Newborn photography tips – to sleep or not to sleep?

A newborn baby asleep
Ssshhhh…working with a sleepy newborn is often surprisingly peaceful

When you  have a newborn baby, it can feel like your whole life revolves around sleep: the baby’s, and your own.

It’s an important consideration for us as photographers too – and not just so that we are looking our best when you arrive, rather than a bit bleary-eyed and clutching coffee!

Many of our favourite images of newborns have been taken when they were asleep. But there are other times when we want them to be awake, so we can see those gorgeous big eyes, or catch the look between mum and dad and baby.

So here are some of the things we have learned from years of photographing babies, whether they are asleep or awake…

Sleeping babies:

Are easier to pose, which can result in some of the most adorable images. We can add props, try diferent positions and thanks to our training and experience, all without waking your baby or causing him any distress.

Are quieter, which can mean a more relaxing experience for mum and dad. You may even get to drink a hot cup of tea!

Can be encouraged to drift off with rocking, shushing, swaddling, feeding or with a little help from a dummy. Sheila is our resident baby whisperer and while she works her magic, you can get back to that cup of tea.

Are generally more likely to be keep still. They may twitch or stir but there is unlikely to be the flaiing of arms and legs that all parents will be familiar with. Which in turn can make it easier to get fantastic photographs.

Awake babies:

Can be calmed with a feed, a cuddle or distraction, eg a favourite toy or a something that makes noise or lights up.

Will often lie still in a parent’s arms, allowing for some beautiful close-up images of their face. Any background such as clothing can always be edited out later.

If it’s an older baby, that all-important smile can often be achieved by interaction with the parents, so now is the time to lose those inhibitions and start singing, dancing and doing all those things you know he loves to see.

Some babies are more reluctant to wake up than others. But it can be done – some of our tried and tested methods include undressing them, wiping a cold cloth over their face, a nappy change, lifting them upright and gently lying them back down, or offering a feed. With all of these, it’s important to attempt them during your baby’s lighter sleep, and to keep the lights in the room dimmed, otherwise he won’t want to open his eyes.

But if all else fails, enjoy the peace and that cup of tea. It won’t be long before the little one is awake again and letting everyone know about it! Luckily, we always allow plenty of time for our newborn shoots so there is absolutely no pressure and definitely time for more tea…

Who will be Baby of the YEAR?

Mothers’ Day is two weeks away, but two local mums are hoping for an extra present the following day.

Little Teddie won the December Baby of the Month competition
Little Teddie won the December Baby of the Month competition

They are the proud parents of two of our Baby of the Month winners who have won a place in the national final – and the chance of winning £5,000.

Leo and Mason Ripley were winners in the April Baby of the Month competition.
Leo and Mason Ripley were winners in the April Baby of the Month competition.

The images of little Teddie and twins Leo and Mason are among 60 being considered by a panel of judges including mums, photographers and sponsors.

The overall Baby of the Year winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on March 6 with Professor Robert Winston, who is a renowned fertility expert and has also presented several television programmes on babies and children.

Baby Teddie was the winner of the December Baby of the Month contest, while Leo and Mason won in April. Thousands of images from photographers across the country are considered throughout the year., and each is judged by a panel of mums and separately by a panel of photographers.

Their scores are combined with points based on the number of Facebook likes each image receives on the competition’s page. The top five each month then go forward to the final of Baby of the Year.

It’s an understatement to say we are excited about having not one but two photos in the final, and our tickets arrived this week which makes it even more real.

So watch this space for the announcement on March 7. And if you have a little one who is under one year old, why not enter them for the 2016 competition? It could be your tot’s photo in the final next year!

Entry to the Baby of the Month competition is free with special offers on prints from the studio sessions. For more information or to reserve your slot call 01227 370650 or text BOMCOMP to 07824 166141.

Baby photography, princess-style…

Princess charlotte baby photo
Princess Charlotte giggles at her toy dog in an image taken by her mother, Kate Middletone

Everyone loves a baby photo, and when the baby in question is one of the most famous in the world then it’s easy to see why the images have gone global.

Princess Charlotte of Cambridge has not been seen in public since her christening in July and her proud parents, Prince William and Kate Middleton, have now released two gorgeous photos of her, reportedly as a thank you to the media for respecting their requests for privacy.

There is no denying that she is a little cutie, with her big blue eyes and adorable grin, and it is also clear that her mum is confident behind the camera; like the previous images released, these photos were taken at the family’s Norfolk home and have been shared all over the world.

