Top Twenty-Five Photos of my Louisette 365 Project

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I like this shot because it’s so simple and so complicated. It was most definitely planned, and planned to be public – I blogged and tweeted throughout the labour, and every blogger knows “pics or it didn’t happen”. I didn’t really like the idea of having a shirtless photo (most people give birth naked just because labour is a bit like that, and then immediately breastfeed because motherhood is a bit like that – skin on skin contact is great for the baby if you can get it) so I carefully instructed my sister to help me get a shirt on, take the, “Hey look! Baby! Tired mum!” photo, and then take the shirt away again. I also remembered at the time to ask for a shirt immediately after Louisette was born.

My sister took the photo – a few actually – and I thought to myself, “Honest facial expression! No gooey stuff!” because that’s how I roll.

Those photos are rubbish, and have long since been deleted.

Once that job was done, and I’d stated for the record that I was definitely going to have another child (about thirty seconds later) I was free to adore my astonishing miracle. Technically, the birth wasn’t even fully over (the baby was out, but not the afterbirth – which, incidentally, I’m told was a particularly fine specimen).  That’s when my sister took the above photo.

I love it because there’s nothing but us in the photo, and you can clearly see both our faces, and exactly how impressed/unimpressed we are. I love it because I’m not aware of getting my photo taken – just of Louisette. I like that I don’t just have the usual makeup-free flushed face and sweat-tangled hair of all these type of photos, but there is a cut on my lip – the kind of small detail in a bigger story that is the most memorable part (I don’t know if my lips just dried out and cracked, or if I bit it and didn’t notice). And I love that you can see her tiny hand.

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This photo was taken when Louisette was four days old, and we took her back to the hospital (we had stayed in hospital overnight and left in the morning – less than a day after Louisette was born) for standard hearing tests. Since it was her first outing, I decided to dress her in all her best finery for the occasion. This photo and the next (taken on the same day) show just how tiny she was.

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CJ was soothing Louisette while we were at the hospital, and I caught that moment – wedding ring, tiny exasperated face, and that tightly-clenching hand of a girl already familiar with her dad’s voice and smell. This photo is my absolute favourite. In a way, it is our family photo – we are all represented.

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This was the first time I deliberately set up a pose for Louisette – in the washing basket. That is our actual washing, hastily shoved about for a few seconds as I realised the excellent balance of colours.

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Louisette used to fall asleep on my lap during every feed, and the cuteness was heartbreaking. It’s not particularly easy to take a photo of something in one’s own lap (something who’s over half a metre long when she isn’t scrunched up). The key is having good long arms. . .

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I like this shot for its simplicity, and for the directness of her gaze. She was only a couple of months old at the time.

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My mum loves to give presents, and went overboard over Louisette before CJ and I were even trying to conceive. When I was pregnant I was so sick the gifts barely registered, but this giraffe mobile arrived at just the right moment as the nausea hormones lessened and some of the happy hormones were able to get through. I was obsessed with it throughout the pregnancy. Louisette likes it too 🙂

That jacket was the first item of clothing we bought for her (with a voucher) after she was born, and she wore it a LOT because it was so beautiful. Sidebar: she was actually born with genuine furry ears, like a cat or an elf woman.

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I just love images with sand, water, and mountains – all together (like here in Hong Kong) is particularly good. I like CJ and Louisette too. This photo almost didn’t make the shortlist, because of the haze. Sadly, that’s Hong Kong for you.

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I’m constitutionally incapable of leaving out China’s Great Wall in any list of personal favourite visuals. It’s a stunning monument in a grand setting. I also don’t mind this picture of me.

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It takes a rare piece of luck to get such a portrait-like photo of a baby. I’m grateful for the simple background keeping the focus on her adorable face. This list would be incomplete without at least one shot that makes me fall into her big blue eyes.

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As you can imagine, this photo is also the result of luck, and a LOT of it. All awake? None feeding or crying? And Louisette cleverly making herself stand out amongst the crowd? Perfection!

Louisette still plays with several members of this crowd, and I hope she always does.

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Louisette with both her girl cousins. The cuteness here is off the scale (hugging Louisette was the 2-year old’s idea, and Louisette was delighted); all three are happy and in focus (believe me, that’s not easy!) and the colours work nicely together.

