During the last few newborn sessions I've had, the mommas have all asked me the same question; how did I decide that I wanted to photograph newborns or babies?
I've had a camera in my hand since my parents bought their first film slr camera when I was in high school. I still have pictures - not digital pictures, actual prints can you believe that??? - of images that I've taken over the years of people, places, landscapes and such. I bought my first DSLR more than 7 years ago and I continued to photograph everything but having children of course changes your focus a bit so to speak:) Our oldest, who will soon be 8, became my most frequent subject and family pictures took precedent over other subjects.
I've always been an artist and a perfectionist so as soon as I figured out how to use my camera I also figured out that my photographs didn't look like I wanted them to and that's when my journey really began. Constantly studying and taking classes I photographed every subject I could - families, seniors, children and a few older babies but no newborns. I didn't photograph a newborn until I had my son in 2009 and it was horrible! Of course now I know that even the best newborn photographers don't try to photograph their own babies; but hey I was ignorant and figured how hard could it be? Uhhhhmmmmmm it was really freaking hard and the pictures I got were ridiculous! It's embarrassing to show you this but I can't illustrate it any better than this!…..
And this is about the best one! I have 20 or so images, all in this hat, in various "newborn" poses. Don't get my wrong - I LOVE THIS FACE and EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOY:) This wasn't about the sweet baby who is the center of my universe btw:), this was about not being able to get the picture in my camera the way I saw it in my head. I remember being so flipping frustrated wondering "how did those other photographers get their babies to look so comfortable and sweet?" Well, aside from the fact that there is way more off in that picture than just the posing (lighting, exposure, angle, etc.) I was completely perplexed. Here's a little something about me though - if I want to figure out how to do something I ALWAYS FIGURE IT OUT…. ALWAYS. And as my husband can attest, I don't ever just do it anything in small measure. I wanted to know how to pose a newborn and so I went to work. I studied, I read, I watched HOURS AND HOURS of video workshops, I studied some more, I did model calls to practice, I did in person workshops and then I went back and studied it all again. I didn't just read photography information either; I read and studied information on babies in utero, how they move and how they develop. I spent more hours studying and learning developmental stages directly before and in the weeks after birth. I read and reread the Happiest Baby on the Block and studied how to soothe, how to hold, and how to calm babies. I read up on every subject that could possibly affect a newborn and a momma that would come to me; breastfeeding, bottle feeding, sleep habits, colic and gas, birth complications, c-section deliveries (I've had two:), massage, post partum depression, and on and on and on. And that was just the beginning:) Then I had to go and learn all of the technical stuff that would help me to get amazing images; the kind that parents would want to hang on their walls. What was the most flattering light for a newborn, how do I capture all of those tiny perfect details, what kind of props should I use, what kind of prop is good to pose a baby in and on and what isn't, how to photoshop composite images so baby is always safe, how to post process an image so it looks perfect in print, how to pose siblings and families, how to provide the best quality prints and canvases to parents and on and on and on. Hours turned into days turned into months and 7 years later….
I was (and remain to be) completely fascinated, humbled and challenged every time I photographed a newborn. I absolutely love watching them grow and change as they come back to me to capture those amazing first year milestones. But as human beings we change more in our first year of life than during any other time that we are blessed to be on this planet. I get absolutely giddy every time I am entrusted with capturing everything about this precious brand new life that has only been here for a few weeks and I get to document the amazing start of who they will become.
As a parent I can honestly say that my recollections of my children as newborns are completely clouded by the exhaustion that follows labor and birth and the overwhelming responsibilities that come with bringing and sustaining a new life. But every time I look at a photograph of them from that time, even the ones that aren't technically correct or even good, I remember how perfectly smooth their skin was, how the tiny flakes on their fingers and toes looked, how their weight felt as they rested on my chest and how sweet their little heads smelled as they nuzzled under my chin. It thrills me to no end when I am able to deliver a print or a canvas to one of my newborn families and I know that they trusted me with their time, their budget and most importantly with their newborn baby so that they could have amazing images to hang on the walls of their home as a daily reminder of all of the beautiful, perfect things that get lost in the fog of time. That little soul will have those images to look back on and know that without a doubt, from the very beginning, they were perfect exactly as they were born to be and that they were treasured simply by being here.
And that's "why newborns"… :)