It starts with the picture on the left from over 40 years ago. My mother cradling my sister in the NICU at two weeks of age. There aren't a lot of photos from the first month of my sister's life when she was recovering from surgery. But there are a few. And this is one of the reasons why I decided to join The Tiny Footprints Project. Because every family deserves to have their baby's first few weeks and months documented, those memories recorded and saved for years down the line.
My first Tiny Footprints session was in 2014, almost two years ago. I wasn't sure what to expect. And I met a precious little boy who was 2 months old, his parent's tiny "Superman". A little fighter, he still needed a feeding tube and a nasal cannula. And his parents were so proud. Since then, I've met over a dozen other families, each with their own story and their own experiences. Firstborn children. Twins. A set of quadruplets. It's such an honor to be asked to help document what is surely a stressful time in their lives. But there is so much love. Parents who have to travel far from home each day to visit their little one in the hospital. First time parents, boasting about how much their preemie has grown, how they are able to breathe on their own. Every yawn is fawned over, every milestone is so cherished. And the excitement when the parents can say that their release date has been set.
And I see what the photo sessions mean to each of the families. The care with which outfits, blankets, headbands, hats, and, occasionally, superhero capes are selected. How the cribs often have colorful signs and sometimes a prayer card. I try to document the moment, just as it is. Because the calm, quiet moments are all the more precious after you have been through a storm.
In March 2016, I was selected to be featured on the Tiny Footprints Project Photographer Spotlight. I know that I'm just one of over 300 photographers across the country, but I'm proud to represent our group. Together, we have provided over 1,500 photo sessions for NICU families. So many memories, each one unique and precious. For more information on The Tiny Footprints Project, how to request a session or become a volunteer photographer, visit their website at www.thetinyfootprintsproject.org.