NEWBORN LIFESTYLE SESSION AT CLIENTS HOME – CAPTURE TRUE MEMORIES
Documenting the first days and weeks of a newborn baby is often as stressful for the photographer as it is for the parent. Knowing how to handle the baby, capture all that is in your shot list, and keep tired parents calm and happy is often overwhelming .
But with passion and proper preparation it can be a very gratifying experience, as you do capture natural moments that document real memories in the baby’s first few weeks.
The most important principle is to GET THE CONNECTION. Remember, you are in client’s home to document the CONNECTION they have amongst one another, family animals included. All else is secondary, but necessary, such as: lightning, posing, composition etc.
Here are other important things in this genre of photography:
Master the art of photography in natural light no matter how dark or bright the room is.
People live in all kinds of homes, some can be very dark, and some can be very bright. Either extreme is bad for photography – soft light is the best. I do not use flash apart from my studio. Before I go to client’s home, I will ask them what direction are their windows in the main rooms where I will shoot (living room and bedroom). If they are directed to the west, I will come in the morning, if to the east, I will come in the evening to avoid harsh lightning situation. This is not always possible to follow this pattern. In which case, it is important to know how much ISO can your camera handle before giving your grain, and adjust other settings accordingly.
Even in very dark home you can always find a spot of light and work around it accordingly, moving furniture if necessary.
Some homes will have green walls and will give you a green cast on faces, a photographer’s nightmare, which you will have to handle in postproduction.
Before the session I walk for 10 min around the home, figure out where I will shoot, deciding whether I will move furniture or not. I will also decide on shots based on siblings, whether they are ok or cranky and ready for a nap.
I will ask questions about elements of decoration, if they are important or not, and try to incorporate them into the shoot, as I am telling a story of the family, of their home, of their life.
It’s your job to look for cool spots at home and make them look cooler on photos than they had thought they are.
Look for pops of colour. Find things that represent the family. Look for family heirlooms in home (eg a propeller of a grandfather’s plane, cocktail carriage belonging to grandmother etc etc)..
Prepare the parents before you get there so your photoshoot is relaxed.
It’s important to know the difference between posing and directing. You are not really posing the family, you are directing them. You are the director, explaining them what to do, BUT NOT putting them in positions. It’s all about capturing natural moments.
Parents should be dressed in comfortable clothes is which they feel good, although my recommendation is always for white shirts, white t-shirts, neutral colours, strong colours tend to throw a color cast on baby’s face.
Have positive energy and smile on your face, feel people`s energies, but BE THE BOSS. You need to get all the shots you have planned for, irrespective of the situation, promise rewards but GET THE JOB DONE!
Angle the subject so that the light wraps them around.
Take one set up (one window) and change perspectives, move around for different results (back lighting as opposed to turned towards the window).
Always maintain shadows.
Wait for moments that organically happen, and magic will happen.
Ask your subject not to look at your unless you specifically ask for it – remember: you are catching the connection THEY HAVE.
Create activities for the family: actions cause reaction. For example a bath in a sink of the newborn or pizza making in the kitchen.
Get the right situations with the right people.
Mom is the most important person of the shoot, feminine and loving. . It is my task to affirm how beautiful she looks. Mom has to cause the interaction with the baby because baby cannot do that on its own. It is my task to compliment the Mom so that she feels relaxed. The photographer`s task is to walk around and capture whatever is happening at home: mom holding a baby, mom feeding the baby, mom changing the baby, mom playing with the sibling etc etc. She should always be give ´time alone´with the baby.
Dads are fun. Dads are cool. Dad is the protector. He can make baby look tiny. To go pose: over the shoulder. And then playing with baby and sibling. Think how this is happening in real life: dads are funny and playfull and should be used as fun persons for fun moments.
Siblings are fundamental to a successful home newborn session. Their whole life has just been reshuffled, they need to feel important. Show them your interest, ask them to show you their room and their favourite toys, and you will get the most cooperative member of the family for the photoshoot !!!
I love to go to sibling’s room as this room will have stuff there. Their toys are part of their life and thus should be incorporated in the photo shoot – it’s part of the story!
If siblings feel comfortable and the center of attention: you will get your dream shots of siblings kissing the baby etc etc.
Let go of Perfection
When you stop posing, anything can happen. If it is not perfect, parents will not care.
However, don´t lose your professional eye for exposure or composition.
Lose the need to be perfect.
Capture the entire scene.
Babies and siblings are unpredictable, be ok with the shot looking different than it did in your head.
ITS REAL AND YOU ARE TELLING THE STORY.
Parents love the imperfect of their family. When you don’t pose you are shooting for moments!
Dont feel like the session has to be around the baby only. More often than not, I am photographing all the time, all the family, go capture what’s happening around the house, never stop shooting.