Newborns 2017 Photo Competition

I will be entering this competition and i am currently deciding on which image/s to enter.

More information about the competition is here –

http://newborns.childphotocompetition.com/register/

There is an option to submit 1 / 3 / 5 Images.

So far i have chosen this one and i will be submitting my final images this week.

Aniela hat

 

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Safety Within Newborn Photography

There has been a huge rise in newborn photography in the past few years and as with anything that is becoming popular there is always more and more experimentation happening to create new and interesting artwork.

But what many people don’t realise is that these incredible images of babies hanging from tree branches or propped in a basket holding their head up aren’t just one image. They are a composite of 2 maybe 3 or even 4 images. And it is really important for new and emerging baby photographers to be aware of this and they should not even be attempted without training.

There is a good article about safety and compositing images here –

http://babypropshop.co.uk/photography-tutorials/composites-and-newborn-safety

The trend of ‘composites’ has really taken off. There is so many digital backdrops that can be purchased on places like Etsy and Creative Market to really add something spectacular to your images.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 13.22.36.jpg

I recently had a newborn shoot and during that we were chatting and it turned out that the parents had met on a boat so i thought it would be lovely to do a photo of their baby in a little boat. We had one in the studio so i set it all up but unfortunately once i put their little boy into it he woke up after i did the test shot (it was coming to the end of the session and feeding time) so i didn’t get chance to perfect his pose and the angle of the boat / background etc. But the couple were so excited about this photo of him in the boat and i knew it was awful and that i needed to think of some way to rectify it.

Thankfully i found an image on Etsy that i purchased and with the amazing tools in photoshop i was able to do a composite using that and my original image.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 13.28.26

_SRH4398-Edit

I put the two together to create this –

Baby Sullivan beach

I had to flip him horizontally so the light & shadows matched the direction on the background image. It took a couple of hours because there was some really critical erasing around the flag and material draping across the boat as well as colour correction.

But it was worth the effort because it was their favourite image out of the whole gallery 🙂

Debbie Booth – BabyBloom Photography, Bolton, Uk has a good example of one of her composites that she has done –

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 13.15.06

And i think it is great that photographers are keen to show people that these type of images are done using an assistant and several images put together. Hopefully it might educate people in the process and stop them from attempting them and putting babies safety at risk.

Another one that i have done recently as it was requested by the client, was a photograph of their baby in their daughters police hat. This had to be done as a composite because the hat itself isn’t stable to put a baby in. So i photographed it on its own, and then put some black material over the Mum who was holding the baby underneath and i positioned her forward and in the same position as if it was in the hat and then i put them together in Photoshop.

Aniela hat

 

Progress Since | Newborn Workshops

** For confidentiality reasons i am not allowed to discuss or share online what i have been taught on the workshops so i will just be showing examples of how they have improved my work **

Since attending Jillian Greenhill’s newborn workshop, The Newborn Retreat, Dewdrops Real Time Workshop & Kelly Browns Newborn Bootcamp i feel like i have improved, but i am still not creating the images i want to. I want to increase my vintage prop collection because thats the type of style i am drawn to and i feel like i have still got a lot to learn about the editing process to really take my images further. And my confidence in posing has improved a lot but i think i would benefit from a refresher course at some point so i have started saving up for that.

Below is one of the images from the workshop where Jillian set up & posed the baby and then we photographed them (the images are unedited) and then i have put my own recent work below to it as a comparison to show how i’m using the techniques in my current work.

_srh4154 Jillian Greenhill – Workshop Image (Unedited)

Calla Lucia-13Calla Lucia – Recent Newborn image – Perfect Moments Photography

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 12.38.39Amy McDaniel Dewdrops Photography Real Time Workshop

Aniela hatAniela Elsie – Recent Newborn image – Perfect Moments Photography

 

heidi hope workshopImage from Heidi Hope – Newborn Retreat | Going With The Flow

AnielaAniela Elsie – Recent Newborn image – Perfect Moments Photography

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 12.42.39Image from Kelly Brown – Newborn Photography Bootcamp

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 12.27.18Ieuan – Recent Newborn image – Perfect Moments Photography

I am really pleased with how i am improving….but there’s always room for more 🙂 And i know that what i should be doing now is concentrating on getting my work noticed and i hope by doing my Dissertation on Creative Marketing it will help me with attracting more of the clients that i want.

