“I'm so glad your work is so personal, and that I can ask you for something really specific. I don’t want any photos of my baby asleep,” she said. As we talked, I continued to gently ask her the kinds of personal questions that help me to know what matters most to the person I am photographing. What struck me the most about Cinzia was how she told her incredibly painful story with an exquisite combination of strength, vulnerability, and grace. She is open about her experience, and has done the hard work of healing, which makes it possible for her talk about it and get the specific kind of care she needs most.
“My first child was born still,” she explained. She told me of heading to the hospital as she went into labor, excited and nervous as all new moms are, of laboring and working and pushing, only to have her world fall apart. For her the ending would be so, so sad, the kind of pain no one ever truly gets over. She had the presence of mind to contact Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a volunteer organization that provides remembrance photography for parents suffering the loss of a baby. It is a gentle and beautiful way to honor the truth that your baby existed and was deeply loved. As she showed me her son’s remembrance book, I saw a still and beautiful baby, eyes closed, and the faces of Cinzia and her husband etched with pain. This is all they had of their first-born son.
“But now it is two years later, and I have Gianluca, my beautiful boy. It is a different time for us. That is what we want captured, how blessed we are, how happy we are that he is here. I want him to be able to see that this is how we’ve felt about him from the very beginning, how he has been so loved since the moment he first existed.” When I asked her what was the one word that described how they felt now, she broke into a beauteous smile and said, “delight.”
I knew then how to best care for this family, and I was so glad we had found each other. I knew that their experience would need to be filled with delight and love and closeness in order to best tell their story, and so that is what we did. They were encouraged to just delight in each other, in their baby, and in this new and beautiful chapter of their lives. I am truly honored and touched to have been a part of this experience, and it forever reinforces my deep respect for the power of meaningful photography.