Brisbane photographer Mindi Cooke - a moment in lockdown
Brisbane-based food, interiors and lifestyle photographer Mindi Cooke endured a number of snap lockdowns over the last 18 months with her young family. During this time she became a ruthless UNO player, dabbled in margarita mixes and enjoyed the slower pace of life.
Understated and endlessly kind, Mindi took some time out to answer some questions about what lockdown looked like for her. While she's not keen to switch careers to become a teacher, this talented photographer enjoyed spending time with her little people - enjoying the simple things.
Tell us what an ordinary day in your house looked like during lockdown: We were very fortunate to have only endured short bursts of lockdown, but of course this can change so quickly! Our kids are still quite little so during lockdown (and all other days really) our house was up and about early. I’m not much of a cook but pancakes became a specialty of mine, recently thanks to Covid I’ve also mastered waffles. So usually I’d do that and then enjoy some hang time in the garden with our guinea pigs George, Muffin + Milo (also thanks to Covid!) while we had coffee & made a plan for the day.
Depending on whose work was most pressing, either Luke or myself would attempt homeschool while the other worked. It was impossible for us both to be working at the same time as the kids are too little to do all the school activities independently, so we set up a mini classroom on the dining table while the other madly worked in the office. I always have a mountain of editing to do so while I wasn’t able to shoot I could still catch up on projects.
All four of us found it hard to stay focussed on home school for an extended period of time so we tried to keep this to the morning and then afternoons were spent outside in the garden or handball championships, board games, baking and craft. I found that breaking the day up into really small rotating activities worked well for our little people.
We are lucky to live super close to the Toohey Forest so most afternoons we’d go for a big walk and explore. It’s amazing what the outdoors can do for everyone’s spirits. We collected interesting leaves, rocks and chatted about all the good stuff. Home for bocce and a drink at the end of the day. Some days the wheels would fall off completely and that was ok too. A great takeaway from this pandemic has been the importance of being flexible and adaptable so some days a fort in the lounge room and movies on repeat is just what the doctor ordered.
Were there any surprising highlights during lockdown?Having the kids around non-stop has been the highlight. Life is so busy that it was nice to just stop and recharge a little with our family.
For my work it did create a frenzy once out of lockdown. All of the jobs that were missed needed to be photographed so it was a matter of finding room for those plus new projects that were always coming in. There is this ongoing huge sense of urgency as everything feels so unsteady. I feel very fortunate to be able to work right now and have been shooting some really beautiful campaigns so while it has been intense during the go times it definitely made me appreciate the down times even more.
Worst bit? Missing our extended family and friends. Those awkward elbow arm shakes. Zoom meetings. Wearing round the clock activewear.
Did you learn anything about yourself during this time? I’m a terrible primary school teacher! I am a fierce and competitive UNO player.
Did lockdown give you a fresh creative perspective? To be honest I feel like I’ve been head down bum up for years now, I haven’t had much space to think of anything creative outside of my business. Lately though there have been a couple of ideas bubbling away that I’d like to try and explore more next year. Lockdown definitely gave me a little more creative headspace.
Did you take up any new hobbies? Making the perfect margarita.
What was your favourite lockdown snack? Margarita :)
Go to toast topping? Sadly I don’t eat bread. Our son Sid was recently diagnosed with Coeliac disease, so we’ve removed all of the gluten from the house. We’ve found a brand of bread he’s happy to eat as a sandwich but to be honest it's a pretty sad substitute! In my bread dreams I’m eating baguettes and gooey cheese or white toast with butter AND peanut butter. Living on the edge!
Lockdown tip? Music upon waking. It sets everyone up for the day and fills in all those little moments. I found that everyone was a little more chill when music was playing. I also loved an impromptu kitchen dance party. We started doing Friday night Zoom drinks with friends which was fun.
Feeling fortunate about... being healthy & happy, being able to hug and see the ones I love
If you could be anywhere in the world, where would you be and with who? Morocco with family and friends.
Current favourite song: 90s RnB baby! Sad but true. Tame Impala, The Avalanches, Baker Boy for a good boogie and Lady Gaga with my little girl Poppy.
Mindi wears the Little Tienda Pastel Bloom Rhea blouse throughout.