Using Photography to Make a Heartfelt Difference

Using Photography to Make a Heartfelt Difference


My name is Fiona Lumsdaine.

I’m a passionate fine art portrait, wedding, corporate and event photographer living in Sydney Australia. You can find me at

I’m also the NSW representative for Heartfelt.

Heartfelt is a volunteer organisation of professional photographers from all over Australia dedicated to giving the gift of photographic memories to families that have experienced stillbirths, premature and ill infants and children in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units of their local hospitals, as well as children with serious and terminal illnesses.

Heartfelt is dedicated to providing this gift to families in a caring, compassionate manner. All services are provided free of charge.

I’m going to share with you a story of one of my Heartfelt sessions.

This article is not for everyone. There is great emotion and devastating loss. You will be introduced to a family in their darkest moments. You will meet their stillborn baby boy.

If you can bear it, please read this article. Please talk about Heartfelt (and Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep in countries other than Australia) so that we don’t continue to hear “Oh how I wish I had known that you existed!”.

It’s an important topic.

And, if you are a professional photographer, please think about whether you’ve got what it takes to be a volunteer Heartfelt or NILMDTS photographer. If you are in Australia and think that you would like to join the Heartfelt team of compassionate and skilled photographers, please apply on our website,


The email comes through… “There is a session at XXXX Hospital for a still born baby boy. I spoke to his father today and they would like the session in the next day or so and he is expecting a call from the photographer that can help them out.”

The next day I’m on my way to the hospital. My Think Tank is prepped (as a Heartfelt photographer, you always have your batteries fully charged and CF cards formatted and read to go) and I’m telling myself that I’m good to go.

I arrive on the ward and am directed to the Mum’s room. I knock on the door and wait to be invited in.

This is possibly the most difficult moment that we experience as Heartfelt photographers. We are walking into the most intimate and harrowing moments of a strangers’ life. We don’t know them, and they don’t know us. We don’t know how they are coping with their grief. We usually don’t know any details at all about their baby or child.. other than their medical situation or prognosis.

Some parents greet us with relief and gratitude. Others are barely aware that we’re there. Some are desperate to talk to us… a person outside the system but there to support and help them. And others are terrified to speak at all, lest they break down and can’t find a way to hold it together.

I’m invited into the room and introduce myself to Mum, Dad and their 5 year old daughter. We’re all waiting for their baby boy to be brought into the room from the mortuary.

I get my gear ready… the room is big enough for me to use my 85mm f/1.4, and so I pop it onto my D3S and put my 35mm f/2 on to my D700. I have my 50 f/1.4 ready to swap out with my 85mm. I would use my 24-70mm but it’s back-focusing a tad and I can’t risk missing a single frame. There is no do-over.

The daughter is shy. She doesn’t like having her photograph taken and Mum is worried that she won’t be able to have a photograph of her two children together. I kneel by the daughter and ask her to look through my viewfinder. I ask her what she sees. I show her how to press the shutter, and we spend a minute or so together as she takes photographs of me.

Mum touches my shoulder and mouths “thank you”. She sits by her daughter, and I capture them laughing together.. hugging each other.

Dad is lying on the bed. Barely talking.

Mum asks me why I’m a Heartfelt photographer and I tell her that I know what it is to experience loss. In those few words, we establish a trust. She knows that I understand, and I know that she knows that I understand.

I ask her if there are any specific photographs that she would like taken, and she explains that there are a few family traditions that she’d like to uphold. And that other than that she would simply like a record of their precious time with their baby boy.

Baby is brought into the room and I begin shooting in earnest. My primary role is to record this moment in this family’s history. To provide the only photographs that they will ever have of their time with their first born son. To prove that he did exist. To keep his memory alive and with them in a tangible way.

Mum is howling. Dad is silent. Daughter is hiding in a corner painting with a family friend.

Tears are streaming down my cheeks, but I hardly notice them as I move around following the light and the emotion.

I realise that I’m short of breath. I have almost stopped breathing, as if in respect for the depth of emotion in front of me. I struggle to slow my breathing back to normal.

Daughter eagerly and gently helps her parents bathe her brother. She sits with him on the bed and kisses his forehead. She watches her Mum and Dad holding each other and leans into them and places her hands on their arms.


Immediate family come and go, and I shoot them all. I ask Mum if she’d like me to leave them alone for a while, but she tells me that she doesn’t want me to miss a single moment, and so I stay.



After what seems like 15 minutes, but is really an hour and a half, I tell them that I will leave them alone with their precious boy, and pack my gear up.

We hug. We cry. I explain the Heartfelt process and make my goodbyes.

