I try and do at least one nonprofit shoot a year and this one just screamed to me. I was born a preemie (along with my twin, Heather), and I’ve never actually visited a NICU before. I had the opportunity and highest privilege to photograph some beautiful preemie babies over the holidays, because Melissa – a past bride of mine – contacted me about photographing at the NICU where she works. She thought it would be great for the families who can’t take their babies home from the hospital over the holidays. I think the world of Melissa and what she devotes to her job and these gorgeous children. A direct quote from this superstar woman: One of the many reasons why I love working for the March of Dimes is because I’m surrounded by people who are passionate about seeing a world where every baby is born healthy.

Along with the shoot, I’d also like to donate $1 per comment on this post to the March of Dimes (similar to my Cans for Comments last year), so please… comment away! And without further adieu, let me introduce these adorable bundles of light…

***Update: I’ve had such an overwhelming response of comments, that I need to cap my donation at $50. I really appreciate everyone visiting, and I’m so touched by all the comments. Thank you!!!***

First up, we have Ja Michael, who is “dog gone cute” … : )

He didn’t like it so much when we took his pacifier out. : )

Next, we have Cameron, the “Little Surf Dude.” Don’t you love that he’s already throwing the peace sign?!

The nurses in the NICU are quite extraordinary…

Cameron wasn’t at his best health when we visited so we couldn’t move him around, but his little legs were kickin’ the whole time! Future soccer player? : )

Next we have a preemie who was getting discharged with her mother that evening (and I didn’t catch her name):

Such a cute little yawn. I’m dying!!!

And lastly, we have twins – Khalen & Kahlil – who had been in the NICU since September 11th. Their mom was there visiting with them:

So precious.

Thanks again to Melissa for asking me to step into the lives of these beautiful babies!

January 10, 2011 - 9:45 am

jennifer putnam - precious!

January 10, 2011 - 9:48 am

Donita Stewart - Oh Melissa – these are just beautiful and what a wonderful gift you are giving to these families.

January 10, 2011 - 9:52 am

Mary Irvine - gorgeous little ones! i heart babies. and think you are a superstar for doing these shoots too :)

January 10, 2011 - 9:53 am

Barbara Whitesides - Melissa, you have done it again! Great pictures and this time for such a special cause–what a great idea. I know these families really appreciated your efforts.

January 10, 2011 - 9:54 am

Dan Spears (in Snowy! Wilmington) - So weird that this is the day you publish these pictures (for me, at least). One year ago today, my nephew, Logan, was born premature but didn’t make it because of an illness. To say it’s been an odd tough 12 months would be an understatement. These little ones are so cute … but it’s so bittersweet because we never got the chance to make photos like this of him.

The photos are great and thanks so much for posting. Keep up the great work. — Dan

January 10, 2011 - 9:58 am

Carolyn - Melissa, these photos are beautiful! What a special gift you are giving these children and their families! I too have a soft spot for these children as I was a preemie as well, and I work with many children who were in the NICU when they were younger. Absolutely wonderful :)

January 10, 2011 - 9:59 am

Erin Zureick - Melissa, these are so beautiful! That’s a wonderful idea for the families. I can’t believe how tiny they are!

January 10, 2011 - 10:01 am

christi foster - beautiful photos! melissa, your work is inspirational and will be treasured by these families.

January 10, 2011 - 10:10 am

Sarah - Beautiful pictures! What a great idea, and such a blessing for the families!

January 10, 2011 - 10:16 am

Noelle Agnew - You did an amazing job capturing these special moments ! I enjoyed this so much!

January 10, 2011 - 10:16 am

Caroline - Great pictures, Melissa! What a wonderful idea :)

January 10, 2011 - 10:52 am

Karen Irvine - Melissa, Mary spent her first 2 days in a NICU so I can relate. Just beautiful.

January 10, 2011 - 11:01 am

Clodagh - Amazing pics Melissa!!!! The NICU is a tough place, but you captured the beauty of the kids so well :)

January 10, 2011 - 11:08 am

Kelley - Melissa-What great pictures!! The babies are adorable, and I am sure that their parents are so appreciative of you for capturing this!

January 10, 2011 - 11:37 am

Sally Congleton - Melissa, Nick and Claire were also preemies. My mother (you know her as “spunky Nana”) held one in each hand and said, “I buy chickens bigger than this!” Both of them (and Mary and you) grew into incredible adults so that should give these parents some hope.

January 10, 2011 - 11:56 am

Heidi Soeters - Hey Melissa — I always keep an eye on your beautiful pictures, and these just warmed my heart. What a great project! Thanks for sharing…

January 10, 2011 - 12:14 pm

Megan Jordan - Gorgeous, Melissa. After spending some time in the NICU on rotations this year, this photo series had a new resonance for me, too! The fact that you can take such fantastic pictures of these little ones in a difficult environment speaks volumes to your talent as a photographer! Thanks for sharing.

