It’s incredible to think that I’ve now officially been a newborn photographer for just over 5 years. I stumbled across some of my old work the other day and it made me realise just how much I have learned since I first started. Not just about how to be a better photographer – but also more about newborns, about new parents, and myself. It got me thinking – if I could go back in time and give myself some pearls of wisdom. What tips and advice would I give myself?
Tip #1: Don’t sweat the small stuff
When I first started newborn photography I was constantly a nervous wreck. Newborn photography is very challenging at times. Often there are a million things to think about at once (Is my lighting right? Have I got the right angle? Is the baby positioned well? How do I want to pose this family? How can I get this baby’s older sibling to cooperate with me? How can I keep this baby happy? If this baby doesn’t settle what can we do next? – you get the idea!). I’m the kind of person who likes to feel organised and in control of my surroundings. Newborns throw all your plans out the window. I used to get so nervous before a session I would literally have anxiety all night before. It was exhausting. What would I do if the baby cried and wouldn’t stop? What if the parents don’t like the photos I take? What if? What if?
If I could do it all again I’d tell myself not to worry. That confidence comes with time and practise. That if you keep trying that you will get there! All it takes is time and determination.
Tip #2: Don’t fear that studio light kit collecting dust in the corner
When I first started photography I went out and bought a studio lighting kit. I used it for the first few months and then packed it away. It intimidated me so much and I honestly felt like I had no idea what I was doing with it. I really wish I had persevered. I struggled for a few years with natural light but just couldn’t get the results I was wanting. If only I had kept going with my studio lights perhaps I could have been happier with my work sooner! The turning point for me was doing the Milky Way Illuminate Lighting Course. (If you’re at all interested in learning studio lighting I highly recommend it!).
Tip #3: Stay true to yourself and your photography style
Over the past 5 years that I’ve been a newborn photographer I’ve seen so many fads and styles come and go. Once upon a time I felt like I needed to go along with these fads to stay relevant and to create photos that my clients would like. With more time and confidence, I’ve realised that I create better work when I stay true to my style. I’ve learned to ignore the latest trends and fads. My heart is all about simple, timeless images that won’t date. That’s why you won’t see a lot of props and tizzy additions to my images. For me, photos should be all about the baby.
Tip #4: Understand new parents
I don’t think I would have been a very good newborn photographer before having babies of my own. I think an important part of the job is understanding what your clients are going through as new parents. The first year of a baby’s life is a rollercoaster of emotions and challenges mixed in with joy, wonder and fatigue. Quite often when new parents (particularly first time parents) come in for their newborn session they are feeling so many emotions. Understanding and appreciating that they are feeling emotionally fragile is an important part of the job. Making them as comfortable as you can is important. Sometimes parents will ask you for advice or to hear about your experiences – having someone to talk to who has been through a similar journey can really help them as well.
I hope some of these tips are helpful for new newborn photographers out there! If it has I’d love to hear from you