Last month was an exciting oneFirst, I was honored in the June issue of Findlay Area Family as runner up for Favorite Children’s Photographer. YEAH! The awesome thing about the annual Family Favorites poll, is that it is 100% write-in. Voters did not have a list to choose from for each category. I was beyond flabbergasted when I found out that enough people wrote in MY name, for me to earn second place! YEAH!!
After being informed of this, I chose to meet up with Joe from the magazine, and see about advertising options. I chose 6 months of advertising, and was even able to do some “trade” to offset the cost, with a few sessions.
This really helped since at the time of meeting with Joe in May, I hadn’t gone back to work from maternity leave yet, and Ryan starting a new job, things were tight. Win-winI decided that a few carefully placed ads here and there wouldn’t hurt. I really wanted to extend my presence beyond just the web! These 3 sessions are up for grabs in a current contest over at Findlay Area Family’s Facebook page
I received an email from someone at the paper wanting to interview me for the upcoming July issue, which was baby & maternity. Of course I said yesShe asked for pictures to go along with it, and to submit an image or two of a real young one for a cover try.
GUESS WHO GOT THE COVER!
MeMy beautiful little Avalyn made the cover with her giant smile, melting everyones’ hearts I am sure of it
They used parts of the interview for the article. I was featured alongside a couple of other local photographers too!!
With permission, I’m allowed to post the whole thing here. Enjoy!And thanks for all of your support!! xoxo
1. Newborns are a touch subject to photograph well. What do you think parents can do to get the most out of photographing a newborn at home? (Room, temperature, position, lighting, etc)
It depends on HOW they are wanting to document their newborn- just everyday moments/captures, or do they want to go out of their way to get some “posed” shots? As a parent myself, I stress how important it is to not worry so much about the perfect posed shot, and just SHOOT. My iphone is chock full of pictures of my kids because frankly, even as a professional photographer, I even get a little tired of digging out my pro body and editing images. Apps like Instagram make it easy to document your child and even add a pretty filter, and with very little effort, you have a little keepsake. It’s nowhere near professional- and obviously NOT a substitution for a real camera. But I will always say, it’s better than NOTHING. Too many parents just plainly don’t have ANY pictures of their kids when they are little. And don’t worry about those images going to waste- websites like Printstagr.am (yes that’s correct, type it in the browser and see!) let you print your Instagram photos- little poloroid prints, tiny books, or a huge collage poster! But back to the question at hand- if you are trying for some posed shots, you usually want the baby to be sleeping. The reason for this, is that awake newborns aren’t usually happy newborns unless they are being held. And it’s hard to photograph an infant alone if they demand to be held. It’s also not safe to pose a newborn when they are awake. They can easily startle, lunge, rarely keep their arms and legs in place, etc. If you are wanting to photograph your precious bundle naked, then a warm house is a MUST. By warm, i mean 80+ degrees. Remember, they are used to being in mama’s belly at 98 degrees! What is warm to us, isn’t necessarily comfortable for a baby! To get the most flattering imagery, I suggest natural daylight. Position your baby near a window where a nice amount of soft daylight is coming through. Avoid direct sunlight. If you are looking to just better document your little bundle’s life, keep that camera close at hand and capture all kinds of moments- the smiles and the cries- even that little puckered quivering lip right before the big rip roaring cryThe baths (not just the first bath, but the 21st! you’ll giggle at how big the baby has gotten in that little tub in such a short time), the feeding, bonding with siblings. Sky is the limit. And in the end, our pictures and our memories are all we have. Without pictures, the memories fade. Try to keep that flash turned off. Sometimes all you need to do is turn baby toward the light whether it be the window or the lamp. No flash needed. Flash= shiny skin and red eyes! No flash= soft and flattering.
2. What do you think of the trend of sharing the birth/newborn photos on Facebook? Would you share your own photos? If parents do choose to share, how to you think they should edit/present the photos?
