Since Brady’s sixth win at the Super Bowl on Sunday, you might have developed aspirations of a great sporting career.
Well, one awesome dad from Delran, New Jersey, has already made the childhood dream shared by many a young sports fanatic come true for his baby girl, and set her on a path of photographic athletic greatness…
All with a little help from Photoshop, Matt MacMillan took a leaf out of the play books of the great athletes is her-story, from Mia Hamm to Mamie “Peanut” Johnson.
Matt spoke to UNILAD about his incredible photo series featuring his daughter, Ella, now two-and-a-half, saying it all started with a desire not to descend into the realms of being a boring online dad who brags all day with cute pictures of his babies.
The Product Engineer and budding photographer said he didn’t want to inundate his family and friends with the usual baby portraits so he orchestrated a set of photos of Ella ‘playing sports’.
Aside from being an aspirational display of physical fitness for all baby girls across the globe, Matt said the sports theme gave he and his wife Alyssa MacMillan ‘a lot of opportunities for different pictures’… Like this fantastic impression of Tony Hawk.
Matt also joked he liked the idea of spicing up the baby photo albums a bit:
When I was younger, I always rolled my eyes at parents that filled their social media with endless photos of their babies so I told myself that when I had kids, I’d do my best to make my pictures funny and interesting.
By that time, I’d dabbled in Photoshop and figured I’d make her look like she was doing things that babies really couldn’t do yet.
Ella’s American football game face is certainly one to keep hold of for the family history books. I can only assume she wasn’t actually trying to read the defence during an American football game.
It might’ve been gas?
But the dad-of-two quickly conceded, with full disclosure, now he’s a parent, he ‘totally just posts regular pictures of [his] kids too’.
He admitted he understands why our news feeds are they way they are; full of smiling babies who can’t play football.
All the same, Matt told UNILAD Ella has heaps of personality but is still working on her ball skills:
Ella has started to pick up the basics of a few real sports. She’s pretty good at kicking a soccer ball and swings a mean baseball bat, crushing wiffle balls off a tee.
We’re still working on the basics of throwing – sometimes the ball goes far and sometimes it goes backwards.
She loves being goofy and making up her own language at times. Her favourite hobbies are reading books, playing on the playground, building with Play-Doh, colouring, and painting – mostly abstract stuff, as you might guess.
He also reassured folks he and Alyssa ‘didn’t actually throw her in the beanbag toss picture’ or ‘toss her into a baby pool’ for the diving shots, as judged by her toys.
It was an arduous process, said the creative thinker, who had to hold Ella in the correct positions to take the shot, and subsequently cut himself out of the background using Photoshop.
For ones like the baseball bat picture, I would take a set of photos of me holding her in a batting stance, and then I would take a separate picture of myself catching.
Finally I would get a picture of the bat, and then Photoshop the three pictures together.
I think the most difficult photoshoot was the skateboarding pictures. In those, I would hold Ella in mid air while my wife held the skateboard up to her feet to make it look like she was doing it all on her own.
Here’s a little composite to show how it all came together for that sweet sporting moment:
Matt tells UNILAD when he and Alyssa found out another baby was on the way, they made up their mind to stage another photoshoot for their son, too, who was born prematurely.
His second little tyke, Ryan, proved a big hit with the public in January after he went from being labelled a premature baby to fulfilling his destiny as an ‘advanced man’, thanks to his dad’s mad skills.
Ryan was born nine weeks – over two months – premature and weighing just under 3lbs.
But rather than have Ryan grow up with a prematurely attributed label Matt decided to spin the narrative a little by placing his baby boy into some pretty adult scenarios.
The parents, Matt said, ‘liked to joke that [Ryan] wasn’t premature, he was just advanced’.
The resulting photo series sees a then-tiny Ryan take on some everyday challenges most guys will relate to on a deeply ‘blokey’ level.
From playing poker with ‘the boys’ to carving the Thanksgiving turkey, Ryan absolutely nails being a modern day man who can, as his dad puts it, blow leaves ‘like a champ’ and ‘chop that wood’.
The series was constructed to follow Ryan throughout his future manhood on fishing trips, to the gym and as he does DIY around the house, like tuning up a Prius and mowing the lawn.
Motivated by the set of photographs he’d created with the help of little Ella, Matt embarked on the new project, inspired by Ryan’s first few months.
I wanted to do something similar with Ryan. But I wasn’t sure what Ryan’s photo theme was going to be until he was born 9 weeks early.
We tried to keep as much of a positive attitude as possible while he spent 6 weeks in the NICU. So, I thought it’d be funny to pretend he was already a full grown man and have him do manly grown up things.
You know, such as going out to a 9 to 5 job in accountancy in a fancy flat cap and with a briefcase perfectly proportioned to his body, just like the other big boys.
Once the plan was hatched, Ryan and Matt had a lot of fun constructing the scenarios together, with the lion’s share of work going into the set ups, staging and editing, whereas the shoots themselves took only 20 minutes each.
Matt recalled the process with Ryan, saying:
From that point, I just tried to think of as many manly activities as I could. We did a different shoot each week for about three months.
Rather than an aspirational thing, it was more to just have fun with it and make people laugh. Whether he grows up to be manly or unmanly, we’d love him just the same.
In response to those who thought Ryan was in some sort of danger – or had ever handled a razor – Matt reassured UNILAD he didn’t put his baby in harm’s way, and Photoshop did all the heavy lifting.
Matt was happy to tell UNILAD Ryan is on the mend after a tough start, but he’s a fighter and is growing more and more every day into the slightly bigger little man he was born to be!
His proud dad added:
Ryan is now six months old and finally on the growth chart! He’s definitely a happy baby and is smiling and talking all the time.
I was surprised by the amount of feedback from other parents of premature kids and people who were premature themselves, saying that they know the struggles and that they really enjoyed the pictures and the positive outlook they portrayed.
It was really cool to get that positive feedback, especially on the internet where article comments turn negative so quickly.
What a recovery. But don’t take our word for it. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words…
If Ryan’s transformation is anything to go by, we’ll be seeing Ella at the Super Bowl come 2035 and she’ll be giving Brady a run for his money.
If you have a PhotoShopped story you want to tell, share it with UNILAD via [email protected]