Emily Eggebraaten Photography »


I have been working on editing my NILMDTS {Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep} this evening, and I feel the need to share some thoughts.  It’s been a long last few days trying to get caught up on everything, and I feel that I’m not getting anywhere, but this is more important than working on paperwork right now.  I’ve been working through these images tonight, and my heart is just heavy with hurt for these families. 

A few Saturday’s ago I was in the middle of 7 sessions in 4 days, which is A LOT for me… I’m typically exhausted and ready to veg after 1.  Lots of late nights combined with trying to get organized after vacation, photographing, and family commitments had me at my max.  After two sessions already that morning and a third session later that day, the last thing on my mind was NILMDTS.  My phone rang.  Caller ID said 333-1000.  I knew what was coming.  NILMDTS needed someone to photograph a 24 week old boy who wouldn’t be going home.


I didn’t have much time to spare, but I headed to the hospital to meet a family whose lives would be forever changed.  During the short drive to the hospital, I prayed… thanking God for all that I had, asking for preparation and guidance during the session.  I never quite know what to expect when I’m called… what the family will need or want, who will be there, what the history is, but somehow God knows and gives me the words and actions I need.

I walked into the room and a gentleman was sitting in a chair.  As I approached, I realized he was holding his tiny son.  He had been born a mere 9 oz at birth, but looked absolutely perfect.  I knew at that moment there was no where else I was supposed to be.  As I held baby C and watched his parents love him, I was filled with a profound gratitude that I was allowed to observe and capture such precious moments.  It sounds silly, but I have never felt more at home photographing anyone.  I was simply an observer hoping to give this family something tangible to remember their son by.  I learned that they have long been waiting for this child.  They had plans for his life, plans to play ball with dad and his brothers, plans to be loved by an older sister.  After a long trial with infertility, he was finally there.  But he wouldn’t be coming home.  The joy and expectation gone, replaced by heartache and grief I can’t imagine. 

NILMDTS needs photographers.  There are roughly 7000 photographers to cover all of the US, and families go without this service all of the time.  People need this service, and I need this too.  This is why I started my business, and this is the most important thing that I do.  I need the reminder of just how precious this work is, how precious life is.  It is so easy to get caught up in the “business” side of things, but this is a stark reminder of the value of what we as professional photographers offer.  If a loved one died tomorrow, image what a photograph would mean to you.  This is it.  We are storytellers.  We have the opportunity to glimpse into someone’s life {or death} and capture them at that exact moment in time, and for these families, this is all that they have.  I get to tell their child’s short story. 


A lot of people wonder how we can serve in this way.  It is difficult, and I cry every time.  But the Lord prepares me, and I am able to focus on capturing the child rather than on the gravity of the loss.  Some of the photographers I have spoken with, including myself, wonder if they are good enough.  But think of it this way… are you better equiped than a hospital staff member or the family?  No mother deserves to hear that there is no one available in her greatest hour of grief.  If you are a professional photographer reading this, PLEASE consider signing up with NILMDTS.  How incredibly lucky we are to have this gift to offer healing. 




May 24, 2010 - 8:21 pm

T Murphy - That is an amazing, amazing post. As a mommy of three, it breaks my heart to read it, but also puts things into perspective.

June 5, 2010 - 2:12 am

Missy - Thank you Emily. So beautifully written. So amazing and heartwrenching. Praying for you and how God will continue to use you to bless others. Love you friend!

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *