Why I became a photographer | Port St. Lucie Portrait and Wedding Photographer

Why I became a photographer | Port St. Lucie Wedding and Portrait Photographer

My Story

For months I have wanted to blog more.  Connect with my readers, if I had any, or maybe connect with new ones.  And then there is the ‘it is good for seo’.  Blah blah blah!  I just couldn’t start.  It meant I had to share………..really share.  And for me, that would mean sharing where my desire to became a photographer came from.  For me, that meant sharing my deepest pain and darkest moments.  I didn’t know if I could, and to be honest, I don’t think I was ready to.  As I write this, it has been almost a year since I jotted down my thoughts and notes about what I thought I had to say.  A year!!  That brings procrastination to a whole new level….really!!!

So, this is where the note jotting began.  I was watching t.v. later than I should have.  I was dozing off when I caught a story on Dateline.  (You can find the full article here, it is well worth watching.)  I immediately tuned in.  It all fell into place.  It was like it was written for me!  God is funny that way, knows exactly how to get your attention.  The story was about a fashion photographer, Rick Guidotti who focused on those with genetic conditions to redefine beauty.  Genetic conditions, including the one that my daughter was born with.  I was shocked to see her condition, Trisomy 18, high lighted.  Most have never even heard of it.  His project, and now not for profit Positive Exposure is to illustrate that everyone is beautiful, even if it doesn’t look like what we are told beauty ‘should’ look like.

I got it.  All of it.  I lived it.  I understood the heartbreak of having a child who was different.  Who looked different.  We were about 16 weeks pregnant when we found out our baby had trisomy 18.  I delivered a sweet baby girl, Jessica Elise, at 33 weeks 6 days.  We weren’t prepared.  Who is really prepared for the birth of their baby?  This time was different.  We knew she had a single umbilical artery, ventricular septal defect, bilateral clubbed feet, clenched fists, and a cleft lip and palate.  Those were just the things they could see on the ultrasound.  An amniocentesis confirmed her condition, full translocation on the 18th chromosome.  It was an “incompatible with life” diagnosis.  I had weeks to deal with the news, (you can read more about my miscarriages and pregnancy with Jessica here).  But even up until the moment she was born, I struggled with the decision to share her.  I mean, who could love her like me, no matter what she looked like?  Would they see her as a disease?  Diagnosis?  Or my beautiful child?  Everyone thinks their child is beautiful.  We see them interact, love, hurt, accomplish milestones.  We know them inside AND out!  How was I to protect her from unloving and sympathetic eyes?  I knew she may not survive delivery and didn’t know how long she would be here with us, but I wanted her to feel love every moment of it.  Real love.  Love that is warm, full and over flowing……unconditional.  And that every one of her features were beautiful.  That she had a purpose.  That she was supposed to be here, and was not a tragic mistake.

This is our daughter, McKenna (4), just before my c-section and delivery of Jessica.  She didn’t know that anything was wrong, even though we had known for many weeks.  We were praying for a miracle of healing.  She was so incredibly happy to become a big sister.

Port St Lucie Lifestyle Photographer

Well, we did share her.  We allowed anyone who wanted to love on her to do so.  Some did, some didn’t.  And that was ok.  She was so small, 2 lbs 12 oz.  She had difficulty regulating her body temperature, so she was bundled up tight.  The nurse must have been watching me, sensing my curiosity.  She came over and unwrapped her and told me, “look at your baby.  Take it all in.”.  You know, the thing we normally do.  Count fingers and toes.  Check them out to make sure everything was as it should be.  Everything wasn’t ‘ok’, not even close.  But she was still perfect, to me anyway.  God chose not to heal her, I don’t know why.  But faith allows me to accept it, even when my chest hurts so bad sometimes I can’t catch my breath, even after  almost 7 years.  What is difficult for me now, is the fact that I have so few pictures of that day.  I have many memories, but let’s face it.  We forget things.  I lived in fear for so long that I would forget.  Forget what she looked like, smelled like, felt like.  That I would forget how I felt, desperately heartbroken, and at the same time joyful that she survived childbirth to spend some time with us.  That I would forget the friends and family that shared that day with us.  She never cried.  Never made any baby noises.  The most basic things we take for granted, until we don’t have them.

