Photography: Ilsa Wynne-Hoelscher Kidd

We’re often drawn to photographers who take one subject and make it their own. Whether that’s honing their lens in on the natural world or focusing on capturing powerful women, it’s always compelling to see a photographer master their signature subject. Which is why we felt obliged to reach out to photographer Ilsa Wynne-Hoelscher after we spotted her work on Instagram. Beautiful self portraiture intermingles with shots of her with her two children, other mothers with their families and growing baby bumps. Motherhood, pregnancy and birth are somewhat trademark topics for Ilsa, who photographs each with a tenderness and sensitivity that will make you want to keep scrolling through her pictures.

The daughter of a photographer, Ilsa’s interest in cameras was piqued at an early age and her aesthetic appears to have visually hit its stride since becoming a parent herself. Not restricted to the subject, the Australian photographer travels as much as she can and turns her lens to nature and the home as well. The result is a woman with an irresistible eye for life and all its complexities. We took some time to chat to Ilsa and find out more.

When did you first develop an interest in photography and how did it come about?


I have always looked for beauty in things that are often seen as ordinary or imperfect, or even mundane. Ever since I was a child it has been about storytelling and shining light on other people, other living things or simply objects that have something to say. I find there’s meaning all around us, so it’s been about opening my eyes to what is often missed by others. Initially never a conscious decision, but it’s somewhat become my overall focus as a photographer. 

Photography has been the means in which I can express what my eye sees, and the platform for these ideas and stories. My father was a photographer, amongst other creative talents and endeavours, so growing up around his work definitely exposed me to the realm of this art form, from concept through to developing film in our dark room at home. Flicking through fine art photographic magazines, having my mother model for him, and being on set from a young age shaped the way I saw things in a visual sense. I learnt through these experiences how to compose an image to best communicate a message or feeling, and how to go about working with others to achieve a collaboration.

Photography was always there, something I always had an appreciation for, and has been present in all lines of my work (media, creative direction, education) but it wasn’t until I left my previous career in these areas when I became a mother and focused solely on photography that I found my photographic voice and refined my skills by jumping in to the deep end starting my own business. I think becoming a mother shed old versions of myself and gave me the confidence and security to go after something that mattered to me, to have bravery and faith. Motherhood can do that, it makes you feel that you can do anything!

Your photography focuses a lot on women and on motherhood - why?

This was an organic direction my work started to take once I became a mother. Through pregnancy you’re not only at work creating a new life but you’re also in a state of transformation. It’s a deeply spiritual time for you and baby, and I do think women come out the other side with a higher sense of self and more clarity around what’s important. When I was on maternity leave with my first born, I found my creativity was becoming stifled and I really longed for expressing this unveiled side of me. I began taking self portraits on womanhood and motherhood whilst the baby was sleeping. It was the first time in my life I felt truly comfortable in my skin, and had a deep love for my body and it’s capabilities. All I saw was it’s beauty, imperfections included. Really special work came out of that period, some of my most popular work to date. It has been a way to connect with the fleeting stages of motherhood on a deeper level and to etch them into my memory for life. This has poured over into my professional work also, creating a business dedicated to mothers and women, capturing their individual stories and beauty through this chapter of their lives. I’ve found it so moving, rewarding and a beautiful experience to share with all kinds of women and mothers, making friends in the process.

What makes Australia home to you and how did your upbringing feed into your style of work?

Australia will always be home… the weather, the space, and the vast landscapes have taught me a lot about myself and my place in the world, naturally affecting my style. Having a grubby and typical “Aussie” upbringing has certainly led me to wanting to capture these moments with my own offspring, the sentimental pull I find in photography. The ambition that Australia has being a relatively new nation and quite isolated from anywhere else, has been both tedious and wonderful at the same time, something that also resonants in my work through feeling. Despite loving Australia and my cheery upbringing, I actually feel more inspired currently by life these days and by being in other countries. Travel is so enriching and I’m connecting greatly to contrasting cultures and climates. I would love to cast my net abroad more, travel as a family with my camera in hand, and perhaps return to my ancestral European roots for a new experience. Constant learning and new conversations and experiences are the main influences in my work today.

How did you choose to document your pregnancy journey?

Both pregnancies have been challenging and extremely beautiful, and a very natural experience. It has felt like home. I feel too deeply at times and am too aware of how fast time moves, urging me to constantly capture moments to look back on. I have used photography as a way to connect more to this experience and my babies, to celebrate female form at it’s greatest glory, and to be able to share it with my children when they are older. It’s been about highlighting the whirlwind journey my body and babies have been on together, with me almost just watching on. Pregnancy and birth is the hardest work your body will ever do, but also the most rewarding and empowering. I often feel so lucky to be a woman, and am beyond thrilled to gift this opportunity to another female.

Do you feel you have changed as a person since becoming a mother? If so, in what ways?

