the house mom

I think there are a lot of professions out there that we all kind of wonder about — what do they do? What's their daily life like? And then I think there are some jobs that we sort of forget about — that we forget exist. For my capstone class, we were assigned to do a job profile. I was brainstorming, and then all of a sudden, I just thought, "What about house moms?" And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn't really know what house moms actually did — aside from, you know, what Anna Faris does in "House Bunny." I'm sure that movie is very accurate. I have some Greek friends, as most college students do, so upon brainstorming and coming up with "house mom," I promptly ran over to my neighbor's place, where a couple of girls from Kappa Alpha Theta live. And I kind of barged in and was like, so — can I photograph your house mom? Connections like that are the best, sometimes.

Turns out, the Theta house mom was brand spankin' new — Paula Gee, the woman I followed, just started her job in November. She's never been a house mom before and has actually been a pretty accomplished business woman all her life. She's a single lady with no children and is 60 years old.

I think that a lot of people think a house mom is there to do the cooking and cleaning and listen to the girls' problems and chastise them for their messes — and maybe she kind of does the last two things, but for the most part, to Paula, running the sorority house is like running a business. I don't think she can speak for how all house moms — or, the less antiquated term, facility director — run their house, but that's Paula's strategy. She compares it to a bed and breakfast, or a boarding house or a hotel where the sorority members are her clients. She takes what she knows — how to run a business — and applies it to this house, but perhaps with a little more love and care, since she is interacting with young women.

Photographing a house mom wasn't my top choice for a story to pursue for this assignment — it kind of just came to me after a lot of other things fell through and I was granted access relatively easily, so it worked. And although I may not be passionate about house moms or how they run Greek houses and such, I really, really liked Paula. When I spent time with her, sometimes we would just talk for hours after I was done shooting. I hope to catch dinner with her here sooner or later, not on assignment or anything. Because she's just a really cool lady.

I'd say, self-critique-wise, that during this assignment, maybe I just didn't try very hard. I wasn't super excited about photographing a house mom — I think I would've loved this assignment if I was still working at The Missourian, but because it was for capstone, I just didn't put my all into it. I think it looks fine — I think the story works. But I don't think I completely put my 100% into this assignment, and I think it shows. None of this will go into my portfolio.

Also, I've been realizing how poor my composition is lately. Like, I just kind of wait for a moment and then shoot it, but don't micro-compose or anything. It's kind of like shooting from the hip, but the camera is up to my eye and it's just like, "What was I doing? Was I even looking at what I was taking a picture of?" So, I need to work on that — a lot.

But you know, I'm not all that bent out of shape about not being in love with this story. I'm really excited about my 30-day project — I know it's something I'm really passionate about. And although my story about Paula is acceptable, I really enjoyed her company and made a new friend. Of course, it would be awesome if I could do award-winning work and have a new friend as well — but, I'll take my new friendship any day, and anything more is just bonus.