Newborn composites are the focus for my Negotiated Studies 2. This is a service that I plan to offer my clients, to have a bespoke image that is created entirely for them. A unique piece of art to hang on their wall, a statement piece for their home.
I will use the compositing skills which I have learnt during Negotiated Studies 1 to plan and execute each image for this series:
- Planning & Time Management
- Contingency plan
- Prop building
- Studio Shoot – Lighting & Equipment
- Photoshop compositing
- Meet client brief
- Deliver high-resolution images printable up to A0
My inspiration for this has been a culmination of looking and evaluating what’s been done before, what appeals to me and what I want to offer my clients.
I recently purchase an online workshop – Newborn Composite Photography by Cleare Photography. Her newborn composites are amazing, she has such a recognisable style. Aside from her technical skills I agree with her approach. Not only is it important to provide bespoke images to clients it’s just as important to do this with the least disturbance to the baby.
As a member of BANPAS – Baby And Newborn Photography Association, I have access to education in all aspects of photography & safety to finance & marketing. Below is some of their examples of newborn poses, some that I wouldn’t even attempt like the ‘froggy’. If it’s done correctly it’s perfectly safe but I prefer to have babies in less compromising positions.
Cleare Photography chooses to photograph babies mainly on a beanbag in the simplest of positions whilst changing the wrap / hat etc without moving the baby.
As much as I want to create original images I also want my clients to have an equally wonderful experience. They need to be as relaxed as possible with what I’m doing with their new baby. So with careful planning, and the use of compositing I will be able to provide each client with a gallery full of diverse images with the least disturbance to their baby.
For my composite series the process will start before the client session. The background plate which will be something from nature, photographed up close with a small aperture to retain lots of the detail. It will then be edited in Photoshop ready for the composite. The baby will be photographed during the family’s newborn session and then added to the background in Photoshop.
During each newborn session there is many things that can interfere with getting the composite:
- The baby won’t sleep
- The baby doesn’t like being in certain positions
- The baby wakes up every time it is put down.
- Pressure to keep clients happy whilst working to the brief
Unfortunately it is difficult to have a contingency plan in this situation, I can’t re-schedule a newborn session just to get one image unless the client wants to. I have to be prepared for the possibility that it might not work and concentrate on getting all the other images required for that session.
There is many photographers that offer composite images to their clients and these are done during newborn sessions. In an article from BANPAS:
Sadly, we are unable to police the newborn photography industry, there are no regulations or health and safety laws specific to this genre of photography, nor can we sit in on sessions and watch to see how photographers are handling client’s babies. What we can do however is raise awareness amongst both the photographic community, and the general public, that working with, photographing and posing newborn babies requires skill, patience and safety awareness.
It explains to parents the importance of safety in newborn posing and how composites are done. This is also great education for photographers starting out that aren’t yet trained in newborn posing and don’t realise that these precarious looking images are done by compositing several images together.
In an article by FamilyShare it shows that even though there is all the correct education available photographers still attempt extremely dangerous set-ups.
It’s a lot of pressure to be a parent these days. Pinterest and Instagram have set new expectations of capturing perfect baby photos for your perfect, new bundle of joy. But many people don’t realize that attempting these photos on your own or with an unexperienced photographer is extremely dangerous.
There is absolutely no need for the baby to be held in such a dangerous set up when a composite could be done with exactly the same final result. Here the blood flow would be restricted in its body and especially around the neck which can cause asphyxiation, the branch could snap and the jolt from the fall could break the babies neck and the branch could even the baby when it fell…… how any parent allowed for this to be done in front of them leaves me speechless!!
Another disappointing outcome was shown on Stuff
One mother admitted to English that her baby fell out of a hammock made from a wrap during a photo session. The mum said her baby was OK but it scared her. The photos were being taken by a wedding photographer.
“There’s not enough awareness around it and it is not talked about enough,” English says.
Luisa Dunn, an advocate for risk free creative portraits, designs digital backgrounds which can be purchased for composites.
These digital backgrounds as well as others are made by many other artists and are used widely by newborn photographers to give clients more variety in their gallery.
What I plan to do is similar but my images will be bespoke to each client because I don’t plan to re-use the same digital backgrounds unless requested to. Like the image below which was requested by the client, I photographed the hat and the baby separately and then put them together in photoshop.
This is a one of a kind image, by creating images like this I hope to stand out in the photography industry at the same time as offering a unique service to my clients.
I plan to create 3 newborn composites for my degree show, these will be displayed as a large triptych on the wall. There will be research into printing options, to see what suits my images as well as possible mounts and frames. I will also have examples of my portrait and wedding photography on display, possibly in an album but I will decide once I have looked at several options. To create a 3 images that work together as a series is another new challenge for me and I can’t wait to get started!