This blog is going to sound funny coming from someone who teaches other/new photographers newborn photography for a living. I *may* be all over the place, so bear with me, k??
I am getting increasingly annoyed, disturbed and confused with many new photographers. It’s like, photography is no longer a passion or a job, but a race. A race that many are trying to cut corners and do a crap-job to attain some silly “Facebook Celebrity” status. Obsession with getting “X” amount of likes on your page. Obsessing over what JoeBob Photography down the street is doing and how it *kinda* looks like what YOU did last week. Obsessing over what JoeBob Photography charges compared to you. The list goes on.
Honestly, I’d be fine if that was where it ended. Really, I would. But it doesn’t end there, especially in the world of newborn photography, where cutting corners is placing a very small and very fragile HUMAN at risk. Where trying to win some invisible race means going for crazy stunt poses before you have even mastered an easy, “level 1” shot of baby just laying and hanging out.
If I hear/see ONE more person talk excitedly about their first newborn session coming up and can’t wait to try this:
…I will scream.
Okay, I won’t scream, but come ON people. Have we forgotten the saying about learning to crawl/walk before you can run? Do you have only 5 months to live and want to be a famous newborn photographer in that amount of time? I really don’t get it. I’m giving you the same speech I give every photographer who attends my workshops or purchases an eWorkshop. I pretty much tell EVERYONE after leaving a workshop that I don’t want to see them attempt this pose until they are solidly producing flawless easy poses. I tell them do not post pictures from workshops as their OWN poses, or else parents will want them (or the props used) and it’s simply false advertising.
Do you know it was TWO. YEARS. of doing photography before I attempted this pose? I hesitate to ever post online how this is done as a composite, only because I have seen so many new photographers rush out and skip ALL the basics because they have some weird obsession with nailing the above shot. What they typically produce is a badly composited shot of a baby still looking wildly uncomfortable.
Can someone just tell me WHY? Like honestly, is this not precious?
You have no idea how many people can’t pull the above shot off, but want to jump straight into attempting the “head in hands” pose or the hanging baby poses (which I don’t do for no particular reason).
I thought it might be helpful if I include a quick timeline of my newborn work…from when I first started through two years into it. So you can see the types of poses I worked on. You can see I didn’t have much in terms of cute props and fun blankets. I was just starting out and I had enough sense to know that you could have seven grand worth of blankets and hats, but a crappy pose is still going to look like a crappy pose. On the other hand, if you only have a cream blanket and a black/brown blanket (what I was working with for months) if you could nail a pose/angle, your clients will love it and the focus will be on both the adorable little human you’re photographing AND your hard earned effort at getting newborn posing down to an art.
below is the first time I attempted this pose. It happens to be a composite, although in my inexperience I didn’t think that all had to be composites. This was nearly two years after starting…
below is the infamous “three month old NICU twins” that I like to tell other photographers about–it was a good 5 hour long shoot to get about 15 images!
I hope this blog post doesn’t ruffle too many feathers. The photography community has enough mud slinging and petty drama as it is. I hope, truly, that it’s a wake up call for people who may not have realized how long many of us established photographers have been doing this—and how EVERYONE has to start somewhere and the smart place to start is at the beginning. You wouldn’t run a marathon without training for a 5k first…take advanced calculus without a solid foundation in lower math classes..newborn photography is no different and has the added risk of throwing a new little person into the mix.
For parents/clients will be reading this. PLEASE do your research. With workshops/mentoring today, a photographer can attend a class and photograph a baby that the teacher actually posed, slap it on their website and “trick” clients into thinking that they took it. Make sure the photographer YOU choose for your little one has many many images of different babies looking comfortable and happy. Or, if you are trying to save money and use someone who is portfolio building or just starting–make sure to stay with your child at ALL times. Please speak up when your baby is placed in a potentially dangerous or uncomfortable situation. Unfortunately, I *have* heard horror stories from random people about their experiences with another photographer…newborns “toppling” over, or rolling off props. ALL photographers should have spotters with their hands on or within inches away from baby at every moment of the shoot.
For photographers looking to take a mentoring/workshop. PLEASE do your research. I can’t tell you how many “workshops” have popped up all over the country by people who have little to no newborn experience. Like less than a year or two. This simply isn’t enough time to really grasp all the complexities that make up this profession.
I’m leaving you with some more images that I consider “the basics”. If you can’t nail these consistently at every session, then hold off on the harder ones. This isn’t rocket science!