When she arranged to have professional baby photos taken, this mom had no intention of getting in the picture.

But after the photographer caught a special look in the baby’s eyes, mom realized that the photos they were taking weren’t just for her.

"I wasn't expecting to find an angel at a JC Penney photo studio, but it only makes sense that if I did, her name would…

Posted by Love What Matters on Tuesday, December 20, 2016

According to PopSugar, the mom had scheduled a photo shoot at J.C. Penney for her daughter’s first birthday. She made sure her daughter looked “perfect,” dressing her in a pretty pink and white dress.

From the start, the mom was impressed with the photographer’s ability to coax smiles out of the 1-year-old girl. She shares on Facebook:

“Our photographer … Penny intuitively knew how to capture the most amazing shots and showcase our little girl’s personality.”

When the shoot was almost over, the photographer asked the mom whether she was going to be in any photos. The mom immediately struck down any possibility of posing for the camera.

As she went on to explain, she was experiencing a crisis of confidence familiar to many new mothers:

“The truth was I had had a rough year. My daughter’s birth was traumatic and the emotional recovery was still ongoing. I struggled with shame over feeling like I had failed in having the perfect birth. I hadn’t lost the baby weight and was struggling with my confidence. I told Penny I wasn’t going to be photographed and we moved on.”

The photographer didn’t press the point. But as they looked at the photos they had just taken, the photographer glanced at the little girl nestled in her mother’s arms. What she saw made her stop and go back to her camera. The mom writes:

“As we looked over the photos and selected the ones we wanted to purchase, my daughter nestled into my shoulder and popped her thumb in her mouth, as she does when she’s getting tired. Penny looked at her and suddenly stopped with the photo selection. ‘Look at her eyes!’ she murmured, and then took my arm and said ‘come back here with me.'”

The mom, however, still didn’t want to get her picture taken. That’s when the photographer gave her an unexpected bit of advice:

“She was taking me back to the photography room. I immediately started protesting about my total lack of preparation for being photographed, but Penny wasn’t hearing it. She steered me underneath the lights and whispered, ‘Close your eyes.'”

Standing with her eyes closed gave the mom a moment to reflect on why she was really there:

“In that moment I stopped worrying about how bad this picture was about to look and let my love for my little girl wash over me. I felt all the emotion of seeing her turn one and leave babyhood behind, and how incredibly blessed I was to be her mother.”

When Penny had captured the photo she wanted, the photographer returned with some words of wisdom for the reluctant mom:

“She doesn’t care what you look like. Someday she’s going to want pictures of you, and pictures of the two of you together. It doesn’t matter if you have makeup on or if your hair is done. Take the pictures for her.”

The possibility of becoming a faded memory was her wake-up call:

“I realized she was right. I thought about the grandmother and aunt I had never met, both taken from their husbands and young children before the age of forty due to breast cancer. I didn’t want to always be the unseen person behind the camera and leave my daughter with no photos of me to keep my face from fading in her mind when I am gone. Whether that happened next year or in fifty years, she deserved my presence.”

Now, the photo she didn’t want to take is her favorite and holds a place of honor in her house. The mom concludes her post by thanking the photographer for her wisdom and for the “gift of perspective.”

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