Surrogate Birth Story

When I began my career as a photographer, I knew I wanted to primarily capture people.  The idea of documenting important milestones in people’s lives seemed the most appealing.  Naturally, one first thinks of things like weddings, birthdays, graduations, and special events like family reunions.  I have had the opportunity to photograph many of those events, but one of the things I never thought I would have the opportunity to photograph is birth – especially birth by a surrogate who is carrying babies for intended parents.

I have to be honest, whenever I receive an email from a surrogate or an intended parent, I leap with joy.  There is something about the overall experience that I really connect with on a personal level.  Watching someone carry and deliver a baby for someone else is the kindest most generous gift I think one person could ever give to another.  And any intended parent I have ever met, is overflowing with gratitude toward the surrogate.  It is a unique bond and life experience unlike any other.  So anytime I am asked to be present for the miracle of birth, I eagerly oblige.

When I first arrive to the hospital, I always enjoy all of the anticipatory excitement.  I typically unpack my gear and get photographing right away, even though the actual birth is typically many hours away.  I love capturing all those moments leading up to the actual birth itself.  For the intended parents, it is the last time they will be just a couple.  And the involvement between the intended parents and the surrogate is fascinating to watch.

Jonas and Ben had waited many years for this day to finally arrive.  They had always wanted a baby girl and a baby boy, and lucky for them, that is exactly what Ashley was carrying for them.  Ashley had contacted me months prior saying that she really wanted the birth photographed.  In particular, she wanted me to capture the expression on the dad’s faces as they saw their newborn babies for the very first time.  Anytime I work with a surrogate, that has always been their number one request.  No matter what, capture the look on the dad’s faces.  Honestly, it’s hard to miss.  The room buzzes with energy as the little ones enter the world.

Due to logistics, the decision was made for Ashley’s husband to be by her side during the birth and for Jonas and Ben to be present as well to witness the birth.  I was asked to remain out by the door and to be ready to capture photos as soon as the dads and the babies emerged from the room.  The babies were immediately weighed and assessed by the medical staff and then handed to the dads for some skin-on-skin time.  Jonas and Ben had the opportunity to feed the babies for the very first time and since they had twins, they were each able to hold a baby on their own at the same time.  It was incredibly sweet to witness.  After a short while, they even traded babies so that each baby was held by each dad.

It was time to head back to the hospital room for some rest and special one-on-one time with the babies.  As we were walking down the hall, we stopped in Ashley’s room so she could meet the babies as well.  Jonas and Ben each handed Ashley a baby so she could snuggle them both just for a moment.  I stepped in to grab a photo of the moment and Ashley was beaming with happiness.  There is a photo of her with a gigantic smile as she holds both the babies that has to be one of my favorite photos.

We then proceeded back to Jonas and Bens’ room to capture a few more photos of them as new parents holding their newborn babies.  I didn’t want to stay too long because everyone needed some rest, but it sure was nice to see the entire event from start to finish.  A few weeks later, just before heading back to their home town, I coordinated a family photo session with Jonas, Ben, and their twin babies, along with Ashley, her husband, and their two beautiful daughters.

We would like to thank the Northwest Surrogacy Center and all the surrogates and intended parents who continue to recommend our services.  Capturing your birth stories is an incredible experience.

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Maternity and Newborn Portrait Sessions

The optimum time to capture maternity session photos is somewhere between 32-36 weeks into the pregnancy.  For a select fortunate few, this timing aligns with the cherry blossoms in the Spring.  That was the exact case for Paige and Mike, a couple whose wedding we photographed in 2008.  We met at the Portland waterfront area by Saturday Market to capture portraits underneath the umbrella of cherry blossoms.  We then incorporated some additional portraits out on Sauvie Island to complete the session.  Within days of their newest daughter being born, we met up with the family at their house for a newborn session.

During the newborn session, Mike said that they very much wanted a couple of family portraits with their dogs but that they were very hyper and would most likely need to be quick.  He said to expect total chaos once we let them into the room and that is exactly what happened.  They came barreling in, hopped up on the bed, and immediately began kissing and sniffing everyone.  Baby Emerie stayed asleep during all the commotion and Landrie loved all the excitement.  As quickly as the dogs came dashing into the room they just as quickly dashed back out.  The flurry of activity made some very fun candid photos of the entire family together.

To see more of our newborn photography, make sure to check out Paul Rich Studio.

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Featured: Rangefinder Magazine

We were recently interviewed by Rangefinder Magazine regarding the post-production process for our clients.  Every photography studio manages their processes differently.  Some photographers choose to be entirely hands-on and manage and process all of their images.  Other photographers choose to focus on shooting and delegating their post-production to an assistant or a lab.  My solution has been somewhere right in the middle where I deliver more complex edits to my assistant and an online lab, and oversee, manage, and finalize the finished results.  It has been the perfect combination of ensuring the quality of my work while maintaining an incredibly fast delivery time for my clients.