My clients know that I share images on my Facebook fan page. I’ve never had someone say that that they didn’t want them shared, and they are usually more than eager to show them off
I share images of my own children on my personal page, and even select images with my fans on Amy Cook Photography’s page. Not only do I love to brag about my own babies (who doesn’t?) but I enjoy getting that more personal connection with my clients and fans by sharing a little piece of myself. They realize that I am more than just a business, but a person. When it comes to birth photography, that is something I would leave up to the parents- it is a very emotional, personal and private thing. Generally when I see a photographer share a birth documentary, they choose only modest imagery and the clients’ pre-approve the images shown. I would do the same. I’m actually shooting my first birth story in August, so maybe I will get to share some of it with you!
If a parent is going to attempt to edit the images they take of their child, I will highly stress the importance of keeping them simple and timeless. In a few years, that selective color (a black and white image with one thing left in color) you thought was “cute” will make you cringe, and you’ll wish you would have just edited the image normally. Those obnoxious neon words you pasted onto the image in Picnik will make it just another memory that was never printed. Keep it timeless. Focus on the child, not the crazy editing. For professional photographers, post-processing is about enhancing images and giving them that polish, not ruining them with gaudy edits. I urge parents to do the same.
3. New parents are often shopping for a good camera. What kind of camera do you suggest for parents?
I get asked a lot about cameras to suggest. The first thing I will ask someone is what their budget is, and what they are wanting to do with their new camera. A good amount of the population is misled to believe that all you need to take “professional” pictures is a DSLR camera. Easy! Right? Sadly, not even close. My camera bodies run around $3000 and $5000. I can hand either of them to someone who has never used a DSLR camera, and the images won’t be any better than what they could take with their $100 point and shoot. Guaranteed. The image quality comes from knowing how to use the machine properly. Many parents will buy a DSLR, whether it’s $500 or $1500, and are sorely disappointed when their pictures still look like generic snapshots. A lot of the time after chatting extensively with someone, we will determine that they just want a BETTER camera, but not necessarily all the baggage that comes with owning a DSLR, let alone the price tag! When investing in a DSLR, I stress not doing so unless you can afford at least one GOOD lens. Generally, the lens that comes in a DSLR kit isn’t “good.” They’re cheaply made and tend to produce poor image quality. They are also not “fast” lenses, so when working in low light, they perform very poorly. I’ll generally suggest a 50mm, or even a 35mm. The next step is getting the camera out of Auto, and keeping that awful pop-up flash DOWN. In the DSLR market, consumer models like the Canon Rebel or Nikon d90 are great cameras. Adding an external flash can also help you add flash to your image for more light, BUT you can point the flash head at a nearby wall or ceiling, which in turn bounces the light and makes the light source bigger, thus softer, and more flattering. Owning a DSLR is a big commitment and an investment! For point and shoots, I point them towards higher-end models like the Canon G-series. I have a Canon G12 myself as a point & shoot even though my professional bodies are Nikon
The G12 is a phenominal little camera and runs around $400-500. Their newest model the G1X is around $700. There’s a reason for the high price. The lens is better, the camera handled low-light well and it’s fast. The images are bright and sharp. Some point and shoots will run as cheaply at $75-200 and the image quality that comes out of them shows. While I’ll stress that quality comes from the eye and knowing how to use the gear, it DOES also come from the gear itself partially. I mean let’s face it- there’s a reason some cameras are $500 and some are $5000
4. How an parents get the most out of a professional session? Is there such thing as a baby being too young for professional photos? What should parents look for in a baby photographer?
