Before our competition ends I wanted to just take a moment to really focus on why we are fundraising for Born Too Soon. When I became a mum I had a really positive birth, I laboured and gave birth to my beautiful daughter and I held her in my arms and it was like time stood still. I remember waking the night she was born and looking over at her tiny sleeping face next to me. It was surreal and incredible and life changing. We had no complications and were able to take her home the next day and with that our new adventure began. For many of you, thankfully your babies were also able to come home with you soon after they were born. Now stop for a moment and just imagine what it would feel like to give birth and then watch your babies be whisked away and not even be able to hold them in your arms and then after that not see them for a few days. I can’t even begin to comprehend how that feels.
For Sarah, that’s exactly what happened with her twins. “I had an emergency C-Section at 28 weeks, I wasn’t ready, I had no pram, nothing. I knew nothing about NICU units, I saw my babies for 5 seconds and then they were gone” Callum and Jackson were born at Kingston Hospital and were immediately cared for by the wonderful NICU nurses and Born too Soon. “They were a great unspoken support system for my partner and I when our twin boys were born at 28 weeks”.
Born Too Soon was set up in 1985 by Pauline Woods after four of her own children had benefitted from services provided by the NICU unit at Kingston: “The Charity was started as we recognised a need for not only support for parents but also for a need to purchase specialist equipment for the Neonatal Unit. Having had four children who benefited from the services provided by the unit, I felt it was time to give something back. We are based at Kingston Hospital Neonatal Unit. I am on the unit on a daily basis to offer information and support”.
Sarah told me just how valuable Pauline’s support was. “Pauline gave constant updates on the boys when I was unable to see them in the unit due to my surgery. She printed pictures of the boys for me to look at whilst I was recovering from my C section” Sarah told me that the first images she saw of her babies were bought to her bedside by Pauline. “Pauline provided us with constant photo updates of things we may have missed when we weren’t at the hospital And we were given a memory card with all the digital images on for us to take home. Including print outs of those extra special photos with names, dates, times and children’s weights written on the back of each” Sarah told me it was the little things like seeing those precious images that helped her get through those first few days and the continued support that saw her through the long weeks after.
Sarah explained to me that the doctors, staff and support workers all become family when you are part of the unit. “You dive in to a very surreal situation and become almost in your own bubble. the staff take the time to explain what every piece of equipment does for them. You become obsessed with oxygen levels, blood pressure, feeding, breathing, infections, illnesses, scans, test results etc. The alarms, the bleeping, and every noise become second nature to you but also the scariest things you can hear, you sit watching a screen whilst numbers drop, lines go up and down and you have no idea what they mean! everywhere outside of the unit seems quiet because of the constant noise your surrounded by”.
Sarah tells me that the staff on the unit make sure that they are constantly available to help support parents and explain everything that is happening in understandable terms. “The staff are at constant hand to help the babies And also the parents, they take the time to explain what is happening. They make sure you are ok, make sure your eating, drinking, sleeping, expressing…. you can cry or get angry and you can also relax knowing they have the best care they can” Not only does the charity look after the babies, but it looks after the wellbeing of the parents too. The unit helps by providing clothes and blankets to keep babies warm at no cost to families on the ward, and as Sarah reminds me “finding premature baby clothes is like finding gold!”
The unit also has a dedicated room for expressing which is so important in helping babies on the unit to receive Colostrum and as Sarah was unable to continue expressing for her babies, they also supported her with formula which was provided at no cost. As many of the babies cared for on the unit are there for weeks and sometimes even months, parents are unable to stay on the unit every night. This is one of the things that I find most difficult to even imagine and I have so taken for granted what it’s like to have my baby at home with me every night, the thought of leaving her just breaks my heart. Sarah told me how daunting it was for her but again the unit were there to give her round the clock support. ” The unit provides 24 hour care for our little miracles and it’s great to know you can call and speak to someone 24 hours of the day just to hear that your child(ren) are ok”. This must be such a huge relief to know that at any time of the day or night you can have that reassurance.
Before the boys left the unit, the charity also organised a resuscitation course for each parent to provide vital lifesaving skills should anything happen at home. When the day finally came to take her beautiful boys home, Sarah was presented with a box from the Unit which contained hospital bands, umbilical cords, tubes, wires and 2 tiny knitted hats which they were first given when they were born as well as the memory card and photo print outs. There are also lots of events organised by Born Too Soon to enable parents and babies to meet up and to stay in contact with each other. Many families become close during their time on the ward and many of them become lifelong friends. I am happy to report that Callum and Jackson are cheeky as ever and are absolutely thriving as you can see from their recent shoot with us below!
So what more can I say? Please help us to raise as much as we can, as well as equipment on the ward, your money is going towards providing all of the things Sarah has talked about. Just imagine what a difference that would have made to you and your family. There is still plenty of time to book your competition slot with us as entries close on the 26th of August. We are asking for a £20 donation to Born Too Soon and everyone who books a session will receive a beautiful 8×6″ photograph too. The competition is open for ages 0-5 years and there is some stunning wall art up for grabs as prizes!
Thank you Sarah for taking the time to talk to me and for sharing your incredible journey with me. Thanks to everyone who has come in for the competition so far, for your support as always and thank you for helping to support a local charity who do wonderful amazing things for beautiful babies who are born too soon.
This week we thought we’d let the lovely Sophie who’s been doing work experience with us do a take over of the blog and let you know a little bit about what to expect from your shoot. Take it away Sophie…!
When you’re told to go out and look for a work placement, it’s pretty daunting to say the least. You’re expected to go and find somewhere that’s willing to take you on for just a week, get involved in a completely different environment to what you’re used to, all while trying to target an area in the business that will give you the perfect start for later on in life – yadda, yadda, yadda. Most of the people that I know have gone to spend a joyful time filing and copying documents in offices for eight hours a day or cleaning up mess made by animals at the Vet’s – which, I assure you, is not what you want to be doing two weeks after exams and one week before the holidays.
Fortunately, I was one of the lucky ones. I’ve done my week of work experience here at Rock and Rose Photography, in which I was given the opportunity to learn the basics of what happens behind the scenes, such as editing, framing and how to use a camera properly. Not only that, I’ve also seen a number of different shoots and was even able to help out in them – from trying to snap pictures of an excitable French Bulldog puppy to attempting not to wake a thirteen day-old new-born.
In my week here, I’ve had a lot of fun but I’ve also learnt a lot about photography that I probably wouldn’t have even considered beforehand – stuff like how lighting can make such a huge impact on a photo, or how different the atmosphere of the photo can become through a simple change in backdrop.
So, from my week’s experience, here are my dos and don’ts on what to bring to your photo-shoot – which are things I probably wouldn’t have realised otherwise.
Bring Personal Items – for photo-shoots with children, this is a massive ‘do’. Items that could perhaps link to the parents’ jobs or hobbies could be incorporated into the photo to make a little ‘mini-me’, and it just adds a bit of humour and fun to the photos. It can also stop the child from getting nervous or embarrassed as, instead of having to awkwardly pose in front of the camera, they can have a bit of fun and a laugh. It’ll make the photos look really natural – and really cute too.
Bring Sentimental Toys – a lot of children have a favourite toy or teddy that they just can’t be torn from. I remember mine was this redheaded rag doll with long arms and legs, and I’d take her everywhere with me. Toys like that are memorable, probably because of all the embarrassing family stories that go with them too, but it might be nice to have some photographs of your child with their favourite toy – after all, they’re usually inseparable anyway. That way, those funny memories of your child constantly dragging around that forlorn bunny or that teddy bear that’s seen better days will always be remembered, and can be brought out to embarrass your child when they get older. Overall, it just adds a bit of sentimentality and softness to the photo.
Equally, you could do the same if you’re considering having a picture of a pet. My dog used to have this Build-a-Bear rabbit that he adored – until he got a bit big and accidentally ripped it to shreds. But, it’s nice to still have the photos of his fun times with all of his favourite toys over the years and, if you’re considering having professional photos done of your pet, you could consider bringing a toy for them too.
Have Some Outfit Changes – to add some variety to your photos, you should consider bringing some outfit changes. At Rock and Rose Photography in particular, there’s a number of different backdrops that can be used – mint, red, yellow, blue black or pink – as well as an array of beautiful rugs and flooring to suit your images. So, you can be prepared to get creative, think outside the box and have some fun!
Within your hour session, you can have a number of different background changes to see which ones work best for you, your family or your child (which includes any pets!), and it also gives you more of a variety when selecting your favourite photos, and this is where outfit changes come in handy.
Outfit changes can be used to compliment the colour of the background and make the photo a bit more aesthetically pleasing.
Equally, when it comes to photographing a pet or young child, you might want to do themed photos, such as being at the beach or in the bathtub, so again, outfit changes would be a good idea so that you can run with the theme properly, like bringing hats, sunglasses, or maybe even a shower cap.
Consider Colour Schemes – you might want to consider wearing outfits that could tie in with home too. For example, if you have a theme in your living room of having blues or reds, you might want to incorporate this into your photograph so that it matches your decor by dressing in similar colours. Equally, if you have quite neutral interiors, you might want to consider brighter clothing to make the photograph stand out.
Wear logos or branding – this is something that I had no idea about before working at the studio, but it actually makes a lot of sense. If your child comes in for the shoot sporting a rather zazzy Paw Patrol t-shirt that they adore, you might not want that animal character hanging somewhere in your house or stuck in a photo album in ten- or fifteen-years’ time. After all, by that time, the hype of Paw Patrol might have died down a bit, and now you’re looking at a cartoon cat that you can’t for the life of you remember. Even if you can remember who this odd animal is, you probably won’t want it on your walls, stealing the limelight from the main focus of the photograph – your child.
Fancy Footwear – well, this is less of a forbidden, ‘do not ever do this’ but more of a ‘don’t bother’, if that makes sense. Of course, you can wear those fancy heels that you’ve been dying to show off if you want to but, more often than not, you’re probably not going to get a photo of them unless you specifically request it. That’s because, not only are most photos aimed at your upper half than your lower half – as you probably would’ve guessed – having shoes off adds to the relaxed, informal nature of the photographs at Rock and Rose Photography. It also ensures the canvas stays fresher and whiter for longer, and doesn’t need repainting as often (which is a hard job to do, as I found out!). You can bring along your fancy Jimmy Choos for a nice shot, but comfort is key and you’ve got to be relaxed for the best photos!
Over this week, I’ve had a lot of fun being at the studio, and it’s been really interesting learning about everything that goes on behind the shoot. I’m glad that I chose somewhere like here to do work experience over anywhere else, because it’s helped me to realise what kind of thing I’d like to do in the future – and it’ll definitely be something more hands-on and different, like at Rock and Rose Photography. I’m actually going to miss coming to the studio and helping out!
P.S. here’s my application for a permanent job – my very own photo-shoot with my dazzling model, Marley
We don’t give dads enough credit do we? I love Father’s Day as it gives me a chance to spoil my dad, who is probably one of the most selfless people I know. Of course we shouldn’t need a day to spoil the dads in our life but somehow between trying to hold it all together ourselves, time just slips away. We don’t get to make that phone call, that visit or even have a meal together, we grow older and change and we don’t say thank you enough. I bet if I asked you when the last time you all were in a photograph together it would be over a year or more ago.
What about our husbands and partners too? Some are the absolute rocks we come to lean on through all that life will throw at us and yes some may be idle and lazy when it comes to looking after the little ones, but just seeing that beaming smile as daddy walks in the door makes you realise the impact father’s have on our children. After I gave birth to Florence I was marooned to a sofa for nearly 5 weeks. For two of those weeks I was lucky to have her daddy with me. This generally meant the house remained tidy, I ATE three meals a day and I could sleep whilst he looked after Florence. The day he went back to work I got up and my house was like World War Three. Even the cat had decided to spectacularly vomit all over the hallway floor and all of a sudden I was alone. It was only then that I could truly appreciate everything he had done for us. Florence’s relationship with her Papa (As she likes to call him) has blossomed, you can see he is her hero. Countless times I hear their giggles echo through our home and I feel so utterly happy.
Anyway I digress- My point is don’t wait to show your love and your thanks. Just being together and making those family memories is SO important. You do not know where life will take you tomorrow so live for today. Family photography is so important in keeping these memories safe so get everyone together and make an appointment with us. We have been photographing your families in Surbiton and all around for the past 5 years here at our studio and I want to see even more of you getting organised and updating your family albums- no excuses!!!
We can make up personalised vouchers for gifts that can be given at any special occasion and of course we have launched our latest Father’s Day Offer which can either be given as a voucher, or pre booked as a surprise. Why not present him with a photograph of his children which is all framed up ready to proudly display on his desk at work? Lastly as promised to celebrate our dads I have promised One lucky winner a Fathers Day Session and Framed photograph. All you have to do is leave a comment below about why the Dad’s in your life are so special and we will draw one lucky winner at Random on Saturday 27th May.
This week I thought we would do a little spotlight on our fabulous Cake Smash Sessions! Now I’m not ashamed to say that both Orli and myself have already planned Belle and Flo’s first Birthday Cake smash. Over eager I hear you say? Well you’d be wrong…
It blows my mind how fast my little girl is growing in front of my eyes. I cling to those precious newborn photographs of her so tiny, sleeping and perfect. I cannot believe she is so big already. I know our time is so fleeting and the irony of me running my own photography studio is that truthfully, before now I didn’t appreciate how special photographs of our children actually become.
So there you go, I know well in advance that I am going to want to remember her first birthday, I want to remember her little face full of glee and mischief, her little hands exploring textures and tastes. I will be there in that moment, but I want to see it up on my wall, to make my heart sing whenever those troublesome toddler days are upon us…
Pinterest is bursting with ideas for Cake Smash! Do you know you can make pretty much anything yourself? Tassel garlands, Pom-poms, Ice Cream balloons. Pinterest is absolutely ALIVE with colour and theme inspiration and completely full of tutorials and how-to’s some of which I have linked below to get your crafty hats on for your own cake smash session:
TISSUE PAPER TASSEL GARLANDS
TISSUE PAPER POM POMS
FRINGE CREPE CURTAIN BACKDROP
ICE CREAM CONE BALLOONS
MAKE YOUR OWN BUNTING
10 IDEAS & MAKES FOR BIRTHDAY HATS
So how does it all work? How do we turn these crazy ideas into real life shoots? Well it all begins with a good old chin-wag where we talk about you and your little ones most favourite things! We have loads of fabulous coloured backdrops to set the scene for the smash. I was talking to a lovely mum last week about doing a nautical themed cake smash, as her son is boat mad! We have a beautiful blue backdrop that this would look perfect on! Coupled with some white starfish and hessian anchor bunting with blue and white balloons scattered around and of course a wavy boat cake, he will have the perfect setting.
We have a range of props and bunting at the studio that we are happy to theme your session with. Or if you really want to push the boat out (excuse the pun) then feel free to bring in as many crazy and amazing props and accessories as you like. We usually ask for these the day before your session so that we can style your cake smash to create a totally bespoke look. A cohesive theme will guarantee an amazing sequence of images from your session that you can proudly hang in your home.
What should your little ones wear on the day? Well it’s going to get pretty messy!!! So bringing your best party outfit might not be cake-smash friendly. Here’s a great list of outfit ideas for your cake smash! Not gender specific I might add!
Tutu- colour complimenting and with or without a vest
Frilly Knickers- great for those crawling away shots at the end!
Pearls, Tiaras, Crowns, headbands and birthday hats!
Bow Tie or coloured tie and funky pants
Themed leggings and birthday hat
Braces and cute shorts
Places like Etsy are great for custom cake smash sets and accessories!
Now what’s a cake smash without a cake? In our sessions we give you a few options, for those bake-off inspired clients, why not have a go yourselves.? We are happy to loan out our giant cupcake mold. Go for bright colours, pastel colours, two tones, rainbow sponge; the sky is the limit! Don’t forget the soft butter icing which is easy for your little one to really get stuck into. If baking is not your thing, rest assured we can commission our fabulous cake maker to make something bespoke to match your theme, delivered to us on the morning of your smash- totally hassle free for you! The session itself is an explosion of cake! Fun, exploration, tastes and clapping! There is rarely a cake smash session that goes by where I’m not still discovering cake somewhere on me at 10pm that evening!!! We can start by capturing a lovely family photograph of everyone together on your little one’s special day. Many parent’s actually incorporate the smash on their little one’s actual birthday, kicking off the birthday celebrations. This is the perfect way to treat your birthday bubbas! We sing happy birthday and delight in capturing those first reactions when your little one see’s a giant cake!
Tips for a great smash!
For those doing BLW (Baby led weaning) your baby may already enjoy getting messy, for some babies it can be a new experience which you can help them enjoy by having a few messy days at home before your session. If your little one is not a fan of getting messy we still find with lots of singing and a relaxed atmosphere they can enjoy digging into the cake with one of our colorful spoons and with a helpful hand from mum or dad. It’s always hilarious when we have a little one decide to go head first into the cake and it makes for a great shot! Please do not worry about your little one actually eating too much cake, we ensure that this doesn’t happen, though its always advisable baby has a good meal and drink beforehand and that you also bring a drink for your baby after your session. Apart from that you can leave the magic to us!
Your cake smash session doesn’t end there! We have to get your little one de-caked and what better way than to enjoy bubbly bath time fun with bubbles and splashing! ? We will fill up our vintage tub and once you have washed your little one clean, we will then capture an adorable bath time sequence and cuddly towel shots – I know many of our friends have hung these Photographs around their bathroom and they look amazing!
Cake Smash sessions take place during the week so that we can ensure we have time to prepare and style your shoot and are booked up to a year in advance, so don’t delay in scheduling your session with us now, allowing plenty of planning time! They really are a fantastic way to celebrate your little one’s very special Birthday! If you missed it the first time round, a cake smash session can be enjoyed at any age and stay tuned for our very first JELLY Smash with 2 year old Jacob coming soon……that’s right I did say earlier, the sky is the limit in our studio…..
Give us a call today to discuss your ideas! And as a HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all of your special little bubbas enjoy a complimentary 10×8″ photograph when mentioning our Cake Smash Blog when you book,
valid until the end of August!
Ok. Flo is in bed and i’ve just finished my gourmet meal of a Dominos take away. I can finally sit and write to you all!
Hello!!!! Last time I wrote I was fat and fed up….still fat, HAHAHA. 14 Weeks ago today my life changed forever when I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. 6lb 9oz of pure perfection, I fell in Love instantly. You were all right, all the pain and everything that came in the 5 days beforehand was worth it. I’ll save the labour chat for another post! So firstly, let me introduce you to
Florence Rose Dwyer O’Donnell
She looks just like her father, as everyone keeps telling me. Our newborn shoot was amazing. It’s utterly surreal to photograph your own baby. Which I did for a few shots as I just couldn’t help myself. I now understand how all you tired mums feel- you go superwomen!!! It was frankly an achievement to have left the house on day 6 before 12 o’clock and to be honest sitting back whilst Orli photographed her was probably the most rest I had in those 6 days. (Highly recommend- perhaps we could rename our sessions to ‘Your baby rocks and you rest’!?)
So how is the studio and our other little Rose, Belle doing? Ruth has done an incredible job at the studio and I’m sure by now many of you will have met and enjoyed a shoot with her. I absolutely love seeing all the beautiful photographs light up my newsfeed! How I miss shooting all the super cute bubbas and families! Though I have to say I have been filling my camera with photographs of Florence. I didn’t realise how much every little expression would mean to me! One thing is for sure and that is how precious my newborn photographs are, I look at them now and think I cannot believe how small she was just 14 weeks ago. She has grown so much. Another blossoming little bubba is Belle and seeing the two babies together was beyond adorable! I can’t imagine the trouble the two of them will get up to!
Belle is just 6 months and is now crawling, meaning Orli’s playzone just grew a whole lot bigger! She’s even started standing! She’s enjoying solids now too trying everything from sweet potato to carrot, broccoli, bananas and pears and has even had the joy of some chicken soup from Nana! She’s holding her arms out to be picked up and laying on her back is far too boring and has mastered rolling over and manoeuvring a leg round to sit herself up. She treated Orli by saying ‘MAMADADDA’ for the first time last week. I’m sure you have seen a few sneak peeks on our facebook wall and it’s so obvious to see she is a happy bouncing beautiful girl. I’m so excited for Florence to be able to play too!
I wanted to make this post an introduction to Florence and an update about Belle and the studio but also to talk to all you expectant first time mums and pass on some of my wisdom. (Well at least some of the stuff I’ve learned in 14 weeks) I did the signature NCT course and met a group of 5 other superwomen (Really do recommend) There is nothing like being thrown into a world that is utterly Alien to you and these 5 women have become my lifeline. We have become each others support and our whatsapp chat group looks like an episode of sex and the city meets cbeebies meets doctors meets Gillian Mckeith’s poo examination (and who doesn’t want to discuss if green poo is normal at 3am?)
So here’s a quick rundown of some of the things I have learned so far. I am breastfeeding so some is related.
(with thanks to the superwomen for helping)
*Breastfeeding can be hard. There is support out there beyond midwives and health visitors. Use the breastfeeding drop in clinic and look up your local IBCLC if you are struggling. With support you are more likely to be able to continue breastfeeding as long as you want to. Remember however you feed your baby, there is no wrong or right it is whatever works for you.
*You will cry. A lot. (but it’s ok)
*Babies sleep a lot at first- make the most of it, rest, rest, rest.
*Instead of presents, ask someone to bring you lunch, or cake, Cake makes everything better.
*White noise is amazing- (You don’t necessarily need Ewan- try 12 hours white noise on youtube, or an old radio tuned to static- thank me later)
*Tongue Tie – breastfeeding should be a little tender and sore at first but severe discomfort; badly damaged nipples or a baby that loses quite a bit of weight can indicate tongue-tie. Trust in a lactation consultant. Flo’s tt was missed by everyone, from health visitors to senior midwives. I recommend private practitioners that can be found on www.tongue-tie.org.uk. I personally recommend Lorraine and Nina at feeding first in Sutton.
*Don’t push yourself. Go out when you are ready – but don’t be afraid! One of the best things I did in the early weeks was a babymoon- google it! I remember texting Orli in tears one day after Craig (my support system) returned to work, because it was 1pm, I was still I my pjs and I had only managed to eat a banana all day. Remember It’s ok, Tomorrow is another day.
*If you haven’t got a close group of mum friends, try going to some of the coffee and play mornings- there are lots in Surbiton- such as Gymboree, which Belle loves.
*For the dads, this really rang true for me:
“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”
Try not to over analyse everything, your baby will do things at his or her own pace. We are all doing our best. This time is fleeting, it’s ok to feel rubbish about it or elated about it. However it’s important to get help if you are feeling low all the time. The most important thing is to ask for help if you need it, you are not alone. So I leave you with massive mamma hugs- you go superwoman, (and super dads) you are doing a great job!
UNTIL NEXT TIME! Cate (& Flo) xxx