Newborn photography has really taken off in the last few years. When my oldest was born nearly 14 years ago…the thought of doing her professional portraits didn’t enter my mind til she was 2 or 3 months old. I regret now that those first precious weeks aren’t captured in professional images somewhere. Photographer Anne Gedes made it big with her creative styling and poses of babies looking like peas, chipmunks, blossoms and the like. It’s not uncommon for new parents to bring me examples of images that they found on a website of a baby curled into some adorable pose or situation and want to replicate it with their own baby. I’m always happy to oblige and put my own creative twist on things, but what many do not know is that seeing is NOT believing.
While these images look like a sleeping baby was set down in the pose and the photographer simply ‘snapped’ the photo, in reality the image was created by way of a composite. A composite is a compilation of different images merged together with post editing techniques. This process can be rather time intensive both in set up and in post production.
When Brinley’s mommy showed me the sample image she wanted to replicate…it looked like baby just decided to take a little siesta in her daddy’s fishing waders. In reality, the fishing waders would not stand up on their own let alone safely support the weight of a baby. It took nearly 15 minutes to position the waders themselves with both mom and I working together. Shots of these were then taken and the waders removed. Next baby was posed separately from the waders that would allow me to merge the images later in post shoot editing. This one shot probably took 20-30 minutes to shoot in studio and another 30 minutes to edit.
It’s important for not only parents to understand what might be behind the cute images they see, but for amateur photographers as well. It’s tempting to try to recreate the poses, but that could put baby in less than safe situations. A few years ago images with baby posed in vases and glass bowls were all the rage, but to actually pose babies in these breakable containers could lead to catastrophe! It’s important to understand how some of these images were actually safely created and for safety to always be at the forefront.
Keep in mind that some of the fantastical images you might find on the web took a team hours and hours to create- waiting for baby to fall asleep on separate occasions and shooting from different angles to achieve the right look for composites. Lighting plays an important part to create a realistic images so that shadows fall in valid placed. A lot can also depend on babies age, size, agility (some babies just bend better than others) and their disposition. Keep all these aspects in mind and choose a photographer whom you feel totally comfortable with.
Seeing might not always be believing in the world of portrait newborn photography… but seeing your precious bundle in his or her first newborn images will bring lasting memories long after they newborn session seems an eon in the past.