Indiana photographer's creative baby scenes gain global attention

A picture of a T-Rex chasing Forker's grandchildren, Ricky and Daisy, is her all-time favorite photo. (BABY ImaginArt)
Published:
Updated:

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — The photos of a baby making pizza, playing with dinosaurs and sailing boats are captivating, creative and confusing.

The babies are posed so precisely, photographer Angela Forker is most often asked, 'how did you do it?'

How did she attach children to the wall for the picture? Is the secret Velcro? Duct tape?

Forker said everyone is shocked when she reveals the babies are simply lying on the floor of her kitchen in New Haven, Indiana.

"When you put the baby in the scene, it all comes to life."

"All the baby has to do is just lie there" Forker said. "When I started adding these floor scenes into my business that's when people started coming to be just for that."

Click here to see slideshow

Her work has been featured in Parenting magazine, the BBC and Huff Post.

"Once Huff Post got a hold of it, then it just went all over the world in all these different languages. Then I had people like literally from all over the world writing to me saying please can you come, and can you take pictures of my baby?" Forker said.

Forker said she came across the career by chance. She took a leave from missionary work overseas to help her pregnant teenage daughter. In the first few months of caring for her grandson, Ricky, Forker started posing him for photos.

"I had no idea what I was doing, but I just started taking his pictures," she said. "I loved it and everybody else loved them. I did one scene with him, it was a very simple one. It's him on a clothes line. It's very cute and showing some of his newborn outfits and stuff and everybody loved it so much and they all wanted more and actually, I wanted to do more. And that is where I found out, I love this. So I started to call them my Baby ImaginArt scenes, all because of my grandson."

Angela Forker's grandson Ricky "on a clothes line" with some of his baby clothes. (Baby ImaginArt)

Forker creates the Baby ImaginArt scenes with fabric remnants she buys on clearance at Walmart. She builds flowers, barns and carousels using feathers, yarns, rocks and whatever else comes to mind.

"Nobody else is doing this," Forker said. "I just have this crazy creativity inside of me and if I'm not doing anything creative it's like I could explode."

Forker estimates it takes her four to ten hours to build each scene. She starts the build in her kitchen the night before the shoot. Forker simply pushes back her kitchen table and uses the empty floor space to create oceans, rocket ships and dinosaurs.

"I go to bed at midnight thinking it's a disaster, and then when I wake up in the morning I have this fresh idea that pops in my head and it changes everything," Forker said.

In the morning, Forker tweaks the scene until the client arrives at noon for the photography session.

"When you put the baby in the scene, it all comes to life," Forker said.

The ImaginArt sessions cost $200. But twice a month, her sessions are free.

"I just saw that my scenes were perfect for babies with special needs. All they have to do is lay down, then the magic happens when they enter the scene. It may look like they are running or jumping or flying or whatever it is that I want them to do," Forker said.

To see a time lapse of how Forker creates her scenes:

Forker named this aspect of her business, the Precious Baby Project.

"I believe that these pictures have the power to change hearts," Forker said. "People who maybe think people with special needs are maybe less important or maybe that they are not beautiful ... then they are seeing these pictures and they are seeing wow that is a wonderful person, that's a very special person, that's a beautiful person."

Forker said often photographers will turn away these clients because the babies can be fussy and their medical apparatus adds another challenge to incorporate into the image.

"It's very challenging with babies with special needs, many of them are visually impaired. So getting them to look in the right direction, very often they don't even smile, so I do my best," she said. "If I keep snapping the camera ... I just keep clicking away, maybe in one of those pictures that baby is going to look like they looked at me and smiled. Parents just often just cry and say 'how did you get this?' It's that I'm an overshooter."

"Joy in the Rain": Abigail Rayne's photos are filled with symbolism such as the pearls that represent rain.(BABY ImaginArt))

Forker is also a devout Christian who believes her new career is a continuation of her missionary work.

"I actually was just praying and said, 'God I want to make a difference, here's my photography, newborn photography, as strange as that is and I gave it to him and is there anyway that you can use my photography to make a difference?" Forker said.

"If we open our heart we will find a new kind of beauty. I am showing the world this new kind of beauty and it's kind of hard not to have my whole heart in this project," Forker said.

Her Precious Baby scenes are full of symbolism and hope.

"I love it that these parents are seeing that although things may be a little different than they expected...their child has a purpose. Their child is beautiful and their child is as valuable as anybody else's child," Forker said.

Each scene tells a part of the child's story: a troubled pregnancy is depicted with a scene of a storm; forget-me-not flowers are included in images with children who are terminally ill; and sometimes, the theme honors a name, like Abigail Rayne from Bedford.

"Her middle name is Rayne, and so I said whatever I do, I know I want to incorporate rain into the scene," Forker said.

Forker created a scene where a flower serves as an umbrella for Abigail. Pearls symbolized raindrops. She named the image, "Joy in the Rain."

"It's very fitting to our life," said Mandy Riggle, Abigail's mother. "She just brought so much love. She has brought a lot of positive."

And for her photo shoot, Abigail brought a smile in the first few minutes.

"Every newborn that comes to me at the end of the session I ask the parents, if you don't mind can I pray a prayer of blessing over your baby? Up until this point, I think I have prayed over 200 babies now," Forker said. "And only one family has refused a prayer, so that is incredible. That prayer time is very powerful, you can feel God's love there. Often times there are tears and the parents are just thankful that someone would care so much. This project is showing the world that beauty can be found in the most unexpected place, and I really love that."

The parents of this miracle baby had suffered the loss of two babies before. The scene is symbolic of a rainbow baby. (Baby ImaginArt)
Angela Forker's favorite photo ever of her grandkids running from a T-Rex. (Baby ImaginArt)
The storm in this photo represents a turbulent pregnancy and how blessed his parents feel to have him. (Baby ImaginArt)
This little lady's mom is a makeup artist so a makeup scene was fitting. (Baby ImaginArt)
"Magical Moments" (Baby ImaginArt)
"The Sky's the Limit" (Baby ImaginArt)
A beautiful little butterfly with wings made of flowers. (Baby ImaginArt)
A scene of a baby standing on a stack of books. (Baby ImaginArt)
"To the Moon and Back" (Baby ImaginArt)
Three bears and a baby on a teeter totter. (Baby ImaginArt)
Tuck Irving's mom describes him as beautiful, happy always and just perfect. After developing a blood clot in utero, he had to have his arm amputated at just one week old. (Baby ImaginArt)
"Hope in the Storm" (Baby ImaginArt)
This little guy seems pretty content roasting marshmallows. (Baby ImaginArt)
"Ittakusa Sawa" which is Swahili for "it will be OK." (Baby ImaginArt)
This little girl has Prader Willi Syndrome, a complex disorder that occurs in 1 in 30,000 births. She and three other generations of women in her family traveled to be a part of this photoshoot. (Baby ImaginArt)
Baby Bryce was diagnosed with Krabbe, a deadly disease. (Baby ImaginArt)
The little prince is sleeping. (Baby ImaginArt)
"Dance in the Rain": Even though this baby boy was born with hearing loss in both ears and facial paralysis, his mom says he is always smiling. (Baby ImaginArt)
"Celebrate You": This little girl and her family flew out to Fort Wayne for the Precious Baby Project. (Baby ImaginArt)