Filling Our Cups: A Background Story

A lot of societal focus currently sits with equality.

And rightly so. In 2019 there’s more awareness of diversity, modern day racism, the working poor and poverty gaps, the revival of Te Reo Māori, and gender inequality. 

A lot’s changing, but there’s still a long way to go. I’m reminded of this often, even in my relatively conventional family life. Many people aren’t aware of the casual, unconscious biases they hold, because they’ve been ingrained in them from the time they were born. BUT, when I listen, those biases are there – in subtle comments to my children such as “Boys don’t wear pink!” or “Little girls like dolls.” And I’ve experienced them myself, when I was told that I wouldn’t get the job I wanted because I was a “girl”, that no-one would listen to me because I was a “white girl” – yet my family and I have also been ignored because we‘re a shade of “brown”. That I should be home with my kids. And asked how I got the money to pay for something.

Where do these thoughts and beliefs come from? As children, we’re not born with these opinions, but we’re influenced by the beliefs and language of those around us. Then as we get older, these biases become our own. 

By the time we need to make choices about the careers and lives we’re setting up, we’ve already been influenced, encouraged – and sometimes even institutionalised – to do what is viewed as being the best option for us, if we’re to be a ‘successful’ member of western society. We’re told to pick a path, and stick with it.

Filling our Cups is inspired by the people who overcame these biases, and those who are working to do so.

I’ve worked on photography projects with many people who are motivated to be successful, in whatever way they define it. Sometimes they’ve specialised in one area, and sometimes they have many strings to their bow (that’s me!). And whenever I work with them to build their businesses or careers, I always start with the Why.

Why do they do what they do?

How did they get here?

Where are they trying to go?

And in these conversations, I often wonder “Where could this person be now, if someone had believed in them earlier, or if they’d been brave enough to try it sooner, or…first - if it was seen as the norm?”

When my husband’s career was up in the air recently, we had a conversation about what he’d do if he could start again. While his answer was no surprise to me, this discussion really led me to rethink my own goals, and my wishes for my family. I feel lucky that I came back to a passion that I had initially been told I wouldn’t be able to make a career from.

So, my words for this year are strengthen and enough

In my work, I’m working to strengthen the foundations I’ve laid up until now, and at home, to make sure everything we do brings enough love, fun, friendship, family connection and abundance to fill our cups.

To show my children and their friends that it’s ok to be brave enough to go out and fill your own cup. To help pave the way for a new norm.

Times are definitely changing and I hope our children feel inspired to go out there and fill their cups, too.

What does filling YOUR cup look like?

If you feel you challenge the traditional stereotype in your business, profession, trade, or passion, or if you have had multiple careers, I would love to hear from you. To be eligible, participants must live in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington or Hawkes Bay, and be willing to be interviewed and photographed for this project. 

Note: This is a photography project, but names and identifying information can be kept anonymous, if preferred.

For further information, and to share your inspiring story with others, email

 Emma Baker Photography

I’m an Auckland based, mum of 2, photographer + content strategist helping lifestyle brands tell their brand stories in Auckland

I’m an Auckland based, mum of 2, photographer + content strategist helping lifestyle brands tell their brand stories in Auckland


Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge… is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.
— Bill Bullard