They Say Imitation Is The Highest Form Of Flattery...?

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They say imitation is the highest form of flattery and where to some degree we acknowledge that it is lovely to know lots of people are inspired our work, I still wish people wouldn’t completely re create people’s images… it pains me to write this as I know some will disagree but speaking as someone who has really tried hard to create a new genre and be better than myself every day… I think some things need to be said… so here it goes.

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When we teach, we give our hearts and souls away. You would expect you to treat your heart and soul with respect and use the knowledge given so you can explore your own creative juices and become a better technical photographer. This is not always the case.

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When people blatantly copy an image I have created, it not only hurts my heart, it hurts my individuality; something I try so hard to keep. I feel talking about my experience with this is something other people, not just photographers, can relate to as it happens in all walks of life. This is not only happening to me and my photographer friends. I am not the first and I most certainly will not be the last.

‘Why does she even care’ I hear you think. Well, I am sorry, but I do. I care very deeply. My clients keep coming I know, and the fact that this keeps happening would never effect that… but yes… I still care. My customers are just amazing and I am so lucky to have them <3 My trainees are also a breath of fresh air and I love seeing them grow, especially when they go down their own road and use what I have given them to work on their own art instead of just staying inside the box.

People say that by sharing our work, we are making the photography industry a better, more creative place. We can’t possibly keep it a secret in case someone dares to try to do the same thing… I personally, hope to install confidence and passion into these amazing people that reach for the stars and I think that most of the time, that is what I do, but seeing complete imitations of images on Facebook pages is like a stab with a knife… in the face. THEN I see these images entered into competition... and nothing can be done! No one can stop them from doing this… so why don’t they stop themselves? Please do not think so little of your own creative mind that you couldn’t step it up a notch and BE YOURSELF.

I have seen copy cats come out in every way, shape and form, entering these said photographs into competition. The reason is it so upsetting is because our work is so personal to us, no matter what anyone else thinks… so when someone takes it, you may as well just steal the print out of our hands and claim it as your own.

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The worst part is when I see these other photographers creating extremely similar images... then THEY start teaching it to others. How could you have the heart or conscious to do that? You see an image you like, you see the dress, you see the style, you see the edit and you basically re create it with no thought. IT HURTS. Why not stay true to your own self?

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I know things will never change but I wish they would.

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I LOVE teaching. It’s one of the things I hold close to my heart. I feel like I help people, I feel like I am giving them the tools to invent magic… I just always hope they end up creating their own magic eventually as being the same as someone else isn’t good for anyone involved.

There are only so many poses you can do… only so many dresses you can buy… only so many backdrops and textures and OF COURSE images will look similar or have the same feel from time to time. That really isn’t what this post is about, believe me. I KNOW I am not the all-knowing GODDESS of Maternity poses. I am not saying, at all, that I created all these poses and I should keep them to myself. I wouldn’t so happily teach them if I thought that. For example, there are only so many ways to wrap and pose a baby, a certain lighting style that is popular and fashionable, a certain colour that all clients love… but still, you can try to create something new within that. Take the tools and apply them to your own work. I feel even with my newborns, even when doing the same poses as others, I really, really try to keep to my own dark and theatrical style. People say they can tell when a photo is mine… I really hope this is true.

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The great maternity photographers I look up to like Stephanie Lemmens, Alli Peck, Kelly Brown, Lola Melani, Maggie Robinson & Erin Elizabeth all have their own thing going on… yes the poses are sometimes similar, yes they might have a similar dress or backdrop but I can tell whose taken those images a mile off; they keep to their own style, they love what they create, they are passionate about it and I admire them for it. I REALLY hope they feel they same about me, if they even know who I am!

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I have so many appreciative people that I have met, taught and photographed over the. By no means do think I am the most amazing, incredible photographer in the world because there is always someone better around the corner. I myself too get inspired when I see other people’s photos, but I do believe I will try and change it up, invent something a bit different and really try to create a new feel. This is what I pride myself on.

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It’s exhausting trying to do something new all the time. I know nothing is never ‘new’ and it’s probably been done before as a painting back in the 1800s or as a drawing by some famous artist, but guys and girls, let’s try!! Let’s make ourselves proud. Let’s make people say ‘wow’ and not because you have knowingly copied it, but because it’s something most people have never see before. Wow yourself.

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You Should Always Keep A Thermometer Close…

Photography By Natasha

Photography By Natasha

Before you leave the maternity unit, the midwives go through some things with you that are really important like make sure you put the baby at the bottom of the cot so they don’t wriggle down, make sure you only use cool boiled water and cotton pads to wipe their bottom, don’t use any products in the bath… they even tell you to do your pelvic floor muscles; not ONCE did someone verbally tell me to get a thermometer and check my baby’s temperature and not once in my pregnancy did a medical professional explain to me about Strep B.

