Updated: Jun 7, 2019
The professional photos I have of my babies as newborns, and the many photos I have carefully documented throughout their childhood to date are priceless. Besides the fact that literally whatever kids do at this young age is cute (sleep - cute. Smile - cute. Frown - cute. Yawn - cute. Cry - cute. Poo - cute), there's something so inherently important about photo-documenting those first few hours, days, years of their lives. Let me explain why.
Those early days and years with your babies are both tough and exhilarating. You are on a high because, well, you have this incredible little human (or humans for some!) in your life. You are also likely to be struggling to find the time to eat, sleep, shower, have an adult conversation, use the bathroom, look in the mirror, leave the house, take a breath... On top of that, you are also likely to spend a heap of time in the wee hours of the morning, sleep deprived and yet scrolling through your socials, skimming articles on parenting like "why won't my baby sleep", and "how to not scream an lose your absolute crap at your two year old". And in amongst those articles, you will likely be bombarded with reminders to "soak up this time because it ends so soon" and "they grow so quickly so enjoy it".
While I absolutely agree that we should take pause and appreciate what we have, absorb their littleness, and embrace each and every time-ticking moment, I've often found these reminders to be completely stressful. Besides the fact that you are utterly exhausted for the first few months (give or take a year or ten) after their birth, these warnings to 'soak it all up' can leave you feeling sad, guilty and helpless (confusing, right?). Have you spent enough quality time with them? Have you spent too much time cleaning or working or checking your phone or cooking or heaven forbid caring for your own sanity and left them to their own devices all day long? Have you stopped and embraced every cuddle they've asked for? Listened to every single story? Held them tight when all you have on your mind is the ever-growing list of impeding tasks you are yet to tick off? Am I taking this time for granted? It's all going by so fast. I recall feeling completely shocked experiencing all these complicated feelings as a new mother. Out of them all though, the most difficult feeling to process was that of time constantly slipping away. If i'm honest, it was completely unbearable; that realisation that in he blink of an eye they will be toddlers or teenagers or adults and this time, these stages in both our lives, will have passed.
Personally, it has been (and continues to be) a long road to understanding how to manage these feelings. For me, the photographs and videos I have of my family are my saving grace, especially the photographs of ME with my family - although admittedly I do need to make more effort to be in them.
I was so absorbed in my fears of forgetting, that I was finding it difficult to actually live. I didn't want to forget. Any of it. All the obvious details, like baby feet and tiny hands, their smile and the colour of their eyes. So I photographed them. And as I've gained more experience behind the camera I've found different details to capture. The details that can't be easily noticed, but when you see them, you know them. Those candid details completely unique to each of them. Like the shape of their eyes when they are thinking or seeing something new, filled with that familiar curiosity and wonder, deep in thought. Or the exact way they scrunch their face while screaming the house down. Or perhaps its its the the way they might fold their clothes and put them away on the shelf "so neatly" after bath time. Or maybe the way their little teeth show as they make their "sooky face", telling you its time to escape from their high chair after breakfast. Or even the movement of their hands as they happily bounces on the new trampoline in the backyard.
These other details in between, captured by a professional photographer and also via my own personal photo stories, have continued to help me over these past almost-four years as I watch my babies grow and change. Because yes, they are only babies once and yes, we should hug them and hug them and hug them and hug them before they don't fit into the palms of our hands anymore (it really doesn't take long). But if we are lucky, a part of them will always be that baby who fell asleep in your arms. The baby you could hold in one arm for hours on end because they woke up grumpy and felt the need to cling to you while you desperately scrambled around the kitchen like a one-armed lunatic attempting to put some food on the table. They may not physically be the same, but their character remains. And looking back at these photos I have, I notice she still makes the same expression when she is carefully processing information. She still moves her arms the same when she runs. And she still makes the most hilarious crying (whinging/screaming/meltdown) face as she always did. And you see that while so much of them has changed, so much is still the same. So while my babies sometimes seem so grown up to me now; one can walk and talk and identify letters and boss me around, and the other is on the verge of walking and talking (yet still manages to boss me around?!) I have these precious memories to hold on to, while the rest of me can live in the present and embrace each new day as the next phase of our lives. And I can let myself embrace each milestone without feeling excruciating sadness. I can now realise that every age is the best age, and that these days are, and the days to come will continue to be the best days of my life.
So book a photographer, get those photos taken, and be IN the pictures.
If you live in Sydney and are looking for a family photographer to capture your family drop me an email!