In my experience, there is nothing more honest or intimate than photographing a family after they bring a new baby home. And with each new addition, there is a maturity and grace that mothers possess. It cultivates with each child as they learn the baby’s unique cues and temperament. I am fascinated by the differences and sameness I encounter with mothers during newborn sessions. No matter if this is their first baby or third, mothers always meet the occasion with poise. I hope they know it does not go unnoticed. I see them. I see them soothe, rock, sway (even when their arms are empty) and hum. I see they are tired, but exuberant. As I’ve said about my own daughters, Motherhood is exultingly exhausting.
When I arrived for this session, it was a cloudy morning in Suffolk, Virginia. Emily, a new Mom of three little ones, was still nursing her newest girl when I stepped in. We discussed how laid back a lifestyle newborn session is, and that the stress of getting three small children to a studio was more than either of us could handle! She was fully onboard for having me shoot however I wanted, which is always wonderful to hear from a mom. I love establishing that trust and connection from the first moment, it always shines through in the images.
I took some time to meet her older kiddos and chat about my favorite books in their playroom. There were shy smiles for about the first five minutes, but pretty soon they were ready to give me a tour of the house! I love taking time to connect with siblings during a newborn session, it’s such a transformative season for them too. Plus, I love taking breaks with them to play while Mom and Dad feed or change baby. It helps put them at ease and reminds them how important their role is. These kiddos were ecstatic to open a new picnic set toy, so during a second feeding, we had fun unpacking the pieces. Another great tip for new parents, sometimes having those new toys and treats on hand for older siblings can help direct them during a photo session at home. I loved capturing their playtime from every angle and watching them interact.
Instantly, I noticed how the children’s artwork was displayed in many areas of their home. I loved this element of their family. From coloring book pages, to handprints, to Easter crafts – their creativity was displayed with pride. Who needs Picasso when you have little painted handprints to frame?
Once baby was asleep, I was able to get some images of her sleeping in the crib. I challenged myself to shoot in “live mode” to capture some ariel shots over the crib. Mom and I laughed during this, because sometimes my height comes in handy for these shots! At just over six feet tall, I use every inch (or have to fold into a ball) to get the shot I’m envisioning. I love the finished product!
This family was so patient with one another, their word choice and gentleness was apparent right away. I got the feeling this is how they always are, it wasn’t just for my sake. The home was peaceful, joyful and Mom and Dad were direct and loving with the children. I left wanting to make notes because Lord knows I need some of that patience myself. On the hard days, maybe we can mentally revisit those first newborn days. When it was all so astonishing and fresh. That might lend perspective and remind us that this thing called Motherhood is all such a bittersweet ride.