Newborn Photography…..So….How it all started for me? Why it started?
Well, it all started in 2008 during the birth of my son. See… I have always love Black and White Photos. I was happily taking all sorts of photos of my few days old son. Lifestyle’ly type shots, detail shots of his hair, tiny toes, tiny fingers.
During the sleep deprived state of mind at that point of time, somehow, I tried to connect the dots between achieving the ‘baby in the womb’ baby’s pose and putting it to live on the ‘outside’. In Black and White.
Black and white images seem to be able to convey more feeling, texture as well as the organic feel of the newborn baby by removing the very instant gratification of colour.
Just How Can I Achieve It?
At first, I thought B&W images will be an easy way to capture, but soon I realised the images though seemingly just a flip of a switch from colour to monochrome, but I was never happy with the results.
To make things worst, shooting newborn from client’s home pose the challenge in the lighting the images properly. Some home are too bright, some home are too dark and some, natural light at home simply out of questions.
I struggle a lot during those time to produce images that truly represent the beauty of the newborn in its purest form. The learning curve was steep and getting the consistent results with smooth gradient from bright highlight all the way to the shadow was an impossible task.
However, during these time, it is amazing how much I am experimenting with different ways from using soft curtain to soften the light, to technical black card, etc. Clients were raving how good the images were however, the quest to perfect the lighting is a personal journey.
What inspire me to create these images is from those ultrasound scans during my wife’s doctor’s appointment. However, how to achieve it on the outside is still very much a question mark. Putting lighting aside, managing newborn and curl them safely to get to the foetal position takes a lot of practice.
It was then that I started to experiment with those poses, those lighting, those shots. It took me quite a while. Trying to hold baby’s foetal position on the ‘outside’ was no feat.
We explored various ‘props’. Going to the pharmacy to get a roll of bandage, using it as a ‘wrap’ with the hope of holding the foetal position. After about a year in 2009, I was ready to do this. Now combining the lighting and the posing is a rather interesting combination.
Trying to convince clients to do a naked newborn shoot while they are still in confinement in the first few days instead of after the 1st month was a challenge in itself.
Back in the 2008, the idea of “newborn” photography was a foreign one. Majority of people will be in confinement and not wanting to do much until baby is about a month old. Even without anyone who is doing it similar way, it takes a lot of learning on my own to create entire body of work.
However, knowing that newborn only resemble how the look like in the womb for very short time and with painful trial and error, we found 5-10 days are the most suitable to do what I hope to achieve.
Ideals Versus Reality
I mentioned previously that I love Black and White Photos. Loving and achieving black and white photos are 2 very different skillset needed. Its easy to love, difficult to achieve. Too much contrast, the photo becomes too bright and too dark and the gradient drops off too much, too little control in light, the photo becomes flat and 2 dimensional. Of course, this journey of learning was a painful challenge.
I reach out to mentor who specialises in B&W imagery and learn the hard way on how to create something that truly mine. I learn the technique, then modify the technique as photographing baby and normal portrait is rather different.
It is exciting that I am still learning today, the type of learning is somewhat different. The days where posing baby was a challenge are gone. The days where inconsistent lighting are gone. What I am focusing after 11 years of learning this genre is how to create more brilliant images for clients at a comfortable duration.
I used to take 4-5 hours to shoot, because I need to learn and today, 1-2 hours is all we need to create a set of beautiful images gallery for your baby. With lesser time, I can see parents are less tired by end of the shoot and results in better family shots.
Shooting newborn nowadays are more like catching up with friends, sharing some parenting ideas, showing new parents how to manage their new baby while let them have set of images that they can cherish and as part of the legacy that they want to capture and preserve.
Newborn Trend Shifts
Over the years, I have seen a significant shift in trends on newborn photography. It all started with Anne Geddes with her beautifully curated baby shots made into a calendar.
It is worth noted, Anne Geddes only shoot for publication and have team of people to make things happen. Thereafter, another series of simplistic, natural light, posy newborn images started to emerge followed by proliferation of newborn props eg. bowls, swings, weighing scales etc.
The trend then moved on to the various material and textures of blankets, wraps, hats etc. All with the vision of dressing up the newborn shoot. Newborn prop makers became newborn photographer’s new BFF. I am of the belief that there were more newborn prop makers than there were photographers.
Photographers were sucked into buying the latest, newest prop creation to add some dimension and a touch of special to the newborn photoshoots. Trust me, my wife was at one stage addicted to buying the latest stuff as well. Looking out for the softest wraps, ideal sized bowls etc. The whole newborn prop industry was exploding.
These days, the trend seem to be digitally compositing images aka photoshopping a baby onto a snow covered woods; trees etc. The sky and your imagination is the limit.
Often, I ask myself if I am too stubborn for not fully adopting the new trend in newborn photography which focus on light and airy concept with flowery/pastelly colour, prop’y kind of images.
These are certainly beautiful images. However, props set up reminds me of fashion. They mark a certain time frame, certain era. Though we feel the nostalgic of those shoulder pad, trumpet pants, etc, this is certainly not something we are going to wear out day to day now.
When I reach deep down into my very vision why i started all these, it comes down to capturing newborn in their purest form. Form that only exist in the very womb of every mother. Trend come and go, the way how baby exist in mother’s womb don’t. I am glad after a decade, the very images that I created still relevant today and very much being request again and again.
My original vision for newborn remain true today… that is to beautify a simple form of newborn pose that mimic the very position in the womb. Something, that even time won’t be able to change it… The truth is I would like to create something so timeless that it will be a legacy that can be passed down in generation. Noble? nope, selfish? yup, totally… but for a good reason.
Here are some of my collection of my signature series… something a little unusual… but simplistic approach to my vision of baby in the womb.
If you believe that the greatest gift you can give to your newly born baby is a simple, natural and beautiful is important. Give us a call or whatsapp us to have a chat to see how we can help to turn those memories into a piece of art. Tangible memories that you can appreciate and create a legacy for your children.
We had a fantastic newborn photography session with Hart. We were rather apprehensive in the beginning and were expecting our little one to fuss and cry for the entire session. But Hart was a true baby whisperer and kept our baby (and the adults!) calm throughout the entire lighthearted session. Hart’s timeless photos of our little one and of our family is something we will cherish for a long time. It’s a shame Hart doesn’t provide babysitting services too!
I engaged Hart to do my maternity photoshoot and extremely loved the experience and loved the photos more. So when my baby was born, I immediately contacted Hart to photoshoot my baby Caleb like a supermodel….and wow! I am still flabbergasted till today on how awesome he is in handling newborns. Photoshoot was at home. When Hart arrived, like any new mama, I was anxious and had to ask if he needed anything else. If he need help with Caleb, can ask for help frm my confinement nanny… And Hart just calmly replied with a smile, “Dont worry. I am better than most nannies”. Indeed… He is like the baby whisperer. Just give him a naked, clean, well fed baby strap in diaper and watch as magic unfolds as Hart smoothly maneuver between his camera and wrapping, rocking, tucking, folding, and stripping my baby down to his balls and returning him to me fully clothed!!! He even fed Caleb when fuel was low, burp and petted him to sleep! My boy didn’t cry at all during the photoshoot (ok he only cried when hungry) amidst all the movements. All in all, Hart was beyond amazing! If i knew he was this good with babies, my hubs and i could hv just left Caleb with him n go out on a date! Thanks Hart! Now i have a problem selecting which photos i want for my album n frame…