My desire to launch a complimentary NICU photography program came to me as I was brainstorming a way to serve my community in a manner I could do best. Combining my love for birth, motherhood, and photography, this concept fired me up. As I began piecing together the elements of beginning this program, my top priority was visiting with and photographing a family I knew personally who were in the middle of a long NICU journey. I photographed sweet baby Kolette just three days before she went to be in the arms of Jesus. And I knew, without a doubt, that I would continue to offer this service until I simply could not any longer.
When a baby is born prematurely and will spend months in the NICU, it is only natural for professional portraits to be pushed off a priority list, and many parents miss out on documenting this oh-so-precious time. As a birth worker, being able to give parents a sense of normalcy in an otherwise chaotic time is truly an honor. Because everyone, no matter the circumstances, wants to show the world (be it online or not) their beautiful new baby.
Having photographs - tangible proof of such a short season in life (which feels so incredibly long at the time) - is a priceless gift. I am more pleased than ever to officially announce that I am available for complimentary portrait sessions for families with babies in the NICU. ("The" referring to our local NICU in Lynchburg, VA.)
I will never charge for a NICU session.
These sessions are meant for families of preemies who are born before 36 weeks and will be spending time in the NICU, thus missing out on ‘newborn’ portraits. I understand these parents may be concerned about medical bills adding up and putting money aside to pay for a photographer is not even on their radar when they have so many other things to think and worry about.
This concept was inspired by my love for photography, motherhood, as well as my colleagues Lauren Ridge and Jessica Strom. This is not a non-profit, it’s not affiliated with any charity, and it’s not an extension of any hospital. It’s my independent work and all imagery and content is photographed and copyrighted by myself.
It is important for parents to understand I do have guidelines for qualifications for a complimentary NICU session. I understand spending any amount of time in the NICU is hard on any parent, but these sessions are for babies who will be there a considerable amount of time. If you’ve spent any time in the NICU and would still like to do newborn portraits IN YOUR HOME, please consider investing your time and portraits with me so I may continue donating my time to further bless other NICU families.
Guidelines & Information about NICU Sessions
1. These sessions are for families with babies born before 36 weeks, or babies that have been or will be in the NICU for longer than 3 weeks. The sessions are not just for preemies, but for babies who may have a long road in the NICU due to health problems.
2. I need to coordinate the sessions with the parents themselves. If you are wanting to inquire about a session on behalf of someone, please have the parent contact me directly. I will come to the hospital as a guest of the family and am not affiliated with the hospital, so it is important that parents are the ones who coordinate with me to schedule a time for me to come.
3. I generally need at least a week’s notice to work these sessions into my schedule. Requests for sessions within a day or two of discharge will be asked to consider booking a newborn session in my studio, which while they will not be free, it enables me to help pay my bills so I can continue offering free NICU session to families.
4. I do not bring anything into the NICU with me other than my camera. The sessions are meant to be ‘lifestyle’ which means life as it is. Cuddling, feeding, tubes, monitors, all of it. Parents are welcome to provide a blanket, hat, or outfit but it’s not required.
5. I do not handle babies. I may move a hand or a foot while they are being held but moving them is left up to a parent or a nurse only.
6. I do not use flash photography. Flashes may damage a premature infants eyes and will absolutely overstimulate them. Having as much available light as possible is fantastic. If you as a parent encounter a photographer who is about to use a flash, demand that they stop immediately and that the flash is not used.
7. Sessions last about 30-45 minutes, twins may take longer. It will take about 2ish weeks to get your images to you which will be 10-20, sometimes more, high resolution digital images for you to download and use however you like. A CD or DVD will not be provided, images are available via download only.
8. Parents must sign a full release allowing me to photograph their child and themselves. Your session may be blogged or used on my site to share the work I do for NICU families HOWEVER the only info I share is the baby’s FIRST name only and some little details like how early they were, etc. Last names are never shared, parents names are never shared (they may be tagged on Facebook if we are connected there and you say it’s okay).
Please don’t wait to get in touch with me if you delivered your baby very early. You will treasure those images within the first couple weeks so very much. This time will pass before you know it and these photographs will last forever to tell your child’s story.
Getting in Touch
I can only do NICU sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and the occasional Saturdays. I can not do evening sessions except on the extremely rare occasion. If you know that you are going to be able to hold or nurse your baby for the first time on a certain day, I will try to be there, but cannot guarantee this due to my birth photography on call schedule. If we have a session scheduled that has to be cancelled due to my attending a birth, I will reschedule it as soon as possible.
I do not offer bereavement photography, please see Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep for those services.
Please Inquire Here:
In Memory of Kolette
If you feel led to offer a donation in memory of Kolette, I invite you to donate to Effective Ministries, Inc, where contributions will be used to help malnourished babies in Niger, Africa. To donate, please visit their website and choose "Kolette Carter" or by check to EMI with memo: Kolette. Please help us carry on Kolette's sweet memory.