These photos made us laugh, cry and rejoice all year long.
Pictures can tell stories in an instant and in 2019 photographers can get their photos in front of a large audience in an instant, too. We live in an amazing age for creators. We don't have to go to a gallery or a photo exhibit to see art that speaks to us. We only have to look at our phones to see the beauty of the human imagination and the world.
Here are a few of our favorite images from the past year:
Alicia Atkins is a breastfeeding advocate and owner of Alicia Samone Photography, Alicia has dedicated herself to educating the public about breastfeeding by getting the public used to seeing it.
Her annual group breastfeeding photoshoots have been going viral for years now, and Alicia recently explained to Motherly why breastfeeding portraits are so important to her art.
"I was judged for nursing at a table, at dinner, and as my daughter got older. It's my goal to make all moms comfortable and confident in breastfeeding whenever they want. However they want," she explains.
In some of her portraits Alicia's subjects strip down for skin-to-skin contact and show not only the beauty of breastfeeding but the beauty of postpartum bodies and body confidence.
This is a beautiful photo.
When mom and photographer Heather Mitchell was a kid, she was equally attracted to athletics and an aesthetic most people don't associate with so-called tomboys. "I played every sport my school offered and wore lipstick to every game," she says in a statement to Motherly.
So when Mitchell was at softball practice with her 8-year-old daughter Paislee and another parent suggested that Paislee couldn't be an athlete because she presents as a "girly girl," Mitchell got an idea.
She wanted to use her talents as a photographer to prove to her daughter that she doesn't have to choose. Soon, she and her daughter were in the middle of an awesome photoshoot.
When Mitchell posted the photos to her personal Facebook page she was inundated with requests from fellow parents who wanted to schedule a similar shoot for their girls. An employee posted some of the resulting shots to her business page and the pics went viral.
We love how Mitchell's art proves that girls don't have to choose. They are complex people with multiple interests!
When photographer Felicia Saunders uploaded a portrait of three mothers feeding their babies, she could not have imagined the impact she was making.
In August, Saunders published the below portrait on her Instagram and Facebook accounts to mark World Breastfeeding Week and month. There are so many beautiful photos of breastfeeding online, but Saunders wanted to create something that shows at all types of infant feeding are beautiful and that even when mothers feed their babies differently, they still have so much in common.
In the weeks following her her post not a day went by without Saunders receiving emails or messages from mothers who can relate to the story she was trying to tell through this image. "My own battle with guilt from not being able to breastfeed really helps fuel my inspiration, we all do what is our own best and that truly is the best," Saunders tells Motherly.
After years of planning her fertility journey as a single mom, Heather Bowman was thrilled to learn that she was expecting twins, but she was also scared. Her twin pregnancy came after multiple pregnancy losses, including a previous twin pregnancy, and a diagnosis of unicornuate uterus, a rare uterus malformation.
So when Bowman's doctors couldn't find a heartbeat for one of the babies at her 17-week ultrasound, Bowman was devastated. Her son's heart was no longer beating, but his sister's was, and so Bowman rallied herself for the rest of the pregnancy.
When her daughter Leti was born, Bowman opened up about her losses to photographer Jessica Young, who had been recommended by a friend. Young came up with an idea for Leti's newborn photo shoot that honors her brother James' place in her journey. When Bowman arrived and saw what Young had planned for the shoot, she "lost it," she tells Motherly.
When Young shared the image online, suddenly Bowman's little girl was going viral. It's something Bowman never even thought of the day of the shoot, but now that it has happened she is very grateful that she "can possibly provide hope, positivity, and a voice for others in a similar situation as mine."
This powerful photo from Brazilian mama Maya Vorderstrasse went viral in 2019 because so many mamas can relatel. Her husband captured the first time she ever breastfed their second daughter and next to it, almost two years later, the last time she fed their daughter from her breast.
And it's not just the photo that is powerful. In her caption Maya shares her emotional struggles with weaning and the tricks they used to make this transition easier for their youngest daughter.
The caption reads:
"The first and last time my precious daughter ever nursed.
I didn't know that one person could feel so proud and so broken at the same time, right now I am a hormonal, emotional, and mental mess.
