Friday, January 24, 2014

rainbow hat, favourite blanket, and a bird's eye view

I occasionally doodle photographs before I take them - plans or diagrams, I guess, of what I see in my head. I don't do this for every photo, obviously - most of them are spontaneous anyway, but when I have reason, or if I'm just feeling inspired without my camera, I doodle... 
I did this a lot leading up to Finn's birth, planning on taking many of my own infant photos using the adorable props and outfits I was collecting. Etsy got so much action last summer that my bank even called me one day to alert me to the increased traffic in my account. I told her: I'm very pregnant, very excited, home alone most of the time, and completely caught up in buying adorable baby stuff online. She laughed, completely understood, and dismissed the alert.
Beautifully handmade hats became my Etsy obsession. I collected carefully, there's a reason for every selection - except the ladybug, that set was a gift :) fulfilling an important 'garden bug' element in the collection. 
I was going to have fun taking photos of my baby, and found myself apologizing to my belly knowing that I was going to over-photograph and over-share the poor kid growing inside me. There were other babies too, friends' babies, that I wanted to photograph - all baby boys born shortly after Finn. It was going to be fun, and a chance for me to experiment with and learn something new about photography. Who doesn't want to take photos of adorable babies wearing adorable hats?

I found the doodle of the rainbow hat with the "favourite blanket" sometime just before Christmas, and took the page out and tucking it in the inside pocket of the notebook I drew it in. I didn't want to lose it, or separate it from the other notes and doodles in the book, but I didn't want to flip through and see it too easily. It's a hard to look at that one now. The rainbow hat was the only one he ever wore (that morning, when we were just goofing around, thinking we had all the time in the world together...). 

His favourite blanket ...not that he really knew it was his favourite blanket - but it would have been; it was the softest blanket I've ever sunk my fingers into. I had ordered it from ...*drum roll*... Etsy, and it arrived the day I was induced - we missed the delivery and were left with one of those post office notices to pick it up, which Rohan did sometime in the day after Finn was born.
I had ordered two blankets: one white, the other blue. As much as we all like to dislike the pink and blue thing with babies, it exists. If I carried Finn around in a pink blanket and posted all those photos of him swaddled in pink everyone would think he was a girl. It's just the way it is. The way I saw it (when I ordered the blankets): eventually blue goes both ways, but pink always seems to stigmatize girls..., so blue was the safer bet. Rohan brought the blankets to me in the hospital and I immediately brought the blue one to Finn in the NICU, where the nurses all fussed over its incredible softness. Finn spent the rest of his life wrapped in that blue cloud.

The brown bucket in the doodle is beside me right now. It's a gorgeous bucket: old, heavy, darkened aged wood..., it's Rohan's and I know he's told me the story of where it came from but I can't it remember right now. I've always seen it as a great photography prop. I've never photographed it.

The other doodle on the page was me imaging a bird's eye view of a chair with a small baby carefully rested asleep on the seat. (I've seen this in others' infant photography.) The only problem then was the missing prop chair - I wanted something interesting, old, with natural character, not something I would find instantly (or while purposely seeking).

Yesterday, while shopping for felting needles, we found ourselves in an antique shop buying a chair (I told you nothing in my life makes sense these days...). It's pretty much what I had in mind; not that I have much purpose for it anymore.
I bought it anyway, even though I'm missing my star, my focus - as soon as I saw it I saw my drawing.
Photographing an empty chair isn't what I had in mind.
Neither was pinning the only knit hat he wore inside a shadow box.

Although he's not nestled in his blue blanket tucked in Rohan's old bucket, the photo we're left with (him in the hat on the purple backdrop in the morning sun) is so very important - even more, I think, because it was one of those spontaneous moments. Those are always the best photographs.

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