I just spent a week in the Cooney Classroom Challenge digging a bit into why I do what I do. Each day of the challenge, I was posed with a question or a task and through this process, I reaffirmed my love for what I do, put it into words, and gained some momentum in pushing forward in this field.
So...why? Why do I focus my photographic efforts on the bump through baby phase of life? Why do I feel a calling to serve moms in other ways, outside of photography, as well?
There are a few reasons here. First up is the more personal back story. When I was 11 years old, I lost my mom to cancer. When I was 7 months pregnant with my first baby, I lost my mother-in-law to that same beast. Part of my healing from mother loss has been through various forms of art - most specifically music and photography. I have been on and off reading Hope Edelman's "Motherless Daughters" for years now and finally finished it in the last year, only to come to the realization that I am drawn to working with new moms because of my loss. Somehow, subconsciously, I've been pushed in this direction and I love seeing the path in front of me, now that I understand it all better. I believe that my role in experiencing all of this has been to learn that beauty comes from ashes. Maternal love is my driving force and I love being able to capture these tender moments for families to hold onto forever.
You might be thinking, okay, but there are moms everywhere, in every walk of life. There are moms at weddings! Why not weddings?
Here's the digging deep answer to that one. While I find wedding photos beautiful, wedding days themselves tend to be beautiful as well. While there's a love story on a wedding day, I also get the opportunity to capture that love story in the arrival of a baby.
Early motherhood is so different from a wedding day, though (yes, I see you nodding your head and rolling your eyes). First of all, a baby's birth day is not scheduled ahead of time. Even when it is, things don't always go as planned. It's messy, it's exhausting, it has its frustrations, and a lot of it is taboo...but...why? It's amazing. There's a beautiful story in every woman's motherhood just waiting to be told. We shy away from it, though. Even worse, we judge one another, tear each other down, and as a result, we feel some fear and isolation in our motherhood journeys. That's NOT okay! My motherhood is mine alone, just as yours belongs to you. The story that makes us unique in it all - that's where the beauty is and that's what should be celebrated.
So here's what I came up with in that weeklong challenge:
You might not see it yet, but early motherhood deserves to be celebrated. You see tired eyes, messy hair, an empty, but still round belly, and you probably want to see something different. I see a mom who’s too tired to soak in the beauty of this moment and a mom who is likely deleting photos of herself that she will miss. I promise you this: One day, you’ll look back at your photos from this most wondrous time and you will see nothing but a new mom experiencing unconditional love, through all of its mess and chaos. That bit of motherhood that is no longer, it’s exactly what you will want to see, feel, and cherish. When we work together, you will feel encouraged and loved in your motherhood journey and you will see the beauty in those raw moments. Mama, everything you are and everything you do is beautiful - 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘪𝘵.
This is one of the questions I and I'm sure many other photographers receive on a regular basis. My best advice is this: Wear whatever makes you feel comfortable! If you're wearing something that makes you feel any bit uneasy about your appearance, that uneasy feeling may show up in some of your photos. If you're wearing something that makes you feel comfortable, your images will look natural, relaxed, and confident. This is important for your kids, too! If you have an adorable hat, bowtie, headband, necklace, or any other accessory that you LOVE, think about whether or not your child will spend the entire session pulling at it. You don't want to be fighting your child to keep that cute little accessory on for the perfect photos. Your child will end up frustrated, as will you, and that's not what you want to remember!
With that said, I do have a few tips that seem to help people decide on the best comfortable outfit for the session. If there will be a number of people in the photos, you'll want to make sure that patterns are kept to a minimum. If one person is wearing a pattern, it's a good idea to stick to solids for others in the photos. If you stick with neutrals, you can really coordinate together quite nicely without putting too much time and effort into deciding on the perfect outfits. I know some people really like to coordinate, though, so coming up with a color scheme works to keep things coordinated without being matchy-matchy.
Because the bulk of my work is bump through baby, I have some stores in mind that work well for moms in these stages. For maternity and lifestyle newborn sessions, PinkBlush Maternity and Wren & Ivory have some great choices for all different styles! Both stores have plenty of nursing-friendly outfits, and some that can be worn both during pregnancy and after, too. Fresh 48 moms tend to go for a more relaxed look and I recommend looking for robes or pajamas from PinkBlush and Belabumbum. Really, you can go with something you already have, but if you want to treat yourself to something special, I'd go looking at those stores.
Are you interested in a FREE Fresh 48 portrait session? I'm looking for a few models for 2018!!
What is Fresh 48?
This session takes place within the first 48 hours after a baby is born. It is done at the birth place, whether that is a hospital, birth center, or home. The images are lifestyle images, so I'm not posing the baby or handling the baby. It is a great way to capture not only the newness of your newborn, but also the love of family members - parents, older siblings, and even grandparents.
What are the requirements?
Okay, but what do I get?
This all sounds great! What do I need to send you to apply?
If this doesn't work for you, but you know someone who might be perfect for it, please share with them! I'll be selecting one model session per quarter, so the sooner an application gets in, the better the chances are of being selected.
I had my second Fresh 48 session just about two weeks after the first. My first session was at a hospital that I'm very familiar with, but this one was at a hospital I'd never been to. That's part of the fun in this style of photography - not picking out the scenery and just going with what you're given. It turned out that the maternity floor was actually very modern and minimalist, which was really easy to work with.
The baby I photographed was a new baby boy, who has two older (and very excited) siblings who just went back to school, and certainly have a lot to talk about with their friends.
When I arrived, Dad had just left the hospital to get the car seat because they were heading home that afternoon!That unfortunately meant that I missed him and didn't get any photos with Mom, Dad, and baby...but I did get a few Mom & Baby photos that I just love.
This little guy will one day love looking at how perfectly he fit in his mom's arms at one point. I won't say he was so tiny in her arms, because, well, just check out his birth stats! Big, healthy, adorable boy!!
Have you ever heard of a Fresh 48 session? Fresh 48 photography is about capturing newborn babies and family members within the first 48 hours after birth. That special time can be such a blur for the parents, so this session helps to preserve those precious memories exactly the way they happened.
It's not like the posed newborn photos you see with backdrops, fancy wraps, and dress-up accessories. I do some of that, too, and I enjoy that, but I've been interested in doing something more natural looking with newborns.
Fresh 48 is just that: It's very candid, (mostly) unposed, and natural looking, much the way that birth photography is, but without all the intense images from labor and delivery. Birth photography and Fresh 48 have both been on my to-do list for a while now and I finally had an opportunity to dip my toes into this style...and, well, I loved it and can't wait to do some more of it.
Check out some of my favorite images I got from this session with this sweet little girl. She was born a day ahead of her mom's scheduled C-section because she was just too excited to meet her loving family. What a beauty!!