Maternity + Family

From Depression to Success: The Power of Family Photography 

November 3, 2023

By Jaime Bugbee

© Jaimee Bugbee

The chaos of parenting can affect the mental health of both parents. Jaime Bugbee discovered that photographing her young son helped her recognize the magic in the mayhem. Feeling restored by creativity, she further developed her passion into a successful family photography business.

When we welcomed our first son into our home, my husband and I had no idea that men could also experience the mental health challenge of postpartum depression, and we never imagined photography could help us overcome it.

Photography has always interested me from a young age. It was a passionate hobby, an itch that needed to be scratched occasionally during my healthcare career to free my creativity. It wasn’t until after the birth of my son that I realized how important my creativity was for my mental health and how far my passion for photography could take me in building my dream business. 

[Read: Crafting Value Through Visual Stories]

As a kid, I’d steal my dad’s Sony digital camera to photograph anything and everything — from objects around the house to “headshots” of my girlfriends complete with a raggedy quilt for the backdrop I found in the garage. It was anything but glamorous, but I was thirteen, and it was magic. I fell in love with photography. It was my safe place, where I knew I had something special I was good at. 

As a young adult, I dreamed of becoming a photographer for National Geographic and traveling the world. However, after I failed a few basic photography classes at a community college, I decided I needed to focus on getting a “real” career. I decided on dental hygiene, which has turned into an incredibly fulfilling career over the last sixteen years. About four years into my healthcare career, though, I got the urge to pick up my camera again. I felt at peace photographing stunning landscapes while on spontaneous hiking adventures with my husband, our yellow lab and my Canon Rebel.  

© Jaime Bugbee

Life was blissful, and then we learned we would be embarking on a new adventure, parenthood. We were excited and nervous, and in August 2016, our beautiful son, River, was born. As it is with any new parents, the initial weeks at home proved to be a significant adjustment. We had no idea what postpartum depression was or that men could also experience paternal postpartum depression. Navigating the challenges of life with a newborn began to weigh heavily on our mental health. 

I felt isolated. I felt like a complete failure as a mother and wife. I wanted my son to have the best life, and I did not think that it was with me. I was convinced I was the only parent to ever experience these thoughts. The healing started when I opened up to my husband and close family and friends. I discovered that I was not alone and that we all struggle with being a parent at times and that’s okay. 

How Embracing The Chaos Of Parenthood Helped To Create Stunning Images 

When my son was one, I picked up my camera again and started photographing him. He was my new daily project. When I saw him through my camera, I saw my son’s magic. I had not photographed people often, but I started to see the incredibly raw and gritty childhood moments; even in parenthood, the messy parts were beautiful. This was an awakening. 

Rediscovering my passion for photography proved to be a pivotal turning point, as it allowed me to regain my sense of self again and provided me with a sacred outlet for creativity. In a way, it was the only way my brain could “turn off” the madness I was feeling.  

© Jaime Bugbee

With a little encouragement from my husband, I began building my family photography business. It felt rebellious to be free to finally go for it. I dove into photography education and found online photographer communities where I felt connected, seen and heard. I discovered that I enjoyed learning about the business side of photography and that I could photograph people in a meaningful way that isn’t stiff or posed. I let my creativity take me from despair to thriving. 

Getting out of the house to create alleviated my anxiety. I began asking friends, co-workers, and acquaintances if I could photograph them, and after a few years, I began to branch out and work with people I didn’t know, which brought me to where my business is today. 

[Read: What is Lifestyle Family Photography and How Do You Shoot It?]

I feel privileged to capture the essence of families through my camera lens. Capturing real connections, joy and sentimental moments that make a family feel something is the ethos of my business. I am dedicated to showcasing the incredible beauty inherent in each individual, regardless of the chaos that often accompanies parenthood. 

My story centers on the power of creativity, community, and resilience in adversity. By sharing my journey, I aim to raise awareness about the importance of mental health support for entrepreneurs and inspire others to pursue their passions and build fulfilling careers on their own terms. 

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