Hi friends. I’m slowly getting back to blogging. Thanks for continuing to drop by my little corner of the web, even when I wasn’t here.
Today, I want to share a few of Grant’s newborn photos with you, taken by Gray Benko.
If you’ve worked with Gray, I imagine the story that follows will be familiar to you. If not, let’s talk about what a newborn session with her is like.
Gray is as much baby whisperer as she is photographer, and even though I’m an experienced mom of three, I did exactly what she said that morning. I cranked up the heat in our house. I let her turn the sound machine up to fill the room with ambient white noise. I swaddled Grant carefully, making sure to smooth his blanket, because babies don’t like a lumpy or folded blanket under their backs, explained Gray.
As I was rocking him and shushing him to sleep for pictures, Gray started snapping a few shots, “to test the light” she said.
But she continued to snap, and then she asked me to smile just a little bit, and that’s when I realized she really was taking pictures of me. That’s also when I became awkward and uncomfortable, but I didn’t want to seem like it, so I just kept going with it, doing what she said. And I’m so glad I did. (I’m also glad that I had not only taken a shower that morning, but that I had also washed my hair. I’m glad I got dressed, even if I am wearing a sweater that was a dress pre-baby. And I’m glad I took a few minutes to apply make up to conceal the dark circles already forming under my eyes.)
I’m so glad I just “went with it”, because the moments she captured of us together brought tears to my eyes. And “capture” doesn’t seem to be the right word. I’m not convinced that she doesn’t actually draw these moments out of me.
Without taking anything away from the craft, and admitting that I know very little about photography, in some ways getting good photos is a numbers game. Right? The more pictures you snap, the higher the odds of getting a good one, say one with the two-year-old looking at the camera and smiling. Many good photographers are able to get these images and edit them to perfection.
But Gray is able to do something more. I feel like she is able to see something more raw and more real, something closer to the soul, and then she is magically able to preserve that with her lens.
Her pictures are not always perfect in the traditional sense. There are photos of tiny babies with big green pacifiers in their mouths.
Gray takes pictures of messy faces, messy houses, silly looks, and mommies wearing pajamas (even though baby is dressed impeccably) because “it’s real life”. I’ll admit, part of me fights this style in my mind; the traditional, OCD, organized parts of my brain push against these unpredictable “real moment in time” photographs. There’s a very large part of me that wants to see three little boys sitting in a row with their hair combed and their faces clean and their shirts monogrammed smiling in coordinating outfits.
But then I get an email from Gray with a picture of my baby looking up at me with fresh eyes, a picture of him yawning, of another picture me stroking his soft, downy head, and I just go to pieces.
I cry because the moments are so beautiful. I cry because I also know I can’t remember those moments with my other boys.
There are moments when I’m sure I’ve thought to myself “I want to remember this forever,” and there many times I’ve intentionally tried to burn a moment into my brain. But, when I try to conjure those memories up, I can only find blurry glimpses of most of them in my memory.
I’d love to be able to look over, just one more time, and see a tiny baby Harrison peacefully sleeping in bed beside me. How I wish I could remember exactly what Whitt looked like when he was content in my arms after nursing. I can almost see that little dribble of milk in the corner of his lip, but I can’t quite call up a clear image of it. What I wouldn’t give to have pictures of these moments, even if it meant I had dirty hair and puffy eyes.
And so, I am eternally grateful that Gray, knowing me better, took pictures of me when I didn’t want her to, and lied to me so I didn’t realize she was doing it at first, and then sent them to me anyway.
Thank you, Gray.
And to Grant – you’re my third boy. I hope a future you can forgive me for the bows, and gowns, and bonnets, and diaper covers you will wear. Maybe, even one day, you will even appreciate the timelessness of them. I have a picture of my grandpa, your great-grandpa, wearing a gown as a baby. It is one of my most prized possessions. Perhaps, one day, your grandchildren will cherish one of these photos of you. I love you, sweet boy.