You would probably only be asking this if you are trying to capture this special time without the budget to pay a professional newborn photographer….
… therefore this blog isn’t about why you should hire a professional rather than DIY, that would be pointless and probably annoy you! Google alone will return hundreds of hits for “newborn photographer Bristol” so you are not short of options!!!
I’ll instead address what you get from a professional so that you can think about the aspects within your control to improve your own attempts. There is another aspect too. I have been asked if the demand for professional photography is decreasing with mobile phones having such good cameras now. The really simple answer is no. That’s like asking if people eat out in wonderful restaurants less when they buy a fancy new oven. They don’t and the reason is that the results of a professional are (usually) way better than anything we can recreate ourselves.
What aspects are there to think about then?
Painting with light
There is so much more to a portrait session (no matter whether we are talking a newborn, maternity or family portraits) than just the photograph that is captured, but let’s just assume for a moment that this is all that matters. Currently, there isn’t a mobile with a sophisticated enough camera to mimic what a full frame DSLR can do with manual settings. Adjusting shutter speed, ISO and aperture are all required to create a stunning portrait.
We often forget that photography essentially means painting with light, so being able to control exactly how we instruct the sensor to perceive the light in relation to the subject is essential. Where to position the baby in relation to the light to create a pleasing effect is a vital aspect of newborn photography. Many of the pinterest fails show babies with the well known (on halloween) ‘ghoul lighting’ – never flattering and certainly not desirable for a gorgeous newborn photograph! The newborn images that we love all have beautifully soft and dreamy lighting that enhances their complete innocence and purity. It’s a vital part to the overall feeling of the image.
There is also a safety risk to consider when we are considering newborn pictures. I have spent a long time studying how to safely handle and pose a baby to achieve those ‘simple’ newborn lying on a blanket poses. You only need to search on Google to see the disasters that befall parents trying to do it themselves and whilst they can look amusing, an injury to the baby certainly wouldn’t be so please play it safe.
I however have some newborn top tips on my Instagram page that are completely safe to try at home if you would like to, just hop over to my Instagram page to have a read and follow for more.
How the lens perceives the subject
So, you feel confident. You’ve done some research, maybe had a camera session or two and are raring to go! You’ve learnt how to manipulate the camera in manual mode. You have planned the styling to ensure that the finished image is aesthetically pleasing. This is already a bigger task than most people can achieve without specialist training so you’re on a roll and doing well.
The next hurdle is the one that trips up most untrained photographers… understanding how the camera represents the human form and how subjects need to be ‘posed’ (I prefer the term guided as pose sounds still and unnatural!) to create the look they are after. This one is TRICKY and one that even professional photographers can get wrong. Yup. Even professionals have misjudged a shot and it just doesn’t work. It looks ‘off’ or even worse, awkward and ends up on the digital cutting room floor.
When photographing babies we need to ensure that they look comfy, safe and cosy. Most people lack the props to achieve this as, well, they’re not professional newborn photographers! So keeping it simple, the parents can hold the baby. Easy right? Maybe. Getting the baby positioned ‘just-so’ allowing you to see their face clearly, not up their nostrils and also capturing a beautiful ‘natural’ moment is a lot to juggle for someone who’s not trained and actually can sometimes be a lot to juggle even for someone who is!!
So, what’s the verdict – can you recreate professional looking newborn images with your camera phone?
I don’t think so. You can absolutely capture lovely moments with your camera phone. I do, regularly.
But do I think you can mimic the results of a professionally trained newborn photographer with your phone? No, I can’t say that I have ever seen this happen. I do however love a challenge so PLEASE do try and prove me wrong – send me photos that you’ve captured with your phone that rival that of a professional. Hmmm….. can anyone feel a competition coming on here? Would you like a competition? I’m happy to offer a prize to the winner if they really can achieve this!
I guess what I’m saying here is that it’s my job to make it all look effortless and simple…… that doesn’t mean that it is!
If you’ve read this and decided you’d like to consider hiring a professional, you have numerous options. To answer the question how to choose a newborn photographer I’ve written a series of blogs that delve into the differences between us all and what to ask to ensure you’re booking the one who’s the best fit for you. I hope you find them useful.