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 –

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.

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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.

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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 –

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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


Adding Fog

To create a fog effect i followed one of Phlearns videos –

I made a new layer and then using his fog brush which is available on his website i painted fog in different sizes and colours picking from the lighter colours that were in the image, i did this on a couple of different layers so that i could play with the opacity. I then used a gaussian blur on the fog layers because it looked fake so with a bit of blur it softened the edges and made it look more realistic.

To change the overall colour i added a curves layer and played round with the red, blue & green channels until i was happy with it, i wanted something that was a bit moody and cinematic.

And to finish it off i downloaded a photo of a crow off google images and threw that in for added eeriness! 🙂

Below is the before and after –

Adding Contour Foundation

Using an image of myself from our studio session last week i then followed one of Phlearns videos on youtube –

Where he shows how you can add contour makeup….genius! This will definitely come in handy for making portraits pop. I went a bit over-kill on my example but i just did it so it would stand out for this.

You use the colour pick tool and choose a shadow area then add a new layer and paint where the low lights are, for example under the cheek bone, at the temple. Then you do the same for the highlighted areas, pick a colour from there (make it lighter if needed) then paint in all the highlights, for example on top of the cheekbone, along the jawline.

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Then individually, set each layer to Hard Light in the blending mode then add a gaussian blur quite a lot so there is no definition at the edges of where you have painted.

If the colours are too strong you need to go into IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>HUE/SATURATION and lower the saturation to what looks best.

Also if you need to remove some of the contoured areas you can add a layer mask to each of the layers and then using black just paint out those bits using a soft brush.


Creating Light Rays

For this i followed one of Phlearns videos on Youtube, he has brilliant tutorials and really easy to understand.

I needed an image that had the sun in the background, i probably could of found a better one if i had of looked longer but i didn’t want to spend ages getting lost in my archives!

The sun ray effect was achieved by using the brush tool, changing the shape dynamics,  scattering and the size of the brush tip shape. It changed the shape of the brush to different size dots which i then painted over the image on a new layer and then repeated again on another new layer using larger dots and concentrating them where the sun is.

A radial blur was then applied, making sure the centre of the radial was in the same place as the sun and then this was applied to both of those layers and it turned the dots into rays.

I then played with the blending modes of those layers until it looked realistic, i used screen, i wanted it to be quite subtle. It didn’t take very long to do and it was really interesting to see what effects can be created just by changing the brush and using the radial blur.

Dark Fairy

I entered the ‘Fairytale’ February Child Photo Competition

I found this competition only a couple of days before the last submission day so i didn’t have time to take another image specifically for it so i used one that i had taken the week prior of my daughter in the studio. I wanted to turn her into a fairy so i looked on youtube and found this video which gave me an idea what to do –

I downloaded some fairy wings brushes and added them in photoshop. I did this in lots of layers and kept building it up to try and make it look as real as i could (to my current photoshop abilities). Once i was happy with it i flattened all the layers and then used the dodge and burn tool to enhance the highlights and shadows on the dress and wings.

I didn’t win but it was exciting taking part and i am planning on entering the Black & White competition next…and this time i will be able to spend more time doing it.