OC Newborn Photography | Baby Hope

Studio newborn baby photography with cleft lip, big smiles, and lots of love.

This little baby and her family are truly inspiring. When I met little Hope’s mother, Serina, we hit it off right away. Hope was already about a week old when I met her.  I got to chatting with her mom about kids, life, photography (of course!) and cleft lips and palates. She already has a 4 year old born with a cleft lip and palate, so Serina is a wealth of knowledge about something I’ve only encountered briefly once or twice.

There is a huge difference in the complexity of having either a cleft lip only, or along with a cleft palate.  It was a relief for the family to find out Hope’s palate was intact as this was not the case for their older son. The positivity surrounding what other’s view as a deformity shows the abundance of love that this family has for one another – and the perseverance they have to rise above harsh words, stares, and accusations from strangers.

Big smiles from this baby girl make her special!

As soon as I saw her smile, I just knew I wanted to have Hope come into the photo studio for newborn photography.  I expressed this to Serina and she was overjoyed.  She shared with me that when her son was born, they didn’t take many baby photos in part because of his cleft.  She regrets it because after surgery, that big beautiful smile was gone, and his face was forever changed.  How a child comes into this world is a huge part of who they will become and documenting the unique characteristics a young babe has is pretty amazing.

The day of our session, Serina is thrilled to find out if I can capture photos of Hope’s smile. Of course! I can’t force a baby to smile, but I can sure be a patient photographer and wait at the ready till it happens! Let me tell you, Hope made it easy! She smiled a bunch during our newborn photo shoot and slept like an angel.

A new chapter

Today marks her first surgery and as Serina put it, “Hope’s new smile was born today.” Serina told me she already misses the cleft – babies grow before our eyes too quickly anyway but this transformation, while planned, is so sudden!

I’m so honored to have been able to create some beautiful newborn photos of this sweet girl.


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OC newborn photography by Jennifer McNeil Photography.

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