This is the next hardest part of being a Heartfelt photographer. I make my way into the corridor and gulp back my tears. I try to regulate my breathing and tell myself that I can cry once I’ve made it to my car.

And when I have made it to my car, I let it all out. The unjustice. The grief. The cruelty. The heartache. It comes POURING out of me… loudly. And then I call my state rep and debrief as I drive home.

Home, to my healthy and alive children.

*Mum wrote and sent an amazing letter to the President of Heartfelt, Gavin Blue, after our session. She has given her permission for me to share it here with you. She has also written a very profound and moving blog post describing her experience of having a Heartfelt photographer turn up in her most devastating moment. That can be found here

“Hi Gavin.
I just wanted to take a moment in the stillness of “The After” to write to you.

Wow. What can I say. You have helped me in such a profound way, and yet we have not met, have not spoken, and only briefly “talked” on Facebook before all this started.

I was one who asked for flyers many moons ago to give to my midwife to keep on hand if every she had a client who needed to get in contact with you and the Heartfelt services. I never received the flyers (time gets away from all of us), however as Murphy’s Law would have it – I would have been that client to need your details.

I have promoted Heartfelt and spoken many times of what you do – all before. Before it happened to me. Before I really knew. And now we are here in this place, where Avery is not with us and Heartfelt has become a massive piece of me, in ways I never imagined.

Before the news of his death was even 12 hours past the monographers lips, I was talking about Heartfelt. I was telling the midwives, the social workers, the ICU nurses that I would have heartfelt come. The midwives went home and looked you up on the internet. The Obstetricians took down your website on their notes so they could have you on file, and the Social Worker wrote your website on the front page of her diary. Everyone who came by my room heart about you. And by the time they left, they knew how important you were to a family like mine.

To have to make that call, and have you send someone is a big ask. But you sent us more than just a photographer. You sent us Fiona. What an angel she was when she came into our lives, on the Darkest of journeys. When she opened the door and became part of our family, with tears shed, warm embraces and an understanding beyond all comprehension.

We asked for a couple of photos for the funeral, just one or two. Fiona sent us a collection that warmed our hearts and told a story we could not utter in words. Shown on a slide show they illustrated the grief, the joy, the family and the love for our little boy. The small snippet of photos sent through blessed our families and friends with a million memories of Avery – without them having ever kissed his cheeks. I have attached just one photo. It is one moment that was caught, but I think it says everything that Heartfelt means to me. It captured love, time, relationships, joy, heartache and more. The photo is magic. To my little girl, it is a perfect moment of her being a big sister to her little brother. To a mama, it’s is a magic family portrait of my two beautiful children. This photo is everything.

We gave a small flyer out to all of our guests with Avery’s photo on the front and the attached photo of Fiona’s on the back. We included a message underneath asking for donations to Heartfelt in Avery’s name. I know a number of people have already made donations. I hope many more do.

I am hoping to raise some money myself to donate to Heartfelt in the next few weeks as I process all that has occurred. It is the least I can do after what Heartfelt and Fiona have given to me and to my husband and daughter. I know my friends and family and acquaintances will come to the party and dig deep for the cause and hopefully my darling Avery will help you get the word out to other hospitals around the country. I know that none of the people had heard of you at the hospital before Avery – but they all do now. I really hope I can help with the book. It is the very least I can offer.

Gavin, thank you so much for the tireless work you do, and the special breed of photographers that work under the Heartfelt banner do.

I know you know how much it means. With love and blessings

Kristie Tatton, Avery’s Mama.”

If you know of any family who would benefit from our services, please do not hesitate to call us on 1800 583 768 (Australian Number). State reps and individual photographers are also listed on our website. We understand that time is crucial in some cases, which is why we are able to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We offer complimentary individual or family portrait sessions for families who meet the Heartfelt criteria. Families who have suffered a still birth (over 22 weeks gestation), have a critically ill premature baby (under 28 weeks), families with ill infants in NICU, as well as babies and children with serious and terminal illnesses are able to access Heartfelt services.

Participating photographers will come to your hospital or your home at a time convenient to you, and will help capture cherished photographic memories. After your session, a photographer will provide your family with a full set of prints (approximately 20 however some circumstances may not permit a variety of images). The photographer will also supply a disc of high resolution images for the family. There will be no charge for this service or for those prints.

If you would like to discuss this further, enquire about joining Heartfelt, or know anyone who is in need of our services, please contact your Heartfelt State Rep on 1800 583 768 (Australian Number).

For more information, please visit the following sites:

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Tim August 7, 2013 09:05 am

    Unbelievable...the images are stunning, very surreal. Great post, and photos.

