Ten years ago this August my husband gave me a professional camera for my birthday. I started portfolio building and seeing how this “photography thing” was going to work. I had one family session and then my first newborn session. I couldn’t believe that people actually wanted me to take their pictures and that I could actually make it into a business!
My second newborn session was actually twin baby girls who I still see every now and then. I remember that day vividly. I arrived with two pieces of fabric (white and black) which we threw over the mom’s ironing board, spending our time on the floor with the french doors thrown open for light. We laughed our way through the session, wondering what to do as we tried to get the twins to sleep at the same time (I have since learned a lot!). Last time I saw my friend, she told me that she still has those prints hanging on her entry wall. That they are some of her favorite images she’s ever had taken of her girls.
Since then, I have been honored to celebrate the birth of well over 1,000 babies in portraits. Many have gone on to have little brothers and sisters who I have also had the chance to get to know. I love each and every baby as if it were my own and have made some of my closest friends as I have seen these sweet couples build their families. I have seen these friends move to larger houses (sometimes more than once!), change jobs and add pets. I’ve taken pictures of blended families and grandparents who we’ve later sadly lost. Sometimes I’m the first one there to see the baby in their home and more than once I’ve been there on the day that a dad is called away to serve our country, even as his new little baby is just arriving home from the hospital. I listen while new moms wonder if they are feeding their baby enough/right/too much and encourage them to trust in their new motherhood instincts. I have photographed a pregnant mommy on a Friday and returned the following Friday to capture images of her newborn. One of my clients was my first newborn photographed in both 2010 and 2011 (a sister and then a brother).
I have photographed a first step, the moment a cord falls off, a baby rolling over for the first time and many dad’s getting peed on for the first time.
I have photographed people that I have met in all different places, from the line at Target to pilates class and even one that was our nurse when my boys went in to get their tonsils out (she’s up to 4 children now!).
I have photographed a baby girl on her due date when she was actually 4 months old (being born at only 1 pound, 8 ounces) and later that week a 13 pound baby boy.
I had two cameras break during one session (never had had even one had a problem before that). I was able to open the lens and put the mirror back on for each shot to finish the session. Luckily it was one of my most gracious and laid back clients who was able to laugh along with me (and of course, I made sure that I took a lot of extra shots for her!)
I have fallen in a huge pile of mud on my way to meet twelve families for mini sessions (losing my shoe in the process!) and used half-drank bottled water to wash my legs off as best I could (the images from those sessions were some of my favorite images from that year!)
I have taken a picture of a newborn with three big dogs all looking at me and sitting quietly behind the baby (not photoshopped). I have taken a picture of a naked belly with an actual footprint showing through the mother’s skin (also not photoshopped).
I have tried many things over the years…using different lighting, trying different times of day, assorted “recipes” to get our little subjects to sleep. My favorite images are still those with just natural light, a new mom or dad with their little one in hands.
I have gone to HEB with little toys poking out of my pocket and stickers on my face from my attempts to make a toddler laugh, dog slobber and baby poop on my jeans (and sometimes in my hair!).
I have a client who flies in from Colorado so that her images of her second son will match those of her first and many who travel from Austin and surrounding areas.
I will sit under your kitchen table, I will stand in a window sill, I will do whatever I need to do to get the “perfect angle” and find the right light. Including but not limited to climbing a tree, teetering on a chair and even standing above you on your bed.
But most of all, I will look through my lens and see your family and all of it’s pieces…from happy to silly to sometimes messy. And then I will give you gift…the gift of stopping time. The gift that right now, you may not truly appreciate because you are in the moment being busy. A gift you will treasure above all others and may even use to look at later during their teenage years to remind yourself of how sweet they once were. And that gift is portraits.
Plus I know you want to see where I’ll end up finding the best light in your house 😉
By Jenn Brookover