Raising my arm in this picture was very difficult for me as I had to fight through uncontrollable tears: this picture meant that I would never breastfeed my daughter ever again. I have been nursing for so long, that I don't know what it's like to not nurse anymore.
As I looked behind the camera, my husband is crying like I had never seen him cry before, like seriously, a deep gut cry. I was her comfort, her safe place, and I hope she still finds me that way. A month shy of 2 years old, she finally has a bed in a shared bedroom with her sister. We bought her her first bed, used any distraction we could come up with, snacks and new toys to keep her mind off of it.
My husband has taken over bedtime completely, including all nighttime wakings. We are on our third day, and every day gets a little bit easier. The guilt I feel for not putting her to bed is so intense and I can't wait to go back to it once she doesn't ask to nurse anymore. Closing a chapter is painful, but I am hopeful that this new season of our lives will also be special in its own way.
Through this maturation step she will not only grow more independent, but I will get a much needed break. She unlatched for the last time and sobbingly I said to my husband: "I did my best". He hugged me and responded with: "No. You did THE best, because you gave her your all". I love my family and am so thankful for such special and unforgettable moments like these. 💛
*my lazy boob has no clue about what's going on, but thoughts and prayers are accepted for my good one, I really think it might explode🤱🏻
**thank you to my husband, for insisting on filming this, I will treasure this forever.🤳🏼👩"
This year Brazillian birth photographer Janaina Oliveira and a baby boy named Noah helped parents around the world imagine what their baby's world looked like between the ultrasound picture and their first breath.
While most babies are born without their amniotic sac intact, Noah entered the world (via C-section), still cocooned inside his. This is known as an en caul birth, and while it wasn't the first Oliveira has captured through her lens, it is likely now the most famous of her photographs.
Influencer Hayley Garnett understands that postpartum recovery can be hard, especially for mothers who have previously struggled with eating disorders and body confidence.
In 2019 she is feeling at home in her body and that body went viral.
Now a mom of a son and twin daughters, Hayley celebrates the amazing body that gave her those beautiful babies.
"It's funny because during both of my pregnancies, I was horrified with how my body was changing just because I was used to being tiny," Heyley told TODAY. "But after I had my babies, life felt so much different. There was so much more for me to focus on and look forward to and just be grateful for."
She has so much to be grateful for and we're grateful to her for sharing.
This viral photo of a dad and stepdad are co-parenting #goals
In 2019 a new, beautiful picture of co-parenting (and masculinity) was born.
Photographer and mama Sarah Mengon captured a series of now viral photos of her daughter Willow and her two dads, David Lewis and Dylan Lenox, taken moments before David and Willow headed into her Daddy-Daughter dance. Dressed in her princess best, 5-year-old Willow is framed by two men who have put away old-school ideas about how to be a man in order to be great co-parents.
Some would label these two as Willow's biological father and step-father, respectively, but the two guys told Motherly they don't really like labels like co-parent or step-parent. They're just Willow's parents.
When Casey Teller gave birth to her sixth daughter in 2019 had her whole family there. She chose to give birth at home, where her daughters could share the experience.
Teller's five little girls—12-year-old Audrey, 10-year-old Ella, 7-year-old Lillian, 4-year-old Zolie and 2-year-old Zuri—were thrilled to be the welcome wagon for their new little sister, Talullah.
Talullah's birth was Teller's second home birth. Zuri was also born at home, but this was the first time Teller had a professional photographer with her to capture her birth. The experience was also a first for photographer Rebecca Burt. She usually does wedding and lifestyle shots, but jumped at the chance to capture Teller's midwife-assisted birth.
For someone who doesn't normally photograph births, Burt told an amazing birth story. Read the whole story (and see the rest of the photos) here.
They say pregnancy can be contagious among friends (seriously, it's science) and a mini baby boom at California fire department is some pretty compelling—and seriously cute—proof.
As Today reports, nine firefighters in Cucamonga, California welcomed nine babies over just four months in 2019. Of course, they had to celebrate with a photoshoot (and of course it's going viral). 😍
Gabrielle Costello is married to one of the firefighters, Logan Costello, and their daughter Charlotte was the eighth of the nine babies. Her mom posted the photos online and can't believe how they've spread.
"I had no idea it would go viral," she told Today. "We just wanted to commemorate a special time and remember the moment."