Our son Ryan was born 9 weeks premature weighing just under 3 lbs. He spent 6 weeks in the NICU and it seemed to last forever. When my daughter was born 2+ years ago, I photoshopped her playing sports as an infant and had wanted to do something similar for my son. Although things didn’t go according to plan we didn’t let it slow us down. We joked that he wasn’t premature just “advanced” – so I came up with the idea that we should do a photoshoot of him doing manly adult things.

Each shoot took about 15-20 minutes. Most of the work is in the setup and editing. First, I had to make props and find outfits for most of the pictures. The next step was setting up the scene, framing the shot, arranging props, and setting up the lighting where appropriate. Some of the setups were elaborate – like for the benchpress photo. For this one, I made a rig that hung from the ceiling. It mounted the camera and also held the barbell above Ryan so all he had to do was grip it rather than hold it up.

My wife often helped out by holding him so I could put his hands/arms/legs in certain positions, holding things. After I got the pictures of Ryan, I would take some shots of anything that he couldn’t actually hold, like the ax swinging or the fish on the fishing line. After each shoot, I would comb through these hundreds of photos and choose the best ones. I then used Photoshop to remove myself from the pictures and combine the best parts of his body into a unified composite photo.

People seemed to love the photos – there was a lot of disappointment when the series came to an end. Most people found them funny but there were always a few people that feared for Ryan’s safety. I always explained how the “danger” all came from photoshop and he was always being held and was never in any harm. I’m curious to see what Ryan thinks of them 18 years from now when he’s actually grown up.

My three pieces of advice for parents of premature babies are to be patient, be positive, and seek support. Scroll down below to see all the fun we had with Baby Ryan!

Shaving that 5 o’clock shadow

Mowing the lawn

Blowing the leaves like a champ

Playing poker with the boys

Chopping that firewood

Catching his first fish (and release)

Tuning up mom’s Prius

Carving the Thanksgiving turkey

Earning that paycheck (yes we made him a mini briefcase)

Maxing out at 106 ounces on the benchpress

Pumping iron

Ryan’s now 6 months old and finally on the growth chart! Much love to all the NICU nurses at Virtua Mount Holly.