Amy Morrall’s photographs bring you into a world of wonder inhabited by two fair-haired lookalikes and one little apple-cheeked imp. They play out their days rambling through gardens, cuddling bunnies, and wading through the surf. Even the shots that are closer to the day-to-day reality of life lived with children are still infused with a magical spirit, carving those fleeting moments of everyday beauty into high relief.
Happily for us at Pomelo, Amy was able to answer a few questions for our Insta Inspo feature…
PM: I loved stumbling upon your photos and being able to enter into your enchanted vision of family life. Did you ever have any idea that instagram would be a platform that would work so well for you or was it a total surprise? You have also somehow managed to remain very approachable and present on your account, I always really appreciate that…
AM: Thank you, sometimes family life feels enchanted but mostly just regular. I had no idea Instagram would be a platform I’d love so much. I’ve enjoyed the interaction I have seen through posting a daily photo or two or three (sorry) for the last three years. I’ve got to chat to people I’d absolutely never would have made contact with and continue to be inspired by a core group of Instagram friends that makes it so enjoyable and addictive really. Andy told me for a year I had to make an account but every time I looked at it I just saw pictures with funky filters. Then I suddenly realized actually it was totally what I needed. I could document my days, my kids without really having to say a word. When my girls were tiny I began a blog but within a few weeks decided not to keep it going, I’m not one for saying much really and never thought anyone would be interested. I’m so glad you say I remain approachable because if I didn’t that wouldn’t be the point of this app or the reason I post. I don’t have time to reply to comments and hope people don’t think I’m ignoring them because I always read through. Maybe it’s the freedom of non-commitment to lengthy posts and ease of using this app that’s made it become such a part of my daily life.
PM: Is there a story behind your name ‘Missing Fillmore’?
AM: Missing Fillmore was first used on our typepad blog in 2007 which later became our tumblr. We had just got home from a trip to San Francisco and moved ourselves to the beach when we found out we were having our girls. With no family nearby and living in an isolated (one bus a week) village, it was quite hilarious to us really. So Missing Fillmore (we stayed on Fillmore street), reminiscent of the life we were missing, became our name. Now it’s become so much more than that, I no longer think of that time but I think of our last 8 years and the memories we’ve made as a family. I think of changing it but as we grow older and change its nice to be reminded of who you were and are.
PM: Did you have any formal training in photography? Or attend an art school? Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to this point in your creative life?
AM: When I was 19 I did a degree in Media Studies and Art. I remember writing a lot and that did me well but I wished I’d chosen a solely practical photography course. We touched on basics but then after I finished I used a Polaroid and Andy’s Lecia occasionally and didn’t pick up a camera again until my girls turned two. In those six years I lost any confidence or real know-how and rarely had the desire to photograph. I guess somewhere along the line I learnt how to have some creative ideas and probably I would have got there without university but what school did do was show me I could do well academically. I did achieve at writing a good essay and after my experiences at school that rightly or wrongly did my confidence good. However with regrets I don’t feel confident in the practical.
PM: What is the difference to you between a “real” camera and your iphone camera? Do you have a preference? Do you struggle to pick up your real camera now that it is so easy to snap with a phone?
AM: I eventually got a phone which could take pictures pretty well and gradually I began to enjoy taking pictures again. I’d say my iPhone was my “real life” camera and still go days without touching my Canon or Contax. I actually dropped my Canon down a cliff in the summer and am still without it. My preference is always the look of film or the Canon but with three kids in tow and a desire to not impact them, the iPhone has been the perfect way to document our daily lives.
PM: Have you ever thought about working as a professional photographer? Or do you feel that you would prefer to keep things as they are, more of a personal project documenting your family life? I could also see your photographs in book form…
AM: Maybe the thought crossed my mind when I was 18 but not since then. I really lack technical knowledge and wouldn’t suggest to anyone I could be professional. I do love documenting my family and I’d love to look back on my 30 years previously in the depth that I can now look at the past three years documented on my feed. I’m pretty lazy but at some point I will print an album.
