Editor’s Note: Babble is a part of The Walt Disney Company.
Disney Princesses have been a source of inspiration for photographer Karen Marie since as far back as she can remember.
“My mother and grandmother would read and watch [the books and movies] with me,” she tells Babble. “These amazing tales of love and courage have always resonated with me.”
So it was somewhat natural when many years later, after growing her successful photography business Belly Beautiful Portraits, that Marie used that same source of inspiration to create one of her most popular photo shoots to date: Transforming sleeping newborns into magical Disney Princesses.
The photos, which were released last year, quickly went viral — and it’s easy to see why. Each sleeping babe was decked out in her very own princess gown and carefully placed in front of a magical backdrop that was straight out of a fairytale.
The images were adorable, and this year, it looks like we’re all in for another treat: Karen Marie recently caught up with those sweet sleeping babies, who have each turned 1, to once again give them the full fairytale treatment in a brand new photo shoot. And it is every bit as beautiful as the first.
“When we finished the shoot last year, exhausted from photographing six babies at once, my staff and I sat back and laughed and said it will be so much easier next year when they are all one!” Marie tells Babble. “At that point I knew I was going to do the shoot.”
Marie says the excitement of watching the newborns go viral was a moment in time she’ll never forget. The photos themselves received over 17 million views on Babble’s Facebook alone, and the story of how they came to be was covered by dozens of news outlets across the globe.
Now entering toddlerhood, Marie says each of the original princesses have grown to be both “beautiful and strong willed” (which sound like the makings of the perfect princess, if you ask us!)
From the beautiful Aurora …
… to the happy-go-lucky Ariel (and her dinglehopper!) …
Each one of these 1-year-old princesses sure comes with her own unique (and sometimes unpredictable) personality.
Once again, Marie turned to the specialty boutique Sew Trendy Accessories to create the girls’ handmade princess gowns, and created the backdrops and many of the props herself.
“One of the most exciting parts of my job is creating sets, set-ups, themes, and props,” she shares. “I try to think about what is truly inspiring to me about each character, set or theme and what will come across in the final shoot. I usually start with color palettes and let the ideas blossom from there.”
Marie, who specializes in newborn and maternity photography, says she’s worked with plenty of 1-year-olds before, as she’s done her fair share of cake smash birthday photo shoots over the years. But the unique experience of photographing the same “princess” babies one year later was particularly heartwarming.
“It is really amazing to see how much the newborns change in that first year of life — from being so small and delicate as newborns to having so much personality, curiosity and joy!” she shares. “I truly love what I do.”
In sharing their photos with the world once more, Marie hopes to spread a bit of the same joy the first photo shoot did.
“I think that last year’s shoot really sent a lot of happiness through a small part of the world,” she shares, “and I was just hoping that this could extend those feelings. They are so adorable!”
They certainly are. Not only that, but Marie says the newly-minted toddlers were actually easier to work with this year, now that they’re a bit older.
“The little babies look so peaceful in the images, but it takes a lot of work and a lot of hands to get them that way,” she admits. “So the 1-year-old shoot was a bit easier, although more chaotic, since the princesses are now on the move and exploring everything.”
Of course, each of the girls are still too young to grasp the full significance of the photo shoot. They have yet to fall in love with the story of Belle and her “Beast,” or wish they could fly a magic carpet like Jasmine, or look at the world with as much wonder and amazement as Ariel. But those days are right around the corner — and they’re likely to be mesmerized by the same classic fairytales (and their incredible heroines) that we all have been for decades.
“I think the Disney Princesses captivate all of us, young and old alike, because of their inner strength,” says Marie. “They are heroic in everything that they do. Their perseverance, their courage and bravery against all odds, and their uncompromising goodness are traits that we have in all of us and want to exemplify.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Next up? We’re hoping Karen Marie recreates her adorable photo shoot from last Halloween, when she transformed eight babies into iconic Disney villains!