How many things can you say you’re passionate about? Before I had my first child, I really think I would have struggled to answer that question. I mean I liked photography, trying to keep fit and, well, eating (!), but could I say I was truly passionate about any of them? I don’t think so. Becoming a mum has totally changed all that for me. I am passionate about my child and doing the absolute best for him that I can. And the total surge of love that I feel for him any time he does anything remotely cute (from the little yawns and sneezes when he was a newborn to the YOOOOUUUUU he now says in response to ‘I love you’) has made me realise the devastating impact it would have if he were no longer in my life – or if he had never made it into this world. It just doesn’t bear thinking about. But families around the world have to deal with this on a daily basis.
I came across the charity Remember My Baby at The Photography Show a few years ago, which providers remembrance photography for parents who have lost their babies before, during or shortly after birth. Unfortunately, miscarriage and child loss are very much still a taboo. Remember My Baby is attempting to change this by offering bereaved parents photographs which they can proudly show to friends and family without some of the nastier reminders of what’s happened to their baby (or babies). Whilst I knew straight away that it was something I was passionate about, I have to admit, it took me a few months to pluck up the courage to fill in my application form to become a volunteer photographer. I didn’t know how I would cope. Since my little one was born, I cry at everything and I was worried that I’d be bringing my own emotions into an already emotional situation. I never understood why my own mother would cry at everything but now it makes sense – well, maybe it doesn’t make sense – but at least I get it. One day last summer I found the strength in me to submit my application and within a week or two I had my answer – I had passed and was now a volunteer photographer for Remember My Baby!
It wasn’t long at all before the first call came in. I was thankful for the opportunity to shadow another photographer for my first session, rather than being thrown in at the deep end and not knowing how to act or what to say. Seeing someone else handle the situation put me at ease and helped me to realise that I really would be able to cope when the time came to do a session on my own. What amazes me from that and subsequent sessions is how parents going through such an awful time are able to put their own feelings aside to show compassion for the photographers; we regularly get comments about how hard it must be doing such a job. But the feeling can’t possibly compare – unless of course a photographer has experienced child loss for themselves. Clearly, it’s not an easy thing to do but knowing just how much those photographs mean to the parents who receive them makes it all worthwhile.
Remember My Baby don’t get many calls from my local hospital, Gloucester Royal Hospital, thanks to an in-house service that provides a similar offering to bereaved families during the working week. However myself and other local volunteer photographers are here on hand at weekends to help Gloucestershire parents when needed.
In order to support the charity as much as I can, I also qualified as a volunteer digital retoucher for Remember My Baby, offering parents the opportunity to have their own photographs edited if they weren’t able to make use of a remembrance photography service. I also try to raise awareness of the charity across the county as well as encouraging other photographer friends to offer up their services.
If you know someone who could benefit from the services the charity provides, please do encourage them (or their midwife) to contact Remember My Baby on 0808 189 2345. If you’re a photographer thinking about volunteering and have any questions or hesitations about completing your application, please do get in touch and I’ll happily have a chat with you about it.