There's something about a baby shoot, which hovers between manic and unpredictable hurriedness, and moments of utter calm and hushed whispers. And Alice delivered charm and cuteness by the bucket load throughout.
Parents are often surprised when I don't set up a big backdrop and light. Walking into this beautiful characterful home, a tea promptly placed in my hand, I smiled in the knowledge there was bags of stuff to work with as always. They obviously had my kind of style, a gorgeous wood burner in an old fireplace, a stunning aged chesterfield sofa, wool throws and wooden touches everywhere- owing to Alice's father being a tree surgeon and general woodsman. And even if it hadn't been my style,
this place is Alice's home; this is her beginning, her setting, her safe place;
when her parents look at these photographs in years to come, the details and moments which subtly pop up in the background, like the light from the front door, or the decking in the garden, will transport them back to the moment.
There is nothing wrong with set up shots, but for me,
the soul of my work is the honesty and the sense of character in each place and person.
Spending quality time within the family unit, sitting between their moments of daily life and peeking over and around their routines and loving gestures, is one of the ways I get to know such a little person. Sitting with a cup of tea chatting to Alice's mother Gemma, about her pregnancy and how she met Tom, was lovely- I barely even noticed she had been bouncing non-stop on an exercise ball whilst holding the baby!
Before I met Alice though, I was already excited to photograph her. Her name filled me with memories of one of my favourite childhood books. I wasn't sure how to reference it without cheesy notes of disney-esque cuteness, but just decided to create something artful to use as a prop. The mad hatter's hat came together from found objects from my own family members and my own treasure chest of collected bits. With a flourish of dusty pink taffeta, it felt feminine and creative. These textures alongside the chesterfield leather, and her flawless pure pale skin, was a photographic dream. For just a couple of seconds, Alice's blue eyes look right at me and pierced my lens- it was perfect.
Alice was a joy to shoot, and going through these pictures afterwards was a pleasure- they felt like her. And that is my main concern on these shoots.. Many thanks to Tom & Gemma who had tea on tap for me all day, and were so relaxed about my taking over their home for the day!
You'd be surprised the emotional value of these kinds of photographs, taken by someone other than yourselves (as parents). It's like showing you the beauty of your own creation, in someone else's eyes, and it's humbling. When you are living through sleepless nights, feeding times and trying to keep a house going/ job going, it's hard to capture it quite like this. Consider having photos of your new babies.. they change very, very fast.
"...While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about..."