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…
These days, there are a myriad different styles of newborn photography in the market. It is simply overwhelming just to scroll through the various style of newborn photoshoots.
The shoot styles range from posed newborn photoshoots (in it includes various styles, from minimal props to heavily propped; from as is photos to digitally enhanced with digital backdrops) versus the ‘unposed’, connection type lifestyle newborn photoshoots.
Whilst we can’t speak for all the styles of newborn photography, we can talk a little bit about the styles we do here at Tomato Photo. And we usually do these 5 styles in one newborn session.
1. Posed vs Lifestyle: Know Your Expectations
There are essentially two types of newborn photography – posed/studio & lifestyle. I love both for different reasons. However, it is important to know what type are envisioning for your shoot.
Perfectly Posed Pics- typically must be done within the first 10 days of birth when the baby is very sleepy and “mold-able”. The focus in this type of session is on shots of the baby looking perfect, usually in blankets, wraps, hats, & headbands. Tomato’s signature style of newborn photography envision the newborn to look like in mummy’s tummy and shows only the baby against the dark background, their expressions and their foetal position. Minimal props are used.
2. Let the Baby Inspire the shoot…
The best images are unplanned and inspired by the uniqueness of each baby. Whether it is cute dimples, big beautiful eyes, full lips, or a great head of hair, try to highlight the beauty of the baby.
We will work with you as the parents to ensure that we capture those amazing moments and unique features of your baby to ensure your memories last a life time.
At Tomato Photo we believe that this its all about being in the moment. This means that we give the newborn time and space to move, yawn, and stretch. Babies have wonderful, perfect, sweet movements.
From the moment he walked in the door, our two young boys were completely comfortable and happy around Hart and he took the most amazing pictures of the family and of our newborn baby. The baby didn’t cry once and was totally comfortable in Hart’s hands, which made the entire experience very relaxed.
The pictures are absolutely beautiful and we will treasure them forever!
Hazel made the booking process very efficient and easy. Thank you again and we couldn’t recommend Hart and Tomato Photo more. – Nelly Martin – Oct 2020
3. Include the Mum, The Family..
Mothers work the hardest and they love the hardest too. Mum is always behind the camera taking snaps of every adorable moment of your baby.
This is an important opportunity to get in front of the lens and capture those shots that define and outline your love for your newborn.
Get close, cuddle and aw at your little one as the photographer snaps away. Don’t by shy this is your opportunity to shine too.
Let us know and we can assist you to plan your make up and hair for the shoot as we know that new mums are too busy to worry about such pesky issues.
4. Include The Siblings
If your newborn has a proud older brother or sister, its a great idea to incorporate them into the shoot. Its always a good idea to have the older sibling ready to go first. This means that we can photograph the sibling while they are excited and able to concentrate.
Once we have some great individual shots of the sibling, we then let them go play while we focus the session on the newborn. Toddlers simply don’t have the attention span to sit quietly and wait while the newborn or setup for each shot.
Once we have great shots of the newborn we can bring the toddler back in again towards the end of the shoot for shots of the siblings together.
5. Enjoy the experience – Connections
A session with your newborn should not be stressful or exhausting, but rather a bonding experience for the family.
We will give you plenty of time and space to feed, change and burp your baby. A relaxed Mummy means that the baby will be more receptive. We encourage Mum and Dad to simply take a seat on the sofa and relax while we photograph your newborn in the setting and style that you envision.
Make memories with your family while we capture and preserve it for you.
Had newborn photoshoot yesterday with Hart. Will definitely recommend tomato photo to others! Hart was so professional in the photo taking session and handling my newborn. He manage to soothe my baby when my nanny couldn’t! Love the photos he has taken.. very natural and with plenty of priceless expressions! Thank you Hart for that wonderful photoshoot experience! – Yvonne Soh, Dec 2020
Home – Nesting Place
There is no place like home when its time to nest.
Many Mums and Mum-to-be know that nesting feeling they get just before and after baby is born. You feel so safe and comfortable in your own home as you adjust to your new little bundle of joy. Many new Mums are also taking care to heal the wounds of labour and c- sections which means they need to stay at home and rest as much as they can.
