From simply capturing a sweet, but completely REAL moment, to having your face being shared around the world, I can say I have experienced the thrill, excitement, humility, and complete “OMG, is this actually happening?” moments of a photograph going viral. Now, mind you, I always thought that if I’d have a picture go “viral” it would be of one of my gorgeous expecting mamas or little snuggly babies– not me. I’m most comfortable behind the camera, but– if I learned anything from this experience– it’s to seize the moment and always be camera ready.
Okay, so it’s been over a year now since the famous picture was taken and about a year since it really blew up. I think I finally should share the story of “The Picture that Went Viral.”
Last January, I had a newborn session just like I’ve had hundreds of times. My friend Amanda was helping me in my studio as my assistant, but she was about to start nursing school. She offered to help me one last time before she was swamped with school, just for old times sake. She just happened to bring her camera to take some behind the scenes shots for me as well.
While we were on the second set-up of the session, Amanda whispered to me, “Turn around and look at mom and dad.” They were out. 🙂 Then I handed her my phone to take a quick pic to show them when they woke up. Amanda then snapped some pics with her camera as well.
It was the CUTEST thing ever. I mean, I’ve definitely had mom or dad fall asleep before, but both of them? Together? All snuggly and cuddled up and just OUT! Haha. That hadn’t happened before, and it was the epitome of new-parent exhaustion.
Mom had mentioned that Baby Theo was up a lot the previous night, so no one had slept well. I have four kids myself, so I completely empathize with them and have been there oh-so-many times. I asked them for their permission to post the picture to my Instastory, and it was well received. Several people commented about how cute it was and it got plenty of reactions, so I decided to post it to my actual Facebook page as well.
I thought it would conjure up all of the new parent memories for a lot of people out there and parents would smile and remember those first few weeks with their newborn and the lifelong friend they now knew named “Exhaustion.”
That post started getting likes, comments, and some shares– mostly from doulas, other newborn photographers, or baby-related pages and people. This pace kept up slowly for a few weeks, and it had maybe 100 more likes, shares, etc. per day. Then, in early February, a writer from an Australian parenting blog messaged me and asked if they could run a story about it and ask me some questions.
I said yes, and their story went live the first week of February. Then other Australian pages picked it up, and eventually The Sun and The Daily Mail in the UK did as well. From there, it exploded. I woke up the next day with three voicemails and messages from a Today Show producer asking me to call them back as soon as possible, that they wanted to run the story.
Then tons of US sites picked it up, including MSN, Yahoo, FoxNews, CafeMom, Essential Baby, Motherly, The Bump, and more. I even did a FaceTime interview with a popular German news station, and stories have been run in South America, Asia, as well as other European countries. It’s still so surreal and crazy to me!
Was I really on The Today Show? Like did Hoda really just say my name on live national TV?!? A guest host on a morning radio show?? I still can’t believe it when I think about it. And going viral is just as crazy as you’d expect. My life was kind of a whirlwind for a while– everyone was calling and texting me, commenting, and sending messages. There were so many emails from websites requesting permission, asking for interviews or more information, and my clients! Oh, my gosh, my clients are the best ever!
Before I even posted, we talked and they were so cool and laid back about everything. We basically went on this kind of roller coaster ride together. We would text each other about this article or that or just remark on how crazy it all was. We still share a text thread and they share pictures of Theo with me. They’re a little more rested these days, and Theo just turned one! I’m excited to see them all next month for an updated family session, I’ll be sure to share those images as well, so you can see how much baby Theo has grown! This will be such a cool story for him to hear when he grows up, and a ton of cool things to put in his baby book or memory box!
It’s something I got to share with my own family and kids as well. My oldest son, Ryan, especially would ask me every day what the reach was up to then, who had emailed the night before, or had just asked for an interview or to run the story. It was really neat!
I think, however, that I’d like the next viral picture to be of one of “my” babies instead. Haha. Oh, and I don’t ever have the desire to be a meme. 🙂