I was absolutely blown away by this birth. At home, surrounded by her two children -- ages 3 and 5 -- her husband, aQui, her mom, and three amazing birth workers, Tali delivered her third boy. The two older boys were so deeply excited about getting to meet their new baby, and they repeated the fact many times through labor: Today the baby is coming out! The boys came in and out of the birthing space, going downstairs to play, outside to jump on the trampoline, to the kitchen for breakfast. But they wandered back in to see Tali and aQui often, sometimes holding Legos or juice, and always checking in. "I love you mama," came the frequent refrain. I'd never heard two young children say those words so many times in a short period.
Tali intended to have a water birth -- the tub was all but completely ready for her when she just couldn't wait anymore for the water to fill it, and ended up birthing their beautiful little guy at the bottom of the stairs. Maybe he's a land baby, the midwife said lovingly. The other two boys had been born in the birthing tub. Maybe he wanted to be different from his brothers, they mused.
From the moment I arrived in their home, I could tell that this birth would be different. And not just because land vs. water, but because of the gentle calm all around. When Tali had a particularly difficult contraction, she'd roar or breathe or call through it, but after each one subsided, she'd say to the baby, but a little bit to herself too, "It's ok little one, it's ok. Come out. We're so excited to meet you."
These birth workers were some of the most calming, loving, and light-hearted I've ever met. They brought an overall sense of steadiness and joy to the birth.
The boys and their grandmother set up to watch the birth directly. Best seats in the house.
The baby was still attached to his umbilical cord and his placenta, which had started to fall apart a bit, so the midwives put it in a bag to keep it safe.
The birthing pool hadn't been quite ready for the birth, but was the perfect temperature for the whole family to soak in after. As the family settled in the water, the midwife gently placed the bowl with the baby's placenta in the water to float nearby.
As the new year begins, so does a whole new chapter in my life.
My husband and the baby and I, and our dog and cat, are moving from our cozy, sweet home in Atlanta to a lovely home in Denver later this month. We're excited to start our life in Colorado, but also so sad to leave our wonderful and amazing family and friends in Atlanta. It's been such a rich and beautiful three years.
2018 alone has been an incredibly interesting and challenging year.
I have had the absolute honor of photographing so many heartful, amazing individuals. I've been brought in to witness sacred spaces, family milestones, and moments of personal growth.
Professionally, I've stretched my craft into areas I hadn't really considered before: the moments of bliss and pain and relief and joy of the families of brand new newborn babies. I've gotten to spend hours and hours in hospital rooms and birth centers and homes with the most honest, beautiful, loving parents and their children. Being with people during these first few hours after giving birth is one of the richest experiences of my life. It's seeing mothers and fathers at their most vulnerable and emotional. It's watching siblings meet for the first time. Witnessing grandparents cradle their first grandchildren. It's all been revelatory for me. This is what I want. This kind of humble, unselfconscious beauty. This rare look into the blossoming of new love.
I've also turned my camera to the emotionally difficult and joyful world of dog rescue. I've gotten inside looks into foster families and their rescue dogs, and shelters that want more than anything to spare the lives of the thousands of animals in their charge. What began for me as simple portraits of animals to help them become more attractive on the website has transformed into my documenting as many dogs as I can in a more complete way. I hope to be able to communicate the dogs' individuality, their spirit, and their capacity for connection and love. It's something I've been working toward with human subjects for a decade -- trying to capture something deeper, something richer. And now I'm using those skills with homeless dogs in order to find them truly loving companions and a forever home.
Over the course of 2018, I've also had the pleasure of photographing a gorgeous boudoir session with a young bride, a surprise engagement on an Atlanta rooftop, weddings and bar mitzvahs, dance parties, a traditional Vietnamese engagement ceremony, and beautiful, love-filled family portraits.
And, during this past year, I've had the joy of watching my little boy grow, ever more curious, joy-filled, empathetic and loving.
But 2018 has been a difficult year overall -- families separated at the border, refugees refused entry, war and famine, and a growing unease about violence and climate change and the future of, well, everything. The only thing I can say about it is that I'm working to not become complacent. Not to get lost in the sadness and the overwhelming nature of it all. That as a person, and as a photographer, I'll keep shining a light on inequality and keep working to make the world a better place.
It's been quite a year. 2019, come at me. I'm ready for you.
I'll be working full time as a photographer in Denver, and would love to photograph you and your loved ones! Send me an email to book a session, wedding, anything you like. I'll also be traveling to Atlanta at least twice a year, so if you're in Georgia, drop me a line, and we'll organize in advance.
Love to you all, and Happy New Year!