  • Lee n NOLA January 5, 2013 01:44 pm

    I first learned of this type of photography at a workshop in Detroit, MI, USA. At the time I was working with families of children with terminal illnesses. I would give anything to have a single photo of my son, Ian Lee Dickson, who died when he was two days old. I was not allowed to hold him and , without my permission, he was buried in a mass grave. A photo of him would mean so much. Thank you for the difficult, valuable work you do.
    Lee Hoffman, clinical social worker.

  • Shelley Sargent January 1, 2013 12:18 am

    For those of you in the U.S. who would like to do this type of volunteering, we have an organization called, "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" and they provide portraits of stillborn, neonatal demise, NICU babies.
    I am a digital retouch artist for them as right now there are plenty of Photographers in my area.
    You can get more info at

  • Simon December 15, 2012 12:26 am

    What a beautiful story, thanks you so much for sharing.

    I'm a pro photographer but only became aware of Heartfelt through a (Facebook) friend who is one of your photographers ... and bizarrely within 24 hours found a second photographer friend was also one of your amazing photographers.

    I would so love to be able to help out the way you do, I am in awe of you and all the Heartfelt photographers. I'm just not sure I could hold in the tears and raw emotions long enough to make it back to my car and am terrified I'd end up making things worse for the family.

    I think what you guys do is the most beautiful gift you could give.

  • Julie August 7, 2012 05:12 pm

    Wonderful.... no more words than that, what you do is amazing and I will be purchasing my DSLR and registering with your service x

  • Nancy Maddalena June 23, 2012 12:39 pm

    A poem you might like to share with your clients on heartfelt, keep up the good work. Remember Me by Nancy Maddalena
    I leave my handprints for you upon this paper raw
    God knows you'd rather have to clean them from the door
    Why this thing has happened no-one realy knows
    I would have stayed much longer to play and wear my clothes
    and leave my little footprints in the warm and gritty sand
    instead of in this message that trembles in your hand
    remember that I love you just as you love me
    and keep me in your hearts and in our family
    one day we will meet again I'm very certain sure
    for what ever you believe in that is God's loving law

  • Better Photography June 16, 2012 09:23 pm

    Heatbreaking and heartwarming all at once. Fiona, thank you for sharing this amazing story.

  • Belle June 16, 2012 05:26 pm

    I cried through almost the whole thing. What an incredible service to offer people. It takes such a strong person to be able to do that. And I think it's SO important for a photographer to be able to emotionally connect like that. You're an amazing person.

    I hope to be able to do this someday. It's something I've known about for a while & think it is one of the most sacred gifts you could give someone. I'm not a professional photographer yet but someday I hope to be & would love to be part of this.

  • Cynthia June 16, 2012 10:36 am

    As a mother who delivered her first child stillborn, I can say you have given this family a precious, precious gift. Those memories will forever live with them. Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope it encourages others to do the same.

  • Cris Nicole June 16, 2012 04:34 am

    what an amazing organization. i have a headache from crying my way through this article--the picture with the daughter and baby is what broke me. i feel grateful that such an organization exists somewhere..... and grateful that my children are alive and healthy and i've never needed to benefit from such an org. i photograph labors & births, and i've never experienced any type of trauma. i don't know that first thing about starting a nonprofit, but i wonder how feasible it would be here in the Bay Area of California? what a gift it would be to many families. thank you for being strong enough to do such work.

  • Charles Gattis June 15, 2012 10:32 pm

    What an amazingly wonderful thing to do. You walk along side these families in such a tragic and time and give them the gift of beautiful, powerful moments. This goes a long way in helping them deal with the grief. Thanks for sharing this. Is there a similar organization in the US?

  • Fiona Lumsdaine June 15, 2012 05:28 pm

    Thank you so much to everyone that has commented and emailed. I am completely overwhelmed by your kind words.



  • Felix June 15, 2012 03:32 pm

    I am profoundly moved by this article, I wish I had the courage to the be able to do this kind of thing, let alone your talent for getting such beautiful photos under such conditions. It's great to know that an organization such as Heartfelt exists. I have the utmost respect for you.

  • Bill.. June 15, 2012 03:00 pm

    Wow - isn't this THE most powerful demonstration of what photography is all about? Thanks for sharing. I was moved by the words but, as soon as I saw the images the tears flowed (am now regretting reading this at work, not cool to have a 50 year old man sitting weeping at his PC - "damn, this cold is bad" I said). It certainly takes a special person to offer this kind of service. Couldn't do it myself but definitely applaud those that can and do. It takes the art to a new level and provides a service that only those who experience the trauma and grief can fully appreciate. Not only capturing the story but the emotion as well. Brilliant work.

