Aurora Sam, A Sleeping Beauty // Canberra Documentary Photographer

As a photographer, I get to be present at some of the most important moments of people’s lives. Most of the time, those moments are happy and full of joy. Births, pregnancies, weddings, new babies. But occasionally I am asked to document the hardest moments in a persons life too, and it’s those ones that make me truly appreciate what I do. In the last 2 months I have photographed some of the most heartbreaking days. They weren’t easy days to be a part of, but I’m so glad I was. I’ve seen grief in it’s truest form, I’ve cried so many tears with families whom I now consider my own. But above all else, I’ve seen love. I’ve documented love. And as heartbreaking as these photographs are, they show love.


I first connected with Steph and Carly during their pregnancy. They reached out to be involved with my Canberra Motherhood Stories project and to share their story. At that stage Carly had experienced PPROM (Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes) and was on bedrest. We spoke about how would be best to share their story and decided that a photo session while Carly was still pregnant, and another one after Aurora had been born would be the best way to document their story. Heartbreakingly, little Aurora was born just a few days later and at only 24 weeks, lived for just minutes.

Steph and Carly will share their story in the book (which will be released in May 2019) as an outlet for their grief, a way to raise awareness of PPROM and to start a discussion about something that they been have told is relatively common but not often spoken about.

I am in so much awe of these two women, their strength and the love they have for their little girl and each other. Aurora’s funeral was one of the hardest days I’ve photographed, but was also one of the most beautiful. These photographs are heartbreaking. They will be hard to look at. But for couples like Steph and Carls, this is reality. This is their motherhood story. And it is beautiful.