Valentine’s Day Competition Winners
written by Jane Clark
Julie de Paola, Luxury Couple Portrait’s photographer, is always moved by the love that comes out between the couples she shoots. However, Julie counts photographing the winners of our recent Valentine’s Day competition, Bernie and Michael, as one of the most beautiful photo shoots she has done.
Normally only shooting couples, Julie photographed Bernie, her partner Michael and their beautiful 8 month old daughter Taleia.
What made the shoot particularly poignant was the fact the couple had also brought along photos of their first baby, a little girl who had died tragically at birth. It was an emotional, but also very beautiful shoot. Both Julie and Robert, owners of Luxury Couple Portraits, were so happy to be able to provide such a memorable experience to Bernie and Michael – an experience the couple said was ‘just what they needed to help them heal’.
Bernie and Michael had the most wonderful time at the shoot, and while Michael is normally shy, he relaxed with Julie and really got into the experience. “My mouth was sore from laughing and smiling so much,” said Bernie. “Mike was fine – Julie has this vibe about her and Mike was confident and happy throughout the shoot. Julie just makes you feel comfortable. As Taleia Rose is only 8 months old, we were wondering how she’d go, but the receptionist, Bronwen, looked after Taleia when she wasn’t involved in the shoot. That was so nice…you wouldn’t get that level of service with many photographers.”
Bernie said the shoot was just what she and Michael needed to help them recover from the death of their first baby, Ataahua-Anahera, which means ‘beautiful angel’ in Maori. “Michael and I were such a fun loving, happy couple before the death of Ataahua. Everything changed afterwards as we both dealt with our grief in our own way. That, and taking 2 years to conceive another baby, really challenged our relationship.
Julie somehow brought out the love that has always been there between Michael and I, but had just been dormant over the last few years.”
Photographing the family in the presence of Ataahua’s photos was a very moving experience for everyone involved. Bernie explains “We didn’t get memories of our first daughter and I can’t describe how special it was to somehow involve her, to have our whole family together. For us, she is very much present and part of our family. And being able to be photographed as a couple with our new baby Taleia was so wonderful – just knowing Taleia was safe, with us and in our arms.”
Julie took Bernie and Michael through a presentation of their photos afterwards, and Bernie describes the results as simply ‘breathtaking’.
“When you lose a child, the world stops and a couple can so easily forget what they mean to each other. Julie reminded us why we chose each other in the first place. These photographs are a wakeup call – they are a great reminder of just how much we love each other and how much we’ve got to look forward to. And we’ll have this forever – so whenever things get hard, we can look at the artwork we’ll get from Julie and remind ourselves how lucky we are. We’re just so thankful.”
The other part of the prize is a wonderful luxury 2nights accommodation package with Escarpment Retreat on Mt Tamborine. With an 8 month baby, you can imagine Bernie and Michael haven’t had much time for each other recently, so this will be the perfect antidote to a sleep deprived couple! They will take walks together in the rainforest, enjoy a wonderful romantic dinner for two and a great massage as well! They are really looking forward to the experience and already have family members on standby to babysit.
We can’t be happier that this prize has gone to such a deserving couple, Bernie and Michael.