I thought it would be fun and a good self-reflecting activity to look back at all of my portrait and birth imagery and very thoughtfully choose my favorite 20 images from the past 12 months. And just so you can know how difficult this was for me- I started with "my top 5" which turned into my top 10 and then I just couldn't make it work so here we are at 20. And I could still keep going.
But I won't. For your sake.
The images I have selected are ones that move me and speak to me in some way or another. All for different reasons. They are not necessarily "perfect" images, artistically and photographically speaking, but art is subjective after all, right?
What matters to me most is that my images mean something to my clients and to the audience who sees them.
So without further ado, here they are- in no particular order:
1. The gaze in her eyes along with the strong, yet soft lighting screams strength, resilience, and peace to me. It's shockingly beautiful.
2. We often think about birth as being mainly a woman's journey. But when I see that tear rolling down Daddy's cheek as he looks at his newborn son for the first time and marvels over his wife after all of her hard work, I am reminded yet again how significant a role Dad's play in their children's birth all the same. And did you also notice the super happy midwives in the background? When your birth providers are just as happy for you as you are for your own self, that's when you know you've hit the jackpot.
3. This image of Ms. Gayle brings back a flood of emotions for me. When I look at her, and as I heard her life story, I am/was reminded of my now-deceased-grandmother. Gayle has been through quite the life journey and every ounce of her being radiates through this portrait.
4. Oh, those precious first few seconds and minutes you have with your newborn child! That first embrace. Tears fill my eyes as new mama strokes all the features of her precious baby's tiny face...as she goes over every little detail, soaking it all in. And see how her baby is looking straight back at her? Gets me every time.
5. Everything about this image fills me with awe. Firstly, it's just such a classic portrait. A masterpiece. Full of class, grace, elegance, beauty. Her skin so buttery smooth and her connection so strong. She says to me, "I'm woman- bold, brave, and confident. I know what I have to offer the world".
6. I mean, what is there not to say about this image? It's gorgeous- plain and simple. I love applying movement in my portraits. Movement brings life into an image and even more depth and meaning. Her baby bump is still front and center and the highlight of the image, but the combination of her pose and the added movement, it forces the viewer to find the beauty in everything.
7. "Hi Mom!" This one seemed to be a crowd favorite this year! I received so many comments from other c-section moms (and moms in general) who wished they had also gotten this shot from their birth. I wish I had something similar from my own c-section birth!
8. Ok, not everyone is going to agree with me on this one. It has a very acquired taste and it borders on the style of avant-garde. But before this image came to fruition, the vision I had in my head was an outwardly symbolization of how her baby is literally cocooned in her womb. We all subconsciously know thats how pregnancy works but we don't always sit down and really think about it. Being with child is the only and last time your child will ever be physically connected to you and protected by you from the outside world. I wanted an elegant portrayal of just how amazing and complex, and of course, how beautiful that really is.
9. While I absolutely love (obviously) those portraits with super strong and powerful connections with the eyes and soul, I just adore a good and sincere smile too! This was actually an "accident" and between takes. Something funny happened-she laughed from the pit of her stomach- and I captured it. This was the end result: an honest and joyful portrait.
10. I just love this sweet and tender moment between mother and son. Her body enveloping his. Their bond documented and frozen in time for all to see. As a mother to three rowdy boys myself, I can certainly appreciate such a touching photo that also shows the gentleness that boys don't always have the reputation for.
11. Who doesn't love a good back-lit photo? Bonus that it's also a silhouette image. The highlighting of just a tiny portion of her skin and hair. The dreamy and angelic bright light behind her. This image perfectly depicts the anatomy of a pregnant woman's body, something that will grow and then nurture the baby inside her, and is also another crowd favorite of the year.
12. This one is just too cute for words. Man, oh man, this Grandmother was just as proud as she could be to witness her newest grandchild come into the world. There are plenty of other images from this birth of sweet Grandma in the background with this same huge smile over her face. Seriously, it never left! This image shows a tremendous and once-in-a-lifetime moment of a brand new family coming together for the first time.
13. Firstly, green is my favorite color, so I'm probably a bit biased with this one. But my goodness, doesn't she just remind you so much of Scarlette O'Hara from Gone With The Wind? Her glowing ivory skin against that emerald green- just stunning!
14. If you've been following me for some time then you've probably seen this one a time or two. I just love it. love it love it love it. This mama was due with her first baby boy after having three girls. What a perfect way for her to remember how amazing this pregnancy was for her. And do you see what I mean about the movement?
15. This man was a bit apprehensive about having updated portraits of himself made. He and his wife came in for a Storytellers session and he quickly became more comfortable as he laid out his life for me. For me this image details his broad shoulders and jawline- something you'd remember about your grandpa, too. The gray in his hair and wrinkles in his skin tell a story of experience, wisdom, and time. His large and and comforting hands offer his grandchildren the feeling of protection. He's someone you would go to for advice because you know you can trust it.
16. Continuing on from #15- this couples portrait brings me a lot of hope. Hope that when my husband and I reach the ages and duration of marriage that these two have achieved that we, too, will be just as in love still as they are. And I think its absolutely fantastic that they valued themselves and each other so much that they wanted to make sure they had a Storytellers session.
17. I'm trying hard to not use more than one image from the same session but gahhhhhh. I can't leave this one out. This image has a very regal feel to me and (subtly) proclaims power. The details of her skin still preserved and not washed out by harsh lighting and her maternal curves are at the focus. It really feels like you can just reach through the screen and be right there with her.
18. The "We did it!" moment. Baby boy getting warmth from the skin-to-skin he is getting with Mama. Husband and Wife locking eyes and not even needing to say a word to each other. They know exactly what the other one is saying just by one look in their eyes. You can literally feel their love from this one image.
19. This is another one I hold partial bias too. This mom had just had her first VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). I have had 2 VBAC's now and that first look at your baby that was just born vaginally- after allllll that doubt that came your way- is something you'll never want to forget. You are in a place somewhere between the obvious excitement and joy but also total shock. You can hardly believe that just happened!
20. This image is one of my earlier ones from the year. It's difficult to put into words exactly what this image does for me and how it moves me. It just does. Again, I can feel the peace and love that this woman is portraying in her maternity portrait. That very unique bond that only a woman can understand- you can absolutely sense it here. And its mesmerizing.
Guys, I'm really not exaggerating when I say this was a super difficult task- narrowing down all of my 2018 images into a group of 20 that I felt were my personal favorites.
The truth is, I love just about every shot I took this year. I sincerely mean that.
I have a feeling that 2019 will be even. more. amazing.