I was lucky enough to grow up in a large, loving family. I remember looking at a (now very retro) photo cube, twisting it around in my little hands and absorbing the faces, clothes and backgrounds of the tiny images. Some of the photos were a mini me and some of other relatives. I felt secure being part of that little cube of memories. I belonged in the family; someone had taken the photo, gone to the chemist to get it developed and chosen to cut out my little picture along with the four others to keep on looking at over and over again on the mantelpiece. They were just snapshots, some a little blurred, but the memories they held made them worth displaying.
I want my children to feel that same sense of belonging in a loving family. They each have a plastic photo holder on their bedroom wall. I purchased these ‘picture pockets’ online to hang above the cot in their nursery. In those minutes when they could stand in the cot, call me, and gaze around, I wanted them to be able to see all the people who love them. I would stand and point to explain who they were. Then, when they could talk, it would become a quiz: And who’s this? “Great Grandma!” they would squeal, knowing they were right.
And now, at age 11, 9 and 6, they each have a photo hanger in their room. We don’t talk about them as much, but I try to fill them with a wide range of photos of happy holidays, play dates with special friends we seldom see, and extended family. It comes back to giving them that sense of belonging. They are simply photos from my phone that I periodically get printed off from a cheap online supplier.
So the natural progression of this love of photographs was to develop a love of professional portrait photography. Alongside the amateur photographs around the house, there’s lots of wall space devoted to professional images, taken at now long-gone local studios. These capture ‘stages’ of our lives rather than ‘events’. The artistic shot of my pregnancy bump that my middle son sometimes pauses at contemplatively and asks with a wry grin, “Is that me in your tummy?”, delighting in my predictable response, “Yes darling, you know it is!”. It comes back to belonging. He knows it’s him, with his big brother resting his ears against my taut belly. Then along the hallway, newborn portraiture of each boy with mummy or daddy, or just on their own looking tiny. Beautiful lighting, developed from black-and-white high-grain film on professional paper, framed in unique compositions that only a professional can create. Every day I glance at them as I close the door sending my eldest out to catch the bus to secondary school, and I simply can’t believe he was so little. It’s a cliché, but the time really has flown.
The inevitable end to this tale is that I have now trained as a professional photographer. My speciality is creating portraiture of newborn babies, mainly because these are the photos that bring me most joy around our own home. But maternity sessions are amazing too because although mums feel like they will be pregnant forever, I know that they’ll look back at those images and they will evoke very unique emotions. Sitting Up sessions are wonderful, both for those who had newborn sessions and want to chart the changes, but particularly for those who missed the newborn stage and still want a record of babyhood.
So I urge you to do two things to instil this belonging in your own children. First, print off some of your phone photos and display them. Be it on a pinboard, stuck on a fridge, or tucked in a mirror. When you get bored of them, throw them out and print off some different ones. Let your children see the network of friends and family that they are a part of.
Second, at your next great life stage, book a professional photographer. It is money well spent, as the images will adorn your walls for your lifetime then be passed down through generations. A perfectly lit, beautifully and safely posed portrait of a newborn is something that takes training and experience to achieve. Plus professional wall art is produced to stand the test of time, using the highest-quality paper and ink that won’t fade like a high-street version.
Our slogan is “Cherished Moments Captured”, and my clients will confirm that’s exactly what I’ve done for them. I’ve created a professional photography business that I love; I’m so pleased to be part of capturing other families cherished moments.