It’s taken me quite a while to put this blog post together… finding the right words and choosing the right images (out of the many I shot) was not easy.
First, I want to introduce you to the winners of my Beloved competition, Veronika and Kylie. I chose Veronika and Kylie as my winners because of the unusual circumstances which brought them together, and because their story is deeply moving. They are not a couple. They are not sisters. They are not best friends who’ve known each other forever. They are two women who found each other in a time of need and have embarked on a remarkable journey together.
Veronika is a ‘tummy mummy’… that is, an altruistic, gestational surrogate, carrying Kylie and her husband Adrian’s baby. Veronika and Kylie (and their husbands) embarked on this journey together in 2009, and in just a few weeks, they will all meet ‘Little Bruiser’.
Kylie and Adrian’s story is heartbreaking. In 2008, their daughter Sophie was born sleeping at 32 weeks, and Kylie was left unable to carry another child. Veronika began to consider the possibility of being a surrogate after the birth of her second child, co-incidentally also called Sophie. Most women who think about surrogacy would probably describe it as an amazing sacrifice and an incredibly selfless thing to do; Veronika describes it simply as a way she could give back to the greater good. And when she met Kylie, she decided she had found the right person to do it for.
The connection between Veronika and Kylie runs a lot deeper than the obvious and immediate. Within the first thirty minutes of meeting them, there were a number of feelings that I became aware of and found very moving: unconditional respect, compassion and openness. Where Veronika is strong and expressive, Kylie is gentle and warm. My impression was that their friendship is a perfect balance of qualities, and I suspect like so many great friendships, that they fulfil a need in each other that they didn’t even realise they had until they met. There were so many typical ingredients from different kinds of female relationships; laughter, tears, sharing and lots of chatter, but there was also a palpable energy which I can only describe as comforting, nourishing and supportive. It made me really want to be close to them and know them better. In fact, there is a strong possibility that I may have listened and asked questions more than I photographed!!!
You’ll see a lot of ‘moments’ in these images, but one of my favourites was when Veronika gave Kylie an unexpected gift. It’s a necklace with a bell on it, that she’s been wearing for a while, unbeknownst to Kylie. The sound of the bell is something that Little Bruiser now knows, and when he is born, Veronika will give the necklace to Kylie to wear.
If I asked you to imagine the qualities that make up your relationship with your closest friend, partner, sibling, parent or child, you would probably imagine many things; feelings, interactions and behaviour, moments in time… and who wouldn’t want those things captured and recorded to forever remind you of what’s most important in your life? But most adults shy away from being photographed and possibly wouldn’t even believe that those things could be captured authentically. Well, I’d like to prove you wrong. I’m pretty confident that any fears and doubts Veronika and Kylie had before our session started quickly vanished once we started, and that my approach made it easy for them to be open and genuine in front of the camera. It is my deep wish to have more sessions like this, and I hope that these images show you why.
Veronika and Kylie… thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story and your beautiful selves with me, and everyone who reads my blog. I wish you all the very best for the next stage of your amazing journey. xxx