markets for organic fruit and wildflowers and remains steadfastly gluten-free. “I don’t feel good when I have a lot of carbs,” she says. “I do better with protein. I do like cheese and meats—the cleaner the better—and green juice, when I can. You know, it’s the basics your mom told you: Eat vegetables, go to bed early, take care of your skin.”

For her dry skin, Swanson Frank layers goop face oil under goop night cream. “The combination is so hydrating. I love the textures, and it really absorbs and wakes up my skin. It’s efficient, and I understand all the ingredients, just like the vitamins. It’s a holistic approach.”

It’s an approach that keeps the San Francisco native on an even keel as she balances shoots (taking a break hasn’t meant completely stopping work, and her clients include everyone from Vanity Fair, Porter, and Vogue to Ferragamo, Estée Lauder, Michael Kors, Veronica Beard, and Clé de Peau Beauté) with time with her kids.

“As women, we tend to let ourselves fall to the back of the bus,” she says. “We put family and career before self—and while being productive in work is wonderful, we have to give something to ourselves.”

The book illuminates the ways modern mothers cope with this reality. “All the women’s insights were moving to me, and what they left with me was how much more we are alike as mothers, in parenting and loving, than we are different,” says Swanson Frank. “Love looks the same, feels the same, smells the same. I wanted to shine a light on that new experience of modern motherhood—the highs and lows of it, our perfect imperfection as people, the fact that we’re not alone in our experiences and we’re all connected.”