  • Nick Kawabata June 15, 2012 01:01 pm

    Hi..First of all Thankyou for sharing your story..this story resinates with me as I am a parent who lost a son at birth "Joel." When I was asked by the nurse to take pictures I was somewhat shocked and broken inside beyond beleif at the thought of portraying a family shot with a child that had passed. However, months,years later after the numbness of loss and the emptiness inside subsides the photos are precious reminder of a beautiful boy that we had brought in to this life. Thankyou again.

  • Darlene Doust June 15, 2012 12:22 pm

    Absolutly Beautiful so sad i wish i had something like this as i lost my son 33 years ago after 12 hours and have nothing .thinking of the family at this sad time hugs to you all

  • Rachael Westblade June 15, 2012 11:58 am

    What a divine gift to give to a family <3 Thank you

  • Nikki June 15, 2012 11:56 am

    Thank you Fiona, for all that you do. For telling Avery's story, for giving Kristie something that she so needed and for allowing me to meet Avery in a way that wouldn't have been possible without you and without Heartfelt.

    Kristie is a dear dear friend of mine and Avery was such a part of my life. Before he was even conceived I knew him and loved him. We were devastated when we got the news, more so because we were so far away. We didn't have the chance to hold him, to met him, to say goodbye. From our distance your photos gave us something so precious and I can't thank you enough for the chance to know that beautiful boy.


  • Donna June 15, 2012 10:59 am

    I wish we had heard of you when we lost our son at 22 weeks. Owen had Trisomy 18. We did take some photos of him on his birthdate. However his body looked so traumatised from the birth.
    We were given a package of information from SANDS (stillborn and neonatal death) with some great helpful advice that we were able to follow. But the one thing i regret was getting photos of Owen later on, when the birth trauma had settled down. We had a small time to view him at the funeral in the coffin and he looked beautitful. But we never took any photos. This is my deepest regret. Please, please, please contact SANDS for me and put your details in their information package. You are doing a wonderful thing.

  • Mandy June 15, 2012 10:37 am

    Absolutely beautiful. I have fallen in love with photography over the past few months and have only just begun to take photographs myself. I am so passionate about the importance of photography and stories like this are the reason why. Pictures become the keepers of memories and history, they are so vital. I had never heard of Heartfelt...I will be telling everyone I know about it now. Thank you for sharing this story, I had tears the whole way through.

  • Oli June 15, 2012 09:56 am

    Wow. I couldn't even have imagined something like this existed. Kudos.

  • Mark Blu June 15, 2012 08:18 am

    Darren Rouse, thank you so much for putting this out there. This is without doubt one of the most touching articles I've read. Fiona is a very special kind of person to be able to bring this kind of gift to someone in the throes of grief and Kristie is simply amazing to have shared this kind of intimacy with the world. This is selfless courage and kindness on a level I have rarely seen. I am without a doubt a better human being for having read this.

    Fiona's photographs carry real emotional impact and are masterful. They were powerful enough to bring this often hard-nosed corporate officer to tears. I'm truly inspired by the nature and quality of her work.

    Today I learned that as photographers we are possibly much more than we think we are in that we can have a lasting affect on the quality of people's lives. I probably won't ever be able to look at my cameras the same way again.

  • kevin June 15, 2012 06:56 am

    kudos to you!!!! not sure if i could do that such a service you provide wish i could shake your hand

  • Dana June 15, 2012 06:31 am

    Jason, men tend to compartmentalize and women tend to feel and continue to work their way through it. We hold it together enough to do what needs to be done and then we can break down if we choose to do so. That's the reason these organizations have someone to debrief them after a session so that they can process what they've been through, vent safely, and then go home to their families.

    As a mom who has experienced the loss of a child, seeing a tear in the eye of someone who is trying to help me instantly touches my heart more than any words can. Even though the world continues spinning after my child has died, it feels so good that at least one other human being FEELS some of what I am feeling and can stop their world for a little while to be with me. That builds trust that I need to have before I can let someone into my new world of a bereaved parent.

    As a volunteer at hospice and crisis telephone centers, I appreciate that a social worker or counselor is always available to help me work through any emotions brought up by my work that I'm having a hard time letting go.... without someone to vent to these kind of jobs would be difficult to maintain for very long.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that if a photographer can do this type of session for an hour and a half and not have to vent in some way about the tragedy they've witnessed, they're probably in the wrong line of work.... There's no way a photographer could walk out of that hospital room, glance at their watch and say, oops, I'm late for my golf game.... a bond has been created and you have to process what you've seen and the work you completed. It's normal, and not a fault, to grieve with the family over this tremendous loss.

