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A Camera - A Hospital Room - and An Unexpected Mentor

Updated: May 16, 2021


Every professional photographer journey starts a little different. My adventure started with a Canon Rebel t3i, hospitalized bedrest, and a kind spiritual man who would change my life forever.

My husband and I struggled with infertility for years. After months of heartache and treatments we found out we were expecting our miracle babe in January of 2014! We were ecstatic and began to prepare like crazy as many first time parent do. I knew that this baby was going to be THEE cutest thing the world had ever seen so I invested in my very first DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel T3i. It was a great little starter camera and had more bells and whistles than I knew what to do with. I only had the thing for a few months when the unexpected happened and my water broke at 27 weeks.



After my water broke, it was a whirlwind of an adventure as we met with several different doctors to decide what was to be done. I was admitted to the hospital as an antenatal patient and put on immediate bedrest. The goal was to keep that little miracle bean cooking as long as possible. It was an emotional time for sure as I packed my suitcase of belongings and headed to a hospital that was hours from home. Uncertain of what the next few days, weeks, and month were to bring, I threw in my Canon Rebel with its trusty instruction manual and moved into room 314 of McKay-Dee Hospital. Little did I know that my photography journey was about to begin.



As you can image, days were LONG as I spent my days alone. My husband was in a different state during the week working and holding down the fort so I looked for companionship wherever I could and made friends pretty fast. Highlights of my day included when Mercedes the custodian would come to clean my room, when the sweet nurses would take me on a wheelchair ride around the maternity floor and see the sweet bundles of joy in the nursery, nightly carrot cakes ordered from the cafeteria (ya, that didn’t help with the pregnancy weight :P), and most of all Sunday church service.




Every Sunday a group of men and women called the pastoral committee would go around to patient’s rooms and offer words of encouragement. One week in particular a man name Jon came to my room. He gave a spiritual thought and then as he glanced around my room noticed my trusty Canon Rebel on my nightstand table. His eyes lit up as he asked if I was into photography. I told him I was simply trying to figure out the thing before baby boy arrived as I planning on capturing every moment of his life. (AMIRGHT MAMAS?) Jon explained that he was a professional photographer and had over 35 years or experience. He had a large and successful studio where he not only took spectacular images, he taught courses on every aspect of photography. He asked if I would like him to come back and teach me private lessons. I told him I would have to check my schedule to see if I could fit him in. I decided there was a tiny slot of time that I could make it happen, in-between my morning talk with Mercedes the custodian and watching The Ellen DeGenerous show. Ha!

And so our lessons began. He taught me about the number one important thing about taking a good picture… light. He went through the science of light, the history of lighting, cameras, etc. Then moved on to the infamous exposure triangle (shutter speed, ISO, aperture), composition, posing, bokeh, and on and on. A floodgate of knowledge flowed from Jon and lite a fire in me I didn’t know existed. I was eager to learn everything I could about this new world that I thought was just a point and shoot experience. Thousands of pictures were taken the days after my lessons (a lot of my tiny room) and tons of experimenting in the daunting “manual mode” of my camera. Finding that sweet spot of perfect exposure and trying to get all three aspects of the triangle to balance was a thrill. I took pictures of every visitor and hospital worker that came through my door. Weekends were my favorite because that’s when my hubby would help me escape in my wheelchair to the OUTSIDE hospital grounds.


On December 20th, 2013 at 34 weeks (yes! I kept that little buddy in for seven weeks with very little fluid around him!) our miracle was born. Gone were the days of taking pictures of the walls of 314 and the pond outside the hospital. I finally had the greatest subject to shoot! One might say, the rest was history!


As I look back on the pictures I took on those lonely days in the hospital and the ever so tender images of the weeks we spent in the NICU, my heart is pricked with pride. Other photographers might critique the quality of the images. Are they all tact sharp and in perfect focus? No. Are they evenly exposed? Not even close. White balance on point? I don’t think I even knew about white balance then! But what I do see is the beginning of a journey that has brought me to where I am today.

I see priceless images that encapsulate what RR Photography’s whole mission is, to truly “Capture moments to be treasured forever.”

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