Whether the baby is a family’s first or tenth, it’s still just as nail-biting waiting for the announcement. I understand it is a private time, so when I am asked to attend the hospital in London to do newborn photography, I feel very honoured indeed.
It’s difficult to find the words to describe the emotions that I see the family going through at the hospital. After the birth, the new mother is tired and needs her rest, and the new father is eager to get in some bonding time whilst the mother sleeps. I capture the most important moments, including the first few minutes when the baby is first-born, parents and grandparents taking it in turn to hold the newborn. At this point I am very conscious of the limited space available, which is why I don’t stay longer than necessary, leaving the parents to rest and have some one on one time with their baby.
As a newborn photographer in London, my experience doesn’t start and end in the maternity ward.
If the opportunity arises, I will get to know the family a little in advance, so they feel comfortable with my presence on the day. I become a friend and an honorary member of the family, which I love. Then after the birth, I am able to watch on as the new baby blossoms and flourishes into their own person, and develop their own identity.
I am committed to making my client’s memories precious, which I can do by creating a baby portrait album. It gives me the opportunity to work with a family over a whole year, resulting in something that is completely unique and personal to them. From day one to the end of year one. These albums become priceless heirlooms for the family to enjoy and pass on to future generations.
Doing portrait sessions at home and documenting the baby’s development over the first year not only allows me to capture special, once in a lifetime moments such as first steps, it also allows me to witness the parents bond with their family, and the family growing as a unit. It also allows me to capture the changing expressions, features and gestures of the baby, as they grow and interact with their surroundings.
I will include the little feet, the tiny finger nails, the delicate yet hairy ears and the nose as it crinkles when the baby yawns. Parents tell me it’s the little details they cherish, and hold close. These intimate and honest portraits will be in the family for generations to come, and as well as display them proudly in their homes. Some parents have joked that they will hold on to the portraits as ammunition for later life – to show on their child’s 18th birthday, or when they bring their first boyfriend/girlfriend home to meet the parents.
Many of my clients ask for skin on skin portraits. This can be done either during breast-feeding or when the baby is asleep on top of the fathers chest. These kind of portraits are quite powerful in black and white and have usually the preference.
When photographing a newborn, I try to use just natural light. I will also avoid flash, as a baby’s retinas are extremely sensitive and can be easily damaged in the early days of life. I carry with me a range of props, such as knitted baby hats, headbands and blankets as these can add to the personality of the baby. However, many of the families that I work with prefer natural, untainted portraits.
I usually try to encourage the whole family to get involved in creating these newborn portraits. Of course, there’s usually someone who is camera-shy, but I know I can always rely on the grandparents to get involved. Where possible, I will include siblings, and have them holding and interacting with the baby. The final portraits are always honest and authentic and can make stunning and memorable gifts for family members.
I thoroughly believe that there is nothing stronger than the bond between a baby and it’s parents, and being able to capture these special, private moments, is an honour and privilege. I am truly thankful to be able to share that journey with you.