  • Susie June 15, 2012 05:27 am

    Thank you for writing. The article was so hard to read. It brought me back to those horrible moments in the hospital when I held my little boys that had been born sleeping. I will never know their eye color, never know their laugh, but I do have their pictures. I cherish them. The photographer from NILMDTS is now one of the closest people to me. I feel bonded to her yet I barely know her. I will forever be grateful that she has helped me to evidence that my boys were here.

  • jenni williams June 15, 2012 04:08 am

    as a grandmother who went through this a few months ago i know this service helped our broken hearts and to you people who do it bless your strength and kind hearst that you care for other peoples grief in this way thankyou

  • Jason St. Petersburg Photographer June 15, 2012 04:02 am

    Powerful black & white images. I wonder if it is a good thing for the photographer to get so emotional from this kind of portrait session. How often can a photographer do it? It seems this type of photography would be well suited for photographers who can compartmentalize their emotions more.

  • Kimmarie Martinez June 15, 2012 03:59 am

    This brought such tears to my eyes.
    I just lost my 39 year old brother to epilepsy and crebra palsy. In his last days, I found myself wanting to take pictures of him all the time trying to save those final momentsm, but didn't want it to seem like he was "on display". But after reading your story, I have no regrets and will never resist taking such photos again. I have attached two images that, albeit taken with my iPhone, that are very powerful.

    They are images of my mom and dad sharing their last moments of love and affection with my brother Frank:

    My mother wishing her son could give her one more hug:

    [eimg url='!/photo.php?fbid=3305438846630&set=a.1834817082005.99536.1587789621&type=3&theater' title='photo.php?fbid=3305438846630&set=a.1834817082005.99536.1587789621&type=3&theater']

    My father giving his son affection!/photo.php?fbid=3305689612899&set=a.1834817082005.99536.1587789621&type=3&theater

  • Carl Chick June 15, 2012 03:59 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. Although incredibly sad, it is also a beautiful testiment to human spirit. You must be a strong person. I don't think I could ever muster the internal fortitude required.

  • Carol June 15, 2012 03:58 am

    I think this is one of the hardest and yet most beautiful articles I have ever read. You are an angel to be giving these families such a precious gift!!

  • Doug Harding June 15, 2012 03:45 am

    What an amazing service you provide, tears were pouring down my face as I read this....
    I grew up and was married in New Zealand when I lost my first child at 20 weeks then another at 14 weeks but finally we managed to hold on to my precious daughter who was born 2.2 Pounds. She is perfect and now 24 years old about to be married.
    I was lucky I guess..
    Is there a service of this nature in the UK?
    As an experienced UK photographer this would be an amazing gift I could give to others..


  • Angel June 15, 2012 03:37 am

    Indeed was a very touching article I dont know if in Mexico city exists anything like Heartfelt organization, I just want to say that good bless you and that god bless this family! I promise that anytime i have a chance I will always talk about Heartfelt, regards.

  • Hal Hagan June 15, 2012 03:27 am

    As another parent had the anguish of seeing our premature baby struggle to live for three hours then lose, oh so many years ago, I still value the two little Polaroid pictures one of the doctors took for us - they sit underneat the little urn containing our son's ashes in our bedroom.
    I would love to offer this service in our community (perhaps more readily when I'm retired and have the flexibility to get to the hospital at any hour). I'm sure it would take absolutely everything out of me when in the moment, but the importance of giving the grieving family something to remember would outweigh my own grief at having to share in this... That which doesn't destroy us only makes us stronger.

  • Federico Rosales-Arzú (Lico43) June 15, 2012 02:29 am

    Dear Fiona:
    I am a physician (Plastic Reconstructive Surgeon), and appreciate the kind of experience you are having, documenting with photos, this heart full deep feelings...
    For us physicians are very difficult moments of sorrow, difficult to handle and disgusting for the common people...
    One step before dealing with the dead, the severely injured or sick people (some of them might die), is easier to take pictures for documenting the case, the family understands the reason better...
    Here in Guatemala (Central America), in the late 1800 it was usual that family took pictures of dead people, at the funeral home, posing around the coffin...
    Good luck with your work, are very interesting moments of photography, thank you for shearing it with us...

  • Private one June 15, 2012 02:25 am

    My family experienced the stunning work of a NILMDTS photographer in Chapel Hill, NC and I have a friend who volunteers for them in Virginia. Their work is incredibly professional, personal and spiritual. They are very, very well trained in how to function in these desparate situations with sensitivity, awareness and focus. I cannot express deeply enough how much my family appreciates, honors and reveres this incredible outreach. Thank you, thank you, thank you to any of you who do this marvelous work.

