Charlie, A First Year Story | New York City Newborn Photographer

The journey to becoming a parent is such a crazy rollercoaster ride - I think everyone can attest to that, even if it is something you have been dreaming and planning for for years. That transition from life as a couple of adults living alone, to a family with a child - and all the gear and changes in routine and lack of sleep (!) that come with that baby - it can be surreal to reflect on. A life turned completely 180 degrees on it’s head.

The photographs I have from my early days of motherhood are mostly on my phone, and mostly don’t include me. A photo popped up in my “Facebook memories” this morning from when Lila was about six months old, and as I sat there looking at it, with both kids now in full-time school and Lila nearing 8 years old, I had to wrack my brain to even remember what our routine was like back then. Although I have a lot of portraits of Lila from those early months (I did a 365 project of her first year), I don’t have a lot of images of us together, doing our daily routine things. Storytelling images. That was back before I knew what family documentary photography was, and before I really recognized the value in having those narratives recorded - not just for me to look back on, but also for my kids. Perhaps Lila will want a peek into what life was like for me as a new mom when she becomes a parent - to share the experience with me.

Late last year, Kate reached out to me in the last weeks of her pregnancy to initially ask about a newborn session, but then she said she realized it would also be nice to record her last days as just a couple with her husband, Ben, who she had known since high school. We chatted and ended up deciding on a “First Year” plan - a maternity session, a newborn session in-hospital (“Fresh 48”) and then a baby session sometime between 4-6 months of age. (By the way, kudos to Kate for having the foresight to schedule these sessions for her family! So many of us realize in retrospect that doing something like this would have been a nice thing to do, but Kate was one of the unicorns out there who recognizes the importance in advance!).

Although I have a few dear clients who I photograph every year, this was my first time doing a suite of sessions like this in a fairly short period of time, and seeing the amount of growth and change within this family in that time was just amazing! As I put their final slideshow together after Charlie’s six month session, I found myself just marveling over the constant metamorphosis that growing a family is. Have you seen the book “The American Family” by Pam Spaulding? She documents a family named The McGarveys for 30 years! Now, I am definitely not comparing my three sessions to Spaulding’s magnificent work, but there is something to be said for the impact of time passage in a set of images. It really drives home the idea that “time is fleeting” so strongly!

Looking through the images from Kate’s family’s sessions, my favorite moments are Ben and Kate putting together Charlie’s crib, and then seeing Charlie in the crib six months later, and also seeing little Dash (their dog) watching Ben and Kate move a new piece of furniture (the crib) into his territory in December, and then him tentatively, but kindly, let Charlie pet him in July. I just love seeing the journey this family takes.

Thank you Kate, Ben and Charlie for inviting me to document this incredible year of your life together. I hope these images grow in meaning and significance with each passing year.

DECEMBER 2018:

JANUARY 2019:

JULY 2019:

Are you expecting a baby? If so, I’d love to chat about a “First Year Story” for your family! Send me a message here and let’s get the conversation started.

Also - the following blog posts might offer you some helpful tidbits of information. These are from when my kiddos were babies, and I’d love to pass on what worked for us!

Getting Ready for Baby: Freezer Meal Prep

The Big Baby Gear List

Getting Ready for Baby #2


Francesca Russell is a documentary-style family photographer and filmmaker located in Garden City South, NY. If you'd like to see more of her recent documentary family photography, head over to her Facebook page or follow her everyday adventures on Instagram. If you are looking for a family photographer or lifestyle videographer on Long Island or in the New York City area to document your family, small business or event, please contact her for more information.