August 9, 2017

The Parenting Struggle is Real

Photographer Jessica Byrum Exposes the Other Side of Family Life

Once upon a time, there lived a perfect little family with a perfect little house. Every day, the perfect little children got up, made their beds, brushed their teeth and put on the perfectly pressed outfits their loving parents had set out for them the night before. Feeling well rested from a solid 8-hour sleep, the perfect parents were already up, cooking a healthy, organic, wheat-free breakfast, making fresh almond milk and some easy no-bake, sugar-free granola bars. All throughout the day, the perfect little children amused themselves with some quiet, self-directed play time while the perfect parents tinkered with some of their passion projects followed by some reading and a nap. At the end of the day, after putting away all their toys with great attention to detail, the perfect little children appreciatively sat for a wholesome, plant-based dinner, conversing about the joys of their day. Then the perfect little children willingly retired to their bedrooms to tuck themselves in while their perfect parents enjoyed some quality time together.


If you tried to sell the above story as an anecdotal narrative about real people, most parents would tell you that you’re full of shit. Visual narratives, however, like those found in blogs and social media feeds, can communicate a very convincing mirage if crafted in just the right way — which can wreak havoc on the self-esteem of the parental populace.

Thankfully, social media and information streams have seemingly reached their limit for staged perfection. We may have drunk the homemade DIY Kool-Aid and bought the Turkish cotton t-shirt for a while but as more and more people share real stories, complete with all the glorious mayhem of real life, it has become apparent that we’re actually navigating the same sea in similar iterations of a weird, makeshift clapboard boat. The gold yacht with the scantily clad, dancing supermodels guzzling Dom Perignon is a fantastical (and altogether ridiculous) aspiration. Perhaps fun for a visit, but it’s not life.

Montana based mother of 3, Jessica Byrum is one of the growing numbers of family photographers that don’t make efforts to fabricate reality. Her photography isn’t a catalogue of spotless houses, well-behaved dinners, cozy pregnancies and #blessed babies sleeping soundly in Swedish cribs. Byrum, rather, is unapologetic about the maddening, disastrous joy of raising children, exposing the often hidden moments that make parenthood a beautiful mess. Confesses Byrum, “If I got upset over all of the messes, I’d be a crazy person. So I’ve learned to embrace them and take photographs instead of losing it.”

“I’ve learned to accept that my shirts will have stains on them, and most of those stains won’t be from me.”

Jessica is a professional photographer living in Billings, Montana. She runs a successful photography business and began contributing to Stocksy last year. In addition to her 3 kids, Jessica lives on an old farm with her handyman husband, 19 chickens and 3 pigs. See Jessica’s full collection on Stocksy >

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