I love shooting real, genuine portraits that celebrate your family's life in this moment with a newborn. So rather than studio style sessions, I do newborn sessions in my client's home - coming to you and documenting more candid, natural moments in your own environment.
The timing of your session
Because I offer lifestyle sessions, versus the more posed & styled studio setups, it doesn't matter so much about how old your newborn is when I come to create these portraits for you. Studio newborn photographers usually want babies under 2 weeks old so that they are really sleepy and easier to pose & curl into intricate positions for those fine-art newborn shots. Whereas I concentrate more on documenting family life; cuddles, nap time in the bassinet, feeding, siblings, close ups of tiny hands and feet, more cuddles and even bath time. Whether your newborn is awake or sleepy, my in-home sessions are designed to work around your newborn's routine (if they even have one yet!). This means these sessions work just as well for newborns under 2 weeks old and 12 week old babies!
If you want to capture those fleeting newborn features before your new baby grows then let's aim for 1-2 weeks old, once you're back home and settling in. If you want more awake shots then perhaps around the 4 week old mark you will get more alert and awake time. I've even done newborn portraits with 2-3 month old babies which just means more interaction and smiles. It is totally up to you and what you want captured.
Don't stress about the house
Sometimes clients will say they don't know if there's any good spots in their house for the photographs. Or that the house might be cluttered with baby gear everywhere. Don't stress about any of this - it's entirely my job to work all this out. I usually choose a room in your home that has plenty of soft window light - often a bedroom or the nursery, but again that's not anything you need to worry about organising.
I guess my experience as a wedding photographer has ensured I am able to use any lighting situation to my advantage. Whether your house has lots of natural light, or hardly any windows, this is not something you need to worry about for your portrait session.
What to wear
The easiest place to start wardrobe planning is with your colour palette. Think coordinated, not “matched”. Co-ordinated outfits provide a subtle cohesiveness to your final photographs. I suggest sticking to a couple of colours and pick out clothes for the family within this colour range. For example: tones of blue, with neutrals such as greys and creams. Or complimentary pastel colours of pink, cream, soft blues etc.
Light, neutral tones tend to work really well for newborn sessions. Perhaps just because they match the soft, tenderness of a newborn baby.
There’s no rules on how dressed up you need to be - tidy, casual works well for these in-home sessions. I realise new mums may be worried about what to wear and looking good, so my number one piece of advice is that it's really important that you feel comfortable & confident in what you choose to wear. Keep it simple - a blouse and jeans, or a long floaty dress. Do your hair and makeup as if you're going out (or better yet book in some professional pampering) and I guarantee you will feel like a goddess for your portrait session.
For the star of the photos; your newborn child - pick out a couple of favourite outfits. We can do a change in outfits during the session if you wish (we usually have a feeding & changing break anyway). Again I suggest keeping it simple, light and nothing too bold in pattern that will draw attention away.
Incorporate special elements
If you have a bassinet that's been in the family for generations, some hats or booties made by Gran or a gifted soft toy I'm always happy to incorporate any of these elements into your photographs. It's always special to recognise these mementos and heirlooms in your photographs years later and grandparents love seeing these special touches!
What to expect
I treat these newborn sessions very organically and let them unfold differently depending on the baby and the family. If I arrive and your baby is sleeping we might start with sleeping shots in the bassinet or cot. If you have other children we might go into doing family portraits all together on the bed first, so the siblings can then go play afterwards. If dad needs to head out on the farm by a certain time or go back to work, we get the family shots and father/child portraits done first.
There's no time limits with my portrait sessions, but to give you an indication I find that most newborn sessions take 60-90 minutes, including stops for feeding and changing etc. We keep the whole session very conversational and relaxed, ensuring that everyone has a good time and enjoys the experience.
If you have any questions whatsoever before your newborn session just get in touch with me, I'm always happy to help. x
Potentially the question I get asked the most as a photographer by the general public, friends, clients and followers is; "what camera should I buy?". Sometimes it's people wanting to get a versatile camera for their up-coming travelling. Other times it's just someone with an interest in photography that wants a good camera to have a go with.
It's funny how people assume that being a photographer means I probably know heaps about cameras, when in reality I only know my own cameras well. Put another brand or model of camera in my hand and I still have to sit down and take some time to learn how to drive it.
Because of how often I get asked about cameras, it got me thinking that while I'm not a camera expert there are definitely some tips I can share to help with choosing the right camera.
FIGURE OUT YOUR PRIORITIES.
Knowing whether you want something compact, lightweight, weather-proof, good for video, upgradeable, cheap, expensive, versatile, durable or even whether you want the ability to buy additional lenses is all important stuff to consider. There is such a huge range of cameras on the market today that it can be overwhelming, but if you have a specific purpose, idea or use for your camera in mind, from there you can narrow down which cameras are going to suit your priorities.
