Adorable babies with serious medical conditions gain visibility in photo project

Precious Baby Photography / Angela Forker
Precious Baby Photography / Angela Forker 

Angela Forker has only been a professional baby photographer for four years, but to look at her glorious photos of babies you wouldn't know it.

Forker is the creator behind the Precious Baby Project, a series dedicated to making babies with health conditions visible. She places the babies in artistic floor scenes - which she calls Baby ImaginArt - while expertly incorporating medical tubing and wiring into the image rather than concealing it.

The project even has its very own motto - "Because every baby is precious" - and it's clear the photographer from Fort Wayne Indiana, is extremely passionate about her work. Essential Baby spoke to Angela to learn more about the Precious Baby Project and the babies who star in it.

Babies with serious medical conditions the adorable stars of stunning photo project

Photo: Precious Baby Phototgraphy / Angela Forker

How did you first come to take photos of children with health conditions?

The Precious Baby Project came about after a couple at Angela's church had a baby, Madalyn, who was born with a serious condition and lived only 15 days.

She adds, "I was already known for my whimsical floor scenes and I came to realise that they would be perfect for babies with special needs, who cannot sit on their own. These babies who cannot sit or walk can do anything in one of my scenes!

I'm raising awareness for babies with special needs, while spreading hope. I want the world to see that every baby is precious."

Babies with serious medical conditions the adorable stars of stunning photo project

Photo: Precious Baby Phototgraphy / Angela Forker

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What are some of the challenges of photographing babies who are attached to medical equipment?

"There are many challenges, photographing babies with complex medical conditions. I lovingly refer to their tubes, wires and other equipment as "accessories". Most photographers feel the need to hide them or edit them out. For me, I feel this is an important part of their story. I actually enjoy finding unique ways to incorporate these into their photos and help to tell their story. 

It can be quite challenging at times, trying to move the baby or pose them when they have a lot of equipment. It is very important to ask the parents to move their baby, as they know how to move them safely. I then guide them, so they get the baby in place. It takes a little extra time, but their baby's safety is more important than anything else."

Photo: Precious Baby Phototgraphy / ANGELA FORKER​

Photo: Precious Baby Phototgraphy / Angela Forker

Do you have a favourite image?

"I love every single one of them, because each one represents a baby who has fought for their life; a baby whose parents adore them; a baby who has captured my heart. If I were to choose just one though, it might be the "Hope is in our Genes" scene.

Since this is the motto for rare disease awareness, I thought it would be fun to have this adorable baby boy with Trisomy 18 and 2 bear friends, all wearing jeans and flying away with some balloons made out of jeans that spell out hope. I also created a "gene tree" made out of jean material and shaped to look like genes. Whether it is at the local YMCA or the different clinics at the hospital where these canvases are displayed, the "Hope" scene is always the largest, central piece of the collection.

One of my most memorable shoots was the "Forget-Me-Not Fairy". This beautiful baby girl's parents contacted me saying their baby might only have 6-12 months left to live. When I read their message, I sat at my computer and sobbed. That was the moment that I wondered if I was really strong enough to continue on with this project. I looked to my faith to give me the strength I needed. As I planned for her session, it was important for me to create a scene that would help them remember her life.

Her name is Ellis Rose, so I incorporated roses. She is such a blessing to her family (who chose to adopt her specifically because she has special needs!), so I thought it would be special to have her watering love wherever she goes. And of course, she is a Forget-Me-Not Fairy, because - even though she may be leaving them soon - she will never be forgotten."

Babies with serious medical conditions the adorable stars of stunning photo project

Photo: Precious Baby Phototgraphy / Angela Forker

Angela regularly posts images to her Facebook page and there are a few 'behind the scenes' images of what it takes to create the stunning images.

Here's baby Remington - who was born with Kagami-Ogata syndrome - in his finished photo, followed by a shot posted to Facebook showing how much equipment the little boy was attached to. His nurse also attended the shoot to ensure his accessories stayed correctly attached.

Photo: Precious Baby Phototgraphy / ANGELA FORKER​
Precious Baby Phototgraphy / ANGELA FORKER

Photos: Precious Baby Phototgraphy / Angela Forker

Angela says the photos are now displayed in local hospitals, medical centres and community centres and that getting to know the families is the greatest of privileges.

She told HuffPost, "I've been so moved by the great love and dedication these parents have for their babies. I am also very moved by the fact that, while life can be very challenging, these babies bring immense joy to their parents."

Photo: Precious Baby Phototgraphy / ANGELA FORKER​

Forker with a selection of her photos. Photo: Precious Baby Phototgraphy / Angela Forker