Newborns actually DO have an expiration date. As a mother and photographer, I learned that painful lesson when after weeks of saying ,”I’ll get around to it”, I actually did.
Major changes happen every single second of a baby’s life, but they are so minute and so fluid, it’s hard to pinpoint that exact moment when your newborn is now, not so new. It’s subtle, almost inexplicable, but undeniable. That sweet little bundle has just transitioned from pliable, sleepy & pose-able, into a crying, wriggly hot mess in front of your camera.
The earliest real photos I took of my son happened at 6 weeks. I hummed as he napped while I set up my lights, blankets, baskets and fabrics to get the most amazing shots on the planet of MY baby. I was going to be the next Anne Geddes! The next Keri Meyers! Something so spectacular they would be breaking my door down to book me!!!!! And then….for the next hour as i tried to stuff him in a basket at least 5 inches too small (when did he get so big??? I SWEAR he fit in it last week!), make him go back to sleep (impossible), fold him into squishable baby shapes (the kind that no one other than cirque du soleil performers can accomplish), and just stay where I put him (man, could he wiggle), I slowly realized I had waited too long. Like, a whole month too long.
Before now, I had never realized there was so much work involved. How hard could it be, right? I’m 10x his size, I should be able to make this happen. Like so much I have learned in Motherhood, it has nothing to do with my naive notion of exerting my wishes upon my child, it is way more about learning to go with the flow and making the best of it. So, I made the best of it, but it certainly left me feeling saddened by the whole experience. I had missed out on a very important part of having my child…the pictures to commemorate the sleepy moments of his first few weeks here on this planet.
With the recent birth of my friend’s little girl, I had a chance to redeem myself. Through a miscommunication on my part, we did not have the shoot within the 14 day time-frame of newborn-ness. The baby was now 23 days old and growing fast! We made arrangements to meet the next day to capture what was very quickly slipping away. 4 hours later, I felt satisfied that we had gotten what we set out to do.
Baby “C” cried a lot, so daddy and mommy spent the better part of the shoot in front of the dryer trying to soothe her back to sleep. My son, who had tagged along due to the short notice, was running around refusing to nap, but luckily we had C’s grandmother and a neighbor friend to help out (Thanks Lynne & Theresa!) so I could get back to business. At the very end of the shoot, we attempted the Holy Grail of baby shots- The Hanging Baby in a sling. success!
Thanks to the Q family for letting me in on this very special part of their lives, I certainly feel I did it justice.
-For your viewing pleasure: a sneak peak at the not-so-newborn, baby “C”: