Stillborn Memorial Portraits

Dealing with the death of your baby may be one of the most painful experiences in your life. Intense emotions are real and a normal part of the grieving process. Grieving is necessary and is not easy. Until recent years, stillbirth was commonly kept quiet and parents were expected to “move on”. Now we know that making light of the loss can prolong sadness and delay the healing process. An important part of the healing process is finding a way to remember your baby.

There are now many ways to remember your baby. One of the newest options is stillborn memorial portraits. Stillborn memorial portraits are hand-drawn portraits taken from actual photographs of your stillborn baby. There is a good chance either you, your family or the hospital took pictures of your baby. These pictures can be used to create a beautiful portrait to display in your home.

Photographs of stillborn babies are not the images we have in mind for our child’s first and only pictures. Many times, when a stillborn is delivered, the baby will have red spots on the face, particularly on the eyes and nose. Often their lips are bright red and their mouth is relaxed open. Any number of these things can make it very difficult to look at these pictures. It can make parents very self-conscious and reluctant to share pictures of their baby. Parents can struggle with the desire to share pictures of their stillborn baby with their other living children for fear of scaring the children. Stillborn memorial portraits are made to give you that one chance of owning a pleasant portrait of your baby. These portraits enhance the beauty of your child while gently touching up flaws. A misshapen head can be reshaped or covered with a hat or bonnet. Swaddling blankets can cover bare skin. A teddy bear can be added to show comfort. For some parents, just simply having a pleasing portrait of their baby to go to is a giant step in the course to peace and healing.

Many artists will not accept portrait assignments if the baby was stillborn earlier than 20 weeks. Debbie accepts stillborn photographs of any age. It is extremely helpful to have newborn photos of other children or of the parents. This helps to distinguish facial features and family characteristics. It is very helpful in the healing process to name your baby. This name makes a beautiful addition to the portrait, along with any other personal information such as birthdate and weight.

A stillborn memorial portrait is a very tender and personal choice. It is a good option when trying to decide where you are in the grieving process and how to help yourself. When the time is right, you will know.

How to Choose the Best Location for My Family Portrait?

As a family portraits photographer, I am asked quite often by clients for suggestions on where is the best location to have a family portrait taken?

My response is always the same, location is very important but in the end, the most important aspect of your portrait should be about showing the emotional relationships and love you have for one another.

To get an idea of what setting my clients would feel more comfortable in, my first questions back to them are do you prefer an outdoor setting or in studio? Is your family comfortable in natural areas or do you prefer architectural settings? Selecting a location for your family or personal photograph is important. The location you select provides a very personal message about you and your family.

We were thinking about having our family portrait taken in a studio?
No longer is a studio portrait just for clients with traditional and conservative tastes. Family portraits in the studio with solid color backgrounds paired with coordinating colored clothing and modern furniture are gaining popularity. Many of today’s families like to emulate the look and feel of fashion portraits in clothing catalogs.

A studio portrait is traditionally hung above a fireplace, displayed in family rooms and staircases. A studio portrait is one that is captured only once every few years as there can be a lot involved in deciding about outfits, hair style, backgrounds and such.

The downside to a studio portrait is that there may not be a variety of poses captured to select from for your final prints due to limited background availability. It can also be difficult for toddler age children and the reason is that small children love to roam and explore. Roaming is a very natural thing for toddlers to do. In a studio setting, the portrait light is fixed and limited to a small space. There is usually very little to no room for small children to roam.

What are the benefits of having our family portrait taken outdoors?
An outdoor location offers a different appeal from a studio. Generally an outdoor location offers more versatility. A family has the flexibility in selecting their portrait to be formal, casual or sometimes even both. These can be used for mantle prints as well as smaller prints. The outdoors provides for natural light which has very complementary qualities for facial complexions.

Additional benefits of capturing your portrait outdoors is that you will have more possibilities as far as backgrounds are concerned, usually resulting in a collection of portraits to select from for prints and other memorable products. Families with toddlers will feel a little more at ease outdoors being that an outdoor environment is stimulating and usually safe to roam. If your portrait is captured at the right time of day, allowing your toddler to roam may make for beautiful spontaneous portraits of your child.

What are some other possible locations for our family portrait?
Another possible location that is quite often overlooked is in your own home. Having a family portrait created in your own home adds a very personal touch. The same family portrait principles apply for your home as they do for a studio or outdoor portrait.

Some families may select to capture a more formal portrait indoors. A portrait photographer may bring in external lighting to create a beautifully lit family portrait.

Recently we created a beautiful outdoor portrait in front of our clients home. They were so elated to have a personal family memory to hang over their mantle.

Now just imagine this, days before their portrait, I took a drive by their home at what I thought would be the most perfect time of the day for the most beautiful natural light. In my mind I framed 4 possible portrait backgrounds for this family of 3. The results were stunning and they selected a beautiful portrait set in front of a pretty magnolia tree. I hope that in years to come, they will come to look at their family portrait and it will bring back beautiful memories of that time. Maybe in the years that come, they’ve moved onto a different home and it reminds them of the great memories they had at their former home. Maybe they still live in the same home and it makes them realize how much that pretty magnolia tree has grown with their family.

Either way, portraits are meant to bring you beautiful and emotional memories of your precious family.