It’s taken a couple of weeks but I finally found my creative streak again…and some inspiration.
I’d been thinking about newborn photo sessions in general and had asked myself what would make them more effective. I already have a posing pillow and use extra padding in areas to raise and reposition the model. However rather than rolling out endless muslins or pieces of fabric for padding why not have a soft, padded ring in which the baby can be placed. It turns out there’s already one on the market!
I found some felted fabric in my craft shed and plenty enough for this project. It’s thicker and heavier than cotton and is great at maintaining it’s shape. I dusted down the fabric cutting board, quilting ruler and rotary cutter and got started.
I cut a length of the fabric and stitched together a long tube, sealed at one end. I turned right side out ready for filling. I considered filling it with tiny polystyrene balls which I left over from filling the posing pillow but I thought wadding for soft toys would provide better results. I had a new bag of toy stuffing which I had bought many months ago for making padded bunting but had never got round to it. I filled the fabric tube with it and it’s sturdy and yet soft. Perfect!
It will be covered by a layer of fabric or fur and provide a discreet well for the newborn to be placed in.
Since creating this ‘nest’ I’ve since seen a company selling one and knitted covers for them. So if you don’t hear from me in a while I’ll be in the middle of another project…knitting covers for it!
I had been curious about using digital backdrops for quite a while but had never found the time to experiment with them. Then the Christmas holidays came along, my husband was at home and all of a sudden I had some time for myself.
Oh how I’d longed for an uninterrupted hour on Photoshop!
I purchased an image online, it was emailed to me immediately and I started working with it. I found an old image of a baby which was suitable for this particular digital backdrop, style, colour and tones. I hadn’t many in my archive so I was limited on choice. It wasn’t perfect by any means but it was good enough for me to experiment and play around with.
I cut round the image of the baby in Photoshop using the quick selection tool and dragged the layer over the top of the digital image. I adjusted proportions of the baby to suit the size of the wreath, flipped it horizontally and manipulated the angle slightly.
The baby wasn’t originally on a suitable fabric for me to blend it in with that used in the digital image. I therefore had to cut away more of the original fabric than I’d have liked. This resulted in the need to add some shadow underneath the baby, directly on to the digital layer to make it look a little more realistic.
All in all I found the digital image a lot easier than I imagine however next time during a photo session I’ll choose a fabric similar to that of the digital image to blend easily and reduce the editing time required
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?
I’ve recently been experimenting by viewing my subjects from different angles to create an alternative perspective.
In this weeks maternity session I captured the baby bump from above and it proved to be a great success. Definitely one I’d create again. With feet slightly out of focus the bump demands immediate attention.
A maternity session is all about the bump after all so why not make it the feature of the image?!
While trying to achieve this perspective I realised a small step ladder just wasn’t going to give me the height I needed. Luckily I had a large A-frame ladder to hand. Whilst perched precariously at the top of the ladder, on one leg, carrying a heavy camera I considered investing in some crash mats for future shoots!
Parents are a great resource on set, use them to your advantage!
I’ve noticed on numerous occasions parents so desperate for their little one to smile, laugh and giggle on demand that they’ll jump up and down, sing and make faces on the sideline. But that’s exactly where they are, the sideline. While they have the child’s attention they’re not looking at the camera. But how do you address this without discouraging them from getting involved?
At first I felt uncomfortable but if I didn’t nip it in the bud I could just render all the images useless at the end of the session. I just tried ‘That’s great. Now let’s try something different. How about….?’ And that seemed to work pretty well. You’re not criticising what they’re doing but indicating that you’ve got what you need on that shot and to move on.
It doesn’t always have to be songs and silly noises, although they are pretty effective. Shiny or sparkly toys works really well for smaller children and babies. Attach them to a make shift fishing rod so the parent can dangle it just above the lens. That way parents are able to get the baby looking in the right direction without them invading your personal space or you trip over them. A good game of peek-a-boo behind the camera works a treat……not so much for teenagers. Although it’d certainly get their attention!
Parents are also very handy on set for wiping noses/faces. Well that is a parent’s job after all, isn’t it? 😉 As a result of one photo session where this didn’t happen I spent far too much of my time editing out dribble. Save yourself some unnecessary editing time and keep those wipes handy.
If the child has numerous outfits leave the parents to be the hair, make up and wardrobe department for the whole session. Feel free to make suggestions on what you think works well and what doesn’t. This downtime will allow you to take another sip of your much needed coffee which has been cooling steadily.
If you need a reflector of some form held in position parents are great for this too. This has much better results than if you attempt to hold it and take pictures at the same time, trust me. It’s also a lot less cumbersome than having it on a stand which would just be yet another obstacle for you to hurdle and the little one to trip over.
Just consider, both you and the parents want the same thing, fantastic results. So in most cases you’ll find the parents will be willing in anyway they can to achieve this. So just ask!