What’s the First Thing You Ever Made, Clare Barboza?

Honestly, I have a crappy memory. I remember making LOTS of things as a kid—drawings, songs, stories, plays, baked goods, poems. You name it, I made it. But the first thing? I don’t remember what that was.

I do, however, remember a theme that repeated itself over and over again, starting at a young age. I was a constant seeker and creator of “homeyness” in my household.

My family life was pretty volatile growing up and so I tried, daily, to create a cozy, happy home, and I did so through decorating. On a weekly basis, I moved the furniture around into a new, more visually-pleasing arrangement. I baked cookies because they made the house smell good. I fluffed pillows, and tried to copy photos in magazines that depicted perfect families in perfect houses. At the holidays, it was my personal mission to create a space that looked like the ones in Christmas commercials—I trimmed pine garlands, lit candles in every room, played holiday music, set up nativity scenes, and placed all of my brother’s and my homemade holiday creations in prime viewing locations.

It’s funny how much this theme has continued throughout my life. To this day, I hate being anywhere with bad lighting. In my home, there are often candles lit, music playing, fresh flowers in a vase, and something good-smelling. I peruse interior design magazines and collect photos of anything and everything that inspires me. My husband indulges my obsession with home makeover shows.

One might say the first thing I ever made was a practice: of creating oases, of crafting comfort, and of visualizing memory-worthy scenes—a practice that now serves my art.


Clare Barboza is a Seattle-based food photographer and artist, with a passion for farms, moody lighting and all things vintage. She has photographed over a dozen cookbooks and regularly shoots for various publications, restaurants, and chefs. Clare also leads photography workshops out of her studio in downtown Seattle. Clare made the photos above while spending time at her cousin’s farm in Georgia.