These pictures speaks volumes.  It is hard to ignore my husband’s red and tearful eyes.  And, in the picture below this one, you can clearly see how very happy McKenna is to be a big sister!

Port St. Lucie Lifestyle Photographer

Port St. Lucie Lifestyle Photographer

When Jessica was born, I owned a SLR (35mm film camera) and a point and shoot digital.  I didn’t have anyone who could shoot with my 35mm and well, my point and shoot wasn’t that great of a camera.  What I really needed was someone who knew what photos we would want.  There were so many photos never taken.  I wish I had known about NILMDTS.  It was still fairly new at the time of our daughter’s birth.  They offer photography services in circumstances such as ours.  Or even, to have consulted with a photographer before her birth so we would have had the option. Pictures don’t replace her.  But, they can capture the event, moment in time, the smallest of details, to help us hold on to sweet, and sometimes bittersweet memories.

Port St. Lucie Lifestyle Photographer

Trisomy 18 Edwards Syndrome

Port St. Lucie Lifestyle Photographer

If you are looking for a picture with the four of us, well there isn’t one.  So much going on, so many emotions.  A lot of people walking on eggshells.  I believe I had the only camera.  Who goes to see a brand new baby without a camera?  They just didn’t know what to do, or what was o.k. to do.  How I would have loved to have had an advocate, a photographer who would have seen and known the photos we would have wanted.  No pictures of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or dear friends who shared that day with us.

Port St. Lucie Lifestyle Photographer

Port St. Lucie Lifestyle Photographer

Two months after Jessica’s birth and death, my husband pulled the trigger and surprised me with a DSLR.  I had wanted one so bad and just couldn’t throw the money down for one.  He knew how how much not having those photos of Jessica saddened me and thought this would get me photographing again.  After all, I certainly didn’t want to miss any moments with our oldest daughter McKenna, who was 4 at the time.  So, he encouraged me to ‘get a hobby’.  Find something you can find some enjoyment in.  It took a couple years, but I renewed my love of photography and found joy in photographing people.  (As a young girl and teenager, I loved photography, owned many cameras, but was never interested in photographing people.  Funny how that changed.)  As I got more serious, I remember him saying, “I didn’t mean for you to turn it into a business.  Just thought you could use a hobby.”  Insert his ‘what have I done?’ tone here!!

So, that is how Krista Browning Photography came to be.  That is why I became a photographer.  I truly do see beauty in those I photograph.  I see it, because I choose to see it.  I believe it is a choice.   Everyone has a story.  Everyone has someone who would cherish the keepsake of a photo.  I hope to work with NILMDTS one day.  For now, I enjoy capturing those priceless memories for others.  I promise you, the investment in professional photography is worth it.  And I challenge you to choose to see the beauty.  The beauty in others.  The beauty in the world around us.  Photograph it, document it.  Time is all too fleeting.

Before I leave you, I want you to see there is a happy ending.  My baby girl is healed and in the arms of Jesus, the one who gives me hope and peace.  And, I am blessed beyond measure to have 2 beautiful girls.  This is us today.  We are a family of 5, but living as a family of 4……for now.


Photo credit:  Breann Hollon Photography


McKenna 10 and Riley 4


Photo credit:  Breann Hollon Photography

***For more information on trisomy 18 visit Trisomy 18 Foundation.  They were such a valuable resource for me.  Our detailed story from diagnosis to delivery is here.

Don’t forget, any time of the year is a great time for a portrait session.  Time flies and kids grow, capture those moments today!!

Shoot me an email {[email protected]} or give me a call {772-201-0999} so we can book your session!  Hope to hear from you soon!

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Krista Browning Photography is a Wedding and Natural Light Portrait Photographer serving the Southeast Florida Coast.

Babies | Children | Seniors | Families

  • Kim - I remember that day like it was yesterday! The sadness, grief that God did not create a miracle with this sweet baby girl! The look on Billy face when he said Jessica arrived, I thought for sure he would hit the floor on his knees in a moment of complete surrender to Jesus because nothing or no one including himself could live the pain he was feeling. I remember your parents sadness and grief in their eyes and not knowing what to do. Then I saw her, Jessica! The tiniest, sweetest baby girl I have ever seen and so overwhelmed with a love that Jesus put in my heart to just want to hold and kiss all over her. I remember the sweet big sister so happy to see and hold her and was not going to wait one more moment to hold her as a big sister ready to stake her claim! What an amazing moment to see! Then I got to see mommy and Jessica and wait for the sweet blessing from mommy to hold her, see all the imperfect things by other human standards but feeling so happy because she was still so perfect to mommy, daddy, Kenna and myself! Your family has touched my heart forever and I will always be grateful to meet such a perfect sweet baby girl and feel so blessed to share it with you. Jesus changed my heart forever that day! Love you all so much!!!!ReplyCancel

