What is better than a box of chocolates at Valentine's Day? A box of babies, of course! Connecticut-based photographer JoAnn Marrero of From Labor to Love was inspired by a favorite memory from the sweetest day of the year to arrange a photo shoot featuring over a dozen little sweethearts posing as treats. "I gave my then 2-and-a-half-year-old a box of chocolate for Valentine's Day," Marrero says. "It didn't dawn on me that he had no idea what was in the box, so when he opened it, he was jumping up and down yelling, 'There's candy in it!' to his big brother. It was so cute."
Once she had the idea for the aww-inducing Valentine's Day-themed photo shoot, Marrero posted a model call for sitting babies (not walkers/escapees!) and received over 85 emails from interested parents. Somehow, the photographer whittled down the list of adorable would-be chocolates to 13, including a baby, Jacob, whose birth she photographed on Valentine's Day last year. "It was extra special having him there for it!" she adds.
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Although the preciousness is on overload when you dress 13 infants in red bow ties and bloomers, there are obviously challenges, too. "They were all fine for the first five minutes," Marrero explains. "After that, they all had their own agendas and it was chaotic cuteness. One baby started crying really loud and set off a chain reaction of crying!" Another little one wanted his mom, some babies just loved sucking on the big chocolate candies that, yes, were real Hersey Kisses, others tried to crawl away, and others kept wanting to turn the shoot into playtime.
From Labor to Love Courtesy From Labor to Love
The experienced birth and baby photographer, who built the chocolate box herself, calmed the tearful tots by singing and keeping things light. "The goal was to just have fun, without expectations. It was a giant playdate and everyone made new friends," Marrero said. Ultimately, all she wanted was to have all 13 babies looking at her for a single portrait. And eventually, she got the winning shot.
Courtesy From Labor to Love Courtesy From Labor to Love
But no matter which way the cute-as-can-be cupids' gazes were directed, the result of Marrero's labor is a sweet series of images that remind us what Valentine's Day is really about. No, not bemoaning that your partner forgot to send flowers or spending a ton of money on a nine-course dinner plus a babysitting fee. But instead, Valentine's is about finding love in your life, be it a small romantic gesture or a chubby-faced smile from a baby sitting inside a giant box of chocolates with a dozen other red-diapered darlings—all of whom are giving us major heart eyes, just in time for February 14.