When Elmer was born I was so excited about taking newborn photographs of him. I looked at lots of images online to give me an idea of how things could look. All the babies in the internet images were sleeping peacefully in clutter free rooms. They were beautiful. None of them cried, instead they wore gentle expressions and their limbs wrapped around themselves like happy little bugs.
The reality of having a newborn in your house is very different of course, and I discovered that to recreate those images from the internet I needed to mask the reality. There were times that Elmer did sleep beautifully – that was real, and enthralling – but what was also very real was that he cried, my house was a chaos of nappies and stains and I was exhausted beyond belief. One casual image I took stands out now more than most. It is of a wide eyed baby, mid clothing change, in the packed and messy barn we lived in before we moved into the house. I can stare at that image and remember the exact reality of what life was like when my boy was tiny. Boxes everywhere, that awful carpet, and my amazing baby in the middle of it all that I loved fiercely.
Yes, I adore the happy bug sleeping shots too, but what I want in my photography these days is to capture all sides of the story.
I have Alfie’s older brother’s newborn blog on the first page of my website. I loved that shoot, so when I was asked back to capture this new family of four I was delighted. Alfie is more unsettled than his brother. I was there all morning and I think he slept for a few minutes in total. But how beautiful is he when he sleeps? And how beautiful is he when he cries too?! What I loved about this shoot was capturing the real, happy chaos of family life with a newborn and a toddler. In just a few hours it’s possible to feel like you’ve spent half a lifetime doing this, and these lovely parents take it in their stride. We laid Alfie on the same family heirloom blankets and everyone looked at him with the same adoration I saw when I first photographed here two years ago.