I am four months late but it’s better than never: meet our daughter Veya, nature’s child. Here’s her story and newborn photo shoot.
Veya was born on October 28, 2018, she turned four months. These are her first public images. There were no superstitious reasons for not showing her photos earlier. We didn’t feel like there was an urgency in the first few days (though I posted a photo to IG story), then we got busy, then I thought of making the announcement with my professional newborn photo shoot. The session took place when Veya was 1.5 months old, but another 2.5 months passed for it to finally see the light. In my weak defense, I published my wife’s maternity photography taken during ZORPHOTOUR, the cross-country RV trip past summer. I wanted to finish that first. As with the maternity shoot, other clients’ projects kept popping in and postponing the production. The slow winter months helped me catch up.
As a quick preface, Lara and I got married in 2015 at the elopement wedding in Moldova. Each of us has a teen daughter so Veya is our third. We lived in an apartment in Staten Island in a relatively quiet area but there wouldn’t be enough room for the addition. We decided to move out of NYC closer to nature where the same money buys more yet we could continue servicing our established photography market. It’s just 1.5-2 hours of driving to the city. I adopted a life hack of saving an extra trip by staying overnight in my Zotel on weekends.
Veya’s anticipation wasn’t without worries. Lara’s age brought her way into the high-risk area. Earlier sonograms suspected Down syndrome and only the advanced monitoring cleared our fears. The 11,000-mile photo tour in her third trimester wasn’t something advised by the doctors, either. When all these worries passed, one kept bugging. What if the baby decided it was her time the night before someone’s wedding or an event? All October weekends were booked up. I arranged for several guys to be on call 24 hours. But what if the little one moves when I already started to shoot, hours away? I talked to all involved clients and brides and made backup plans. We so much hoped for a weekday… Veya was born on a weekend, but did a very considerate job at that!
“Here I woke up. The day started as a poetry and so it ended, bringing us nature’s child.”
I had three days of shooting that weekend, all remote from home: an industrial chic wedding in Hudson Valley on Friday, a party in Manhattan on Saturday, and again a stylish wedding on Hudson River. Shot the first, slept in a rainy campsite (photo above), shot the second, drove back north for another Zotel night. The night has fallen already; I parked under the dark trees in a deserted area, the raindrops gently knocking on the roof. I checked with Lara, wished her a good night and was all cozying up for some reading when a call came around 9 PM. Water broke. Packed quickly and gone with the rain. We entered the quiet and almost empty delivery section of the hospital past midnight. Just about an hour later, Veya was born, rather quietly. I spent the rest of the night with them, caught an hour of sleep, and went to shoot the wedding, the last gig that special weekend. All worries for nothing. What an accommodating little creature!
“Veya” is short for “Veveya” (Вевея, Βεβαίας), name of the Eastern Orthodox Church martyr who died in 101 AD. We took it from her saint of the day in Orthodox calendar. Although archaic in Russia, it sounds beautiful, poetic, and fairytale-like to us (Вея-фея, веерок, веет лаской ветерок). Its origins mean “loyal”, “devoted”, “faithful”.
To be honest, I didn’t think of a newborn photo shoot hard. Like most parents, we were taking photos almost every day. (I will devote my next blog to an extensive review of baby journal apps to log all those treasured moments and share them in private circles.) Phone photography has gone a long way from grainy pixilated snaps. I am pleased with the power of my Samsung Note 8, yet smartphones fall short and don’t control studio lighting (yet?) A few weeks after Veya’s birth I had a chat with my dear Alaskan friend and client, a mother of three. She kicked off my photography career and I value her advice. Upon her insistence, Lara and I set the date for our at-home newborn photo shoot, albeit at 1.5 months.
The benefit of being a newborn photographer is having all props and equipment handy. A unique advantage for us was also having the full day to our disposal. My all-day photo sessions are a holy grail—it is when I release the creativity to the fullest. I did many such shoots for the adults and families, but not with a newborn photo shoot which usually lasts a few hours like this Zambian newborn photo shoot. Parents are doubtful if they need such long shoots for the babies. I shared their reasoning and never insisted. Now I know the difference, first hand. It is so much less stressful and more resourceful! Not only did we work along the newborn’s schedule, but we weren’t limited to just one or two naps. Veya would wake up, eat, get the next photo set, rest, repeat—all while being photographed. Unrushed feedings, clothes changes, lighting setup variations, plus moving in and out of the house were all possible for ten hours, 10:30 AM to 8:30 PM.
I had already availed ourselves of the nature that we moved into when I photographed my expecting wife on our foggy lake. It was colder now so no boat ride for the little one but we brought her to the lake, shot by the trees, and on the deck. December 16 was rainy, so Lara sometimes had to hold both the baby and the umbrella. Everything froze the night before, encasing the branches into beautiful icicles. If anyone saw us, might call us crazy parents wandering around in the freezing rain with a baby, even if they realized we were doing a newborn photo shoot.
There wouldn’t be this lake house if not for Veya; she brought us closer to nature. I hope she grows as a nature’s child. Thank you all for the warm words and patience these months. Enjoy!
Click images for full size.
Couldn’t do it without behind-the-scenes. As noticed in one, it’s always a good idea to show your client a camera-back preview to get the excitement going.
One more catch-up to make. I haven’t posted any of Veya’s “home photos” in my social media, making people curious. Here’s a set of my favorites from phones. The first few are from the hospital.