Nearly a year ago, I told my wife that I wanted to go on a retreat during the first week of December. And, my pattern when I want to do something is to say I’d like to do the thing, and then list all of the obstacles and talk myself out of doing the thing. It doesn’t matter that a big part of my career as both photographer and mother is to encourage and inspire people to do the thing. When it comes to myself, I’m often more the doubter than the dreamer. We all need people in our lives who help us be great. I am so grateful for the people in my life who say, “Yes, you can” and “Come on, I’ll help you.”
This fall didn’t pummel me this year because I planned well and held my ground and ultimately kept my word to myself, which I’ve found is the best predictor of how much other folks can trust me.
And, I spent five days in the desert near Cabo, where a chef prepared three meals each day for me and I practiced yoga twice daily. I made few decisions with the exception of a day trip to Flora Farms. Over the course of the week at Prana del Mar, I became so gloriously bored that I created new things and crunched last year’s numbers and reflected on how grateful I am that I get to live this life. Whether it’s the posh life for a week or the peanut butter cracker-inbox overflowing-plastic paradise life I live the other 51 weeks of the year, I try to live it gratefully.
For you film aficionados, these photos are mostly a combination of Portra 800 and Cinestill Daylight 50, shot on a Nikon F5, processed and scanned by Richard Photo Lab.
The first-born baby photo shoots are honestly so laid back. The second-born baby photo shoots are FUN. Toddlers make everything an adventure. There are car rides and snack breaks.
I’m thrilled for this family, whom I began photographing when they were engaged. They engage in that dance that comes with two children under two with grace. Parenthood is complex, and I love how these photos tell the various aspects of the story. The day was overcast, and if I was a “natural light” photographer, I would have needed to reschedule. Armed with my off camera strobes and soft diffusers, I was able to create some beautiful airy photos. And, of course, I always love the mood of hard window light, too. For you film nerds, these are Portra 800 and Ilford Super XP 400, which is my favorite black and white film (although I suppose it’s technically processed like a color film).
At the end of the session, each of them looked exhausted. It was nap time, and I was packing up. And, I realized Mom was humming the same song to Son as Dad was to Daughter. I melted. Each family has its own rhythm, and to witness how parents attune to their children is truly a thing of beauty.
It’s generally been my stance that newborns are most comfortable at home, so that’s where I typically photograph them. However, over the past year, I’ve upgraded my studio lighting and have found that I actually adore the simple, timeless portraits that working in the studio fosters. This momma wanted to do the photos in the studio, and her babe slept the whole time like newborns (sometimes) do. I kept her in her mom’s arms for most of the two hours, which is where I feel babies belong.
I remember after my son was born, the last thing I wanted was to be photographed. And, most new moms express that they do not want to be in the photos. But, one day your baby will grow up, and s/he will want to see pictorial evidence of how much s/he was loved. This mom reminded me of those first days and how we just stare in awe at our babes. What a miracle. I feel so grateful to celebrate these moments with you.