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The hardest part of this photo was the speed at which I needed to get the shots in between pulling grass, leaves, and twigs (she always prefers choking hazards to mere dirt) out of her mouth. She’d just started sometimes looking at items briefly before tasting them, so the idea of taking her photo in the ivy happened not a moment too soon. It was actually just a nature strip at a playground (with slovenly youths wandering by lighting fires on picnic tables), but it looks fantastical and lush here.

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The colours of autumn in Canberra make it worth braving the cold. I like that we’re both in furry hoods here. This was taken beside Lake Burley Griffin, near Questacon. It’s been called “The Drop Bear Picture” ever since.

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The colours happened by accident. It all just came together (although I realised the shot could be great, and flung off the couch cover and moved CJ’s arm to make it just right). I love that we caught the brief period when she was doing that sweet little hand gesture, too.

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This shot genuinely just happened. I love the way Louisette lights up in or around water, but I’m rarely able to use a camera at the same time. This is her having a bath in our plastic paddle-pool shell on the balcony.

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Ever since she learned to roll over, Louisette has preferred to sleep on her tummy, but this time she was so tired that she passed out without even grabbing Eeyore off her chest first. I guessed – correctly – that she’d stay asleep even if I removed her dummy. Since you can see her whole face, this is a favourite among all her sleeping photos.

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This photo was taken on Christmas Eve, when we introduced Lousiette to the concept of presents for the first time. At first she was intrigued, then bewildered, then she got it. I was taking about a million photos, and this one caught the mess, the obsessive photo-taking (CJ took a million photos too, using his phone), and – most importantly – her smile.

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I must confess that although I took many photos almost exactly like this one, my camera was sorely outdone by the camera (and photography know-how) of a friend. I’m just glad he passed this on! I love the circles of the tunnel – all the more so with the hat-circles echoing the theme. You can see she’s a tiny bit overwhelmed by the newness, but she’s not going to let it stop her having fun.

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I was annoyed that the last photo in this list wasn’t even technically one of mine so, realising that Louisette loved her new chair and that the foam and bricks made a nice geometric background, I took eighty photos in very quick succession. Once I had them down to a (very respectable) top ten, I saw that (despite my conscious efforts) this was the only one in which the photo was actually straight. Arg!

The expression is a classic, so I don’t mind leaving out the ones of her laughing.

Ah, who am I kidding? I love this one too.

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PS Thank you to Jolyon for rotating this photo so it was straight!

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The ball pit is a brilliant background. . . if you can get a child to stay still (and not weirded out) long enough. This was not a first attempt at this shot. I love her dress (if I’d dressed her specifically for the ball pit I would have chosen a plain colour, and I think that wouldn’t have worked as well – she’d have disappeared into the mass) and her long legs.

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Usually for this list, I leave out the blurry ones (which cuts out a large proportion of even the good photos). But this perfectly captures a moment when Louisette is industriously emptying the ball pit (apologies to the Hellenic Club, incidentally) and her two-year-old cousin (borrowed specifically to thrill Louisette on her birthday – she was out of her mind with delight to have her cousin, both parents AND a playground all in one hour) doing backstroke. Because it’s a ball pit, and that’s what you do.

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I wanted a really excellent birthday portrait to end the 365 project. To cut a long story short, I took over three hundred photos and used up six batteries – but I expanded this blog entry from a top twenty to a top twenty-five in a single day. The balcony in the morning has really excellent natural light, and so when I saw Louisette playing with the ball in front of her decorated box, I thought, “Man, if only this whole scene was happening outside where I could get a nice photo of all the colours and smiling together.” So I picked everything up and moved it – and it worked.

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The other birthday photo I really wanted to finish off the 365 Project was a mother-daughter moment to echo the first photo in this set. I dressed in dark pink to complement her (then trimmed it out of the final shot but whatever) and picked a plain background – in this case, our carport – still using morning light. I chose this one out of the final four because Louisette is facing the camera and I’m facing her – just like in that first photo we had together.

Also, she’s adorable.

Published by Felicity Banks

I write books (mainly adventure fantasy for kids and young adults), real-time twittertales, and a blog of Daily Awesomeness. @Louise_Curtis_ and http://twittertales.wordpress.com. My fantasy ebook is on sale at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/278981.

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