  • Dr. Divya Pal Singh June 15, 2012 02:24 am

    Being a palliative care physician looking after terminally ill children with cancer, I can fully empathize with the family and the photographer. This has prompted me to take photos of my patients with their parents (with their permission, of course). Thanks and best wishes

  • Carissa June 15, 2012 01:56 am

    Such a gift both of these organizations offer to grieving families. Thank you all for sharing your stories. I would very much like to be part of an group like this. I will look into it.

  • wal June 15, 2012 01:39 am

    A very emotional story. It is amazing what the servise is doing.. I hope people will benefit from this and help them go through.

  • Alex June 15, 2012 01:30 am

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing and for doing what you guys do. I was fighting back tears while reading that. Such an unfair and horrible thing to happen to any family.


  • Chitra Sivasankar Arunagiri June 15, 2012 01:22 am

    No words to say.

  • Maira Martins June 15, 2012 12:42 am

    Thank you, Fiona, for sharing such powerful experience with us. I didn't knew there were photographers and groups such as Heartfelt, but it opened my mind to a whole new world, where photography documents and registers not only the happy moments in life, but the hard ones too. I don't know if I would have the strength necessary to work so close to this pain. I would probably break in one thousand pieces. Just by reading this story I already felt devastated. But I do understand and admire your work. Thank you,

  • Gavin Blue June 15, 2012 12:26 am

    Thanks Darren and Fe for posting this beautiful article.
    Kristie, thank you for sharing about Avery and creating more conversation in the public domain about stillbirth and our very special service. Your sharing helps all parents who have suffered the loss of a child feel less alone and helps their friends and family cross he social taboo and talk about what happened.
    This article also increases the possibility of our service being offered when time is critical.
    Take care,
    Gavin Blue, Heartfelt President

  • Lisa June 14, 2012 11:44 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I still have tears pouring down my face after seeing the beautiful image of your lovely children together. My heart aches for you but I'm sure it is nothing compared to the ache in your hearts. Thank you for the reminder of how lucky my family have been and necessity of making every minute count. Thank you for allowing us to grieve with you and for you. Brightest blessings to you and your family. x

  • Jeff E Jensen June 14, 2012 11:21 pm

    As a parent who has experienced the loss of a child, this was tough to read. It brings back so many memories. We have a few images from the few hours that our daughter was with us, but nothing like this. I have a few photographer friends that participate in Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep here in the states. It is a service that I hope to be able to provide some day.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • Helen June 14, 2012 10:55 pm

    Thats so touching, and wonderful that organizations like 'Heartfelt' are now active.

    My sister was stillborn on Christmas day, when I was ten years old. The whole situation was handled very badly at the hospital, and with other people, who just didn't know what to say, so almost brushed the event under carpet like it never happened.

    This left my mother very angry and bitter for many, many years. I can see how this service helps to provide something lasting, by way of photographs, for the families and friends to comprehend what goes on, emotionally, in that very small but precious window of time.

    Pictures can provide a talking point for those who just don't know where to start, and so don't bother. Talking about the grief, is a large part of the healing process. Is there a service of this kind in the U.K? I am a photographer willing to help out.

  • Penny June 14, 2012 10:29 pm

    I was privileged to hear Kristie speak at the Digital Parents Conference. The pain was palpable in every word she spoke, yet she bravely puts one foot after the other in her After and helps raise awareness about an organisation like Heartfelt. An incredible organisation. An incredible woman.

  • Leah June 14, 2012 10:29 pm

    Thank you for sharing such a sad, but beautiful story and photo's. From the pictures I know location well and walked that path a few years ago. At that stage, the midwives/obs/NICU did not know about that service and I'm so glad they do now. Looking back, you can never have too many photo's. I know, I wish I had a lot more xxx

  • Fuzzypiggy June 14, 2012 10:17 pm

    At first it didn't really strike a chord but my mind just kept turning it over and over for the last hour or two and I can't seem to stop thinking about it now.

    I've linked to it from my blog, so hopefully the small number of people who follow me will also head here and experience what I did.

  • Michelle June 14, 2012 10:01 pm

    Fiona, you really are a remarkable, compassionate woman. Kristie and A are dear friends of mine and hearing their story from your perspective literally knocked the air out of my lungs. In fact, it took all of my resolve to not come completely unglued while reading this at the lunchroom table at work. Thank you so much for giving such a special gift to grieving families and their friends during such a heartbreaking time. <3

  • Ash June 14, 2012 09:55 pm

    What an amazing service, with the perfect name. I am just blown away by how selfless and how generous and how sincere and beautiful this is, for people in such a tragic time. Thank-you for all that you do.

