Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell 2013... you were great, but I'm looking forward to the new year.

So it's that time of year... when we sit back and reflect on the year that was and figure out what we want to achieve in the new one... not that we really possess any real control over how the year will unfold outside of our own choices and decisions, but there is a healing in looking back and reminding ourselves of what we've learned.

2013 was a challenging year, it was a year of wonderful high's but crushing lows... both in my personal and business life. But if I chose to sit and play the victim and blame others I'd be no better off at the end of it all.

We are all allowed to feel defeated and deflated and question whether some of the choices we made were worth it, but if we keep our heads in that space we are further digging the very hole we've found ourselves in. It's part of the journey, don't sit there, you've gotta get yourself out of it. A lot of it is self talk, a change in thinking, instead of looking at the situation and seeing where others failed you, it's the need to look at yourself and see where the wrong is within yourself... 

Without going into too much detail I found myself in a couple of situations this year where I could have quite legitimately sat and thrown the blame around, but I have a part to play in every relationship, both business and personal, and if I don't recognise my own faults how can I better myself? 

So that's where I'm at, reflecting on the year that was...

2013 was a year of growth, which means that 2014 can only benefit from the lessons learned. 

In 2013: 
  • I was able to travel for work, 
  • I established myself in my studio space,
  • I pushed my creative limits attempting ideas out of my comfort zone,
  • I entered National and International awards and was actually RECOGNISED! - I feel the need to add here that years ago as a photography student I was terrified of these very awards, and even after working in the industry for over 13 years there was a certain prestige associated with them that made the butterflies do flips in my tummy at a terrifying pace. So to enter and receive recognition felt like a real justification and a big "I told you so" to the doubters over the years... some lecturers included.
  • I held workshops and mentoring sessions.
  • I met photographers I hold in high esteem.
  • I created "ROAR - Spirit" a project evolving but made primarily to uplift women, and to praise and recognise the journey's and experiences that women travel... from child loss, to birth trauma, to health battles and what we as women feel 'defines' us.
So, all in all... this year has been quite incredible, but I'm ready for 2014, and some new clarity.

And of course what would a blog post be without a few gorgeous images from the year? 

Here they are - My highlights from the year!

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

APPA 2013 - Silver Award
International Loupe Awards - Bronze

APPA 2013 - Silver Award
International Loupe Awards - Silver. Top 50 Finalist.

first underwater photography attempt. 

furthering my newborn twin photography 

working with older children and older babies. 

furthering my maternity session ideas and photoshop techniques. 

Landscape photography. 

whats not to love about a triplet session? those smiles. 

the moment you have an idea in your head and it plays out just as you'd imagined. 

trying out new ideas and poses with newborns. 

that moment you capture 'love' and it's so perfect. 

when you're photographing and an idea pops into your head as you look at the scene and it's so beautiful and raw and stunning...  

when you are asked to photograph a newborn session, for not only a friend, but a talented photographer in her own right, and this happens...  

a year after photographing the birth of these beautiful babes, and I was able to return to capture their first birthday. 

an image dreamt up and executed. 

maternity, and my love affair with it. 

when a newborn se sweet just pulls the most perfect face and 'blue steel' ever! (and that hair!) 

shooting more outdoor sessions. 

making eye contact... 

that precious moment with twins... 

stunning locations and stunning mothers...  

new angles, and a different approach. 

when it's all just as you imagined. 

working with older babies... and it pays off so beautifully. 

I will always love being able to capture hanging poses... always! 

when clients return for follow up sessions. 

summer locations... and then the bird flies through as if it were planned. 

the chubby cheeks and the lashes... littlest details. 

when you photograph a friend, a photographer, and her newborn son, and he smiles! 

being asked to capture images of a family so special... at a location so meaningful.  

because she's my mother... love.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

About the Calendar...

I thought it might be a fun idea to go through the calendar images, month by month, and tell you a bit of the story behind them. Starting with...


