THE MOODY/PROVAN FAMILY | MELBOURNE FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER

Bathed in the ambience of light and sweet life.
Tiny hands, grip, caress and tighten.
Tangled hair, brown eyes, child's laughter.
Bare feet, padding the floors.
Sheets a mess, hearts full.

They gaze at, and they trace the love of their universe.

LIGHT: MAISIE WILLOW | LIFESTYLE NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER

"The phrase 'Rainbow Baby' is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath. It means something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope."

It's difficult to imagine the year this family had, and I feel an enormous responsibility to give their story the acknowledgement and respect it deserves.  Scott and Cherrie are dear friends of mine, our friendship going back far beyond the years of babies and responsibility.  We used to do dinners all around Melbourne regularly, and they were some of the first people I shared the news of my pregnancy with more than four years ago.  I adore them, and it's important to me that their story is told with the warmth, love and honour I feel so deeply for them.

In November of 2015, Cherrie and Scott birthed, and then said goodbye to their beautiful and much loved twin baby boys, Paddy and Quinlan, at 21 weeks gestation.  After the births of their boys, days apart, they held each of them close, breathed them in, memorized their fingers, noses and toes, in awe of their tinyness.  They grieved, and they began their journey of living the pain no parent should ever have to.  Their lives would never be the same again.  That unimaginable space between "what is" and "what if".

I share, with permission, a poem Scott wrote for their baby boys.

To Paddy and Quinlan..

We never had the chance to play, to laugh, to rock, to wiggle
We long to hold you, touch you now, and listen to your giggle.
She'll always be your mother, and I'll always be your Dad,
You will always be our first born children - the children we never had.

But now you're gone ... but yet you're here. We sense you everywhere,
You are our sorrow and our joy. There's love in every tear.
Just know our love goes deep and strong, that we'll forget you never,
The baby boys we had, but never had - and yet will have forever

Through their grief, there was a glimmer of light; a new pregnancy.  A new hope.  A warmth for their shattered hearts. A new rollercoaster.  Cherrie shared with me one day towards the end of her pregnancy the story of her boys and their births, the unimaginable pain and devastation, the way she and Scott held each other through it, the uncertainty that a new pregnancy brought, and the deep determination to ensure that her boys are always acknowledged, that this pregnancy would result in their third child.  They longed to meet their new baby, but held a constant fear of the unknown.  So much joy, co-existing with so much dread.

Maisie Willow arrived safe, healthy, pink, perfect and SO loved.  She arrived just over a year after her big brothers.  I was so honoured to photograph this beautiful baby girl and I was so grateful for Scott and Cherrie to share the photos of Paddy and Quinlan taken by Heartfelt with me.  Their joy as a family radiated in every glance at her, every smile, every touch.  Love is so vast, and can be so painful, but also devastatingly beautiful.  Their home hummed with the miracle of life.

I share Scott, Cherrie, Paddy, Quinlan and Maisie's story with permission, and with the hope that anyone suffering the pain of loss can find comfort it knowing they are not alone, and there are organisations, like SANDS that can provide support to anyone affected. 

Someone wise once said to me on grief: Take it day by day.  If you can't take it day by day, take it hour by hour, minute by minute, breath by breath.

YAN FAM WAY WORKSHOP | MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Back in March, I attended the workshop of the incredible Yan Palmer of YANphotography in Phillip Island, just outside of Melbourne.  Yan, a US based photographer, is renowned for being the "it-girl" of modern family lifestyle photography.   My expectations for the day were high, I was buzzing with excitement, and she did not disappoint. The experience started a few days before the workshop with a full review and feedback of my work, my website, blog and social media.  The review was in depth, harsh (in a completely constructive way) and meaningful.  The biggest thing I took away from her feedback, and into the workshop, was WHY does my personal work differ so greatly from my paid client work?  Why am I not exercising the creative freedom and embracing the imperfection when money is involved?  It was a lightbulb moment.  While my client work was technically good, well lit, well composed etc, it lacked the heart, depth and soul of my personal work.

This lightbulb moment stirred an enormous change within me.  The more Yan's words resonated on the day, the more I realised what the root of this was.  I cried, I nodded and I knew what I needed to do.

Almost two years ago, the life I imagined and dreamed for myself and my family was thrown upside down.  I separated from my son's Dad, and embarked on the journey of single parenthood.  It was an impossibly hard decision, but something that needed to happen.  This has always been something I've kept private when it came to my professional persona.  Photographing happy, very together (!) families, I believed that I needed to present myself as the same.  Even up until recently, past clients have asked me if I'm thinking about having another baby, having absolutely no idea that I have been raising this little man on my own for almost two years.  When I looked at how this related to my work - I realised that when I am shooting just for me, I am free to be the messy, imperfectly perfect Mum and human that I am.  I was so scared that if people saw my struggles, saw that I wasn't the perfect picture of family and togetherness, that I wouldn't get booked.  But in doing that, I lost sight of myself, and to an extent, that came through in my client work.  I was too focused on things being so perfect, that I wasn't seeing what was really there, and I wasn't putting my truth and my heart into what I was photographing.

The biggest thing that I took away from Yan is, my journey isn't something I should hide, ever.  The messy, the difficult and the hard are all things that have made me who I am - and I need to celebrate it.   I have decided that from this point forward, I will shoot from my soul at EVERY session, showing people how beautiful their lives are, even the messiest, hardest parts, because that is where we truly connect.  I get it.  Life is so far from perfect, no matter who you are, but it's still amazing and beautiful - all of it.

We were so lucky to get a chance to see Yan in action at a shoot in the afternoon.  Here are some images I took of the most gorgeous little family.

Yan, thank you for allowing me to see that imperfection and truth is something to be celebrated.

ATTENBOROUGH FAMILY | BAYSIDE FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER

Susannah emailed just before she was due to have her first baby looking for a lifestyle photographer.  Her family from England were flying in to celebrate and support her when the baby was born, and she wanted that incredibly special and important time captured.  I can't tell you just how much fun we had!  We chose Ricketts Point, near Mentone in Melbourne.  It's renowned for its rock pools and calm bayside waters which would be perfect to occupy Susannah's young nephew and niece.  I only shoot beach sessions during golden hour at either end of the day for optimal light, and on this (early!) Summer morning, the grey cloud threatened rain during our whole shoot!  Thankfully it held off and I was able to capture the beautiful, close bond of this family.