Maternity and baby photographer Amrita Samant recalls some of the most inspiring little fighters she snapped during this unprecedented time
For many expectant parents, 2020 was a year of great uncertainty. The onset of COVID-19 was followed by a strict lockdown which made hospital visits and routine pregnancy follow-ups difficult. Maternity and baby photographer Amrita Samant says, "This was such an unprecedented time and the idea of being pregnant and having a baby during a pandemic was so challenging. That is why when the babies arrived, the joy and relief of the families was that much more special to capture. Now every time I focus my camera on a little one, I feel gratitude for their arrival in our chaotic world because somehow they represent the hope that things will get better. I draw endless inspiration from the babies because they went through so much, faced all the uncertainties with so much grit and yet now smile so peacefully to show how happy they are to be here."
For Amrita, a pioneering photography entrepreneur behind 'Mommy Shots by Amrita,' the pandemic was a time that brought her even closer to the young families she photographed after the lockdown. During the sessions, she heard intimate and inspiring stories of childbirth, recalls Amrita, “I call the babies who were born during this time ‘miracle babies’ because the stories around their birth were so amazing."
Rayane and Mithun's Baby (PC: Mommy Shots by Amrita)
Take the story of Rayane and Mithun who had an eventful journey because their newborn Radhya was a preterm, underweight baby girl, born just three days before the nation went into complete lockdown. Rayane says, "She couldn't breathe, was anaemic and also had a seizure. She had to be kept in the intensive care unit for a month and it was hard for us to go back home without her." Amrita says, “For Rayane and Mithun, Radhya is truly a miracle baby because she fought and pulled through like a boss. When the worst was over, we did the shoot to celebrate the end of a long, painful journey. I had shot with the family before but it was a privilege to shoot this little fighter.”
Her clients, Bangalore-based Rakshith and Anusha also went through anxiety when their underweight baby, Poshith had to be kept in the neonatal intensive care ward. Shares Amrita, “During this tough one week, Rakshith wasn’t allowed inside the hospital for a while and even their close family members weren’t allowed to see the baby. That is why when they came to me for the shoot, it was a huge milestone for them and I could sense their relief.”
Ashritha's Baby (PC: Mommy Shots by Amrita)
Ashritha Keshav also traversed the distance from stress to celebration. She is a child psychologist, a professional Kuchipudi dancer and is married to Preetham Dev Moses, a builder, a seven-time national motorsport champion and the first Indian to represent India in Grand Prix motorcycle racing. The two are parents to a 7-year-old son and welcomed their daughter, Mihika in 2020 through an emergency Caesarian operation after prolonged labour. Amrita says, “Ashritha told me that pregnancy in the midst of a pandemic is an experience as novel as Coronavirus itself! She was even administered a COVID-19 test while in active labour and had to wear a plastic PPE gown. The staff looked like astronauts rather than doctors and nurses but the story concluded on such a happy note!" Ashritha says, "We knew every outing was a potential risk, but short of living in a real bubble, going to a photoshoot was a calculated risk that we didn’t mind taking. Things went better than expected and we loved the pictures which will now always remind our children just how precious they are to us. Amrita was so good at diffusing all the stress and anxiety. "
Divya and Arun's Baby (PC: Mommy Shots by Amrita)
Chennai-based Divya and Arun's story too was marked by COVID-19 related anomalies but it was all worth it when their baby Aadhyan arrived with his eyes wide open! Amrita shares, “While they missed the fuss of having friends and family visiting them post-delivery, they actually preferred the quiet intimacy of just the three of them getting used to each other. The same soothing atmosphere helped us pull off the photoshoot as well. The family felt safe because the crew wore masks, and we sanitized the entire studio before their arrival, shot from a safe distance and handled the little one with utmost caution. They wanted natural moments rather than staged shots and that is exactly what we gave them.”
Divya recalls, "I don't think any expectant mother can ever prepare fully for a pandemic. For me, getting through this time was a big personal victory and I was determined to schedule a maternity and newborn photography session as soon as I could to celebrate this journey. Yes, I worried about exposing myself and my newborn to potential risk at a studio but we were so lucky to have Amrita. She ensured a safe environment and immediately put my family and me at ease."
Amrita says, "Divya, Arun and Aadhyan seemed to be saying, 'we made it!' And I just felt blessed that I was there to capture that moment. Yes, the pandemic has taken us all by surprise but the miracle babies and their families showed that human resilience and the hope for a better tomorrow will get us through just about anything."