This is a heartbreaking and difficult story to share. Losing an infant is incredibly difficult for any family, but my clients were happy to have their story shared if it could bring comfort to any other parents suffering from the loss of a newborn baby. As a photographer, it was hard to document such a raw moment, but I knew this family would treasure photographs to help them reflect on this time in their lives. What I didn’t know at the time was how profoundly this experience would affect me and help define my purpose as a documentary photographer.
Twin brothers John and Daniel were born by emergency C-section on October 26, 2018. When their mother, Katie, went in one morning at 38 weeks for a routine stress test, the doctor couldn’t hear a heartbeat for Baby B. Katie had felt him moving that very morning, and the news was a devastating shock. Her family called to ask if I’d be available the next day for a Fresh 48 session with both babies.
I needed to be there for them.
As a documentary family photographer, I felt I was meant to be there at this time for this family. While it wasn’t the Fresh 48 newborn twin story I wish we were telling that day, I felt called to fully capture the emotions, tears and the details of that day as completely as possible so the family could revisit those memories when they were ready.
I cried right alongside the family as I worked, and wept as I edited the images, but I would do another infant loss session for a family in need without hesitation. Documenting the whole of family life, in sickness and health, joy and loss, brings me a profound sense of purpose in my work.
“This is my favorite image (above) because you can totally feel that John knows his brother’s presence next to him and was cuddling him,” said Katie.
Through photos, the family honors Daniel’s memory.
The loss of one twin sometimes happens, and it’s important to parents to honor their lost child in whatever way is best for them.
“I can’t even tell you what these pictures mean to me because it’s truly all I have of him,” Katie told me. “Sometimes I like to see the raw emotion from these pictures, to remember and process all that happened. These pictures are the greatest treasure of my life.”
Katie was able to keep Daniel in her hospital room with her for three days, and gave us time have the Fresh 48 session with both babies. The family has prints and an album of baby Daniel displayed in their home to keep his memory alive.
“It’s a way for me to show his surviving twin who his brother Daniel is. His name and face will never be unfamiliar in this house.”
Katie told me that other moms in her support group said that their biggest regret was not having pictures made after their loss.
“Documenting the whole of family life, in sickness and health, joy and loss, brings me a profound sense of purpose in my work.”
How can you help families through your photography?
Photos by AnneMarie Hamant