On Monday morning at 3:47am on 28th January 2019, we welcomed our 2nd little boy, Jax into the world at Russel’s Hall Hospital in Dudley, West Midlands. The midwives who looked after me were beyond amazing. The birth was text book, very quick during the active labour stages and we were thrilled that he was finally here. Niko, our 3 year old was so excited for the arrival of his little brother; we couldn’t wait to get him home so they could meet each other for the first time.

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We had decided to keep Niko off nursery so his chances of coming home with any illnesses or getting Chicken Pox was lowered. We were frightened that the baby would catch it too. When Niko was 3 weeks old, he had viral meningitis, so we went to every length to make sure this didn’t happen a second time, even though we knew there wasn’t much you could do as parents to prevent something like this… but we were damn well going to try! So we had no visitors apart from my parents, no children around the house and had anti-bacterial hand gel in every room. We were so careful and everyone was very supportive.

On Thursday morning somehow Niko had gotten a water infection and instead of wee, there was blood in the toilet. It scared us so much, so Brett, my Husband, rushed him down the walk in centre for antibiotics. They assured us this would be gone within a day and he would be OK. I was an emotional wreck not being able to go with him as I felt I was abandoning him… ‘Mummy Guilt’. Throughout the day he seemed to get better and he continued cuddling and getting to know his little brother; it melted my heart seeing them together. Niko was going to be the best big brother.

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Then, around 6pm, spots started coming out on Niko’s face and I just knew straight away that it was Chicken Pox. I just couldn’t believe our bad luck. We phoned 111 to see what we should do because of having a newborn in the house, so Brett had to take him back down the hospital to have it confirmed. The doctor there told us point blank that Jax would catch this too as newborns have such a low immunity so I was beside myself… again. I couldn’t stand the thought of my little baby catching this as I had heard it could be potentially dangerous for newborns. The advice was to keep them apart as much as possible, so then the segregation began. I stayed up stairs with Jax while my Husband took care of Niko downstairs. I was so upset they couldn’t be around each other; all I wanted was for them to bond. We decided to keep a very close eye on Jax’s temperature in case it spiked.

The next morning, Niko woke up weeing blood again. This time it was apparently the Chicken Pox in his bladder coming out in his wee, as there weren’t any germs in his urine anymore. I was relieved it wasn’t anything more serious. All I wanted to do was hug him and be with him, but the doctors had advised us to stay apart because of the new baby. Later that day, I noticed Jax’s eye had become a bit sticky. I wasn’t too worried at this point because Niko had had a sticky eye when he was newborn and being a newborn photographer, it was something I saw a lot. Usually it happens because of a blocked tear duct, so I put breast milk on it or cool boiled water and cleaned it. I continued to take his temperature every few hours.

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On the Saturday, it was Jax’s 5 day check up. His eye was much worse now and I was positive that it was something more serious. I had seen sticky eye so many times but this looked so much more sinister. The midwives told us to go to the walk in centre to get it checked so we did. The nurse took one look at it and told us it was conjunctivitis. She didn’t seem concerned at all so I relaxed a little. She told me it was probably because he had pooed in my waters when he was born. She did no other check up on him so I assumed he was fine and the eye drops would clear his eye up over the next few days.

Jax at 6 days- Photography By Natasha

Jax at 6 days- Photography By Natasha

On the Sunday afternoon, Jax became irritable and fretful. He just wasn’t himself which I know sounds crazy as I am talking about a 6 day old baby, but I just KNEW something wasn’t right. I told Brett that I was worried, so I continued to do his temp, but he didn’t have a fever, so I thought maybe it was just wind he was struggling to get out; he didn’t have a rash or anything. I took it again around 9:30pm, fed him and took him to bed and it was the same as before but I just had a gut instinct that something was wrong. An hour later I felt his head and he felt normal, but then I touched his chest and it felt very hot. I took his temperature again and it was 38.4. I changed his nappy, fed him again then took it once more to make sure and it was the same. I immediately called my parents to come and look after Niko and we rushed down the hospital because I knew that a fever in a newborn could be life threatening.

I couldn’t believe we were back in A&E AGAIN! Luckily there was no one waiting but we were still made to wait twenty minutes before seeing a doctor. I just kept thinking ‘surely every minute counts?’ Finally, after what seemed like hours, a doctor called us in and within 5 minutes she was ringing triage. We were rushed round to another unit where we had to answer more questions about Jax and what his symptoms were. He still had a fever and even though they were very calm I could hear the concern in their voices.