I suggest to my clients an age bracket of 4-10 days old for newborn sessions. I started photographing my own daughter, our third most recently, at 2 days old, but being that she was my own, it was a little different
For a client to get home from the hospital and get settled in etc, I think 4 days old is young enough. By 10 days old, babies are starting to get bigger, less curly, sleep lighter, stay awake longer, and things such as baby acne start to develop. I documented my daughter’s entire first month with newborn imagery and it was interesting to see all of the things I stress to clients, appear first hand. By 11 days old her face was riddled with baby acne. By 20 days old it was extremely difficult to get her to sleep because she stayed awake for longer periods of time during the day. At 33 days old, certain poses were either almost impossible to do, or much more difficult because her legs were growing longer and she was getting chubbier and chubbier, as well as less flexible. The 4-10 day age bracket is so important for a successful newborn session. To get the most out of your session, I stress to the parents to hold off on baby’s latest feeding until they arrive at my studio. I want them to then strip the baby down to a diaper, wrap them in a blanket and feed them until they are full. I also request that they try and keep the baby awake for at least 1-2 hours before the session as well. If the baby sleeps for 3 straight hours before arriving at my house, the likeliness of them sleeping during the session even with a warm area and a full belly is slim to none. This is when sessions run 4 hours or more, because of the child refusing to sleep. I’ll always catch open-eyed awake shots for the parents, but in order to capture those coveted curly poses, the baby needs to be safety in dreamland so they will stay cozy and put
I urge them to not schedule portraits on a day when they have something else going on. This keeps the session relaxed, especially if complications arise like a baby refusing to sleep who needs more TLC to be coaxed into dreamland
How to hire a newborn photographer is something that really hits hard with me. Too many photographers jump into newborn photography not having a clue what they are doing, and to be honest, it’s terrifying! A lot of people nowadays will pick up a DSLR camera just to “take better pictures” and decide the following week that they are going to start taking sessions and start a business. It’s sad as professionals that our craft is thought of as being that EASY- but it’s scary to see a new photographer take on newborn photography without the knowledge to do so safely. A lot of newborn imagery such as a chin in hands shot, baby in a stork sling, etc are composites- this means that the images were taken as a series of 2-3 separate images and combined in photoshop to make it appear as though the baby is there alone. In all reality, a spotter or parent was holding on to the baby in each frame, just in different places
New photographers might see these images and believe that they are done as they see them, and this can be extremely dangerous for the newborn. Parents should not hire based on who charges the least, but based on quality, experience and reputation. The photographer needs to have knowledge in safety, have a lot of patience (we are talking unlimited patience here!) and obviously a knowledge for the craft of photography 😉 Terrible imagery is as bad as no imagery. Underexposed pictures and out of focus pictures aren’t good memories. Baby safety is 110% the MOST important, period. NO exceptions. Don’t let a photographer put your baby inside of anything glass. Glass is so unpredictable, especially when put under pressure. Don’t let a photographer suspend your infant above the ground without someone holding onto that baby. If they don’t know how to photoshop mom or dad out, then they shouldn’t be doing the pose until they do. Period. In the end, NO shot ever, PERIOD is worth the safety of the baby. Ever. EVER. Can you tell this is something I’m really preachy about?
5. Why do you think documenting a baby’s first month is so important?
Infants in the first year change VERY rapidly. Just between 2 days old and 10 days old, Ava (our youngest) looked like a different baby. They don’t stay tiny, red, wrinkly for long, so holding onto those moments through imagery is so important. Pretty soon they will be mouthy toddlers…and then mouthy teenagers..and then they will be gone. Just look at the images I submitted of Ava at 4 days old and 7 weeks old. DRASTIC change.
6. How should parents use photo editing programs for their newborn photos?
Get a Dummies book or take a class to learn the basics
You’ll be happy just to know that yes you CAN get rid of those scratches on your baby’s face! No need to get crazy, but some gentle post-processing can really clean up an image. I teach Photoshop basics in small class form in my home on occasion
These classes are usually combined with DSLR 101 as well- helping folks new to DSLR ownership to get the most out of their investment and learn how to use it as intended. And NEVER edit your professional photographer’s work, EVER
Just throwing that out there.
7. Do you think parents should document the birth? Why or why not? And, if you think they should, how do you suggest capturing it? (Black and white, photos, color, video, etc?)
I just had my third child. For the first time, I considered hiring a birth photographer and I am SO glad I did! Every time I look back on those images, I remember that day and I cry. In a good way. If i really want to get myself worked up, I’l look at them listening to some sappy song
My photography captured everything in color and then when editing, converted certain, compelling images to black & white. From the labor process to the baby’s first breathes (nothing graphic!), these are moments that I am absolutely grateful to have. Let’s face it, even if my husband wasn’t holding my hand, he sure as heck wouldn’t have been taking pictures for me! My photographer captured her being bathed, weighed, our first moments bonding, etc. It’s something I would recommend to all moms interested in it. It’s so magical. I chose Jessica Vaughn Photography
from Indianapolis, IN to capture MY amazing moments! Both of these images are from her