This is when you most appreciate that Hart Tan from Tomato Photo can come to your home and work his photography to preserve the memories of your little newborn. Click on this link to see images that you can have of your little ones, right at the comfort of your home
Home – Stress-Free For Newborn Photoshoot
Picture this… You and your husband just got home from the hospital with your tiny newborn. You know these moments won’t last long and in a matter of weeks your precious bundle will no longer be a newborn.
When you are thinking, another reality strike you, the headache and chore to travel anywhere. In the first week, mothers still feel much in pain and learning how to manage the little newborn, the last thing you want to do is the chore to travel! That is the reason why, we have been focus the attention to bring the the comfort of having the professional newborn photography right at your home. You can see some of the sample home images done for clients right at the comfort of their home.
Imagine that, you are looking forward to your newborn photography session in a couple of days; you are so glad your photographer is willing to do the session in the comfort of your own home, it takes so much of the stress out of taking pictures. That exactly what you want for your baby, a stress free and loving environment as they get to know this new world all around them.
In Confinement? We hear you..
Many Mums in Singapore find themselves on confinement and are unable to leave their home for the first month after giving birth for health reasons. This is also perfect for those who want those newborn shots but don’t want to break the confinement period. Dads also like the fact that photography can be done at home as they can relax and are more open to those embracing shots with their wife and baby. Having the shoot at home means total convenience as you have all of babies items and comforts all around you. Their is no need to pack up that big baby bag and pram and track down a taxi, simple sit on your sofa and let Hart do all the work.
How Long Is The Session?
Mothers always looking out for the best interest for their family and newborn baby when it comes to newborn photography. We understand some mums have back to back appointments with the gyn/ob, post-natal massage, or child’s vaccination visits and you don’t have the whole day to spare for newborn photoshoot.
With over a decade of experience, we learn to maximise your timing. Whether you choose to have your post natal massage or having lunch at home, we certainly offer you the flexibility to have the newborn shoot at the same time.
We also understand that you are worried about the unpredictable nature of the baby, in fact, with sufficient knowledge, majority of baby are predictable in the hand of experience photographer, just that you are learning the rope, you can rest assure that our experience will bring much comfort that you needed. The time needed for each baby is different, so we will give you as much time as we need to ensure that you get your beautiful images that you love, and at the same time, keeping the session as short as possible to ensure that you have enough rest while give you a great collection of images that you can select from. If you need to press us for the time, 1-2 hours is usually needed for 95% of the newborn shoot. 3-4 hours is also possible should the baby needed more time to settle.
We factor in sufficient time that you can feed, change and burp baby so that they are happy little posers. Our home sessions are all about comfort, family and bonding which can be achieved in this stress free environment
Looking at these images its hard to believe that we are not in a studio….
Its all about memories, one day your now grown up baby can see where and how you lived at the time of their birth…..
We understand that you might be a little nervous if this is the first time that you are considering newborn photography, or perhaps you had a prior bad experience elsewhere, you know that having someone who has a decade of experience and a soothing personality makes a huge difference in the shoot. Beautiful images is a non-negotiable, however, helping our clients to feel relax and comfortable at their own shoot makes all the difference.
Last but not least… this is what our clients have to say about their experience with us..
Hart was amazing. He is such a natural with newborns that got us parents wondering how he made our baby so calm while moving her around to have different shots of her. Hart is a professional where he is able to put us all at ease together with our parents. He gave us good guidance which resulted in having such beautiful photos processed! We’d definitely recommend him to anyone who wishes to take family or newborn shoots. Your babies would love him too! – Hakim Amir Hamzah
We booked Hart for a newborn photo shoot when our daughter was 10 days old. Hart was patient and gentle with our daughter as he moved her into position. He had a great collection of prop and provided us with good feedback to get the best of the family images. I would use him again. – Liane Wolfe
Hart far exceeded our expectations. He is amazing with kids and managed well both our newborn and toddler. We anticipated a stressful photo session but ended up having a great time! His shots are all great and the hard print photos that we got are of very high quality. Thank you Hart! We’ll look you up again when it’s time to update our family photos. – Joan Dela Cruz