Updated: Nov 1, 2020
I was never really sure if we would get professional maternity and newborn photos taken; I'm a filmmaker myself and it's in my nature to document precious memories, however that in itself brings a problem - I'm far, far more comfortable behind the lens than I am in front of it. Then, lockdown happened and made the decision for us when households were forbidden from meeting, which completely extinguished the idea of meeting up with a photographer for a session.
Nina and I had been Insta-pals for a while and I followed her journey into photography with great enthusiasm - she has such an incredible natural talent, her photos are heart-stoppingly gorgeous. She captures precious moments for families and couples with such grace and love, and her colour palettes are the thing of dreams. As lockdown began to ease and I was nearing the end of my pregnancy, Nina put a shout-out for outdoors shoots and we decided to bite the bullet - the baby would be here soon, so this was our only chance!
Our photoshoot took place in Richmond Park on a crisp summer evening, with me dressed in Free People's In The Moment dress and my old faithful vegan Dr Marten boots. Nina also brought along some of her beautiful client wardrobe, including a divine white lace wrap dress from Coven and Co which I wore in a number of shots. She put my discomfort at ease right away, her guidance was so natural and she really made both me and my equally camera-shy husband feel comfortable. The light that evening was gorgeous, and even the deer came out to play - the resulting images are nothing short of magical and I'm so delighted to have them, we really will treasure them for a lifetime. Otherwise, the only photographs I would have had of my belly were sub-par iPhone shots that I'd taken in the mirror, or my husband had snapped when we'd been out on our daily Government-approved walk around the neighbourhood.
A few weeks later, when our baby daughter was just over two weeks old and restrictions had eased a little, Nina came over to our flat for a newborn photoshoot. Now, if you've never had a two-week-old baby before, you might not know the chaos that comes with it - you can say goodbye to your home being clean and tidy for a little while at least! You won't have the spare hands, time, or energy to do anything about it until you find your rhythm, so you might as well embrace it. Nina, a mother herself, was completely unphased and made our home seem like the perfect backdrop for the shoot. She also managed the covid situation with incredible grace, turning up in a mask and frequent hand washing to make new parents in this strange time feel at ease. Again her direction made us all feel so comfortable, and despite our baby wanting to feed for pretty much the entire session, Nina was happy to follow her lead and see what direction she led the shoot in. She even snapped a few shots of our cats which really mean so much to us as they are equally a part of our family.
My heart swells every time I look at the photographs from our newborn session. Everyone always tells you that babies grow and change so fast, and wow, it's so true. I'm incredibly grateful to have gorgeous, professional images capturing all the details of tiny newborn life - her little toes, fuzzy shoulders, chubby cheeks, rounded belly - I just can't stop looking at them and the memories of those early days come flooding back.
The collective trauma of lockdown and the covid crisis at the time of my first pregnancy is something that will stay with me forever. In many ways, I felt so robbed of being unable to share my pregnancy with my loved ones, to have a mother blessing and to celebrate my blossoming belly, instead having to isolate and hide away for the safety of both myself and my little girl. However, investing in these shoots turned that around for me and allowed me to feel like a goddess and have some truly positive, beautiful memories of this phase of my life. The journey from maiden to mother is a sacred one, no matter the circumstances it occurs in, and to have that documented for our whole lives is so precious. In time, when we look back on this moment in history as just that - a moment - when right now it feels like a lifetime, I know all I will see in these images is love, beauty, freedom and grace, and for that I am eternally grateful.
[It is worth noting that, of course, Nina took many beautiful images of our baby's face - we just choose not to share her face publicly online until she is old enough to consent to it.]
All images by Nina Goks Photography.