A princess, that’s who she is. In the eyes of her dad and mum and family no less, Ulfah is a princess. I think that is one of the reason why ‘princess’ is in her name, written in Arabic. The celebration for her Cukur Rambut (hair shaving ceremony symbolising cleansing) and baby shower was just held over the weekend. This photo was to be my gift to her mum and dad.
She is the first baby girl (previously all boys) that I’ve had the honour to photograph and also by far the most challenging newborn to photograph. Let me explain why. This was the first time that I’ve taken a First Day Portrait of a newborn, whose mother I’ve only met and spoke with for the first time. Her mum’s name is Nina, and her dad, Firdaus. Although Firdaus is my friend, I’ve only seen Nina once before and that was on their wedding day. Nina is a stranger to me as I’m a stranger to her so it does feel a little awkward that you’re photographing someone’s precious little baby just hours after she was born.
Adding to my level of stress was the fact that her dad, who is also a photographer, had shown me a stunning picture of Ulfah that he had taken with his iPhone. And in the same room with me were the grandparents, relatives, and two of my friends. There were many eyes on me as I tried to calm my nerves and focus on the task at hand.
Back to the photo that Firdaus had shot, which was a picture of Ulfah with her eyes brightly opened, and taken just perhaps a couple of hours after she arrives, someone asked the question, “How do you take a (nice) picture like that?” Nina answered wittingly, “Well, you got to be her dad.” The room filled with laughter.
I spent about half an hour observing Ulfah. The awkwardness only grew. I was looking for an expression, something magical and I began to doubt whether it could actually happen. Somehow, I felt the anxiousness of the people around me as they could only hear the sounds of my camera shutter. My shots were awkward too, as Ulfah was certainly not making it easy for me. She kept a very stern and serious look, with her eyes seemingly frowning and her lips pouted. Her dad would joke, “Why so serious?”
As I never like to disturb babies while they sleep, I did not attempt to alter Ulfah’s sleeping position, opting to let it look natural, and continue to wait for the moment. And this was the shot. Why? Because she looks most like a princess here; a beautiful Arabic princess. Princesses never make things easy, do they? ; )
God bless Princess Ulfah and family.
Photography Andy Post-Process Andy Words Andy