Milestone Session: First Birthday Cake Smash | Baby Amaya
- Milestones ·
- Cake Smash
I have loved seeing the kindness from individuals and communities. Showing our humanity, by coming together to lessen the bad, in any way we can, from the ground up. I've seen so many wonderful initiatives from live streams of the theater; to work out classes; to virtual tours of museums and artist exhibitions; to children's ebooks.... all made free and available to anyone with the internet. I wanted to share in this wonderful movement, by offering some tips and guidance for parents on how to photograph your tiny human, with just a phone or whatever camera you have. I've always felt that the best camera is whatever you happen to have on you, at that time, to capture that beautiful moment. Phone cameras have come a long way. So get to know how to use yours to its best potential, it's usually more than enough to record magic moments with your family.
Truth time. Will your photographs be on the same level as professional photographers? Maybe not. Professional photographers have knowledge and experience, all the gear, fancy high end lenses and ninja photoshop skills. But that's ok! You will be capturing precious memories of one of the most special times of your life, which is ever so fleeting. You will be able to look back at the images, knowing that you did everything you could to preserve that moment beautifully, despite the social distancing restrictions that we have experienced this year. My hope for you, is that these images bring you peace in times of anxiety and that not only do you have fun taking them, but that this guidance might colour the way that you capture your family's momories, as your little one gets older and your family grows. So with that said, here are a few morsels of advice I'd love to offer the mamas and papas with a newborn baby at home, wanting to up their photography game.
Newborn baby safety is priority in everything. Literally, everything. Seriously. Here are three important elements to make sure you are setting yourself up for a safe successful session... and if need be, several sessions. There is no need to rush it. Feel free to spread it over a few fun photo moments, or if you want to be a bit more extreme, have a temporary set up, so you can do a little whenever the mood strikes you with every new cute expression or milestone your little one goes through.
Make sure the baby is always supported well and never left unattended. I always have on hand a bunch of little posing pillows to pop under the baby where needed for that little bit of extra support... but of course these are not normal to have laying around, so don't worry, you can also use little rolled up towels. Pull out a bunch of hand towels or cloth diapers if you have any, to have on hand just in case you need them to roll up and pop under their head or legs to help hold them in place, ideally under a nice blanket you lay them on so you don't see it! I also make sure that I am in arms reach of the baby, or at least have a spotter with safe hands nearby.
It is important to get your baby super comfortable. Newborns need a warm cozy room to be content for photo-sessions. When photographing them in their birthday suit, I use space heaters if necessary to get the area where they will be posed up to around 26-28oC, or around 24-25oC if they are wrapped. Another excellent mood setter is using white noise. Get it going, whether it's a youtube video, spotify song or simply your kitchen extractor fan on full blast. You're looking for a loud low dulled white noise that is consistent and on repeat. I never do a session without it.
The best time to photograph them is after they have had a huge feed and a good burp... a nice full belly helps them fall into a wonderful sleep, which makes it much easier to pose them (without legs kicking out or waving arms).
Other than baby safety, this is the most important element in all my photography. For me, it is what can transform something from 'meh' to incredible. I've been dancing with light for many years and by habit, I catch myself appreciating it in all spaces... Here are some simple take-aways to get you thinking about what makes good lighting.
You want a window with good light, but not direct harsh sunlight. If you have sheer curtains, that's fabulous. If you don't but can get hold of some cheap sheer fabric to tape up to your window, that's a great temporary fix.... and if you can't get hold of that, then just find a spot that is bright but not in direct sun shining through to your space. The goal is a soft light that falls feathering down from the top/side of your baby's head. Once you have found good light in your home, set up a temporary baby posing spot for your little one.
Fabulous Macros. I love capturing tiny toes, feathery eyelashes, pouty lips, belly button, wisps of hair, little fingers and ear shapes with back lighting. The effect is just that little bit more dramatic as the light falls across the contours, highlighting the shapes and tiny details. This means positioning yourself in front of the baby with the window light behind. Try to capture these with your camera as close to the baby as your lens will allow, without using the digital zoom lens. This will help you preserve the details in as high definition as possible.