SEO

SEO … my nemisis!! Well up until recently anyway! I was so frustrated with the limitations of WordPress.com because i can’t use any SEO plugins like Yoast which is supposed to be really good …But i have been putting the hours in re-wording every page, tag, metadata so that NEWBORN, BABY, CHILD, FAMILY, WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER features everywhere and i am blogging and getting clients to leave reviews on my Facebook, Google page & FreeIndex. All which link to my website…and its working!!

So without paying for SEO i am now on page 1 of Google when you type in:

Newborn Photographer Wrexham / Baby Photographer Wrexham / Child Photographer Wrexham / Family Photographer Wrexham / Wedding Photographer Wrexham / Photographer Wrexhamnewborn photographer wrexham - Google Search.pdf

 

 

Creative Marketing

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This weekend i had a table at the Nearly New Sale in Overton Village Hall and I designed a banner and postcards which i had made for the occassion.

It is ran by the local Playcentre, selling lots of baby / children’s clothes and toys etc and attracts a hoard of Mums and Dads so i thought this would be a perfect opportunity to advertise what i do.

I gave out lots of my postcards and also had 3 pregnant Mums request more information on my newborn sessions so i’m really pleased with that and will be following up all my leads this week. There is similar sales in the local villages, one of the organisers told me that there is one in Hanmer so i will be contacting that one next to see if i can attend.

* * *

New product for a growing fashion – BABY SHOWERS

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It is a gift box containing all my maternity / newborn session information and a voucher which can be for any amount, friends can all chip in together to purchase an amount and then the gift box is given at the Baby Shower which the Mum To Be can then use for whichever package she wants. I have this advertised on my Facebook, Instagram & Bigcartelshop

Thomas Hughes Lloyd Dance Showreel

Thomas Hughes Lloyd Dance Showreel

I was asked to come up with a showreel for Thomas, he was a finalist on Got To Dance 2013 and wanted a video to advertise his talent incorporating his past achievements.

He gave me some youtube links of other dancers Showreels so that i could get an idea of what he was after.

We discussed several locations and they quickly whittled down because of authorization and permissions that would be needed for filming in public places. So we chose the train station on a quiet day and the underground in Chester which i knew had good moody lighting which would work. And after that we just scouted for locations as we walked around Chester. There was a graffiti car park which would have been great but the owner couldn’t allow it so we just took a couple of pics there instead, we also tried in the amphitheatre but the loose stone on the floor was too difficult for Tom to dance on. We took some footage by the canal and by the Chester Walls.

Thomas brought his sister along who had the track that he was going to be dancing to and my studio partner Kamila joined me to film and she took some stills throughout for his portfolio.

We had 2 Nikon D750, several lenses, a glider on wheels, tripod, reflector, video light, & Glidecam. It was tiring work carrying everything round on our backs all day as we did lots of walking looking for places to film.

We were limited with time on this so if i was to do something like this again i would scout for the locations first and decide on the best time of day regarding light etc.

I edited the video in After Effects and i did struggle getting enough variety from the amount of footage we had. We could have done with some more, perhaps from different angles / close ups etc.

They loved the final video but the only thing he regrets is that he didn’t do some of his special moves so we are looking to re-film this year and add those in.

Newborn Posing Workshop

I travelled to Manchester for Jillian Greenhill’s Newborn Posing Workshop at Newborn Baby Posing Limited, this was a big investment for me but it really focuses on the area that i want to excel in so i needed to do it to help me move forward.

As this is a public blog i can’t go into detail with what we learnt on the course but it was brilliant and covered everything from marketing – client prep before the session – the session – safety – posing – editing – sales.

Jillian enforces how important safety is when you are putting a baby in any pose and you must have a spotter nearby whether it is an assistant or Mum or Dad. And this is something that is my top priority when i photograph anyone’s baby.