Amelia. (5 days old)

I had photographed Amelia's mumma a few weeks earlier as a part of a maternity call out I had done. During the session we chatted about a follow up session at the same location. 

It was shot during the heat of summer, as dusk fell. The tide was out, the rock pools the perfect location. I get such joy from location sessions.

Amelia was a dream, barely stirring and allowing me to capture some images long thought up in my mind. (Which of course then create a whole new array of ideas.) 

There is so much I adore about this image, the reflection, the still and calm, the light, the bird captured flying... This seemed the perfect image for January, summer, warmth and beauty.

With 2014 just around the corner... 2014 Newborn Images Calendar {Melbourne Newborn Photographer, Melbourne Maternity Photographer, Melbourne Newborn Photography, Melbourne Maternity Photography, Melbourne Baby Photographer}

This year has been a remarkable year for me both photographically and personally. It has been a year of extreme high's and low's, and a year of immense personal growth.

This year I chose to put together a calendar of images taken during recent years as a newborn photographer. It includes award winning images as well as some personal favourites. 

I've loved putting it together, and am extremely happy with the final product... naturally I have one hanging in the studio to show off.

It is available for purchase through my Etsy store HERE. 

I hope you love it just as much as I do.

xx Em

It's been a while...

It's been a while between posts... but a lot has been going on... I promise... I've been trying to figure out the best way to ease back in to the blogs, because lets face it, you don't want to be bombarded with posts... or do you?

So while I become accustomed to a new operating system (yes, after years of PC I have now converted to Mac) and try and figure everything out and unlearn the past 20 years of PC I'm trawling through the images of the year, while also attempting to remain on top of the current edits.

So what does this mean? You'll get a steady stream of pretty pictures that as yet, haven't seen the light of day on the blog. Regardless of whether you're much of a blog reader... 

Enjoy the following posts over the coming days.

xx em.

Friday, April 12, 2013

... and I am BEAUTIFUL...

The response I received from my recent blog post journeying into the depths of my soul and caesarean experiences was both humbling and moving... in many ways.
My purpose was to create discussion and support, (did you know it's Caesarean Section Awareness Month?) and to simply share what I experienced, my emotions, my thoughts, my struggles...
I am okay, and for those that offered forums and groups for further support I am thankful... because my hope is that other women saw those comments also and are able to draw support and some healing from those places also.
Every day is different, some days I am completely in love with where I am at and what I survived (strong word yes, but that's MY feeling). But more and more I am feeling LOVE. Possibly more so now than ever.
I do not want my children to see a mother who struggles with her body, as much for my son as for my daughter. They both need to see what a strong beautiful woman is... not a superficial beauty... that real, raw, deep beauty that comes from a woman's soul.
I discuss with my children how they were born, they hear their birth stories, and they know what birth is, either caesarean OR vaginal... and they understand on their level... It's gorgeous!
So I want to share... I am flawed, I am imperfect, I have scars... AND I AM BEAUTIFUL! 
much love to ALL women! Mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, grand-daughters ... you are ALL beautiful!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I have scars...

I have this scar on my stomach, it's from the birth my children, I do not see it as beautiful, I do not see it as a reminder of the most joyous days of my life, I do not see it as something remarkable.

I have two scars on my uterus, one horizontal, one vertical... robbing me of any chance (no matter how small) to ever birth a child naturally.

The scar on my stomach reminds me of this and it's taken me a very, very long time to be ok with it. I rarely look at it, and like a part of me it is mostly numb to the touch... and still hurts just the smallest amount.

This is my journey... I share it because I feel passionately about woman's strength and fierce protection of her children, because we as women are hard on ourselves, and we compare ourselves, and we struggle... I hope this opens conversation and acceptance and awareness of women's journeys of caesareans.

- I do know some women choose caesareans, and I admire and respect you for that. It is individual, and it is about choice. Sometimes that choice is your only option left, and sometimes that choice does not feel your own. And sometimes that choice is the matter between life and death! I understand that... this is an emotional journey.

