Through this past summer and all through Autumn I’ve been shooting almost exclusively in my studio. There are a lot of pluses to this: I get to be near my dogs all day; I get to wear my pajamas all day (I do change into “real” clothes when clients ring the doorbell), and I don’t have to battle traffic or parking to get to a shoot. Oh, and the Nutella is right there in the kitchen. Okay. That could be a plus or a minus.
On the other hand, while working at home really rocks, what I’ve missed, I discovered today, was the totally candid, organic, “I’m totally in love with everyone and everything” vibe that I get when shooting in a home where a new baby lives.
I see new babies in the studio all the time; like I said, it’s where I almost always book my sessions. But booking outside sessions accomplishes a couple of things: a) it gets me off my butt and into my real clothes once in awhile, and b) it reminds me how amazing the world is when there’s a new baby around. To step inside a house where there resides a newborn, you’re not just entering a house, you’ve stepped into a home.
A home whose chaos belies its heart. You’ve been in one, right? Hell, you might even live in one. There’s baby paraphernalia everywhere–even things that are literally months and months away from being used; there are dirty clothes and dirty dishes, unread mail and magazines, and things that squeak and things that smell both lovely and horrifying at the same time. There’s an entire wardrobe of perfect, tiny clothing that we are all dying to put on.that.baby.right.now.
The people who live in such houses can be spotted easily; they have red eyes, terminal bed head, mismatched clothing and this sheen of content. Even when screaming its tiny lungs to smithereens, a brand new baby brings content like no drug known to man.
When I go to a client’s home for a portrait session, it can feel a bit formal at first. Before sitting down I ask, “may I?” I usually don’t ask for water or anything like that, and I wouldn’t dream of sitting on a bed! I can’t even imagine doing something like that in a stranger’s home.
But upon walking into Lauren & Marcelo’s home today, I felt instantly comfortable and at home. No sooner had I slung my bag over the back of the couch than we started with the baby talk (not “baby talk” but baby talk; how long were you in labor and is he sleeping through the night yet kind of talk. They told me all about the birth and how they’ve been trying to get some sleep in between baby Arics feedings EVERY TWO HOURS, and I told them about my (mostly in)experience as a young, single mom.
I haven’t seen Lauren or Marcelo since their wedding, but the feeling inside their house today was so warm and welcoming; it was a house full of possibility and future and hope and love and…and contentment. I’ve always thought that allowing someone to take your portrait was one of the most intimate things you could do with them, and when you add a two-week-old person–your two-week-old person–to the mix, it borders on bliss.
So rather than put Arik in a basket or hang him from the ceiling in a cheesecloth/hammock, I kicked off my shoes, found a comfy spot on the floor and watched the proud parents take their turns canoodling, snuggling, kissing, hugging and even getting peed on. (Yep, that happened today.) Capturing the tenderness with which they held their son, the pride with which they looked at him; those are the things that make me tick.
There’s been some talk on Facebook recently about me being a softie, and I want to squelch those rumors right here, right now. I’m as full of the bad-assery that I’ve ever been; I’ve just discovered that tiny people are pretty cool.
And they make me feel like a big, fat marshmallow.
ps: Scroll down and you’ll see why.