This course helped me so much and gave me a much wider insight into how i should run my business. I also received a Newborn Posing Certificate which i can proudly display in my studio.

** I also spent a small fortune on outfits and props from their shop (whoopsies) **

Here is one of the images i took and then after i’ve edited in Lightroom & PS.

_srh4186

_srh4186-edit

And some more unedited images from throughout the day:

Red Shoe Posing Workshop

I have been a huge fan of Sarah Janes Photography for years, particularly her wedding photography which is very romantic, candid, caught in the moment style. So when i seen that she was offering Posing Workshops i jumped at the chance! Kamila and i both went along to her studio and we were among a small group of lady photographers who were attending. She is such a lovely person and straight away made us all feel at ease. We all sat and told a little bit about ourselves and she talked about her journey starting off being a second shooter for another wedding photographer for years, shooting on film before she moved to digital and went on her own.

She had arranged a model Samantha Ramsey,  for the day who was having her hair done and make up by Mandy Rigby.

First she explained where to position your subject in regards to the light source (window light) and which angles & positions are the most flattering. One thing she did was constantly talk to Sam, there’s was no long silences which is when your client can feel lost in front of the camera.

Video Highlights from the day

Below are some images i took when i had my turn behind the camera.

Directing someone into poses is definitely one of my weakest areas, but it is something i need when posing brides on their wedding day and i think this workshop really helped me understand what i need to do to make the client feel at ease in front of the camera through gentle directions….. i just need to practise now!

Practice In Context – Production Diary

MY PLAN

I have chosen to build an advertising campaign for myself, i am focusing my time on newborn photography at present and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to create something that is relevant to my business.

Since opening our studio in July 2016 i have only advertised through leaflets and Facebook, and the next step is to create videos to show prospective clients a little bit more of behind the scenes. Taking your newborn baby to a stranger for photographs can be a daunting thing, it has to be done within the first 2 weeks after birth and i know myself as a Mum in those early days i didn’t even want to put my babies down…never mind let someone i don’t know hold them for hours!

For that reason i want to base my 2 videos around what happens in a newborn session, so clients can see my studio, see how i am with babies and get a glimpse of what they are paying for. I searched the internet for anything similar to what i wanted to do and i found lots of photographers studio videos, but the majority of them seem to focus more on it being a ‘studio tour’ Showing everything from their table of albums to what coffee mugs they use like this one –

Cass Davies Photography

And they are all quite long, between 2 – 5 minutes long, i have to get my message across in a max of 45 seconds so i have to be really strict with my content and make sure it conveys my message.

I would like my Advert Images to show my photography style so i will use a couple of my edited baby images for that.

PLANNING VIDEO PART 1

I arranged for Kamila to help me film my first video, as this was going to be showing me at work i couldn’t film it alone. The other hurdle was finding a client in the time frame that i had that was happy to have their newborn session filmed, i asked several but only one agreed so i was nervous that i would get the right footage first time round.

FILMING VIDEO PART 1

Kamila used her Nikon D750 to film me throughout the arranged newborn shoot, We didn’t set up and lights and just relied on the natural light through the large windows in the studio. Baby Ieuan was adorable and very well behaved which was a relief… some babies just don’t want to sleep but he slept really well so we were able to show him in different styled props throughout the shoot and got some parent shots in at the end as well which i was over the moon about because i had a vision of mum & dad cuddling their baby to end the video.

EDITING VIDEO PART 1

There was a lot of footage to go through, Kamila had filled a 16GB card so it took some time watching back through all of the clips and choosing the right ones. There was a lot of it that i couldn’t use because it was either too out of focus or too shaky, we didn’t want to use a tripod and have very static footage because i wanted it to be more dynamic, up close and personal so handheld was the best option but we would of benefit from using a glidecam or something similar to reduce the camera shake.  I felt like i needed the right music first before i was able to put the clips together in After Effects but i didn’t have it, i spent hours trying to find something that wasn’t copyrighted that i could use but really struggled so i used a piece of piano music just as a base so that i had something to work with until i found something else. I put the footage together so it showed all the different stages of the shoot with some of the final images mixed in with the footage. The music that i used for it in the end was a something my husband put together for me in Cubase, it’s just a piano loop and nothing too distracting from the video, we played around with the melody until we had something that fit quite well and felt emotional when it was played over the video.