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Graduation Portraits

Megan is a Class of 2017 graduate of Oregon State University.  Part of celebrating the momentous occasion was meeting up with us for a portrait session at the studio.  Megan brought a small selection of outfits to experiment with different looks and styles.  We began with some simple portraits at the studio and then worked our way outdoors to the surrounding area.  We even made a trip out to Cathedral Park for some iconic images underneath the St Johns Bridge.

As a Portland graduation photographer, it is our pleasure to showcase these highlights from Megan’s portrait session.

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Bar Mitzvah Celebration

More often than not, capturing a Bar/Bat Mitzvah consists of a family portrait session at the synagogue in the morning and a celebratory event in the evening.  The opportunity to photograph the actual Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony is very rare.  However, we recently had the opportunity to capture Jesse’s Bar Mitzvah at Havurah Shalom.

After capturing Jesse and his family at the bima, everyone settled in to witness Jesse’s Bar Mitzvah ceremony where he read from the Torah.  He did a wonderful job and was congratulated by friends and family immediately following the ceremony.  Later that evening, guests arrived at the Punch Bowl Social in downtown Portland for Jesse’s Bar Mitzvah celebration.  The venue is a dream for Bar Mitzvahs with it’s fully stocked bars, large flat screen tvs, video games, multiple bowling alleys, dart boards, foosball, ping-pong tables, and various games.  There is an endless supply of entertainment.  Add to that a DJ, a wildly fun dessert and candy bar display, and lots and lots of friends, and you have one heck of a memorable event.

As a Portland Bar Mitzvah photographer, we are pleased to share these highlights from Jesse’s Bar Mitzvah celebration.

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Vendor Spotlight: Charlotte’s Weddings & More

Charlotte’s Weddings & More held their Annual Open House event in March of this year.  Top wedding professionals were available to offer tips and suggestions on the wedding planning process and to showcase their products and services.  Multiple drawings and giveaways were offered throughout the show with the grand prize being a $1,000 credit toward any wedding gown.

Just prior to the Open House, we had the exclusive opportunity to go behind-the-scenes and capture the models getting ready and modeling some of the latest wedding dress designs available at Charlotte’s Weddings & More.  Special thanks to Portland Make-up & HairBella Bloom Florals, and Charlotte’s Weddings & More for collaborating on this project.

 

Julie & John | Feb 19, 2017

It was a beautiful snowy afternoon up at Timberline Lodge for Julie and John’s winter wedding.  Everyone was nestled inside getting ready for the big day.  Julie was accompanied by her mother and close friends as she got ready for her wedding day.  In the tradition of wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, Julie wore her great-great grandmother’s pearls (that were over 100 years old) as well as her grandmother’s bracelet.  Her unbelievably cute wedding shoes were the something blue.  Their vintage charm caught my interest right away and they were a real treat to capture.

John and his groomsmen wore matching socks of the iconic PDX carpet graphic.  One can only wonder what a photo might look like of someone wearing those socks standing on the PDX carpet.  It would be very meta.

We found a more private area at the lodge for the couple to see each other for the very first time.  John was so excited to finally have the opportunity to see Julie, and for the two of them to spend some time together as we captured portraits of them throughout the lodge.  There are so many unique locations throughout Timberline Lodge that makes capturing portraits extra fun and exciting.  The narrow stone archway, the large expanse of windows, and the oversized painting of R.L. Kohnstamm with one of Timberline’s famed St. Bernards are among my favorite spots for portraits.

One of John’s best friends officiated the wedding ceremony.  The private intimate gathering enjoyed some comic levity when the bride’s father’s phone rang playing “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” theme song.  There is something about that song combined with the setting of Timberline Lodge during a wedding ceremony that just fits together perfectly.

Immediately following the ceremony, guests gathered around for a big group photo of everyone (with the bride and groom at center of course).  As guests worked their way toward the wedding reception, the entire wedding party snuck outside for a quick group photo out in the snow.  We captured a few additional photos of Julie & John outdoors as well.  Having a light dusting of snow during those pictures was absolutely perfect for capturing the essence of their winter wedding at Timberline Lodge.

Julie and John are both avid readers and wanted to integrate that into the theme of their wedding.  In lieu of table numbers, Julie and John used quotes from some of their favorite authors that had personal meaning to them.  Their centerpieces incorporated books and even their wedding cake was made to look like a stack of books.  Their wedding cake was extremely unique and in fact some guests even thought it was their signature album!

Following dinner, and the toasts and cake cutting, guests headed out onto the dance floor for a night of celebration.  The dance floor was very active as guests showed off their best dance moves.  John’s impressive air guitar left him virtually breathless by the end of the evening.  It was an all out blast and perfect celebration for two incredibly wonderful people who are now officially newlyweds.  Congratulations Julie & John!

 

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