Capturing Little Moments: Newborn Photography
Guest blog post by photographer, Brianna Anderson.
Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a mom. As I grew, my passions changed and shifted with age, and my direction started taking shape when I chose nursing as a career path in college. After graduating, my inner voice that still resonated with all things motherhood, led me to the area of the Neonatal ICU, where I started the career that I would pursue for the next eleven years. I married my college sweetheart and had two babies of my own. During my shifts at work, I took care of the smallest and most fragile of babies, which gave me great fulfillment.
Also during those years, I encountered countless miracles, countless heartaches, countless emotions and countless hours of mothers pouring love into their tiny newborns. It was beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. As I started to also pursue an artistic outlet for myself through photography, I began to volunteer my time working with a non-profit organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, which provided bereavement photography to families experiencing loss. Strangely enough, the emotion and passion I experienced in working with families in the NICU bled over into my work as a newborn photographer. I felt strongly about wanting to capture the deep emotions of a mother. Her love, her fears, her protective instincts, her vulnerability and her beauty. As the years went on, I developed a style that I felt reflected my feelings about motherhood. Emotional, peaceful, slightly mysterious and even calm at times. Like those moments when you are up late at night and there isn’t another soul awake in the house – just you and your baby, quietly learning about one another as you rock that baby back to sleep in the middle of the night. My goal is to capture those moments for my moms. So that they can remember those first fleeting weeks of their precious newborns.
From a technical side, here is what I have found to be effective in capturing those newborn moments:
Wear something comfortable. Perhaps a loose tank, a soft thin robe, or even a soft jersey dress. In my studio, I often wrap moms in a soft gauze fabric, so that it creates a smooth silhouette and doesn’t distract from the baby. Most moms are not thrilled with the idea of being in pictures a few days after the baby is born, so I focus on very tight, close-up shots. I have the mom cradle her newborn in a way that shows off the baby in most of the picture, and highlights just the moms’ face snuggling her baby.
Once I pose mom and baby together, I have the mom take a deep breath and relax her shoulders. I tell her to melt into the baby, smell her baby’s soft head and close her eyes. This usually instantly relaxes moms face, as she enjoys a quick deep breath holding her sweet babe. The more natural, the more calm, and the more intimate the better. No need to smile at the camera or worry about if your hair is perfectly placed. I encourage my moms to relax and enjoy their newborn. Those are the moments they are going to want to remember.
I shoot most of my sessions in my newborn studio with natural light. I want shadows and a soft focus on mom and baby, so natural light is key for me. Occasionally, I will shoot in a clients’ home, and we often shoot in moms bed or near a large window. The background is not a concern for me, I just look for spaces with soft light and an intimate feel. I edit a bit darker, to create a more intimate mood.
We take multiple breaks allowing the baby to eat when he/she needs to, and we keep the environment around 85 degrees with soft white noise going. I try to shoot all my newborn sessions within the baby’s first 12 days, which usually gives us a nice sleepy baby that is easy to pose and cradle.
And while the baby always calls the shots – yes we have had babies that refuse to sleep or cooperate – the focus is always to capture the baby in that moment. Just like motherhood, it is never perfect, and we don’t try to pretend it is. It’s messy, frustrating at times, exhausting, but beautiful all at the same time. And if I can capture that for these moms, then I have hopefully given them something that they will treasure for a lifetime.
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