PM: Ok – technical question here so bear with me, I notice that you also maintain a tumblr blog, did that come before the instagram account? Do you find it has a different role in your practice than your instagram? Is it as important to you?
AM: Yes, Andy and I have a tumblr which he started in late 2009, two years before I started my Instagram account. It’s a platform for random pictures we both take and like but in reality neither of us have the time to edit or update it often. I’d say they are our favourite images but my Instagram feed is just as important. The shear volume of images I have placed there telling our family story over the past three years alone give it a greater importance for me, they are memories I’m pleased to be able to remember and glance over. I love the interaction Instagram pictures create and the ease of producing my feed but I’m eager to create more time to focus on our tumblr.
PM: You are a mom to two beautiful twin girls and one sweet little guy. I can only imagine what a whirlwind your daily life must be like. What are your thoughts about choosing to be a stay-at-home mom in this career-obsessed era? Do you ever feel conflicted about your choice?
AM: Yes, as my twins have got older I could describe my daily life as a whirlwind. We have recently made the decision to homeschool for a few years with the aim to make it seem less of a whirlwind, and I’m hoping it slows a little soon. I see the role as mum to be the most important at this time in my life. But I don’t feel I do this role particularly well and would love to generate another income, but I’m just not career oriented. I daydream about an art space and shop combined but in reality the only place I want to be is with my family. I love being with them and feel extremely privileged to do so.
PM: What is your story behind the decision to homeschool? I know a lot of parents struggle with this decision, what has been your experience making the switch?
AM: The decision to homeschool was a long time coming really. When our girls were at Montessori preschool (where they attended 6 hours a week for a couple terms), it was obvious to us that we weren’t really in any need to send them off somewhere full-time. They started school part-time and we negotiated part-time learning for as long as we could, but the school put an end to it and after a year of traditional full-time schooling we moved them to an arts school. It was a big commitment as its 30 minutes drive, however in the end we felt it just wasn’t worth it. The school lengthened its school day to 7 hours and we were faced with extra traffic, so our days turned into 8 and half hour days. For 7 and 4 year-olds I just couldn’t see it was right. It really felt very unbalanced. Having given traditional schooling and a school which had an ethos we could really get alongside, and feeling rather disappointed by both, we came to the conclusion that for now at least we should give homeschooling a go.
Primrose and Maggie were on the fence and although they hadn’t really enjoyed their last year of school they had gone back after the summer holidays and got a new teacher and their enthusiasm had been sparked which made for heartache for me really. Being faced with a longer day all of sudden I spent the first three weeks of this term thinking over who we are, what we want as a family and what we were just going along with because that’s just what you do. It wasn’t fun making the decision, it felt incredibly scary and such a leap into the unknown. It may not be forever and in fact when they’re older I’m sure they’ll ask to go back. They love having friendships on tap and being part of things outside the home. Although there are lots of homeschoolers nearby I didn’t and still don’t know of a group for us to fit into, and to be part of something felt important.
That need has diminished somewhat and our time spent at home has been the most precious. Gilby is really pleased he will not be going to school, I don’t think he’d ever really accepted the idea that he was to go. Him and I have attended forest school together and he is until Easter, part of a 4-8 year-old Montessori group. Primrose, Maggie and I have loved being together, just the three of us, on those mornings and we’re really looking forward to crafting, baking and learning over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas. So far we’ve socialized so much I feel we need to draw life back into the home a little. Although it’s just been a matter of weeks for us, it feels like we’ve made the right decision and we’re beginning to find daily routines. I’m sure these will change and new adventures will begin, maybe they’ll take us back to school at some point, I love the idea of doing the normal thing and being part of what others are doing, but I can’t let it be something that consumes so many hours of our day. I’d love to know they have the time to answer their own questions about life and enjoy learning about what really inspires them. I’m so not sure how this is going to happen, let’s just say it’s a work in progress and I’m open to all ideas and suggestions from experienced homeschoolers.