So what if it took me 3.5 months to post these 1-year shots of Piper? I met my goal of taking portraits each month for the first year. Maybe by the time she graduates from college, I'll print them in a baby book for her? Maybe.
Good thing I wrote a few words on her birthday, because now it's a blur, like everything else from the first year:
"And just like that, she turned 1. She has been a dreamy baby—exuberant, energetic, affectionate—and has brought so much joy to our family. Now I'm sitting here watching her feed herself Cheerios, drink from a cup and wreak silly havoc all over the house. So this is what it feels like to look in the rearview mirror and see our family's babyhood phase. We're leaving it behind quite tearfully (on my part), but oh how excited I am to see what the next year brings. Happy Birthday, sweet Piper Skye!"
A week after her birthday, she took her first steps. And then she started to run. And, oh my word, it's wild around here. I've completely lost track of when she started to say specific words, but a few of my favorites from real time as I'm writing are “turtle,” “yogurt,” “thank you” and “good girls.” Also “toot.”
Piper loves to be helpful. For example, when I fold the laundry and dole out the big girls' piles for them to put away, she demands to put away her own laundry, as well. This process entails her dragging me by the hand to the stairs while practically smothering herself with her pile of clothing, dropping every item so many times while trying to navigate the stairs that she eventually abandons them all, arriving at the top of the stairs and making a break for her sisters' Legos, then finally reaching her room, riding her rocking horse with a nervous smile plastered across her face, banging on her dresser drawer until I open it, standing on her tiptoes and shoving the laundry in. Then making another break for her sisters' rooms in an attempt to eat a crayon.
She adores Finn, our yellow lab. She flaps her hands and yells, "Buh-buh!" when she sees a butterfly. She shrieks "neighhh" at every horse she comes across. She climbs up on our lowest sofa by herself, where she "reads" book after book. Then she runs over and shoves a book at me, turns around, backs up and sits on me, even if I have not yet sat down to read. (Repeat, for hours.)
There is something else she does regularly, which I hesitate to put into writing. It's something we are quite unfamiliar with. It's something we never experienced with our first two kids. She sleeps! (Let's pretend she sleeps because of something we did, shall we?)
One of the neatest things about having a baby who is almost 4 and 5.5 years younger than her sisters is that we are all in awe of her, together. It's something we have in common—the adoration of this little creature. I was worried that since Cricket and Nora are inseparable and think of themselves as twins, Piper might be the odd one out being so much younger. But as it happens, she is this little twinkling star we find ourselves huddled around, just ooing and ahhing at her sweet and silly antics, taking in everything about her perfectly chubby baby self, together.
Our lives would be so much less ridiculous without you, Piper. We couldn't stand it! Happy Much-Belated 1st Birthday!
This spring I embarked on "Newborn Tour 2017." The tour involved crisscrossing the country—Minneapolis to New York to Berkeley—to meet and photo three babies—two nieces and my best friend's son—in a span of three weeks. Yes, it was exhausting, but it was the good kind of tired. I'll always remember those three weeks, because it was such an honor to be a part of some of the early moments of these three lives.
I spent April into May editing hundreds of photos and designing two birth announcements. And then, you know, life happened, and I'm just getting around to blogging some of my favorite images. I'm posting in the order of the trips and am excited to share the photos and birth announcement of my niece, Gwen, with you today.
(You might remember the session and birth announcement I did for her big brother, Theo, two years ago.)
If you follow my work, you know I feel strongly about creating portraits with meaningful context. Well, this time and place is one my sister and her family will never forget; I knew I had to capture it in these photos. Last winter, they were smack in the middle of a cross-country move. They had landed at my parents' house and, after a few houses they were pursuing fell through (we know all about that...), they were still staying at my parents' when Gwen made her debut. It certainly wasn't the plan, but it was kind of funny. And, of course, it was very comfortable and they were able to get plenty of help with the kids when the time came to move a few weeks later.
Often lifestyle portraits are taken in the parents' bedroom. But in this case, they were taken in the grandparents'! Their bedroom feels like it's in a treehouse, with a large bank of windows and window seat. As soon as I realized we'd be taking the photos at my parents' place, I knew those windows and window seat had to be involved. (You can see them on the front and back of the birth announcement.)
Above/below: Front/back of birth announcement
Below are a few images I loved but didn't make it onto the the birth announcement.
If you've ever participated in a newborn session with a 2-year-old sibling, you know the outtakes are pure gold. Let's be clear: my nephew is ridiculous. And I mean that in the best way ever.
Let's end with the moment when I asked him if I could take some photos of his gorgeous blue eyes. He happily agreed, scrambled up on the bed and did this:
I'm Julia Soplop. I've spent my life documenting the world around me in writing and photography. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.