What started out as a shared hobby between a mother and her daughter has grown into something a bit more slick. Photographers Marilène Coolens (58) and Lisa De Boeck (27) now work under the moniker Memymom and have scored a number of exhibitions in Belgium, Germany and even Slovakia. At times haunting and always captivating, their intriguing images possess an atmosphere reminiscent of dark fairytales. “We want to expose the dark sides of life – but with lots of colours”, is how Lisa puts it.
Why is two better than one?
L: For so many reasons. You have someone to rely on and you are never alone. In our case that’s even more true, because when you work with a family member you have ultimate trust for each other. It gives you a sense of safety. And it’s important to get someone else’s opinions.
M: It makes everything so much easier. I work much better in a team, when there’s someone you can have an exchange with, someone to motivate you. I am less ambitious than Lisa and don’t like to be in the center of attention, so it’s good to have someone for that aspect.
Isn’t two harder than one?
M: No. For me it really makes everything easier. It’s good to be able to divide the work. For example Lisa takes care of the things related to communication which I don’t like that much.
L: I am very extroverted and my Mom is the opposite and rather introverted. But introverts and extroverts need each other, so we complete each other perfectly.
Does 1+1 always equal 2?
M: No. Lisa also does things on her own. That’s important, because she is younger and needs some freedom to develop.
L: Well, I don’t know. I don’t think that it’s important to do my own thing. I always want to take my Mom along. In private life that’s different of course.
Do either of you ever wish it was just 1? (Be honest!)
L: No. We would not be doing what we do now. Alone we would have never achieved this. It’s us together who make the images. And also it would be very boring to work alone.
M: No, never. There are fights sometimes of course, but that is normal, you also have that in a couple. But we generally work really well together and don’t stress each other. I really prefer working together.
Is 2 better than 3? They say never 2 without 3…
L: The third one could be my brother, because he believes in us and has supported us immensely the whole time.
M: I’ll answer with another saying: Two is enough and three is too much! It’s fine to work in a pair, but a constellation of three is always difficult. It’s an uneven number and someone might always feel left out.
Do either of you ever feel alone, even when you’re two?
L: It happens and that’s normal, we are still individuals. And the job includes tasks that require working alone, for example when retouching the photos on the computer. The moments at the screen are the loneliest.
Can you remember a life without your +1?
L: That’s really difficult, I mean, it’s my Mom and she has always been there. And before the photography project I was just a regular kid. It really formed me as a person because I started to early. It made me become someone who prefers to jump into wild waters than sitting at a desk.
M: For me it’s the same, she is my daughter. Before we started our project together I did some amateur photography, just for fun, but that was it. We really developed our art together.
Is it all 50/50?
L: If you start calculating it doesn’t work anymore. What matters is the entirety, the end result. It doesn’t matter who has taken care of which detail. In the end it’s always us together.
M: Sometimes we both take photos, sometimes Lisa takes them and I do the retouching or the other way round. But whatever we do, it always has our personal signature in the end.