Just before Christmas, I was contacted by a lovely lady with an enquiry about a newborn/family shoot. She was expecting baby #5, and it was going to be a lovely celebration!
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I thought of their family again with an idea that I wanted to shoot for this past weekend’s AIPP Qld Epson Professional Photography Awards. I contacted Abbey to discuss my idea. She loved it, however, upon driving past the location I had in mind, I realised that the gorgeous purple bougainvillea that I needed for my concept, had dropped all of it’s flowers!
However, something Abbey had mentioned during our conversations, resonated with me, and I my gut instinct told me that it was an important thing to do.
You see, Abbey, and many of her family members are carriers of the BRCA1 genetic mutation, which puts her at a very high risk of developing breast cancer. Abbey made the very brave decision to have a double mastectomy to protect her future and to ensure that her beautiful family would always have a mum, safe from the terrible disease.
With many of her family members having developed the disease, it was a very real possibility that Abbey would too, and in years to come, it will affect her daughters and their future generations in the same way. They will all need to be continued to be tested for the gene, until the mutation is no longer present.
Abbey went through with the surgery a few years ago, and underwent a successful breast reconstruction too. However, she has since welcomed 2 more beautiful babes into her family. Even though she faced the disease head on, it was not without it’s challenges and her two younger babies were not able to be breastfed. Having known the beauty and bonding of breastfeeding with her older 3 children and the health benefits it also has, Abbey has struggled with guilt and many other emotions for her youngest two.
Our final image is a beautiful celebration of the strength that Abbey has and her openness and honesty with dealing with the challenges that BRCA1 has forced upon her and her family. Her eldest daughters support her on each side, knowing that one day they will be faced with the same challenges. The pink tones of the image pay homage to the The Pink Ribbon campaign to raise funds for Breast Cancer research, as is the pink ribbon that Abbey wears over her bandages.
Her 5 week old baby daughter, is being lovingly bottle fed, by the beautiful, brave woman, who brought her into the world.
Unlike many breast cancer images, I chose to make this one beautiful, and colourful, just as Abbey and her family are.
This image scored a silver award yesterday at the 2015 AIPP Qld Epson Professional Photography Awards. This is a great validation for Abbey and her family, that her message is as wonderful as she is. Thank-you to Abbey for being so willing to share your story to support the journey that other BRCA1 carriers face, and for trusting me to be able to tell it for you.
You can show your support to Abbey and others just like her, by visiting the National Breast Cancer Foundation and making a donation toward further research.
Last week amidst 5 days straight of rain and dark days, I planned on doing a shoot on the beach for a lovely colleague of mine, Natalie Bailey from Natalie Bailey Photography. Natalie and her gorgeous family were here holidaying in Queensland, all the way from Lithgow, NSW. Keeping in mind the preceeding wet/stormy weather, we decided to do some Gold Coast family portraits on the beach to take advantage of the dramatic skies/dark clouds.
I planned the shoot, and arrived early so we wouldn’t have to rush. I figured that as it was raining/overcast anyways, we could begin shooting in the early afternoon rather than waiting around for the “Golden Hour” as we normally would.
However, as I drove from Brisbane to the Gold Coast, it occurred to me that the clouds seemed to be clearing. I could, for the first time in days, see the sun peeking out on the horizon. Nat had assured me that it had been non-stop dark clouds and rain all morning and I was fully prepared for that, but sunshine would definitely put the plan into a tailspin!
By the time I arrived at Burleigh Heads, of course, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! It was completely clear, sun beaming down, and all plans of our dramatic/stormy shoot concept were out the window!
Mother nature sure likes to keep us on our toes as a photographer in Queensland during the summer!
And so, here are the resulting images from our Gold Coast family portrait session together. MUCH different from what we initially envisaged, but beautiful all the same.
Just how *stunning* is this family?!?
Very special thanks to Nat and family as I brought my own kids along to this session for a frolic in the ocean (something they rarely get to do), and this proved to be quite challenging in the rough surf that day. They were so kind to allow me to do this, and I really do appreciate them being so welcoming and kind to them.
Well, 2014 has been a tough year emotionally for me and my family. We have had lots of ups and downs, and more downs than ups. However, as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I am so lucky to have had the support of my clients to bolster us and help get us through.