It took me a long time to come to terms with how my children were born. It was no easier the second time around. With every story I heard of childbirth, if a woman had 'birthed' her baby vaginally I envied her. Even knowing on a logical level that regardless of how a woman births there may be trauma, I felt I had been ripped off... by mother nature... by the red tape and timelines placed on me by the hospital... and now even after coming to terms with my children's births I still feel something was stolen from me, because there are a lot of "what if's". (there is a lot of medical junk in my journey, caused by the first C-section which would unlikely have ever been an issue had things been done 'properly' in the putting me back together post birth of my first born. But that is a whole other journey.)

I had researched my options of childbirth, I attended calmbirth, I prepared my body, I did meditation, classes, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, independent midwife meetings, relaxation, rolling around on a ball, massage... I felt my body was able... I believed in the ages of women before me birthing... I believed in my heart I could, I WOULD birth my baby.

Two days in to a failed induction process (I was over 2 weeks 'overdue'), a series of interventions I would likely have refused had I not felt under some form of pressure... (was I naïve?) ... my body had decided enough was enough and I signed my birth choice over to a surgeon... exhausted and deflated. There was no other choice... I had "failed".

So when my daughter was born from my body, and I heard her cry, and I asked what the sex was, and my husband went to be with her I felt little relief, and a whole lot of sadness. I cried, she cried, my husband cried, and we were all crying for our own reasons. A lot of the moments after were a blur, I remember looking at her through tears and telling her I wished it was different, and that I knew this wasn't what she wanted. I already felt I'd failed my first moments as a mother... a great start!

It took me a long time to really bond with my daughter, and a long time (by hospital standards) for my milk to come in... not surprising given the almost 1 litre blood loss I endured through the surgery. I threw every effort into my breastfeeding, hoping that would help, and eventually, it did. My daughter and I slowly grew into a beautiful team... and while I loved her deeply, I do not look back fondly on those early days, she was breathtakingly perfect, and healthy, but it was hard... very hard.

Just over a week after she was born, and after my determination of feeding and expressing every two hours, I felt that wondrous feeling of a full boob... FINALLY... I had succeeded at something.

It was a long journey...

Two failed pregnancies, a lot of tears, and just over two years later we entered the all too familiar journey of being over-due with our son.

I had prepared again for a natural birth, had attended calmbirth, a debrief of my daughters birth, kinesiology, acupuncture, homeopathy, meditation, I was ready for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean).

I went into labour on my own around 10 days over, and a day before the hospital had planned for me to come in to rupture my membranes. It was irregular but definitely labour... I had my show, went to hospital to get checked and was admitted because they didn't see it fit for me to go home... (I was pretty vocal about this NOT being what we wanted.) Yet after a night in hospital and almost no sleep and intense and irregular contractions I was sent to the birth suites and after having my membranes ruptured and a whole lot of nipple stimulation things picked up very quickly... until...

The 'pain' changed... my previous scar was rupturing and I was rushed off again to surgery for a caesarean.

I voiced my opinions, made damn certain my child would be given straight to me and not taken from me (as my daughter was). This happened.

I was able to stare at my baby boy through tears of a little sadness, but a lot of love... he was ready to meet us and was quiet and beautiful. I instantly loved him.

Around half an hour later he had to go with my husband, I was messed up, as I later found out, and needed to remain in surgery for a good 90 minutes. I knew something wasn't right, and later found out that a second vertical incision needed to be made in my uterus because of a complication with the first, which then led to issues putting me back together, and I promptly begged to be knocked out.

Bonding with my son however was pretty beautiful... I was in my own room, sharing a bed with him and well and truly aware of how much my body had been through and was not hard on myself.

As time went on I felt upset at missing out on the births I had hoped for, I do still mourn those births, and I am accepting of that. To this day the most upsetting thing is that I feel the option to birth naturally was taken from me by surgical failures, however, I am a mother and a woman, and I do find elements of fault with myself, we as women are good like that.

