Totum Mum Crush: Daniela Rey


Daniela is a mindful mama, photographer and the founder of Mama Niela. She is dedicated to shooting and sharing the stories that make our journey through motherhood special. Daniela lives in Los Angeles with her daughter Amelie and her husband Grant.

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Daniela offers at-home photography sessions in Los Angeles for mamas with babies of all ages. If you’re in the area, and can’t remember when was the last time you got professional photos taken with your little ones, click here for more information or to contact Daniela and book a session. Your story is beautiful and worth being told with photos!

Daniela Ray

For you, what has been the biggest surprise about becoming a mother?

I still remember. Amelie was but a week old when she caught her first cold. Her tiny body, so congested and uncomfortable. So hard to see and so little you can do. Then one time, while breastfeeding, she chocked on some milk. No oxygen was going in, she was quiet, quickly turned purple and went limb. I froze and held her up, moaning for help. Her dad picked her up, hit her in the back, and brought her back. Back to life and to my arms. An X-ray the next day found some milk in her lungs … something easy to fix with lots of pats in the back. But the lesson I learned stayed with me forever. This beautiful baby, so unique, so little and so mine, yet, not really mine at all. The idea that something could happen to her and I couldn’t stop it. Unbearable.

This was the biggest surprise. This feeling so many moms before me have tried to describe, but that is so hard to explain in words. My heart now lives outside of my body. I can’t control much of what happens to her, and that makes me feel so vulnerable. So anxious, so scared, so stressed, so helpless. 

How did you feel about returning to work?

Before Amelie was born I quit a job teaching graphic design. They refused to give me maternity leave, so I quit with a 7-month belly and went home to rest. The teaching gig was something temporary while I figured out what to do next. I had graduated from film school and spent a few years getting my foot in the door, only to realize that the life I wanted was not possible within the confines of the Hollywood film industry. The long hours and big egos didn’t feel safe to me.

My whole family lives in Colombia and I wanted to make them a part of my new journey. I wanted them to connect with Amelie so they could love her and feel ownership of her … even at a distance. So I began to take photos and share my story on a Spanish blog. And although it was intended for my family, soon Hispanic mamas from all over the world began to connect and leave me comments. This little blog idea helped me connect with more people than I thought possible, it became an empowering creative outlet for me, and it unleashed a passion for motherhood photography I didn’t know I had. 

This was the beginning of my brand, Mama Niela. A project of love that has gone through a few metamorphoses and is constantly growing, just like I grow in my motherhood journey. At its core, I love to meet other mamas. I love when they invite me into their homes and let me photograph their story even if they think it’s all a mess. Photography has this beautiful way of capturing the stillness in the chaos. I’ve been told before that my photos help moms see themselves as moms for the first time … and see the magic in the craziness they think they’re living at home. I know it's done that for me over and over.


What do you miss most about your life before becoming a mother?

I keep chasing a need for alone time. I think what I miss the most is a healthy dose of selfishness. I miss doing what I want when I want it. But on the other side having limited alone time, has made me value it so much more. A couple of hours at a coffee shop, like I’m doing as I write this, are so precious. So much more than they ever were before.

With a 5-year-old, I think what I miss the most is silence … and less laundry ;)

But to be honest, I was born wanting to be a mama. And when I became one it felt like everything made sense. This is without a doubt, my purpose in this life. So much so that it became the core of my business, just like yours a Totum!


Totum Mum Crush

Totum Women is excited to feature some moms who inspire us in a series called "Mum Crush."  Listen, though: every woman finds her own path as a mother, so our hope is that these women uplift and inspire.  We know that sometimes features like these can lead to some comparison thinking that hurts more than helps, so we choose women who exemplify our brand values of being real and whole in their approach to womanhood and motherhood.  Women who make us feel stronger because they're full of love and keep it real.