6th Annual Emerging Pro

First Place—Fine Art
Jessica Drossin
Jessica Drossin

Michaela is one of my sister's best friends. They met in college, and she's been on the periphery of my life for many years. The pregnancy glow is a bit of a cliché, but it was accurate for Michaela. Throughout her pregnancy, she had received some concerning news about potential problems with the baby's health, but she handled the stress of this as gracefully as the 60 pounds she gained. She maintained an upbeat, optimistic outlook and accepted any challenges without complaint, filled with the unconditional love that mothers have for their babies.

On May 11, Michaela delivered a beautiful baby girl. Tragically, only 13 days later, on May 24th, the baby, Harper Grace, succumbed to Alveolar Capillary Dysplasia (ACD)—a rare malformation of the lungs. How does one survive the loss of a much loved, deeply wanted baby?

Three months later, her body betrayed few clues to the casual observer that she had recently given birth. She's back at work and has resumed much of the same routine that she had before the pregnancy. But, of course, her life has been changed forever. She's the epitome of strength, grace and courage.

A few months after her baby passed away, Michaela, my sister Gina and I sat poolside in Phoenix. She showed me all the cherished pictures of little Harper, from her 4D ultrasounds to her newborn pics. She was such a beautiful baby. We talked about the balloons at the funeral and the balloons she'll be releasing each year to commemorate her daughter'sbirthday. Earlier, we had discussed taking some fun photos while I was in town, but the more we talked about Harper, the more I sensed that she wanted to incorporate her daughter into our photos, and when she agreed, our shoot took on much deeper meaning. The pink balloon is for Harper.

The photo was shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and a Canon EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L lens.


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