For example if someone comes to me asking about a good camera for travelling - the first questions I ask in return is what they really want to photograph on their travels (landscapes, buildings, street photos, portraits or perhaps a mixture of everything?), do they plan to carry a camera bag everywhere or would they prefer a smaller camera that can be popped in their day bag and also I ask about their budget. Immediately if they say they don't want to carry a bulky camera and multiple lenses around then I suggest looking at mirrorless cameras. If they say that the trip will be centred around taking photos and they need versatility, then an DSLR set up with a couple of good quality lenses and a tripod might be a good option. If they want to do some street photography and get amongst the action either a DSLR or mirrorless camera paired with a wide angle lens will suit them well.
Once you figure out your priorities you can confidently talk to a camera shop about good options or start researching online for good camera models & setups to suit your needs.
INVEST IN THE LENS.
I always say at our photography workshops that if you're going to spend money on camera gear spend it on good lenses. A high quality lens will last longer than your lifetime if cared for well and a good lens goes a long way towards getting higher quality photographs. Usually when you buy a camera they come with one or two 'kit' lenses - which I call 'plastic fantastics' and they're actually not very fantastic at all. While kit lenses do the trick of getting you going, they are limited and lack in sharpness & quality that you see with higher spec lenses.
I often suggest to people that are interested in taking portraits to buy a camera body and a reasonably priced 50mm prime lens rather than worrying about the kit lens package deal. The 50mm is a great lens for portrait photography and if you're a Canon shooter they have an incredibly priced 50mm f1.8 lens which is superb value for money. For those wanting to shoot sports games or wildlife then investing in a good quality telephoto lens is more appropriate such as a 70-200mm zoom lens. Travel photographers might enjoy a versatile 24-70mm zoom lens.
Knowing about focal length and the different specifications of lenses is important. Each photographer has their own unique preferences. If you're not sure where to start ask fellow photographers their opinions and do some research; Google provides a wealth of information on lenses for different applications, lens brand & model reviews and comparisons.
DIFFERENT CAMERA TYPES.
When people ask me about what sort of camera to buy I usually point them in one of two directions depending on their priorities. Either towards a DSLR camera or a mirrorless camera. Here I'm going to outline the pros & cons of each.
DSLR (stands for digital single-lens reflex) cameras are the digital versions of the old 35mm film cameras. The most common brands are Canon & Nikon, coming in a wide range of models ranging in specs. DSLR cameras are bigger and heavier than mirrorless cameras because they require the optics & mechanism of a mirror setup (not going into detail about this, as google will explain it much better than me!). A huge advantage to DSLR is the range of lenses you can get for them because DSLR's have been around for so much longer than mirrorless cameras. They also sometimes have larger sensors (although mirrorless systems are catching up) which means better image quality and better performance in low light situations.
Mirrorless cameras are a relatively new technology and because they don't have the traditional mirror set-up DSLRs have, they are made a lot more compact and lightweight. While I know Canon has a good line up of mirrorless cameras now, brands such as Sony, Fujifilm and Olympus have been leading the way with mirrorless technology. I guess because it is newer technology and also because there are many brands & models of mirrorless with differentiating setups there are less lenses available for them, but this is changing rapidly as the mirrorless market grows. Mirrorless cameras boast good video capability and fast shooting speeds due to their simpler build. One disadvantage with mirrorless, that DSLR shooters often miss, is the lack of an optical viewfinder - but this is a personal preference.
You might think that because I have professional camera gear that I would naturally use it for everything including personal holidays, trips and events. But I've actually just acquired a mirrorless camera in the hopes that a smaller, lightweight camera will come with me everywhere when I can't be bothered lugging my kilo's of DSLR gear around! I've realised my work gear, while it's highly spec'd & comprehensive, isn't the right camera setup for the photos I want to take everyday & while travelling.
A GREAT CAMERA DOESN'T EQUATE TO GREAT PHOTOS.
Unfortunately there isn't a magic button on cameras for taking the perfect photo every time and I know from experience that it can be hugely disappointing when you spend a lot of money on a camera and you still can't create the photos you're dreaming of. I remind my workshop attendees that it is not all about the gear you own. You are the one that sees, not the camera. The camera is just a tool.
While shooting on Auto modes will get the photo taken, you do really need to become familiar with your camera and how to take control of the exposure settings to consistently be able to create great photographs and get creative with your photography. Knowing the characteristics of different lenses is important too, as well as understanding compositional elements.
If you've got a good camera but you're not getting the results from it that you want, take a look at our photography workshops here - these beginner workshops are designed to get you taking control of your camera and give you the tools to get creative with your photography.
Please note this blog post is based purely on my opinions and photography is such a subjective artistry which in itself is a beautiful thing. This blog post is aimed at beginners and those interested in pursuing photography as a hobby, rather than those who are already in the photographic industry. If you have any questions, get in touch! x
I love capturing lives, stories and moments with my camera, making true connections with the families I photograph. Every session is different, every family is unique.
This blog post offers some tips & info for your family session with me...
Time of day
As a natural light photographer, 90% of the time I don't book sessions anytime around midday. I book both mornings and afternoons because this is when the light is best. Just after sunrise and not long before sunset, when the sun is low on the horizon (the golden hours) - this is when I love to shoot. The light is beautiful, soft and saturated. It truly will make a difference to your final photos! Of course an overcast day is also great but as everyone knows there's something special about the light at sunrise and sunset.
