Timing is everything! If you’re envisioning glowy, sun-kissed portraits (like a lot of the ones you see me taking) then please know that these don’t happen in the middle of the day.
90% of the time I don’t book outdoor portrait sessions anytime close to midday. Instead, 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.
I do appreciate this doesn’t always work with small children, especially in summer when the days are long so if we are shooting earlier in the afternoon I’ll work with you to find a location that will work with harsher lighting - for example we might utilise shade from trees etc.
If you have young children consider doing your family portraits in Spring or Autumn while the days are shorter if you want to get those glowy, dreamy sunset colours!
Obviously if the weather is overcast and cloudy, the time of day doesn't always matter quite so much as we don't have to worry about harsh shadows and glare from the sun. But even on cloudy days the sunset can still end up being beautiful and providing some gorgeous colours.
As a wedding photographer I've also come to be confident with whatever light I am given. You don't get to be picky on a wedding day and you can just about guarantee portrait time is during the harshest sunlight hours! So I always make the most of any lighting situation and use it to my advantage. Knowing light is something that comes with experience and is a skill every photographer needs to continue honing in their craft. After all, photographs are essentially all about light - without it there is no photo.
Most of all I want you to get the kind of portraits you've been dreaming of! If you love golden light as much as I do, let's chat about how we can make that happen for your portraits. x
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