Photographing all these little Cornwall newborn babies is a wonderful part of my job. I truly love it! It's taken some time to get to where I am, which is pretty relaxed and confident in my ability to capture newborns in a way that is timeless, respectful and true to my style and vision. It's been a long road of learning, and I still learn something each session, and am refining how I do things all the time - and I expect always will be (which is awesome!), but it's great to have reached a point where I can just do my thing.
I started off like most others, I'm sure - imitating the big names and trying to copy what everyone else seemed to be doing. I suppose all creative pursuits start off like that - it's how you master the basics before finding your own way and style. My first few sessions bear no resemblance to what I now like (and most certainly looked nothing like the pros I was attempting to imitate), but we all start somewhere!
Here are one of my first newborns (minion) and one of my most recent.
For ages, newborn sessions were really hard work. They still are but not in a stressful kind of way. I've stripped away as much stress-causing factors as I can (I no longer shoot without a nappy apart from the odd one here and there, and I keep set ups simple and can quite quickly decide on what looks good to me - setting up used to take hours and hours!). Instead of having my mind crammed full of things I want to try, I really do take it as it comes and let the baby lead the session. This doesn't mean I just plonk them down and take photos - there is still a lot of soothing and positioning and I do have a rough plan in mind prior to every session. But I am not going into newborn sessions wanting to get a particular pose or anything. Whatever I get just kind of happens. I also don't prepare numerous elaborate set ups any more that require lots of moving and changing. Before each session I put aside a few outfits and wraps to choose from based on a simple palette so that it's all interchangeable. This makes it easier to get a bit more variety if the baby is unsettled - I don't have to disturb that much.
Some days I have the magic touch (or luck on my side) and the baby is calm and settled, even sleeping for most of the session. Then there are days when they aren't comfortable for whatever reason, or are cluster feeding and don't want to be put down. These sessions take a little bit longer - often the settling can take as long as an hour, between attempts to photograph and stopping again for more cuddles and feeding. I can see parents despairing and I do try to prepare in advance for the possibility that the session could take up to 3 hours long. I'm used to it and know that eventually we'll get there, but it may mean not as much variety in poses and props etc. I would feel more than satisfied if got a handful of truly beautiful shots, and honestly, in years to come, that's all you'll really need.
After the session is the culling and editing. I usually need to retouch babies skin - newborns can be very blotchy and pimply! I tend to take out anything that isn't permanent (acne clears up and is soon forgotten about - I don't believe there's any loss of integrity or authenticity by editing it out). This is the part that can take many hours, and where the magic truly happens. This is a before and after - definitely not the most dramatic example but one I found without having to dig too far back.
I'll have to do a blog soon on other aspects of my journey so far - it's fun looking back!
If you live in Cornwall and are expecting a baby, or are looking for a newborn photographer, I'd love to photograph your baby! I'm based on the Roseland Peninsula and also travel to clients' homes for their sessions if requested. Visit my newborn portfolio page to see my current work and if you scroll back in the blog you'll find posts with more images.