What to wear
Family photos are an investment and I believe what you choose to wear for your photos is important to consider. What you wear for your family session can make a big difference and usually it's not until afterwards when you see the photographs that you realise this. If you're wondering what might look great for photos here's some pointers:
Start with colour
The easiest place to start wardrobe planning is with your colour palette. Think coordinated, not “matched”. Co-ordinated outfits provide a subtle cohesiveness to your photos. I suggest sticking to a couple of colours and pick out clothes for the family within this colour range. For example: tones of blue, with neutrals such as greys and creams. Or complimentary pastel colours of pink, cream, soft blues etc. Your goal is to create a pulled together, coordinated look that’s natural without being overly “matchy” or “uniformed”.
Add interest with layers & accessories
Using layers and accessories is a great way to add visual interest and create different “looks” for each family member during your session. Simply adding or removing items like sweaters, coats or scarves can give you a quick “wardrobe change” between shots. Carefully chosen accessories like scarves, statement jewelry, or a favourite hat are fun touches of personal style and personality. Necklaces, scarves, belts etc - all add texture to your photos and can add to your outfit.
What to avoid
Avoid clothes with large or bold graphics, text or distracting patterns. These can cause distractions in your photos and sometimes don't photograph well. Black and whites are great, but don't go all white or all black. Break it up if you can. Large areas of black and white in photographs can become flat or lack detail in photographs. Guys, we recommend that you avoid patterns that are smaller than a coin. For example: a checkered shirt. These small patterns can create strange visual effects in a digital camera.
Your home plays a role
Also consider where your portraits are going to be displayed in your home. For larger canvases or framed prints, perhaps intended as the focal point of a family room or dining room, consider your wall colours and the overall décor and style in those rooms as you plan your wardrobe choices.
Looking & feeling your best
When it comes to what you wear, consider how an outfit sits on your body. You want your outfit to outline & add curves to your silhouette, so you don't want anything too loose or baggy that doesn't provide you any shape at all. Take a look through my past blogs for some inspiration - you will see how different outfits, colours and accessories change the look and feeling of photos. There’s no rules to how dressed up you need to be, tidy casual is just as effective! Most importantly be comfortable & confident in what you wear. And don’t forget that I am here to help! I’m happy to offer guidance for the style & look you want to achieve and help prepare you for your portrait session so that you get the most from your portraits.
Children & smiles
My favourite photographs are natural, genuine moments that show connection, emotion and character. I find that 99% of the time asking a child to smile does not produce a true, natural smile. Let me as the photographer work for those smiles. It's my job to ensure you all have a fun, relaxed time during your family portrait shoot.
With children I often find one person behind me (usually making fun of me) is a great way to get some giggles out of a child. But having all the family standing spread out behind me talking to a child when I'm taking individual portraits doesn't work. A child can only look in one place at a time & most often in this scenario its not at me. I have taken some of my favourite portraits of children when I'm just following them around, letting them do their own thing. If I can get a child to warm to me and get five minutes with just them and my camera I often get that shot where it all just works. There's connection, its natural and it becomes the shot Mum wants framed on the wall.
Session Length & Location
I don't set time limits on my portrait sessions. Every family is unique and every story is different. Some take 30 minutes, others take over an hour. Many factors influence the timeframe but most importantly it's about being relaxed, having some fun and getting the shots you want.
Family sessions are usually taken at one or two locations. Often locations special to the family; such as on the family farm or the park where you often go with the children. I will discuss this with you when planning your session. And don't be surprised if I see a certain location during the session and decide we have to use it. I am always looking for good light and backgrounds that will work photographically. It's my job to do this for you.
Preparation is key. I will work with you on locations and ideas for your session. Take the time to think about locations & fun ideas etc. I love being able to incorporate something unique to your family into the session, whether it be using a location you always go to as a family, bringing along the family dog, letting the children bring their favourite teddy or some bubbles to blow etc. It's your family session so make sure it reflects you.
Go take a look at my previous family sessions on the blog and you'll quickly get an idea of how my family sessions work - they're fun, candid and very relaxed. Also when I send you my pricelist, this contains information pages that may help you when preparing for your session & give you an idea of what to expect.
And for all the preparation in the world just remember its okay if it doesn't all go to plan. If Miss 3 just won't smile no matter what treats I have in my camera bag, if an angry pimple makes an appearance on the day (thank you Photoshop!) or Master 5 decides to fall over in the dirt - it's okay. We'll work with what we've got and I'm all for keeping it real!
Relax & enjoy the session
My most important tip is to just relax and have fun. I know most people hate the thought of getting their photo taken, but I promise it's quite painless 😉. Getting family portraits should be a fun experience. I aim to make my family sessions laid-back, not too posed and filled with laughter.
Think of it as some special "family-time." I promise you won't regret getting your family portraits taken. Family portraits are a snapshot in time & become precious heirlooms to be enjoyed for years - one of the best parts of my job is the way my client's faces light up when they see their family portraits printed ready to go on their walls, and kids expressions when they flip through their new family album!
I hope these tips give you some ideas and guidance for you family session with me. If you have questions along the way remember I am just an email or phone call away.x