I don’t think I have changed as a person at a core level, but it’s certainly refined who I am right now, and I definitely feel stronger within myself. I feel motherhood has opened up a higher level of existence for me, with emphasis on compassion, patience, love and values. I’m a more emotional person now! I feel a greater level of empathy and am now longing for a safer, happier and more equal world for all. Becoming a mother by nature makes you more in tune with these elements of life. On a more basic level, I’ve never been able to run on so little sleep yet be more productive as ever! You’re forced to become better with time management and juggling all that you are, all that you do.

What’s your mantra for living well?

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” A nice reminder to stay present and grateful.

What do you do to unwind?

Be with my family. And spend time outside, with no agenda and no devices.

All images: Ilsa Wynne-Hoelscher Kidd

Share this:

More From The Journal

  1. Nude by Kana London

    Inspired by sculptures and skin tones, the Nude Collection from Kana London is a unique take on ceramics for the home. After launching the collection at London Design Festival, we sat down with founder Ana Kerin to discuss the inspiration behind the project and the crossover between art and practical objects.

    More +
  2. Masterclass: Growing Your Hair

    Our ultimate guide to growing your hair. From the best treatments to the foods you should be eating, these top tips with help from our Creative Director Mia will help you to achieve longer locks whilst maintaining the long-term health of your hair.

    More +
  3. Photography: Yumna Al-Arashi

    ​London based photographer, filmmaker and writer Yumna Al-Arashi uses her art to challenge perceptions of women and Eastern culture, offering a new, more powerful narrative for us to explore. We sat down with her to find out more about the inspiration behind her work.

    More +
  4. Bug Clothing: The Magda Pants

    Glasshouse friend and collaborator Amy Ward designs linen easy wear that’s made to last and to be loved. The Magda Pants are her first foray into trousers and Amy has hand-picked an inclusive mix of interesting women to show them off. We chat to Amy about her open and ethical approach to clothes and running an independent business.

    More +
  5. On Art: Weronika Siwiec

    ​Self-confessed ‘creative’ Weronika Siwiec has tried her hand at everything from graphic design to building a natural house. However, her playful illustrations of women and their bodies is where the Amsterdam-based artist has really found her stride. She shares her thoughts with us about nudity, femininity and a slower pace of life.

    More +
  6. Masterclass: Second Day Hair

    ​Whether you struggle with frizz, kinks or greasy hair, we’ve put together the ultimate guide on second-day styling to help you avoid washing your hair everyday; saving on water and keeping your hair healthy.

    More +
  7. Introducing: Mia Waldern, Creative Director at Glasshouse

    As Mia steps into the role of Creative Director at Glasshouse Salon, we head to her East London home to find out more about her upbringing in LA, her love for animals and her passion for natural and organic beauty.

    More +
  8. Illustrated Form

    ​An exclusive new editorial in collaboration with illustrator Alexa Coe and photographer Thea Lovstad, shining a spotlight on the female figure from a woman’s perspective and the new nude.

    More +
  9. Hair Musing: Taja Feistner

    ​Our latest Hair Muse is shaking up the summer months with a haircut that’s fresh, directional and neatly cropped. Taja Feistner is the model-slash-eco-warrior with a conscience that’s as cool as her short back and sides. We learn more.

    More +
  10. Q&A: Olivia Crighton

    Having hit the five year mark since Glasshouse Salon launched in 2013, we sat down with our founder, Olivia Crighton, to help you get to know her a little more, covering everything from her personal journey into natural and organic beauty, to balancing business and motherhood.

    More +
  11. Glasshouse Hair, Hand & Body Wash

    ​We’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign for the launch of our first ever Glasshouse product. Designed to minimise consumption and waste, Glasshouse Hair, Hand & Body Wash is a luxury, multi-use cleanser made with organic ingredients - and we want you to be involved in making it a reality.

    More +
  12. Q&A: Henri London

    Simultaneously comfortable and chic, Henri London’s collection of ​sustainably made women’s shirts is our latest local find in Hackney. We spoke to founder Henrietta about the inspiration behind the brand and the importance of ethical fashion.

    More +
  13. Zero-Waste Beauty

    We’re delving into the world of zero-waste beauty and the simple ways in which we can reduce the environmental output of our beauty cupboard. From plastic alternatives to bulk buy markets, here are some eco-friendly solutions that don’t compromise on quality or design.

    More +
  14. Photography: Latoya van der Meeren

    ​Amsterdam-based photographer Latoya van der Meeren has got us transfixed with her honest pictures of pregnancy, motherhood and life on the road. We sat down with her to find out more.

    More +
  15. Beauty Buzz: Lilac Lids

    From lilac to mauve, violet to plum, purple eyeshadow is the surprising new trend that’s caught our attention this season. Here are some of our favourite ways to add a little of the regal colour to your look.

    More +
  16. Reads: Sisters by Sophie Harris-Taylor

    Photographer Sophie Harris-Taylor is known for her raw, intimate approach to taking pictures, and her latest release is no exception. Sisters visually tells the stories of over 70 sets of sisters, who Sophie has spent time interviewing and capturing in front of the lens, putting together a picture of sisterhood at it’s most honest.

    More +
Load more posts