Our children are everything.

I’ve been settled in a comfortable space within my photography world for quite awhile. I know the cameras and lenses that I like best and the way that I prefer to shoot. It all feels so safe and comfortable. But, recently I have been thinking about stepping out of my comfort zone to try a few new things.  I was even considering quitting photography and going back to school to study nursing. I have been getting mixed reactions to this idea. The best reaction was from Caroline, another Tea & Bannock contributor. We met last week for the first time to share ideas and when I told her about my vague plan of becoming a nurse, she responded with something along the lines of Oh god I hope that never happens to me. Hahaha.

What I didn’t tell her was how I liked the idea of being a maternity nurse, of being present to witness and assist in the birthing of a child. I love the idea of being able to help with that first moment that a precious new life comes into the world. But knowing me, I’d get distracted from the caregiving side of things and start noticing certain moments that I’d want to document for the family. Have you ever seen or noticed the beautiful light that is used in operating and delivery rooms? Shortly after I delivered my first son I asked my husband to pass over my camera and I started taking photos of my midwife working on me under that light. Oh, that light was beautiful even with my blood on her gown. Seeing that light has become part of who I am. So I don’t think that I could be a maternity nurse. I know that the light would distract me.

So I figure that since I love babies, why not try photographing them? Easy, right? Nope. Today I asked the mother of my son’s best friend if I could photograph her 9 day old daughter. I have never done formal newborn portraits before, and I have always been turned off by the cliche trope of hearts on bellies and the babies in baskets. I did not want to do that. So I watched a few youtube tutorials, looked at some websites, grabbed a few props and headed over to their home to try it my own way. I walked in thinking I could easily recreate the photos that I saw online but that it is not what happened. Newborn babies sleep, then they wake up, then they nurse, then they pee, then they poo and then the cycle continues. Karen was so patient and helpful with me trying to photograph her daughter. In the end we photographed her on the kitchen table, the light was perfect, and she was so patient with me.

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This wonderful little girl is Doreen Caroline Rose Mountain. Her parents are Karen Joseph and Chad Mountain. Her grandparents are Denise Nelson (Baker), Larry Joseph, Caroline Mountain,  and Charlie Cox. Her older siblings are Jasmine, Harlan and Chad Junior. Doreen is named after one of Karen’s sisters who tragically passed away 11 years ago on April 23rd. Karen texted me the following, “Her name is so special to us…well I believe my sister Doreen is giving us a reason to be happy about this month. Because even though its been 11 years now, I guess just the way she died it is still quite hurtful thinking of that call… and now we can celebrate this month.”

Well, I tried it my own way, and it worked. I went forward with only this in mind: I wanted to photograph a beautiful Indigenous child in a respectful way, and that’s what I did. Our children are everything.

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-Amanda Laliberte

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