Canada-based Chantal Mercier, mother of two and talented self-taught artist-photographer at Tall Grass Photography by Chantal, discovered her love for creating art through photography soon after her son was born in 2012. Her exquisite photographs of motherhood capture such precious and fleeting fragments with a kind of dreamy softness. We spoke to Chantal to learn more about how she got started.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
Photography for me began as a new mother, wanting to carve out time to make something and capture my baby’s days and growth. But it quickly morphed into a way of expressing myself and making art; the deep and painful over-awareness of how fleeting all of this is, is constantly right up on the surface for me, and drives my photography. I am conscious that our most valuable currency is time; and while I don’t have the ability to stop it or slow it down, what I do have is the extreme privilege and honour of bearing witness to its fragments, and the technical ability to record it, as I feel it. The art is simply in my ability to notice things and translate them into something others can see and feel, and the talent comes from the obsession and pursuit to get it right, then to fail and to try again.
The Launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I started my business in 2014. It was, and still is a “side hustle”, as I am homeschooling our two children, and harmonizing everything that I love to do is still something I struggle with at times.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
I don’t know that there was ever a “breakthrough” moment along the way – I have grown as a person since the beginning, and I have grown my art along with me. I do think that photographing births and always focusing my work on mothers has sparked a level of compassion and appreciation for the stories of women and their crucial and important roles in our society.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
I prefer to use “harmony”, simply because it feels more achievable to me to fluctuate accordingly day by day, rather than aiming for equal parts divided. I still haven’t mastered this… but what does work for me, is making space between; stopping. I need breaks between my work, my art and my family. This pause helps me reset and gather what I need to take on the next day, and going fast is great but it needs to be followed by some reeeallly slow down time.