You know that moment that you click upload to share a sneak peek of the most recent session you’ve had on your Facebook page or any other social media site, and feeling accomplished you close up the show and go to bed? You lay down and close your eyes, feeling satisfied that you’ve shared your absolute best and in the back of your mind wonder what comments you’ll be able to read in the morning.
I had a day like that …. I posted a photo at 11:59pm on my Facebook page and went to bed knowing that I would read, what I thought at the time, would be some interesting comments from my fans/clients/friends in the local community the next day. I was so excited, hoping to see that my photo, that was completely out in left field and one of it’s kind, would make history. I knew a photo of it’s kind had never been taken, or at least never been shared. I slept good that night, and woke up the next morning ready to go. I made a cup of coffee and went to my computer, ready to start the day. What I found surprised me. The photo had been removed from Facebook. No reason why, it just had. Determined more than ever to share, I reposted and commented on how it had been removed. What I started at that moment as a global movement and a globally viral photo.
Now, my assistant was off work that week. Her daughter was modeling and walking in New York Fashion Week and I had told her to even turn off the notifications on her phone. We are both work-a-holics and I knew if she didn’t she would work all week and I the focus that week shouldn’t have been on me. My husband was at work, he is Active Duty and was preparing for a cycle in the field, away from home. Our dishes from the night before were sitting in our sink, as I really wanted to get the sneak peek online instead of doing them. Life was “normal” when I reposted the photo. The initial feedback was exactly was what I was expecting, support from everyone I already knew and support from the girls in my photo. I felt pretty good about it. I had no idea what the next 5 days of my life would be like.
I’m pretty sure CNN was the first National news media that reached out to me. After doing an interview with them, they posted the story on their social media and started a wave of constant calls, emails, messages and everything in between. For the next 5 days I would get almost no sleep. From People, Time, Vouge, Cosmopolitian, Buzzed, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Daily Mail to the BBC every large social media reached out to me in any way possible. My little team (my poor assistant returned on day 3) couldn’t keep up with the conversations and requests. From a radio request with the BBC, to a Skype call with Headline news… I was the talk of the world. The photo was taken at Fort Bliss, TX which is the Army’s premier installation in El Paso, TX. We even trended #1 on Facebook for a consistent 30 hours or so.
Going viral… it had happened. I didn’t plan it. I don’t think you can “plan” that kind of attention. It took me almost 6 days to even finish doing the dishes that had been in my sink. Somehow through it all I had gotten my husband and all of his Army gear to the field. I also found a way to complete 2 newborn sessions and 2 cake smash sessions. I don’t think I have ever been so elated and so exhausted at the same time. Sleep only came a few hours at a time. Reporters were reaching our from Germany, Italy, France, Norway, Sweden, England, Brazil, Colombia, Australia and even into Maylasia. Obviously there were time zone issues and frustrations and my phone would ring literally all day.
My photo was of 10 active duty Army Soldiers breastfeeding their little ones in uniform. We had worked with Fort Bliss ahead of time, and found that there is no regulation against the photo, so I was very secure in my decision to take this photo. But what I didn’t realize at that time is that I would start a global renewing of the long standing breastfeeding conversation that happens all across the world. With the girls being active duty, they were not allowed to speak to the media, leaving me to be their voice. By the end of the wave, I felt like I was the voice for an entire world…. ladies were sending up their stories, tales of their frustrations. Not just of nursing while active duty, but stories of just going back to work, and the every day struggles that comes with being separated from their babies.
Over the course of 5 days the world knew my name. They saw my work, my passion, my life. I have had, and continue to receive, large corporations reach out to me to discuss the world’s notion of breastfeeding. One group that I’ve talked to a great deal is La Leche League. I am excited to say that we are talking to move forward with a few ideas that I have. To know that a company that is at an International level would be interested in my photography, my ideas and my passion … it’s just almost too much.
I never expected to have my name go across the world. I’m just a small town girl, with a Canon camera in my hand. There is much to say about the bravery of the girls that helped me do this. Making history takes guts. We have handled it like a pro, the pro that I keep telling myself I am. I grew up thinking that I would be a zoologist, and now I am finally comfortable saying that I am a Professional Photographer. A photog with a vision, and a passion to help promote this cause. I breastfed my babies, and now it’s my turn to help promote how amazing it is for others.
I urge you to keep an eye on me and my journey. Life is finally calming back down, the phone has quit ringing with reporters hoping to get a new take on my story. The messages and emails are back to clients wanting to book sessions, and babies being born. But my life, my business goals, my purpose has changed. I have a voice now and I have people interested in listening… I can’t wait to add to my story, or maybe it’s time to just write a new one. Words are amazing and wonderful and great. Our history would be hard pressed to be passed down from generation to generation without the use of words. But a photo …. it gives a visual of the way life is. It captures emotion in a way that words can not. Yes… it’s time to create a new picture book!