Intro by Skip Cohen
Every week I've been sharing a guest post from one of the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographers. This is a group of artists dedicated to helping families work through the most severe devastating pain any of us can imagine, the loss of a newborn baby.
Most of us react the same way...we can't imagine photographing a "sleeping" child, as Amy Hales so wonderfully put it in today's post, and maintaining our composure. We've been trained to think we need to be objective and focused on one purpose, capturing the images, but here's what I've learned with each guest post.
Objectivity is the last thing these families need and if, as the photographer, you didn't shed a tear, you'd be inhuman. It's obviously not required, but the beauty of NILMDTS's involvement is about confirmation. These families are sharing their most private moment and with the exception of the hospital staff, as their photographer, you're the first person outside their family to see their beautiful child.
Amy Hales is a NILMDTS Affiliated photographer and Area Coordinator in Utah. She's totally dedicated to the task and in fact, this guest post is a little late this week because she was waiting for the "thumbs up" from the military to make sure she was allowed to share the images in uniform.
September is recruitment month at NILMDTS. Getting involved with NILMDTS isn't just about photography. It's about getting involved with families in your community who simply need your help. Click on the banner at the top and learn how you can be a part of this amazing group of talented and compassionate artists and stop thinking you don't have what it takes. All you need is your skill set and your heart. As Amy wrote below:
"I mindlessly rocked this sweet child and patted his chubby thighs as we swayed, relishing every moment I was allowed in the presence of this angel."
As a volunteer photographer with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, we often have the privilege of experiencing the most beautiful life-changing moments – even in the midst of tragedy. Sometimes we feel a connection with a family even before we meet them. For me, one of those occasions happened on May 31, 2014.
On this beautiful Saturday morning at 9:25 A.M., Davin James Richey, a 9 lbs. 3 oz. ball of baby perfection, entered this world sleeping. Davin was the 7th child born to Katey and Chris Richey and my heart hurt thinking of his big brothers and sisters, excitedly awaiting the birth of their little brother.
As much as it hurt to think of his siblings, my heart completely shattered when I learned that Davin’s father, Chris, was overseas serving with the United States Air Force and would not be present to meet his son. My mind raced through the poses that I generally incorporate in my NILMDTS sessions, and I quickly realized we would have to do something different for this family. We just had to find a way to incorporate Chris into the images.
When I arrived at the hospital, I asked Katey if they had one of Chris’s spare uniforms at home. I was so happy to hear that Katey’s brother Brandon was willing to pick up the uniform and pose with Davin in the photos.
This opportunity to give back was so humbling for me. I remember holding baby Davin as we waited for Brandon to arrive, and being completely in love with how wonderful he felt in my arms. I mindlessly rocked this sweet child and patted his chubby thighs as we swayed, relishing every moment I was allowed in the presence of this angel. As I photographed Davin and his uncle, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the sacrifices this family had made for families like mine.
Davin’s photos mean so much to me, and I am so honored to have been able to serve this family. I am grateful that through the gift of NILMDTS services, Davin Richey’s face will mingle with his siblings’ on the family’s wall, and that Katey and Chris Richey will forever know the beauty of their son.
The Richey family will always have a place in my heart; especially their angel, Davin.