January 10, 2011 - 12:22 pm

callie burnette - adorable!!

January 10, 2011 - 1:31 pm

Kristen Merritt - Great pictures!!! Melissa and Melissa, yall are awesome!

January 10, 2011 - 2:16 pm

Tracy Boyer - It makes me so proud that you are my wedding photographer when I see things like this – being philanthropic is so admirable and something I fully support!!! Kudos to you Melissa :)

January 10, 2011 - 2:48 pm

Ashley Ivkovich - Some amazing pictures of some amazing little guys and girls! Great idea Melissa

January 10, 2011 - 4:36 pm

Sarah - Once again a wonderful job! I know that these families will enjoy these photos forever!

January 10, 2011 - 5:51 pm

Erin Williamson - Adorable.

January 10, 2011 - 6:50 pm

Clare - Love it! You are awesome.

January 11, 2011 - 12:39 am

Christine - Melissa! Beautiful photos. I had no idea about Mary until I read my mom’s comment. Wow. Wishing you and all the babies a happy new year!

January 11, 2011 - 11:42 am

Mari Catherine - What a generous act – Melissa thank you so much for doing this and sharing it with everyone! We are even more excited (didn’t think that was possible!) to have you shoot our wedding. Wonderful, moving photos which I’m sure these sweeties’ parents appreciate seeing.

January 12, 2011 - 3:26 pm

Nicole Scharf - took my breath away. Thank you Melissa, there are no words for how wonderful these photos are:)

January 12, 2011 - 3:41 pm

Jen Tarr - Awesome photos, it is really nice that you donated your time and that you are making a donation for each post, to the March of Dimes. I’m the mom of 2 babies born at 27 weeks and 30 weeks and they are alive today because of generous people like you!

January 12, 2011 - 3:44 pm

Christie - Beautiful pictures. Such a blessing for the families!

January 12, 2011 - 3:59 pm

Heather Lynch - Amazing and such beautiful pictures! Thank you so much for sharing.

January 12, 2011 - 4:38 pm

Deanna - Absolutely precious. Thank you for sharing and for capturing such beautiful moments.

January 13, 2011 - 9:47 am

Andrea Turini - Fantastic job, as always!

January 13, 2011 - 11:03 am

Dona Dei - Thank you for doing this for the March of Dimes families. Dona

January 13, 2011 - 11:18 am

Debi - Thank you so much for the inspiration for all of us who work hard to help these precious ones. The pictures are wonderful – a real spark of joy for us at March of Dimes. :) Blessings to all who work so hard to help these little ones.

January 13, 2011 - 11:38 am

Adrianne - These are beautiful! My son was in two NICU’s when he was born and I know these photos will be absolutely cherised by the parents. My family also just participated with Inspiration Through Art (The Littlest Heroes Project) and I can tell you first hand how great having someone kind, caring, and understanding take their time to do something like this is.

January 13, 2011 - 11:39 am

Blaire - My own daughter was 6 weeks 2 days premature and spent just 11 days in the NICU, but they were the longest 11 days of my life. Thank you so much for doing this; the pictures are beautiful.

January 13, 2011 - 11:40 am

Crystal - Beautiful photos of the most precious little ones!

January 13, 2011 - 11:41 am

Mary - What a wonderful project. Thank you for sharing! Mom of a preemie (with way too few pics of his NICU stay)

January 13, 2011 - 2:26 pm

Erica Kordes - What wonderful pictures! I wish we had professional pictures while my son was in the NICU.

January 13, 2011 - 2:49 pm

Maren - This is a wonderful project! I wish more photographers would do this kind of work. We have many pictures of our NICU stay and I’m grateful for them. Our daughter was full term but very sick when she was born and stopped breathing. We weren’t sure she would make it but she’s here and almost 2, thanks to the NICU staff and March for Babies. Keep up the great work!

January 13, 2011 - 3:44 pm

Deanne Inman - What a precious tribute to the March of Dimes, the NICU nurses and families that are blessed with these wonderful bundles of joy. Keep up the wonderful work.

January 14, 2011 - 6:44 pm

Trish - What beautiful babies! Thank you, Melissa, for being such a caring person.

February 7, 2011 - 9:03 am

Kerry Minster - These are wonderful, Melissa! Daryn was eight weeks early and we spent 17 days in the NICU. Very taxing experience, but the wonderful nurses (and our doctor – I still tear up whenever I see him) were amazing. When we went home without her, I had a Polaroid that my sister took of her – it was all I had. Still my favorite picture. :) You have such a kind spirit!

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