Did I tell you that my mother is a midwife (in France)?
When I was pregnant with her first grandchild, she went into arranging 4 weeks holidays around my due date so she could be in Dublin for the birth. At first, I was a bit worried. A friend had told me she regretted having her in-laws at home when they returned from the maternity hospital. For her, the first few days as a family of 3 were really important to connect and bond. On the other side, I was planning on leaving the hospital as soon as possible (I went public at the Rotunda) and also planning to breastfeed so we needed as much support as possible. For my mother, this was also very (very) important.
My daughter arrived exactly on her due date, which gave my mum plenty of time with her grand-daughter and I can say it was the best decision we could have made as her help proved invaluable on many fronts, although maybe not on the housekeeping.
Which is the reason I am telling you this story… A week after my daughter’s birth, the house was in total chaos!! And my mother’s presence definitely added to the mess. She was buying things, sewing things, trying to finish some knitting and hanging clothes to dry above every radiator in the house! (Obviously, the tiny new creature in the house had some responsibilities too).
It was such a mess (the above pictures don’t do it justice), I did a video where I went around the whole house to capture it, in every room. It was a mess I wanted to remember. The mess of our crazy life with a newborn and my mum around. On the video, we can hear the music blasting (newborns can really sleep with a lot of noise) and my mother singing (Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home). The whole experience matched the state of my brain at that stage, still high on the birth hormones and it is just precious. Funny, true, real chaos.
Can you relate?
When we have children, whether it’s been a week, a month or three years, we might feel:
- not in shaped to be photographed,
- like our house is too much of a mess to let anybody in.
It’s hard to ignore any of those feelings. I hear you. You might have very little time in your hands (and when you do, it’s fragmented in bits of time here and there). You probably did look “better” (in your eyes anyway) and so did your house. But this is the reality of having a family. This is normal. This is what every mother is going through, and it shouldn’t stop you from capturing those beautiful times in your life, whether it is the last few weeks before welcoming your new baby, the first few days after the birth or the day before dropping your eldest for his first day at school.
Your life deserves to be documented.
Your efforts, your mummy superpowers, your reality.
Own it! Be proud! Capture it and show your children what it was like, what a difference they made in your life. They take a lot of space in your life, and this is beautiful. I’d love for all mothers to be able to dismiss any negative thoughts & guilt about their own look and the look of their house.
I want them to know that they are doing enough, ARE enough and worthy of being photographed.
Did I hire a photographer to come in our house one week after my daughter was born? Honestly? No. If I did, I would have probably restricted the session to a few square meters in the nursery, where I took most of her photographs myself. But I realise now I was wrong. I would LOVE to have had a documentary photographer capture this truly special moment in our life. It was messy, it was crazy but it was OUR messy and crazy. It represented our life at this point in time and this was definitely the strongest and most powerful I have felt all my life (that can be the subject of another article).
I do have beautiful photos and I have a beautiful album of them. But it would have been even better to have it filled with more photos of our reality (and with me and my flabby tummy in it). Or even a video (to capture my mother’s beautiful whistling)!
So if you’re thinking of getting photographs done while pregnant / after the birth / when your children are bigger but are being stopped for one of those reasons, try to remember this story.
Feel the power of motherhood. It’s stronger than everything. It’s precious and worthy of being treasured and captured, in all its simplicity. Go for it and trust your photographer to capture you and your family and to really “get” you.
A few more tips
- Book your photographer BEFORE you give birth (preferably a few months in advance to secure your due date with your favourite photographer) if you would like a newborn session.
- Check your favourite photographer’s website for images of candid, natural photographs of family in their homes and see if you notice the mess, or the beauty.
- Embrace your appearance! Don’t wait until you loose that baby weight. Do a session now, and if you do end up loosing the baby weight (no pressure, you’ve been through a pregnancy!), then plan another session. Every period of life is important, even when there is no obvious “milestone”.
- Read my blog article about why it is important for mums (and dads) to get into the pictures. Most photographers will be able to arrange professional hair & makeup for you if that makes you feel more confident, and advice on what to wear. I’d love for you to feel proud of the way you look, but it’s not as easy as it sounds isn’t it?
- Tidy up a little the house if you have time, but not to the point where it looks like someone else is living in it :) A professional photographer will be able to choose the right angles or let you know if something is really getting in the way of a good image. I sometimes move things around a little, but I am usually the one moving around :)
If you are not convinced, read Nina’s words below. I photographed her family 10 days after her son was born. I love that she overcame her fears, and the main reason is that the session was decided and planned before the birth. Look at those photographs and tell me if what you see is the mess or the connections.
We had decided to get baby photos taken before our son was born and when speaking to Johanna, she was very encouraging and suggested we should take photos very early to capture Dylan’s newborn stage. So she came to our house when Dylan was only 10 days old. To be honest, so quickly after the birth I didn’t really feel like having visitors in my home, the place was messy and I had looked a lot better too! But the minute Johanna came in, she put me at ease, we spoke about the kind of shots we had in mind and picked a spot in the nursery for the pictures.
Beforehand I was fretting about where in the house to take the photos, which background would work etc, but Johanna didn’t need a lot of space and a rug and cushion that she had brought were all the background we needed. Dylan actually slept through most of the session, he was so relaxed.
After a while we moved downstairs to take some family photos of Dylan, myself, my husband and the pets. We only really posed for a group photo, most of the time Johanna worked around us just being us in our home and the result is that we have plenty of natural looking photos that have captured this precious time when Dylan was so young perfectly.
We treasure the photos of that day a lot and loved working with Johanna!
If you are interested but scared of taking the plunge, drop me a line and we’ll have a chat about it.