When my son Henry was three, I longed deeply for another baby. Our eldest, Jane, was six, Henry - three, and it felt like the time to either jump into having a third baby, or decide that two was the right number of children for our family.
We decided Henry would be our last.
Once the decision was made, I felt a light switched off in my heart. I was so lucky to have two beautiful, healthy babies, but I couldn’t keep myself from turning black. Selfishly, I knew I already had so much - but there was a part of me that couldn’t deal with the finite nature of the decision. No more sleepless nights. No more lush legs slung around my hip. No more sweet smelling baby heads or hazy nights of nursing. It was the end of an era in my own womanhood and its passing felt exquisitely sharp.
I wrote a blog post about my twoandneveranymore children. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. And I stopped photographing all newborns.
It was so painful to realize I wouldn’t be able to photograph a baby of my own again - so how could I possibly photograph someone else’s? Just the thought of it made me weak. I was worried I would cry at the session, or loose my creativity under a wave of emotion.
Slowly, after a quiet year, like the universe knew what I needed, a few newborn inquiries trickled in. Most times I wanted to say no thank you, but when I said yes, it was usually exactly what my artist heart needed. I would race to my car after the session, shutting the door just in time to welcome a flood of tears. With my camera still around my neck I would click through the RAWS and see intertwined mother and baby, father and child, human touch, connection. I oddly felt relief. When I let my heart drive, the most beautiful images surfaced. Images that felt a bit like a hug or a bandaid. I knew art was a gift I could give to my clients, but never did I think taking these photos - OF OTHER PEOPLES BABIES - would also be a gift I could give to myself.
My kids are older now - Jane is nearly 13, my baby Henry, 9. Like most moms, I still well up when I look at pictures of my babies, because their childhood is going so fast, but I really don’t miss babyhood anymore or long for a third child. But what persists and grows is my love of photographing new babies. I think it’s because perhaps, I am still healing. Our own work is always carving, shaping, healing us - even when it is created for someone else. And perhaps the greatest peace comes from capturing the tender moments for others I never did with my own son, simply because I didn’t know he’d be my last.
There is a two-way path we tread with our clients. They choose us for the art we have the ability to give — and we choose them, because our own creation provides the precise healing, insight, and growth our artist heart needs. Sometimes it takes years to see these patterns and realize the path, but I believe the images we take are never one-sided and our client/photographer relationships meaningfully intertwined. What are the clients that are drawn to you? What are the gifts you are designed to give? And how do client sessions provide insight into your own creative journey or personal healing?
Here is my original blog post on this subject written five years ago. Just remember the healing, the journey, the making - it always continues:
Hi, I'm Roxanne. I am a photographer and writer, and took my first film class over 20 years ago! My journey began as a studio based fine artist, focused on drawing, painting and design. These early disciplines shaped the way I photograph and work with color today. With an MFA in Art Education, I have taught a wide range of artists - kindergarteners through seniors prepping for art school, to professionals honing their editing skills. Teaching is core to my artist heart. I believe that color, like light, is key to crafting an image and telling our stories. In both my personal and client work, children are my favorite subject because they never sit still: a blur of imperfection, color, and motion. Coastal New England is my home, and being on the water with my family is my very favorite place to be.