We’ve just taken delivery of a rather large parcel containing what I would like to think of as a piece of artwork. An investment or an heirloom, perhaps. Oh, who am I kidding? As if I couldn’t get enough of her when she’s tethered to me 24/7, I’ve basically now gone and blown quite a lot of money on a large photo of my baby’s already quite sizeable head so that when you walk into our living room on any given weekday morning you’ll get a double baby whammy – the one climbing the walls and the other adorning the walls. Call me crazy but one day there will be less wall climbing, more teeth, more hair and an altogether more grown up (maybe even slightly more placid) child who will be unrecognisable to the one in the photo, the one who already looks different in the flesh from the day this photo was taken and that’s only two months on, so I’ll need something to remember these baby days by.

The picture in question was one of many we ‘accidentally’ purchased from a recent family photo shoot at Nousha Photography in Battersea. It was our first photo shoot together, if you don’t count a modelling job that I roped Mr E into doing with me and the bubs earlier in the year which I won’t be sharing because a) Mr E would be mortified and b) it involved on-camera lactation (by me, just to clarify) which makes for good educational but perhaps not recreational viewing.

We won our photoshoot at a local summer fete where they lured me into signing up with some oversized, doey-eyed, black and white photos of cute kids but if I hadn’t liked the pictures then I suppose I wouldn’t have entered. I’m not naïve – I knew that in taking up the offer of a ‘free’ shoot I was effectively giving them carte blanche to pilfer the contents of my bank account. When I first came out of university taking photos in a family portrait company was my first job so I know the ropes. I also know how much energy is required to run around a studio after pre-schoolers for 9 hours in a row on a Sunday when your friends are eating roasts and drinking cider in a pub somewhere so I think they deserve your well-earned cash.

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Also, given my general emotional disposition, there was no way that when confronted with beautiful photos of our baby, I was going to walk away with my 8 x 10 freebie for the mantelpiece and be done with it. Prior to the shoot I’d already earmarked the wall space for the 3 ft picture which will soon be taking centre stage in our living room. It’s the one that the studio co-founder, Lionel, decided should be titled ‘The Jazz Singer’ when we went to our viewing. Yes, yes, I know it’s the sales pitch but I was sold. On the picture that is, not on the idea of her being a jazz singer, unless by some miracle the discordant voices of me and Mr E make for dulcet tones when fused in the womb.

They have a signature style – always black and white, always a plain background – which I suppose could make them seem formulaic. I’m sure a significant proportion of households with children under ten in SW London will have one of these pictures on the wall but there’s a reason why they’re a winner. When the colour and the background are pared back, the focus is entirely on the kid, their expression and personality. On the shoot itself there was very little in the way of posed set ups; the only ones they did recommend were for the full family shots, which made up a small proportion of the shoot, the emphasis being, thankfully, on Eliana on her own, at which point the photographer gave her free rein. There was no forced frivolity, ‘fun’ family pile-ups, fake fences upon which to lean with a pensive expression. No Vaseline-smeared, soft focus lens or mottled blue backdrops. In fact, there was very little to date these photos, unless daddy has a hip Hoxton beard which in twenty years time might come to resemble the equivalent of a mullet. And on that note it’s always worth carefully considering what to wear to a shoot like this – we opted for jeans and a white t-shirt/shirt for us and a ditsy print dress for Eliana. Maybe we were a bit matchy-matchy and maybe it’s a bit bland to be so normcore, as fashion speak would have it, but just think, all those Gap and Calvin Klein jeans campaigns from years gone by use this classic formula and those pictures still look good. Unless you’re living through a particularly cool and good-looking decade which makes for great nostalgic photos; the thirties, the seventies, for example, not the twenty-tens which isn’t even cool enough to have a decent moniker, let alone a defining fashion movement, then I think generic is the way forward.

A worthy digression, but back to the point: the photos. The emphasis is on natural expressions, captured moments, not forced smiles and even though we went on a day when naps were askew and teeth were cutting, we were blown away by the quantity of great shots we had to pick from when we went back for our viewing a couple of weeks after the shoot. Let’s just say the box of tissues on the table in the viewing room was quite depleted by the time we left and the budget we had in mind had doubled. I obviously just can’t get enough of that baby face.

MODEL MOTHER

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