After battling severe eczema for 4 years this beautiful family finally found some relief for their daughter in the magic waters of Avene in France. We celebrated this amazing time in their lives with a fun & playful shoot, full of joy and giggles.
I love watching families grow and capture their stories as they unfold. Sometimes though a story stops me in my tracks and makes me realise just how many things most of us take for granted every day. Like watching our children play and picking them up fully rested after a deep sleep. Something that hasn’t been a part of everyday life in the Baumanis household for many years.
Emma, who I first photographed as a newborn, was only 3 months old when she was diagnosed with severe eczema, and in her short 4 years she has already lived through more discomfort than you and I could possibly imagine. “We have enjoyed the most amazing, surprising, hilarious and heart-warming years of our lives since Emma was born, but they’ve also been the most heart-breaking,” explains Emma’s Mum, Shona. “When her eczema is good we live week to week. When it’s bad we live hour to hour, sometimes minute to minute. The pain and frustration of her uncontrollable itch is horrendous and while not always itchy, when she does start to scratch, it is a battle of distraction, tears and often physical intervention that takes place to protect her skin.”
One of the most challenging parts to managing Emma’s condition has been around sleep: “The severe sleep deprivation is hard to put into words,” says Shona. “Emma used to wake anywhere between four and fifteen times at night. Her little body was always ‘on’, she rarely had quality, deep sleep.”
But recently the family travelled to France for treatment that have changed their lives: “We started using Avene products after our pharmacist suggested we try them. We then connected with other eczema and allergy families on social media to find out about their trips to Avene,” she explains. “It didn’t take long for us to make the decision to take Emma to France for treatment.”
The family left Australia with a great deal of excitement and nervousness. “We knew there was no guarantee Emma would respond well to the treatment, but we hoped it would give her the relief and strengthened skin she so desperately needed and deserved.”
Emma’s skin responded positively to the ‘magic’ waters of Avene on the very first day. “Her skin was like a newborn’s – so silky and smooth,” recalls Shona. “Our five weeks in France gave Emma (and us) a new life and time together as a family without the constant challenges of severe eczema. Our trip was the best thing we have done for our princess.”
“It’s hard to explain the joy we found in a tiny little town on the other side of the world,” says Shona, “but seeing her smile and laugh more than ever is just amazing. She can sleep through the night now and has an incredible amount of energy to share with the world.”
The trip has given the Baumanis family a new lease on life. “We have hope again that we can survive the challenges of severe eczema and give Emma a better quality of life. To see her participate in ‘normal’ childhood activities, without needing one of us to help her stop scratching is truly heart-warming,” says Shona. “We are so proud of our beautiful girl.”
“One of the most valuable experiences we’ve had is forming friendships with fellow eczema and allergy families,” explains Shona. “We are now fortunate to be working with these friends to provide a support group (Hands to Hold) for families like ours. Knowing someone else is living the same kind of normal as you is such a wonderfully powerful and positive connection.”
If you or someone you know are struggling with eczema in their family please reach out for support by joining the group here: Hands To Hold Facebook Page.
And for more information about the Hydrotherapy Centre in Avene click here.
To book a family session with Minna Burgess Photography contact Minna via email:
email@example.com or call 0432 953 003.
Minna is located in Brookwater, 35min South West of Brisbane, Qld, Australia.
Some recent work xxx
Tough love. Where do you stand on it?
I believe it works.
I would never be where I am today if it wasn’t for the tough love I received when I first started joining photography forums almost 10 years ago. The first one I signed up to left me feeling so uplifted, encouraged and supported, I felt like the best photographer in the world (with my 6 months experience) but I didn’t learn anything and I didn’t improve. It was a shock to the system when I started sharing my work on a forum called ILP (ilovephotography.com) and was told nicely but firmly that my white balance was off, I was over-editing and cropping in all the wrong ways. I felt like crying more than once, but it pushed me. I was learning and improving. Quickly.
So I am a big fan of tough love. That being said, I know it hurts. There has been a lot of harshly delivered advice floating around on social media this last month. And though I love it and feel the messages are valid I’m thinking there might be a few sensitive souls who could do with a little gentle love to balance things out. So this message is for you. The photographer who feels a little deflated and disheartened and hurt and who is wondering how to ever get ‘there’, wherever ‘there’ is. The creative introvert who takes it all too personally and analyses it and worries and feels embarrassed because the critique has hit them right in a sore spot and they know they are guilty of doing “it” wrong.
This is for you:
1: Firstly (((hug))) – that’s it, just one BIG hug! I’ve needed more hugs than I could possibly count to get me through my own personal ‘tough love’ moments over the years.
2: Remember the saying “when you lose, don’t lose the lesson.” Take a moment to consider whether you learnt something. Is there truth in what is being said? If there is and you feel guilty of doing something the experts are criticising then just decide there and then to change your approach. Don’t beat yourself up. Failing is a huge part of the learning process.
3. Don’t identify with your mistakes. Recognise the difference between “I did something wrong” and “I am wrong.” We all make mistakes it doesn’t change the fact that you are creative, capable, talented, smart and unique in so many wonderful ways.
4. Accept that you are imperfect, we all are. Even the experts who give the advice are guilty of making the same mistakes sometimes, if not now then in the past.
5. Look for the intent. If the intent is to guide you then try to welcome the message even if the words themselves are hard to hear.
6. Truth leads to transformation. Don’t let your hurt or defensiveness or sensitivity drown out the truth that is being spoken.
7. Take baby steps. Don’t put any pressure on yourself to make dramatic changes from one day to the next, just store the information at the back of your mind and allow it to sit there as a gentle reminder for the future.
8. Be KIND to yourself. Stay aware of your inner dialogue and be conscious of the things you are telling yourself. Change “I always get things wrong” to “I try my best and that is good enough. I am enough.”
I am so grateful for the tough love I have received over the years. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I welcome it now and for the rest of my life as I continue to learn and grow. But it hurts a little bit, so I just wanted to say “I get that it hurts” and “you’re still a wonderful, creative being. Please continue to put yourself out there in every way. Make mistakes. Learn. Move on.”
Minna is based in Brisbane and offers workshops and mentoring in Moment Design (techniques to bring out connection and genuine interaction during photo-sessions). For more information go to minnaburgess.com/firstmoments
When a couple approaches me to document the entire journey from bump to birth and newborn it is always exciting. But when I am chosen as a photographer to capture an absolute miracle baby, then it’s definitely a little more emotional and very very special to share in the journey. Min and Gui had a terrible car accident that left Min with injuries preventing her from having children. Yet somehow she miraculously fell pregnant and has been an absolute trooper carrying her baby boy to full term, despite a tremendous amount of discomfort caused by the plate and screws in her hips and spine, combined with the pressure from the baby. I have never heard this amazing lady complain, she is pure kindness and so full of gratitude (and can I just say had the cutest baby bump and absolutely rocked her maternity shoot). I am so grateful to have met these two beautiful people and to have been invited to document such a milestone in their lives. Little Hunter was delivered by Caesarean on Australia Day Morning and to complete an already amazing story, his Mum was born on Christmas Day and His Dad is a Valentine’s baby (well ok almost, one day short, but c’mon it’s still pretty cool). They also share three different nationalities between them and plan to teach him all three languages. This little boy is going to grow into one incredible human being! there is no doubt about that.
I hope you can feel the absolute joy in these images, it was an incredible experience for me as a photographer to be able to capture these special moments for Min & Gui to share with all their family and friends overseas who couldn’t be there in person to celebrate Hunter’s birthday.