The font i used throughout the video is Moon Flower Bold and it is what i use for my business name and i wanted to keep that within the theme running throughout. It looks handwritten so i wanted the first part of the video to start with PERFECT MOMENTS PHOTOGRAPHY looking like someone was writing it on the screen. I didn’t know how to do this so i watched several videos on youtube until i found this one which is the one i followed:

Animated Handwriting In After Effects

It still didn’t look like it was actually being written until i added a handwriting audio that i also found on Youtube and that made it much better. It still needed something else that was related to babies, and i played with different colour text, backgrounds, faded images but everything made it too fussy. And then i came up with the idea to animate one of the letters in time to a baby’s laugh, this was time consuming but it was worth it and i really liked the end result.

PLANNING VIDEO PART 2

I had 2 ideas for this one, i either wanted it to show what happens after the session – clients coming for their viewing appointment / choosing their images / collecting their products / showing how happy they were etc OR show what goes into the preparation before a session, i hand-make outfits & props so there is a very bespoke element to each session and i think that would interest clients.

I wasn’t able to go with my first idea because of when my clients viewing appointments were booked in it didn’t  fit in with when i needed to film so i went with my second idea to show the preparation before a shoot.

FILMING VIDEO PART 2

To film i used my Nikon D750, i set up lots of outfits, accessories & props in the studio and i filmed them all really close up. I wanted to show how how intricate and delicate everything was, lots of planning is involved in creating each piece and this dedication carries throughout from the making of each item right through to the final edited images.

EDITING VIDEO PART 2

When i brought all my footage into After Effects i used the same music as my first video for continuity. I also wanted to keep the beginning the same with the handwritten text but i did change the colour of the font, the baby’s laugh and added another animated letter so that it was a progression from the first video. I wasn’t sure about what text i was going to include throughout the video but when i started putting all the clips in i decided to include some basic information that i always get asked – When can newborn photos be done & why, and people always ask about bringing clothes and props so i wanted to make it clear that i provide all of those. I ended the video with a final edited image of a baby in a prop set up, i thought this brings all the bits that i have just shown them together and it ends in the same way as my first video.

2 IMAGES

I chose one of the images that was taken when we filmed the first video, showing the baby in a nest photographed from above. It’s really natural and the colour tones are the ones i want to associate with my brand so i went with that and after many many hours of writing a strapline (all which went in the bin because they were ridiculously cheesy) . I ended up with:

“It’s the little things in life that make us happy”

“It’s the little things in life that matter”

And i went for “It’s the little things in life that matter” It’s pretty much the moto that i live by, and it really fit this image because from a parents point of view there is nothing more important than their little baby in that nest….

…. and i need to capture that…so you need to bring your babies to me!! I left that bit out but hopefully thats how they will feel after they watch my video 😀

The second image i chose was of a little boy cuddling a teddy, its a close up so i thought this worked well in contrast to the baby in the nest. The messages on my videos are saying that you need to make the most of that time when they are little, and that photos are so important because when we get older our memories fade and we forget which is all quite intense so i wanted something lighter for this image. I whittled it down to:

“His teddy might not last forever….but his photograph will”

“Photographs that last longer than teddies”

I decided on “Photographs that last longer than teddies” purely because it was shorter and quirkier.

CONCLUSION

In the beginning i thought that choosing to advertise what i already do was going to be easier than trying to advertise something i knew nothing about. But i found it harder, i definitely was over thinking every element because if i was going to use it for my business it had to be perfect and i had to be convinced that it would appeal to viewers and attract more clients that like me and my brand.

If i was to do it again i would:

~ Put more thought into the camera equipment & supports to ensure sharper footage with less shake.

~ Wear less distracting trousers!

~ Spend more time on creating the music.

~ Improve my editing in After Effects.