A child’s birthday is always a momentous occasion, especially when they’re so young. They grow up and achieve so much in a year why not mark each birthday with a photograph?
Marking the first year with a Cake Smash seems to be the most popular choice among parents, and of late the Smash and Splash. Turning two, three or four however is more flexible and could be any theme favourable to the child, balloons, streamers, banners you name it.
For this particular young lady I created a little tea party for her turning two celebration. Floral bunting and tea on the lawn. Simple and yet effective.
The day finally came when I realised my photographic equipment and other craft materials were taking over the house. Rather than move to a bigger house the logical solution was to stick a flag in one of the sheds and claim it as my own!
The shed I now owned was the smaller of the two and hadn’t been used for at least half a century. I came to realise that while stripping it back to its shell. It was dark and dusty and had been insulated with old coal sacks and invoices from the 1930’s. Donning a face mask and goggles I ripped out old cupboards, pulled out rusty nails, sanded and cleaned. It looked awful but at least it was a blank canvas.
My father-in-law and husband boarded the structure with ply and I painted it in brilliant white emulsion. Even my son helped paint the floor boards. A real family affair.
Once the paint was dry I couldn’t wait to move myself in. One half of the ‘studio’ was to be dedicated to my crafts and the other to photography. I bought some storage units from Ikea and used a writing desk from one of the spare bedrooms and the layout soon began to take shape. I emptied the house of yarns, knitting needles, crochet hooks, a paper cutting machine, a sewing machine, fabrics for quilting and much more. The remaining area was set up for my photographic space. It was small but a great place to start.
My ‘studio’ has turned out to be a great place to retreat when I need some quiet time to think but the most amazing thing about having a photography ‘studio’ is being able to trial a new set and leave it as work in progress and keep revisiting it.
….and it has a key so I can lock myself in. Even better!
During numerous newborn shoots I remember longing for smooth, taut fabric, free of wrinkles and a lot easier on the editing time. I always tried to borrow a pair of hands to pull the fabric a little and the parents were always willing to help. But between you and me I’d rather they put their feet up….they’re parents of a new born after all, they need their rest!
So what could I do to reduce the need for help? I remember seeing a stand for sale online, a photography equipment sale somewhere but I wanted it now! Right now! I didn’t want to wait for shipping and hated having to spend days at home for a delivery window of twelve hours. I could visualise what it looked like and my very handy husband was at home. Perfect. I set about drawing up a design and sent my husband out to purchase materials.
A couple of hours later, voila!
It didn’t need to be aesthetically pleasing, just practical. All I needed was frame over which fabric could sit and be clipped to and it needed to have enough height for the posing pillow to sit comfortably underneath. With such a small studio I needed to be able to take it apart easily and store without taking up much space too.
It certainly does the trick and has been used with great success.
You know what it’s like when you buy something online and it turns out to be slightly different to what you imagined. The size isn’t right, the colour’s not exactly like the one in the picture. It’s previous experience of this that deterred me from buying baby wraps online.
I needed to buy so many wraps in a variety of colours to compliment the photography set as well as the clients taste, I didn’t want to get it wrong. If I’m honest with you I didn’t want to spend £15 on each wrap either! So yet again I set out to create my own and create my own collection of colours. It couldn’t be too difficult, surely?
I searched around for a natural fabric. It had to be light weight, kind to newborn skin, have the ability to stretch and also able to absorb colour effectively in the dyeing process. Natural muslin it was then.
I bought metres of muslin and cut it into one and a half metre lengths for each wrap. That was a complete estimate (and turns out to be plenty).
My mother-in-law travelled to mine and provided me with one-to-one workshop in fabric dyeing. We experimented with a number of colours and concentrations. My mother-in-law spins her own silks and yarns, dyes them and weaves with them. Very handy to have around to teach me 🙂
We have since spent another afternoon creating more colours and shades but this was the result of our first workshop….
I really enjoy creating and learning but more importantly it provides a personal touch to my images.
With a newborn photo shoot just around the corner I had thought about investing in some hairbands and hats but wasn’t too keen on the ones I’d seen online. I found a beautiful pattern for a crocheted lace bonnet so I picked up a crochet hook, bought a lace weight yarn and started creating. I had plenty of time for a new project and had never crocheted before so thought ‘why not?’
The first attempt was pretty slow going and on inspecting the finished item I changed the size of the hook and altered the pattern for an extra few rows. I was much happier with the second piece so started producing more.
I made two different sizes in antique pink and began to create the same design in a variety of colours. I used Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace as the weight was perfect and she had some beautiful colours, subtle enough for newborn skin tones. I travelled to Gillian Gladrag’s in Dorking using my latest project as an excuse to peruse the treasure trove of yarn collections and wasn’t disappointed. What a place! http://www.gilliangladrag.co.uk/
After a while I began to remember the pattern by heart and was able to crochet while watching television of an evening. Not only do I now have a handful of lace bonnets available for photo sessions but I feel pretty competent with a crochet hook in hand and also managed to create a lace bonnet for a friend’s baby daughter.
Why buy a photography prop online when you can have so much more fun making the same thing?
In search of some more gorgeous patterns……..