Meet Paula, a beautiful new mama in Seattle. I had the chance to photograph her before she welcomed her son. Her images were just too gorgeous not to share! Paula and her husband, James, shared their relationship and parenthood journey with me and really understood how photography can capture this incredible and unique time in their lives. They allowed me to do some artistic maternity photography with them and we created some truly unique images that captured the beauty in their relationship.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself, your husband, and how you met. Why did you decide to have kids? Was it an easy process?
My husband and I started out as friends when we met in college and we became best friends over time. We spent a lot of time together in a close-knit group of friends, but eagerly sought out moments to get to know each other one-on-one; encouraging each other over coffee while we did school work or lending an ear to one another when life knocked us down. By the time we started dating, we knew so much about each other and cared deeply about each other that love was already a given.
We loved each other quickly, because we felt like we knew each other for our whole lives. Many of the stories that we told each other were about our own families and growing up.
Paula: I fell in love with the whole James — from the younger, smart aleck in the neighborhood everyone called Jimmy, to the older, more serious double major in Finance and Accountancy, who insisted be called James.
James: I loved learning who Paula was as a kid. She was a creative little ten-year-old who designed websites for her favorite cartoons during the summer and was a “goody-two-shoes” getting perfect grades during the school year. I learned how much she loved and protected her three younger siblings and knew she would be a good mom one day.
It’s because of this deep love of who we were as kids that we always knew we wanted to have little ones of our own. When we got married, having our own little Paula or James was a given. We know that having kids isn’t true for every couple who gets married, but for us it was very natural that the ceremony of marriage, becoming one, let us clearly mark, “this is the beginning of our own family.”
2. What is your secret to a good relationship?
I think the secret to a good relationship is approaching your spouse with wonder and curiosity like you would any beautiful living thing you were seeking to understand. That way, when something surprising comes up or a disagreement arises, you can approach it with love and understanding rather than fear. You can say, “I didn’t know that’s how you felt or… I didn’t know that was important to you,” rather than “You shouldn’t feel that way.” I think many couples have shaped who their spouse is in their mind and don’t mature beyond a stale image of who they were when they met. That makes no sense to me. You and your spouse are constantly changing and growing and you should indulge in the ups and downs of growing together.
It’s the same way we think about how we’ll get to know our little baby. He’s going to be a certain way one day, but change the next. We don’t want to stunt his development, just as we wouldn’t want that for each other. The beauty of life is that you get to see how the ones you love grow and change and there’s privilege in being the one who gets to be there for it.
3. Tell me about why you decided to have professional family or maternity photographs, and why you trusted me to take these special photos.
I really wanted professional photos that captured this special time in our lives. Beyond getting photographs of me and my belly, I also wanted to commemorate this pregnancy as a tribute to us as a couple. I was so stunned by the emotion that your photos evoked of pregnant woman and their spouses, that I knew I would be in good hands in your studio. Once I met you and we discussed the feeling and aesthetic I wanted to achieve, I knew that you just got it.
4. Tell me what the experience was like to work with me, and anything special that you came away with or learned? Anything that I did that made this a special experience? Or anything that was different working with me?
Paula: I told James I wanted to do this and he supported me in it, but was very hesitant to participate. He loved photography in high school and enjoyed being behind the camera, but wasn’t very eager to get in front of it. We packed black shirts and pants for him the day of the shoot “just in case” he changed his mind and wanted to join in. After watching you take photos of me, I noticed James relaxing and seeing how much care you put into capturing someone’s essence. You reminded me to “think of my baby” which softened my face and you intuited when I wasn’t feeling good about a certain pose and redirected me. I’m so grateful you are the kind of photographer you are — sensitive, intuitive, and artistic — because the photos came out that way and I love them so much.
James: I like that photography can capture people candidly rather than stiff and posed, so I really liked what you were able to capture while we were in your studio. It was very comfortable and I surprised myself by how much fun I was having with Paula. I think you captured us as we really are when it’s just us and that’s what was most important to me.
5. Please feel free to include anything else you like that is interesting about you or your parenting philosophy.
When in doubt, love is greater than fear.
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