The deadline for my first MA project on baby loss is whirling up quickly. Standing back and looking at the photographic journey that I’ve been on since September, I can see that the next two years are going to be about so much more than achieving a new qualification. They are going to be therapeutic, enriching and push my work and client relationships to a whole new level.
Exploring Baby Loss
For the past few weeks I’ve been exploring baby loss, and it is the first time I have been really open about the loss of my own baby Chloe. Thanks to the project my children now know that they had a big sister. Until now, Chloe felt like a huge secret that weighed on me and I had no idea of how to tell my children about her. But in the end it was no big deal and they were very accepting. This has been a huge lesson.
The project itself has taken me on a winding route of exploration, to begin with I was thinking abstractly, possibly because I was scared of really opening myself up to the project.
Working with my Clients
My tutor encouraged me to try a more realistic approach so I explored working with my clients who have also lost babies. I owe a big thanks to Jennifer Feasey and Terri Butterworth for their help.
Jennifer brought her son’s memory box into the studio for me to photograph. Working with Jennifer was very sad, and it felt strangely wrong to be creative so the photographs I made have a very candid air.
Terri allowed me to photograph her tattoo while she told me her story, but I found that working in this way almost felt too real and somehow stumped the message I wanted to deliver, so I needed to find a middle ground.
A Conversation Starter
My tutor had been asking me who I was creating this work was for. It has been a huge therapy for me, but it is more than that. The work is a conversation starter, and I have had so many conversations now! Baby loss and grief are a huge taboo in this country. We are far too prone to abandoning those around us when they need us the most. One in four women suffer baby loss, but this is still a huge secret. How many of your friends have suffered in silence?
Loss in some form comes to us all and grief is part of life. Without support grief can break us, it is a force that will define who we are. But it is also a force that can be put to use and give us the drive to do great things. Chloe has been the inspiration and drive behind PhotoBaby.
Share the Sorrow
If grief and loss come knocking, share with your friends and family. Tell them you need them and let them support you. Loss never goes away, over time it just gets easier to live with. And I mean a lot of time, the pain is still there two, three, ten years later and it is OK to ask for support even after time has passed. Life is too short to live with this grief in secret. Death is a very big part of life, so lets stop pretending it isn’t.
My Final Work
To conclude this project, the memory box has become my symbol of loss. I hope my final images portray how alone my mother is and how much she needs your love.