I have two beautiful, amazing, very different children that I love more than my heart can imagine. I am blessed, and I am lucky. But don't ever (as well meaning as you may be) EVER say to me that the most important thing is a healthy mother and a healthy baby.

I am familiar with loss, and I know the heartache of mothers who endure childbirth to a baby born sleeping, I see it in my volunteering with Heartfelt, and I cannot express how deeply I feel for every mother who has endured loss. I am not trying to steal away the importance of a living beautiful baby, but emotion does not know logic, and I will forever wear the scars and the pain (yes physical pain of a growth in scar tissue which is excruciating at times... all due to the caesarean surgeries) of the births of my children, and the emotional pain of the struggle to bond with my children, to miss out on the first moments and never get them back. 

The love of my children is deep, but the loss of the births I believed I was entitled to, and the scar that reminds me of that is an emotional challenge EVERY DAY.

But to mothers who have birthed (and you HAVE birthed, your body has BORN children) through caesarean I offer you this thought:

"For all of you strong and beautiful Mothers who selflessly gave birth on an operating table ... recovering for only two nights in a noisy hospital room after undergoing major abdominal surgery, discharged and sent home to take care of your newborn 24/7 while your body was still healing ... I stand in sacred respect and deeply honour you." --Patti Ramos

Monday, March 18, 2013

Compare yourself not to others, but who you once were.

I used to get quite frustrated when people described and compared my images with those of Anne Geddes. I felt frustrated that the only comparison most people seemed to have to newborn images was those of Anne.
I avoided her work for so long despite loving the quality of it and the detail to perfection. I've seen her images for years, long before I even became interested in newborn photography... today for the first time I have bought one of her calendars, and researched some of her work... not just the images we are all familiar with... and you know what hits home to me... That while over the 20 something odd years she's been specialising in this field, she has had one distinctive style. (This is true for the handful of other newborn photographers I admire.)
She must draw inspiration from many varying sources, and not all amongst the world of newborn photography, outside the world of social media, and from the world around her. Of course it helps after all the years of building a loyal following she no doubt has access to many willing clients, parents who would no doubt be beside themselves having their children photographed by her.
So what did I learn? She has clearly been true to herself and her vision, her art, not becoming swept up in the world of the latest style in newborn photography, the latest trend props. She has surrounded herself with a team of affirmation, of people who no doubt have her back, a team the allow her to create her art... because it is a team... even in as far as my work is mine, I have a team behind me of inspiring women, and men. Inspiration honestly comes from the strangest of places....
So while I find myself a little swept up in the frustrations of feelings of inadequacy, foolishly allowing my inner dialogue to eat away at me over situations and people I cannot control within my industry, it comes back to this... I have to be true to myself and my art, and my VISION. My style is MINE, and my style has evolved, and grown and become unique... that is what sets ME apart from my competition, that is what clients look for.
I may have moments of self doubt, and I feel quite vulnerable in even sharing a glimpse of that with you, my public, but I am human. I have struggles, and while I believe in what I do, and believe with every inch of my being that my work is beautiful, and captures more than just a moment, it captures emotion and purity, I do have to be aware of the people I surround myself with and people who will not only have my back and fight for my reputation, those same people will call me up on a hostile word of self doubt, and will ask me the tough questions.
Now as I stare at the work of Anne Geddes with eyes of a woman, a mother, a photographer, and dare I say peer in the field, I see a woman who has stayed true to her art, believing in her work... My respect for her is great, and for the first time I look at her stunning art as inspiration, not discounting it as the only newborn work most people recognise. Because for the first time I see her LOVE in the images... and as I think of the other photographers that I look to as inspiration and as role models in this field, I see that their imagery shows that emotion too... not just a technically beautiful image.
It's only taken me twenty odd years, but I'm now discovering the beauty of Anne Geddes. Thank You for your work Anne!

And possibly what I find most intriguing... is that as I look through her work, the images that resonate with me so deeply have a connection to my style... So now while people feel the need to compare newborn work with that of Anne Geddes, I will happily take that compliment... because I feel honored to be compared to her perfection of an art form.