As always, my work has evolved and I am really enjoying the focus that I have at the moment surrounding Brisbane birth photography. It never ceases to amaze me how my work changes and evolves, and the different directions that I find myself taking. However, for the past couple of years, I have been able to feel myself drawn more and more toward capturing the emotion of birth and in 2015, I definitely see my energies continuing in the same direction.
To me, birth photography is such a sacred thing, that I just never seem to tire of it. It is always such a rush when I get that call with an excited Dad on the end of the line saying “Tan, it’s time!”.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your loyalty and support and I just can’t wait to watch your families grow through 2015. I have had such a wonderful time with my clients this year, particularly with the honour of having been present to record so many of your little ones as they have joined us Earthside.
Together with the Earthside Collective, I have lots of projects in the works for 2015 and it is going to be great! So onwards and upwards my friends, and thank-you again, from my family to yours.
And here is a little window into what it is like to be me.
As a Brisbane birth photographer, it is not often that one gets to act as both support person and photographer during a birth. But when little Tasi entered the world on 27 September 2014, I got to experience this first hand.
Usually at the births that I attend, I respect the birthing space that the labouring mumma has created and go to great lengths to remain in the background, taking a very “stealthy” approach. I try to capture and document the emotion, and feel it myself, but don’t “participate” in what is one of the most sacred and precious moment that a family will ever experience together. However, little Tasi’s birth was different. Tasi’s mum is my sister-in-law, who is from Samoa and who doesn’t have a lot of family here in Australia. She invited me into her birthing space, along side of her mum, and her aunty, and as Tasi entered the world at the RBH Birth Centre, he was surrounded by so much love and feminine energy!
It was lovely to be more hands on than usual, and it really gave me some great insight into the support that midwives and doulas provide during the birth process. Knowing that I have given birth 5 times myself, in facilities much different to the traditional hospitals her mum and aunty had birthed their own children in back in the 70s, Audrey looked to me for support too.
I think we made a great team, and I must say that I am the best ice getterer ever! I was always making sure that she always had a fresh cube to suck on between back rubs, motivational pep talks, and actually taking photos too! Of course, as I was the photographer, I am not in any of the photos myself, so lets just call me the “ghost doula”.
Here is a selection of my favourite images as Audrey prepared to welcome the little man earthside who would make her a mummy for the very first time.
Rainbow Baby – Just over 2 years ago, I received a call from one of my lovely clients, who knew about the work that I do for Heartfelt. It was the most heartbreaking call as she told me of her sister who was about to meet her baby boy, Daniel. A baby who had already been given his angel wings and would never have the opportunity to enjoy the wonders of our world. Of course, I rushed to their side and captured their most treasured moments with their little man before they said their final goodbyes. It is times like this that remind me just how important photographs can be to a family, and why my job as a Brisbane baby photographer is so important to many of the families that I meet.
A year later, they emailed me to say that they were expecting again! I couldn’t have been more excited for them, and crossed all of my fingers and toes that this bubba would arrive into their arms safely. And she did. Her shining crown of ginger locks paving the way for a baby girl so full of personality and laughter! Aleigha was definitely the colour that they had hoped for in their lives. She was 4 months old when I photographed her, and she had me mesmerised!
They say that a “Rainbow Baby”is a bubba who is welcomed to a family after a loss or still birth of the baby before. They are named such because “After every storm, there comes a rainbow”. Through our work over at Earthside Collective, we also offer gift sessions to deserving families who have welcomed a rainbow baby.
After a few weeks of trying to work out a way to capture the joy that a rainbow baby brings to a family, and many hours of hand dying fabrics to create the “flowers” that I envisaged, this is what I came up with. As most of you who follow me will know, I have given myself a mission to only produce images that make people smile. There is too much darkness and grief in the world and I don’t want to perpetuate that. So, I’ve taken a theme that could be convey tragedy, and I’ve put my own spin on things.
The writing on the background says “After every storm, there comes a rainbow”, and was hand written by Daniel and Aleigha’s mummy.
And so, here it is, my tribute to the joy that rainbow babies bring to the world, and dedicated to Daniel, and Aleigha and the colour and beauty they have brought to their family’s lives.
Welcome to the world to a most very special Rainbow Baby, Aleigha.
Tanya Love Portrait