That is it.... Seriously. If the light is not enough by your window, choose to do the photos on a brighter day. If your home is more on the darker side generally even on bright days, then switch on a table lamp (not ceiling lights) to help fill light next to a window, but please, don't use your camera's flash.
I shoot one pose from different angles and different distances. Often one pose, will be shot in 3-4 different angles and as a whole baby pose, half close up and super close up. That way you can have lots of varieties to choose from, or better yet, create beautiful wall art from the series of images.
Tilt your camera slightly, so that you are shooting down the face and nose (not up the nose!). That means tilting the top of the camera towards your baby's forehead and the light source, just a little bit. This is one that I see all the time. It is such a small mini thing to remember but it makes a huge impact on the image.
Play with not just the angle you hold your camera, but also the angle you photograph the baby. Some of my favourite images are not always shot front on, but sometimes from their side profile, birds eye view, or even the crown of the head. Get creative. Move your feet. Move around. Bend your knees so you can position yourself up and down to capture different angles.
As baby safety is everything... I won't be going over any advanced posing in this guide (e.g. bum up, taco / womb pose, froggy), which requires experience and training to ensure the baby's air flow and blood circulation is never compromised. You can do some beautiful swaddled baby poses, shot from the side and also birds eye. Make sure to document all the little baby details, capturing each body part as a whole image. Here are a few other suggestions, for some simple poses while keeping in mind the above tips on lighting and angles, to capture timeless and beautiful images.
Lay a blanket down with excess fabric on the lower end of your posing area. Pop your little one on the blanket and fold the extra fabric up and over, to achieve a tucked in look. If needed, pop a few rolled towels under the blanket, around the baby sides and legs, to make sure they are nice and snug. Sometimes it helps to place a little rolled towel under the head, to prop it up very slightly, so that when you photograph them from a bird's eye perspective (with your camera strap on your wrist or neck, because remember, safety is everything!), you are shooting down their nose nicely, with the light feathering in across their face from the side/top of their head. You can add variety by adding a hat or headband. Or a few soft toys to the side of them, tucked in too.
Lay your baby down with their head / face towards the window, legs together with knees bent a little, back away at a little diagonal. I always keep my hands under the baby's head or whereever they need support most, until I can pop in other support around them. Take a little rolled towel and place it under the blanket to support the head, behind their back so they don't roll backwards and one more at their feet to help keep their legs in place and stop them kicking out. If possible position their lower hand under their cheek, below their eyes, with 2-3 fingers visible, so their face is turned up nicely towards you (make sure they have good blood flow to their hands by keeping a close eye on the skin colour). The light should be feathering down over the top of their head, down the body. Shoot this with your camera focusing on their face, angeling down the nose, camera tilted slightly forward and get creative with a few different angles.
. . . I am here to help! If you have any questions about the tips outlined here, please pop them in the comments in the instagram or facebook post and I will endeavour to help where possible! I truly hope some of this helps you capture beautiful family momories of your little one... and I would LOVE to see your photographs, so please do share them with me x
I am excited to be offering a parent photography mentoring package for those wanting to beautifully capture the fleeting newborn phase safely in their own home. This package will be offered as a video conference session with me directly and also includes my help with professionally editing your images in photoshop. With the rise in COVID-19 cases locally and increased community spread, I made the decision to pause all my regular newborn photography sessions until the curve flattens out again. Like many other small businesses pivoting to figure out alternative ways to continue serving their community, I am so excited about this new distance mentoring package. I had actually been working on it for a little while, doing a beta model call back in January for a mate based in London after he had his baby girl. This is an awesome alternative for families who do not want to miss out on recording their baby's unique details in those first few days, in the best way possible and want to learn some basic photography principles too. I look forward to making friends with some new lovely parents.
If you are interested in this mentoring session, feel free to check out more information below or reach out today. I'd love to have a chat with you to find out how I can help you capture some stunning newborn photographs of your little one.