  • Steven Fogg June 14, 2012 08:59 pm

    Wow. Such an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    Bringing me to tears.

    Fiona you have such a special position. How you can keep your composure I will never know.

    Bless you!

    And bless you Kristie for having the courage to share their grief. Thank you.

  • Rach June 14, 2012 07:54 pm

    Wow 'heartfelt' is the right name. It's fantastic to know such people/companies exist. Keep up the great work.

  • Talkwise June 14, 2012 07:12 pm

    That's a sad story but thanks for sharing.This shows that you are doing a great job as a photographer.Insight Safari Holidays

  • Rachel June 14, 2012 05:35 pm

    Having lost my daughter 30mins after she was born, the photos I have of her are what has kept me going. I am a photographer myself and had never heard of Heartfelt until now. I wish I could of had someone create these special moments for me, and having said this I feel that now I want to be able to give this to people who are going thru what I went thru. Thank you so much for sharing this and giving me an opportunity to help others <3

  • Ruth Granata June 14, 2012 05:08 pm

    This is an amazingly special service that is so very needed. Life is about memories, and how priveledged you are to be helping create these gorgous images for these families. Every child is so inherently special and pure, here for a life time or only a moment!

  • Tammy June 14, 2012 04:36 pm

    Thank you so much for giving your heart and time to these families who are in such need and thank you for sharing information about these wonderful organizations! When I have more experience photographing people I would like to volunteer with NILMDTS. I have not heard of them in my area but I'll look into it and if they are not here maybe I could help get them here. I am in a unique position as I work in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit so I already work with families of critically ill babies who don't always make it as well as having a son with Cystic Fibrosis so I also have personal experience having a child with a chronic life threatening illness.

  • Melissa Williams-Brown June 14, 2012 04:17 pm

    I'm proud to call Fi a friend of mine....and I'm proud to volunteer alongside her as a Heartfelt photographer. Fi's article so eloquently conveys what we do and Kristie's letter shows how valuable this service is to the families that call us.

  • Julia June 14, 2012 01:44 pm

    Many thanks for sharing this touching story! What an amazing organization!!!

  • stacey June 14, 2012 12:28 pm

    Fiona thank you for sharing your wonderful and kind kind heart with us all.Kristie your letter was so beautifully written and my best wishes go to you and your family. Heartfelt certainly are one amazing organisation. Two years ago my beautiful niece Isla was born in to this world sleeping and I was with my brother and sister in law for the birth. My brother asked me to take the photos of our gorgeous Isla and like Fiona tears streamed and I had to remind myself to breathe but these are keepsakes and memories that will ensure these dear little people are always close by.

  • Alexis June 14, 2012 12:22 pm

    Thank you for this post. My mum lost 7 babies and I was very premature. This organization is incredible; thank you for sharing this.

  • corrie June 14, 2012 12:13 pm

    Fiona I just cried the entire way through that. I can't imagine their loss and those photos they will treasure forever. I follow Heartfelt on twitter and it's such an amazing organisation.

    What a beautiful family and it's just so cruel that it has to happen. You are such a beautiful person for what you do.


  • raghavendra June 14, 2012 12:08 pm

    God bless you mam.
    Thanks for sharing
    i am in tears now

  • Tom June 14, 2012 11:53 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I know some photographers who have volunteered for NILMDTS. With talking to them, it always seems like such a difficult thing to do and have always never gotten the courage to do it. Thanks for the wonderful article and rekindling the desire in me to try to do what I can and the best that I can in helping someone else in a time od need.

  • Yolanda Chance June 14, 2012 11:51 am

    This is a priceless service.A few years ago when I bought my first DSLR I thought about focusing on something similar to this... It is such a beautiful gift to a perfect stranger and something very positive to do with your gift...

  • Char June 14, 2012 11:38 am

    My husband's daughter delivered twins, one still born. We are in the US and I was able to find a photographer near us that was willing to come and photograph her family together. This wonderful gift that these photographers give to grieving families is priceless. Bless them all.

  • Grace Huntley June 14, 2012 11:34 am

    A few months ago, I had been looking for such an organisation such as Heartfelt because I wanted to volunteer my services. Google didn't give me anything then, or I didn't know how to search properly.

    Thank you thank you thank you for this article. I will sign up immediately.

    My daughter is 4 years old today. Four years ago, there were questions if she and/or I were going to make it. We have been lucky and I'm so happy to be celebrating her birthday today. I am very aware that there are others who aren't so lucky..................

