“Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.”
Leonardo da Vinci
I live a double life. As most of us, I have my personal life and my professional life. But frequently, personal events that take place in my life require photos being taken.
After an afternoon working in the yard, my daughter Arden called to say she was at Presby laboring to produce my third grandchild. Minutes later I’m on my way to the hospital to support my daughter and prepare to become an award winning grandchild photographer.
The scene is familiar after seeing two children, two grandchildren and quite a few other babies born as a photographer specializing in healthcare.
After a few hours of fellowship with my daughter, wife and son-in-law, Matt, some FB, and phone calls to loved ones, I was informed the time had come for me to escape. You see, my daughter and I have an agreement. I don’t look at her naked body and she doesn’t look at mine.
What seemed like hours (probably fifteen minutes), was spent making phone calls, praying, and finally listening to my granddaughter screaming at the top of her lungs. Nyla Addison Cagle wanted us to know the difficulty of being translated from an amphibious state to a life in the world of humans.
My son, Philip, arrived just in time to enter the birthing suite with me. As we walk in, I become aware of the duality of the moment. As excited as I am to be in the room with my newest “darling”, I am a photographer who has arrived at an “assignment” (even though it is mostly self-assigned.) Sometimes this experience is difficult for me because I want to be both of these people. But giving attention to one task seems to slight the other.
Having missed the initial moments of mother and daughter, father and daughter, and grandmother and granddaughter, I scan the room to see what intimate photos are quickly to follow. The lighting is soft and dim, reminding me of those dinners and formal celebrations I have photographed, where the light was little more than an imagination. After all, photography is the capturing and control of light. Get it? You have to have some! Many times I would get set to photograph an event, only to watch as the hosts dimmed the light to make a better mood. Too bad for the photographer!
While I am grabbing a camera and getting set, Philip has captured the little one and is making sure his uncle status is cemented in this tiny brain forever.
I go for the uncle-niece photo, shoot a test to check the light and end up with a photo that resembles the early videos from our space flights to the moon. No wonder many skeptics didn’t believe we really went there!
Cooperation abounded, lights were turned on and moments later I was shooting images of Nyla and Uncle Phil. No offense to Philip, but a few shots of Nyla being held by her uncle were enough for me and changing hats to grandfather seemed like a better plan. While Nyla and I get acquainted, the nurse turns the lights back down to the way Nyla likes it. After a few minutes I return Nyla to her mother and settle in to an oversized chair with my lovely wife. While I am thrilled with the whole process of this new birth, I am aware that there are still some great moments to be captured on film, I mean flashcards!
Matt’s mother has arrived and now has the little one on her lap. Hinting that good photos require lighting, and being allowed to temporarily irritate Nyla by having lights turned on, I have begun again the process of capturing segments of this special occasion. I need a tight baby head shot.
Nyla grimaces at the overhead light, yawns, wiggles, cries and finally closes her eyes to get some peace. Matt is in the background, counting down to let me know my photo session is almost over.
Lighting has vanished and I realize that the close-up for the cover of Time Magazine is not going to happen. Neither will I capture those intimate moments between baby and her mother, dad, or any other family members. I realize it’s time to put away the cameras, savor the remaining moments with my family and pack it in for the evening.
“And another thing! Can you get that guy with the camera out of here?”
The good thing about photographing children is that there will be many more opportunities. Plus, it takes a few days for marks to disappear and skin color to become richer.
My beautiful granddaughter and darling, Nyla, welcome to my world!