Suddenly there were lots of people there, nurses and a doctor trying to put a cannula in his arm to take bloods and to get antibiotics into him. They tried both hands and both arms but they couldn’t seem to get it in. His veins were ‘wiggly’ and the doctor seemed to be getting really stressed out. Jax was screaming and there was blood on the sheets. My Husband just couldn’t bear to watch and I sat in the corner crying wishing I could just hold him. They had to call down a second doctor to do the cannula after quite a few tries and eventually it was in, the bloods were taken and the antibiotics were administrated. They also gave him a small dose of paracetamol to try and bring his temp down.

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I just remember holding him and watching him as he looked up at me, almost willing me to take the pain away. He was making such funny noises like he was in pain and it just broke my heart. How can someone so little you grew from scratch be going through all of this at not even a week old? The next thing was an X-Ray to check his chest. After that they took us up to the children’s ward where I held him all night. I knew it was bad when we were finally alone and my Husband broke down in tears and just kept thanking me for taking his temperature. He held me so tight for minutes that felt like hours and it was then I realised that having that thermometer, had saved his life.

I had never felt so alone in that hospital ward once Brett had left. I had just given birth exactly a week ago and was trying to recover myself and suddenly, my tiny baby, who hadn’t experienced much of anything in this world was lying in my arms limp and obviously in pain. I was already emotional so now, as you can imagine, the tears just wouldn’t stop falling. Every time I looked at his tiny face or his tiny hand wrapped around my finger my heart felt so heavy in my chest, I just cried and cried.

A few hours later, around 10am, the Doctors came to see me and told me his white blood cell level was much higher than normal which meant that he did have an infection and they would have to do the the dreaded lumbar puncture to check it hadn’t spread to his brain. This really was the thing of nightmares. When our other son was poorly, he’d had this procedure done too, so it was the one thing we were absolutely dreading. I remember just standing outside of the room, three years before listening to him scream and scream as they cant give the babies anything for the pain. They told me ‘You wont want to be in here for this… he wont remember but you will never, ever forget it.’

My Husband came back to the ward and Jax was taken from my arms, fast asleep, to a room down the corridor. We waited in the room for him to come back and it just felt like forever. Finally he was returned to me, almost as he was taken, like nothing had happened and I was just so grateful for my own sanity that I hadn’t had to experience the awful sound of him screaming and crying like I had done with his brother… but at the same time an overwhelming amount of guilt that I wasn’t there holding his hand. That day and night they monitored him closely, injected more antibiotics and gave him a small dose of paracetamol again; thankfully his temp started coming down. In the early hours of the morning he had another blood test where they squeezed the blood from his heel.

The doctors were happy to let us go on the evening on home leave because his temp had stayed below 38 for 24 hours. We were so happy we could finally take him home but we still had to come back every day for his antibiotics until further notice. There were lots of different opinions about how long he should stay on the antibiotics for… some doctors were happy with 5 days, others 7 and some 14. It was decided that he would have to have a few more blood tests to make sure the infection was leaving his system before they could decide.

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Two days into the home leave, the Doctor told us that they had found bacteria in his spinal fluid and that he had contracted bacterial meningitis. I was so shocked. How on Earth could he have caught this? I did a private Strep B test at 37 weeks, as in the UK they do not test pregnant women, and the result was negative. I do know that the result can change from week to week, but there isn’t much more you can do but to test yourself as best as you can without medical assistance. We caught it so early that no bacteria grew on the cultures they took, so she told us that they would probably never find out exactly which bacteria it was. To this day, we still don’t know what made Jax so poorly. They also told us that it would have been the same bacteria that had caused the infection in his eye.

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Finally after 9 days, his white blood cell count was back to normal, so they took the cannula out and stopped treatment. It was such a happy day for not only us, but all our family and friends, to know that he had been so lucky to have survived such an ordeal and we were finally taking him home without a bandage on his arm.

Niko, 3yrs, Brett, Natasha &amp; Jax, 17 days old- Photography By Natasha

Niko, 3yrs, Brett, Natasha & Jax, 17 days old- Photography By Natasha

Thank you to Russel’s Hall Hospital Children’s Unit for being so amazing with Jax and all the other children they treat on a daily basis and thank you to our amazing family and friends for giving us more support and love we could ever ask for.

Jax 19 days old - Photography By Natasha

Jax 19 days old - Photography By Natasha

Jax 19 days old - Photography By Natasha

Jax 19 days old - Photography By Natasha