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Gabriella, the miracle baby

Family portraits at Stansbury Park

DUNDALK, MARYLAND - 

To look at the adorably sweet, strong, and happy Gabriella today, you would never know that her existence almost wasn't possible.

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Her mom, Cynthia, has battled sickness since her childhood culminating in a liver transplant a few years ago. 

Though recovered and doing well, pregnancy wasn't always a guarantee for Cynthia. So when Gabriella was born a healthy baby girl in February 2016, you can bet your socks her mom and dad weren't going to take her for granted any time soon.

When I offered a free session to my neighbors who had just had a baby - Cynthia, and her husband Nick - I did not know anything about her medical history. I was merely offering what I could to a new family in my neighborhood.

It wasn't until they took me up on the offer nearly eight months later that I got to know the family of three.

We decided to conduct our session on November 6, 2016, near sunset and met at Stansbury Park, which is an old quarry in Dundalk. Fall foliage surrounded us on a beautifully mild Sunday evening.

I began the session by focusing on Gabriella.  We plopped her on a blanket, I attached my camera to a tripod and we started rolling. It was probably one of the most successful 15 minutes of shooting I have ever had because at no time did Gabriella stop smiling, clapping, and squealing in excitement. 

While taking pictures with Gabriella and Nick I couldn't help but notice how charmingly cute this daddy-daughter relationship is, to the point where Gabriella might as well have had heart emojis for pupils. 

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It was also pretty hard to miss the striking resemblance between mommy and daughter. The apple definitely did not fall far from this tree. 

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We stuck around until sunset, which is impressive for a toddler. You could tell Gabriella was ready to go home, but she held out for a few last minute shots that ended up being some of Cynthia's favorites, including one of the pink sky opposite the sunset. The family liked this one so much they decided to commit it to canvas, which will look great on their walls.

It goes without saying the family is ever grateful for the miracle that is Gabriella. And even though my experience with her is far less than mom and dad's, I can honestly say I'm forever grateful for that smiling face as well, and really appreciate the opportunity to immortalize it in print.