    • Krista Browning - I am moved beyond words! I clearly remember how much you wanted to love on her, and that meant so much to me! Thank you for sharing your memories of that day. I was changed forever and I am so thankful that I had friends and family like you to walk through it with me!! Love you too!!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Stimpson - Hi Krista. Emily was born to us in 1993, I was about as far along as you. We had about 4 days with her until we removed life support. I was blessed with a great hospital staff, doctor and priest who helped us through the day we let her go. The reason I really write though is that later on in life I met a woman who volunteered her time and skills with her camera to go to the families at the time of birth and help create the memories with film that you have spoken about. I know she is a god’s send to those families, I wish I knew the name of the organization she was with. I just thought it might be something you could look into or encourage someone else you know with photography skills to do. I am so happy we were both blessed with beautiful families and the memories of our little girls we will some day join in heaven. Thank you for sharing your story.ReplyCancel

    • Krista Browning - Jennifer, I have considered it. It may have been NILMDTS (Now I lay me down to sleep). I haven’t applied yet, but I would like to in the near future.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - Beautiful story Krista! Like you I had a baby girl with full Trisomy 18. She was born 4 pounds 1 ounce at 35 weeks. We took pictures, but it seemed weird at the time to be taking photos, so we don’t have nearly the number of photos I wish we had. We also missed out on getting that “family photo” of the five of us. Whenever I run across someone in the same situation I once was in, I always tell them to get a family photo. I even once delivered a disposable camera to the hospital of a friend that had a surprise stillborn baby boy, full term at 40 weeks. She didn’t have time before the birth to adjust like I did with the Trisomy 18 diagnosis. She found out and delivered that day, so never considered photos until I brought the camera. So important, but so often overlooked.ReplyCancel

  • Leslie Durham - Jessica is a beautiful baby! My heart goes out to you and I appreciate your willingness to share with everyone. You have 3 beautiful girls, and I am very sure Jessica felt your love from before birth! Love and respect from my family to yours!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - What a beautiful baby!
    We just celebrated the 5th anniversary of our son, Liam, yesterday. Hard to believe that much time has passed. He also had full trisomy 18, and died shortly before birth at 37 weeks. We now have two beautiful and healthy children, and also think about our sweet boy every day. Love and peace to you and your family.ReplyCancel

  • Mo - What a perfectly beautiful tiny baby! She’s a tiny little angel watching over all of you now. I knew nothing of Trisomy 18 until we had a baby at work with it. She wasn’t nearly as tiny but just as sweet. I spent most of my shift holding her as did the other nurses. She ended up passing that night with all of us. Her family was sleeping nearby but no one expected it to happen that quickly. They knew she was very loved and spoiled that whole night before she left us. I’ll never forget her. Your family is lovely as are your photographs. Take careReplyCancel

  • Karen - What a beautiful family of 5 you are! After two miscarriages, our first daughter, Clara Grace, was diagnosed prenatally with T18 as well. On the day she was born we had about 20 people at the hospital, family and friends from church. Our pastoral staff was there and they prayed over us. The hospital gave us an empty room next door to our delivery suite just for the overflow… Clara came home with us and lived for three weeks. Luckily for us we met a fabulous photographer who has her own charity for photographing families who are expecting loss, so we have an entire collection of photos, along with those of family and friends. Although I will truly never forget those days it is nice to have something to look upon to remind me of just how beautiful she was. We went on to have two more babies, Maggie is now 4 and Max is 3. Max was diagnosed prenatally with T21, Down Syndrome. But he is thriving and we thank God every day for him. I can imagine in my mind our girls playing together in Heaven, probably giving them a run for their money too. God Bless!ReplyCancel

  • A Gift of Hope » My Blog - […] trisomy 18.  (You can read more about her diagnosis here and a blog post about where it led me here.)  There is no other explanation for my ability to cope with the journey that began that day. […]ReplyCancel