Cho + Baby Neils and the Awesomeness of Friends
My beloved friend Cho brought her second sweet baby in to the world earlier this year. Though she wasn't interested in having me there for her birth, and believe me - I asked several times - we got together a few days after Neils was born to do a newborn session for him.
I didn't realize at the time that the session was going to change my career path really quickly.
I think like a lot of Moms, Cho wasn't feeling super gorgeous the day I came to shoot Neils's photos. Most of us are a little "rustic" in the weeks following birth...and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. She didn't anticipate that I was going to ask if I could photograph her either.
But when I was photographing that sweet babe I felt really compelled to bring Cho in to get just one portrait of the two of them together.
Earlier that afternoon, I sat with her in the living room as she nursed for the 1394320th time that day, as is life with a brand new baby. We chatted about birth and delivery and about how thankful she was that she got a doula, even for her second time around. Since I myself am not so far out from birth myself, I told some of my own stories and commiserated on a few things. We talked about the process of learning about our new baby, meeting him, exploring him, finding out who he is and learning how much we love them. We laughed about some really painful stuff. The weight of such things is lifted some when you can explore it with someone who you trust and connect with. It is so important, for new moms, for everyone.
During Neils's session, I asked Cho if she'd be willing to pose for just one photo. "You don't have to show it to anyone. I just feel like I have to take it" I told her - and I meant it, too. In that moment I realized that I wanted to photograph Cho with her new baby so that in a few days, months, years she could look back and remember herself and her baby then but also see how far she's come. She was there, tousled, sleepy, milk-drenched, in love, confused, happy, unsure, raw and healing. There was nothing glamorous about it. It was just this feeling that I needed to capture them together that day.
I had to convince her a little, but I'm pretty good at that. And so she agreed, begrudgingly.
Before that day I had experienced a lot of connections through photography. I always have had a deep connection with the people I take images of. It's a part of how I experience people - in fact, previous to starting this career, I was terrible about making new friends. Now, I try to talk to everyone I meet as if I am going to photograph them. There's something about it that enables me to see past my social anxiety and look at who they are on the inside. This is cliche. But it is the truth.
And yet, when I developed the images of Cho and Neils, I realized I had tapped in to something deeper than I had ever experienced before through my work. The raw and unexplored emotion that exists right after we become new parents is incredibly important. I had seen it before, once or twice when photographing a new mother and her baby, but after having experienced it as a mother myself by ability to connect to it expanded by a million times. My heart was split right open. That day I knew I was going to start something new so I could grab on to this.
That something became BABYLOVE.