Two Firsts / by Travis Cobb

I've photographed many children before, both young and not so young.  This time, however, was different.  Since I began shooting pseudo-professionally in 2007, I've never actually been asked to photograph a newborn still in the hospital.  Normally, I don't think I'd be too keen on that sort of thing.  I know a few newborn photographers who absolutely love it - it's their "thing" - me, not so much.  I've experienced firsthand the kaleidoscope of sights and sounds and emotions that transpire during that period of time - I barely made it through then.  However, when Heather and Andrew sought me out to photograph their pending newborn, it was hard for me not to admire their thoroughness.  They were the type of clients that photographers hope for yet rarely get.  From meeting in person weeks beforehand to leveling the expectations - it was refreshing.  When the time came to photograph their newborn daughter in the hospital, having never photographed something as fairly uncontrollable as this was, I wasn't sure how to approach it until I actually walked into their hospital room.  My son was born in the same hospital, so I was familiar with the layout, but the technical approach wasn't what I was concerned with.  When I became a parent, my perspective changed a little - life itself becomes more fragile when you're a parent.  Therefore I feel, in a strange way, that being a parent allows a photographer to humanize their subject in ways that other photographers simply cannot.  And maybe that's a totally biased statement, I mean, if you placed two identical portraits next to one another and asked someone to select which portrait was taken by a photographer who had a kid, in the end it's little more than a crap shoot.  But I'll go with it.  My goal was nothing more than to document their life, at that exact moment still in the hospital.  It wasn't about finding perfect light or moving hospital furniture or posing the baby in some ridiculous basket with her head perched on her hands like a creepy doll - it was about them experiencing their new life with their new daughter.