When Ryan MacMillan was born 9 weeks premature, he weighed only two pounds, 15 ounces and had to spend six weeks in the NICU.
As a parent, this was no easy thing to deal with and “seemed to last forever,” writes his dad Matt.
Ryan’s parents wanted to bring their little boy home. After all, they had big plans for him, but they had no idea their plans would inspire so many people dealing with similar struggles.
“Although things didn’t go according to plan we didn’t let it slow us down,” he explained. Instead of viewing Ryan as premature, his parents decided to consider him “advanced.”
Two years prior, when they brought home Ryan’s big sister, dad concocted elaborate photoshoots of her playing sports (photoshopped, of course), and he wanted to do something similar with his first-born son.
“I came up with the idea that we should do a photoshoot of him doing manly adult things,” explained Matt.
As soon as they were finally able to bring him home to their house in Delran, New Jersey, they put him to work doing adult-like things, such as bench pressing, mowing the lawn, and shaving his 5 o’clock shadow.
Mom, also known as Alyssa, is there to help the pictures turn out perfect, too.
She is tasked with holding Ryan, as well as props, while dad gets everything in the right position. In addition, she helps make the props – like the tiny briefcase pictured below.
The MacMillan family is overwhelmed by all of the love and support that has poured in as a result of sharing these photos with the world.
They are beyond pleased to provide parents of premature babies a renewed sense of hope. Proving to the world that even the tiniest babies can do big things.
Dad says that each adorable shot takes around fifteen to twenty minutes to get just right. Although, with so many details involved in the process, you can’t help but think it must take a little longer.
The first thing Dad does is pick out outfits and create props – getting his vision just right. Next, he sets up the scene by framing the shot and perfecting the placement of props and lighting.
Some sets are more intricately detailed than others, like the photo of Ryan bench pressing like a champ.
“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,” Dad writes.
Then comes the photoshop and editing aspect of the fun – which Dad says is one of the most time-consuming aspects of the whole thing.
That’s because he must go through hundreds of pictures on the hunt for the best shot in the bunch. He’s looking for little details – like the way Ryan grips something.
With the prize photo ready to go, Dad must remove himself and his wife from the photos so that Ryan looks like the independent adult he is on social media.
Lastly, Matt pieces together the best parts of his son’s body to create a unified composite photo.
“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.”
While the overwhelming response was incredibly positive, some people complained that the photos appeared dangerous to little Ryan.
Dad wants the world to know that his son was never in any harm at all. In fact, any element of danger was photoshopped into the picture.
“He was always being held and was never in any harm,” Dad writes on Bored Panda.
The photo series has since come to an end, but the Internet is begging for more.
“I’m curious to see what Ryan thinks of them 18 years from now when he’s actually grown up.” You know, and doing adult things without the help of photoshop.
Ryan is a happy and healthy baby who is now on the growth chart! “Much love to the NICU nurses at Virtua Mount Holly,” Matt writes.
The inspirational family’s advice for anyone with a premature baby is simple: “be patient, be positive, and seek support.”