    I hope this article brings the awareness and volunteers necessary for such an organisation.

    Thank you...

  • Robert Rosen June 14, 2012 11:14 am

    This is an amazing story. It takes a lot o courage and compassion to do what you do. I don't know if this relates but in the Jewish religion there is a tradition where people in the Jewish community perform the preparation of the body for burial. This involves cleaning and wrapping the body in a cloth shroud prior to burial. It is considered an honor and a mitzvah...a good deed. Consider what you do a mitzvah.

  • PlanningQueen June 14, 2012 10:52 am

    So beautiful. Thank you Kristie, Fiona and Darren for sharing.

  • Natalie June 14, 2012 10:47 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. It was the most profound, beautiful, sad & inspiring story I have read. The images are possibly the most powerful I have seen. I had never heard about Heartfelt but what a lovely service to offer. A massive well done to all involved.

  • Lyndy Bowden June 14, 2012 10:45 am

    Thank you so much to the family and to the photographer for sharing this beautiful story of a very precious bub xx

  • Sheila Garner June 14, 2012 10:08 am

    Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is a very similar organization here in the United States -

  • Darren Rowse June 14, 2012 09:55 am

    Thanks to you Kristie for allowing your story to be shared with our community. I know that in you sharing your experiences in this way and on your blog that you are touching the lives of others who've been through similar experiences. It is an honor to play a small part in getting word out about such a worthwhile organisation. Thanks.

  • Brianna June 14, 2012 09:53 am

    We found out when my best friend, but more realistically, sister, was five months pregnant that my first niece would only live for a few minutes after she was born. She made it and lived for five minutes and had passed before I was first able to hold her. I have one snapshot of us together and it means the world to me. I sobbed through this article. What these photographers do is quite simply the greatest gift a family in that situation could receive. I am still new in photography, but I think I have just found another goal to reach for. I will definitely look up Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep to see if there is anything close to me. Thank you for this article.

  • Hespera's Garden (Kristie) June 14, 2012 09:33 am

    Thank you for sharing our story Fiona. We love what you have provided for our family and adore the photos that sit proudly on our mantle. You have given us such a special gift, and we are blessed because of Heartfelt.

    Thank you.

    *Avery's Mama

  • Élan June 14, 2012 09:15 am

    What an incredible service to offer. Thank you for sharing this--it made me cry! Thank you Heartfelt for doing this.

  • rio h. June 14, 2012 08:54 am

    I have read about NILMDTS a couple of years ago, and have been contemplating if I can do such volunteer work. However, I can't :( I salute those who are able to do this for grieving families.. even I had a hard time taking pictures for a friend's funeral for his family. Just from that experience, I know I'm not ready to volunteer myself for things like these.

  • Mark June 14, 2012 08:52 am

    Very moving story. Thank you for sharing. It is a brave and giving spirit that these photographers share with families at such sad time.

  • Michelle Stark June 14, 2012 08:47 am

    A beautiful article, thank you for sharing. I am an affiliate photographer for NILMDTS and I am honored to do so. It fills my heart to be able to give back and at the same time breaks my heart that there even has to be a need. Bless you and the families you serve!

  • Angela June 14, 2012 08:37 am

    There is a similar organization in the United States: Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. Beautiful ministry to people who are hurting. I hope I become skilled enough to participate some day.

  • Dani Davila June 14, 2012 07:42 am

    Thanks for sharing!!

  • Elizabeth June 14, 2012 07:30 am

    Wow I never knew. When my cousins baby was born, he only lived a few days. The family had taken pictures of him in his casket and it was very sad to even look at. These are beautiful and so helpful to keep those memories alive. Thanks to everyone who is strong enough to help others like this.

  • Sue McB June 14, 2012 07:30 am

    What an amazing service - I had no idea such a thing existed. This is a memorable and touching story, I shall spread the word about Heartfelt knowing that your photographers can deal with the sensitivities involved in helping families at such a sad time.

  • Andrew Beasley June 14, 2012 06:32 am

    You brave kind person.

    Thank you.

  • Trish June 14, 2012 03:10 am

    Thank you for sharing Heartfelt , Fiona. It is a service everyone should know about but hopefully never need to use.

  • Felicia Broschart June 14, 2012 02:18 am

    Wow, what an amazing gift for these grieving parents. I'm still crying.

  • Steve June 14, 2012 01:59 am

    Very moving. You have to be very special to be involved in a service like this

  • Mridula June 14, 2012 01:26 am

    My heartfelt gratitude for sharing this with us.