So what is it about the snaps that make them so adorable?

Well, first of all, it helps that the little princess is clearly on good form. She’s relaxed and happy, and in an environment where she feels comfortable.

The chair she is photographed on is an ideal backdrop, with neutral colours that complement her outfit and skin tones, creating a natural frame for the image without creating unnecessary distraction.

The lighting is interesting – there’s a window in the background and what looks like natural light falling on Charlotte’s face too, suggesting she’s sitting near another window.

Then of course there’s the prop, the teddy bear that brings such delight to the face of the little princess.

So what can us non-royal people take from this? Plenty, as it happens.

Princess Charlotte aged six months
Another image taken by Kate Middleton and released by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

If you are planning on photographing your own little ones, make sure they are in a good mood, not hungry or tired. You may not have a royal chair to hand but you can pick a background that will not compete with the focus of your photograph – a plain sofa would work, or a rug. It is probably safer to keep the outfit fairly plain too to make sure your little one’s happy face is what catches the eye.

Daylight is easiest to work with outside of the studio so follow the Duchess of Cambridge’s lead and choose somewhere with natural light. And props are always a winner, whether it’s to elicit a cheeky grin like Princess Charlotte’s, or simply to encourage your little one to look in the right direction.

Of course, if that all sounds like too much hard work, you can always give us a call and find out more about our cherubs packages to capture those precious moments over your baby’s first year, or book a family portrait session and let us treat you like royalty…

A deer to cheer…

Baby hands

The world is often full of terrible news and human tragedies. So when you find something beautiful to lift the spirits, it’s worth sharing it far and wide.

There is beauty in our studio every single day, and we like to think magic can be found there as well. But even we have to concede that we’ve never had a friendly deer gatecrash one of our portrait sessions.

That’s just what happened in Louisiana during a newborn photoshoot, and the resulting images are as stunning as you would expect.

We can’t offer you deer, but we do know the best Kent locations for outdoor photography and you may spot a duck or a squirrel or two.

And inside the studio next week you may even find a snowman or two as we host another of our popular Frozen photoshoots…get in touch for more information.

Photographing the little ones this half term? Read this first…

Baby dressed as pumpkin
Half term is a great opportunity to take seasonal photos of your little pumpkins

Half term is upon us and it’s the perfect opportunity to get the camera out and try again to get that perfect picture of your little darlings – perhaps even one that could end up on the wall or in a frame as a present for the grandparents at Christmas.

But anyone who has ever tried to photograph small children will know it’s easier said than done, especially if you are trying to include more than one in the same shot.

Photographing babies, toddlers and their older siblings is a huge part of what we do at our studio in Herne Bay High Street, and we understand the difficulties. It’s perhaps easier for us as we have baskets full of tempting toys to capture their interest, plus with Doug behind the camera you can focus on pulling funny faces or keeping them in one place.

Two babies by their parents' legs
Don’t be afraid to get down on the floor when photographing children

But if you are attempting it yourself, there are a few things it’s worth considering.
First of all, the location. Outdoors will usually offer the best light, even on a dull autumn day, and it can also offer the best opportunities for action shots of happy children.

Pick your time carefully – ideally when they are not tired, and have eaten. And try to remember to have fun as the focus, with pictures as a happy byproduct. That way, you can avoid a lot of the stress by taking the pressure off.

Don’t worry about setting up the perfect pose but instead let them have fun while you watch and snap away. You might surprise yourself with the results.

A toddler wearing sunglasses
Accessories can evoke holiday memories

When you are taking the photos, try to get down to their level for a better shot, and don’t be too far away. You are aiming to fill the frame – the image you see in the viewfinder – with the photo you want, so if there is too much background then move closer.

Think creatively: trees, gates, flowers or other objects around can be great props, and also great fun for hide-and-seek or climbing.

And if all else fails, we still have some spaces over half term in the studio. It’s warm, dry and a great image is pretty much guaranteed. And if your little one is 12 months or younger, you can also enter them into the Baby of the Month competition for free….what are you waiting for?!

More Baby of the Month success…

Jacob with model boat and lifering

Remember this post from earlier this year?

Well, we’re equally delighted wto receive news this week that not one but two of our images have been successful in the national competition.

Newborn Brooke wrapped up like a present
Brooke’s portrait for the Baby of the Month competition

Adorable Brooke, packaged up as the perfect present, was placed joint third in scores from a panel of mums, while baby Jacob’s cheeky grin and shipshape sea-themed photo took third place in scores from a panel of professional photographers in the Baby of the Month competition.

Jacob with model boat and lifering
Maritime mischief abounds in this potrait of Jacob

When the scores were combined with points based on the number of Facebook likes each of the 500 entries received for the August competition, it meant we took two of the five runner-up spots, with prizes of swimming equipment worth £50 for each baby and their proud mums, Claire Sears and Holly Wickham.

It’s always gratifying to have your work recognised, especially by your peers, and we were particularly pleased that two very different shots were chosen.

As we’ve said before (like here…), we are trained in handling delicate newborns and  creating poses like the one seen in Brooke’s photo, and it’s not something that parents can do at home.

But it also takes skill to set up shots like Jacob’s, starting with making him and mum feel comfortable and then trying to get him to look at the camera, smile and stay in the right place!

Add to that our desire to create images that stand out from the crowd, that capture the magic of those precious newborn days,  and the developing personality of your little one, and it becomes quite a task.

Despite that, photographing babies is still some of our favourite work, and it’s reward enough to be able to share the images with parents and see the look on their faces.

Winning competitions is just the icing on the cake!

If you’d like to enter your little one in the Baby of the Month competition, for free, do get in touch – call 01227 370650 or text BOMCOMP to 07824 166141.

Safety first – Royal baby or not!

Prince George with his newborn baby sister Princess Charlotte. Photo: Kate Middleton
Prince George with his newborn baby sister Princess Charlotte. Photo: Kate Middleton

Who else cooed over the adorable photos of Princess Charlotte and her gorgeous big brother Prince George?

Taken by mum Kate Middleton, they captured a beautiful moment of sibling harmony – long may that last!

Babies change so much that it’s easy to fill albums, or memory sticks, with hundreds of photos of them, and of course it’s nice to have professional shots as well.

There are some lovely images out there – just take a look at our Baby of the Month gallery for inspiration – but it’s not as easy as it may appear.

Some of the most popular poses require not only specialist training but exceptional skill as well. Take, for example, the head-on-hands shot. Looks like we’ve just arranged the baby, hopped back to the camera, clicked the shutter and that’s all there is to it, right?

Newborn baby pose
An image like this is not as easy to create as it may appear

Wrong. In actual fact, that pose – and many like it – is actually created from several images seamlessly blended together. It wouldn’t be safe to prop a delicate, vulnerable newborn in that position and then leave it there – never mind the fact that they wouldn’t be able to support their own weight.

So we don’t. Instead, we use mum, dad or one of our specially-trained assistants, to support the baby’s head and limbs as we take several shots and then create the finished image.

Then there’s the baby-in-sling shot. Looks like we’ve just made a baby parcel, hoiked it up and there’s your photo, right?

Wrong again. Would you want your precious, days-old baby, lifted in the air and dangled by a piece of material? Probably not. So instead, we put the material under the baby and lift the ends, but leaving the baby on a safe surface, usually a beanbag, with mum or dad inches away. Then we substitute baby for something else to get the shot above ground – a bag of sugar or something similar works well. Again, digital skills are needed to create the finished product.

And it’s not just the poses. The studio environment is important too when you’re dealing with the smallest humans. It’s not simply a case of walking in off the street and starting to snap away – preparation is key.

For our part, we make sure the room is warm, not too bright and with nice comfy spaces for mum or dad to sit if baby needs a cuddle or a feed. We ask parents to bring their baby’s favourite things, toys or comforters, to reassure them and help bring a smile. And a few changes of clothes are also a good idea, for variety in the pictures and in case of messy moments.

So we’re willing to bet that even that relaxed, family snapshot released by Kensington Palace was more complicated than it seemed – and Prince William, or a member of the Royal household was just out of shot in case Prince George suddenly got bored of being the loving big brother!


Leo and Mason are Babies of the Month


Leo and Mason Ripley were winners in the April Baby of the Month competition.
Leo and Mason Ripley were winners in the April Baby of the Month competition.

If you were in east Kent earlier today, you may have heard some excited squeals coming from our photographic studio.

It wasn’t delighted clients viewing their images, or a group of friends having fun on a makeover shoot – although similar sounds are often heard then. Instead, it was our reaction to the news that this image of beautiful baby boys was a winner in the national Baby of the Month competition.

We’ve written something for our local papers to use, so we thought we’d share it with you too…we’ll be sharing the May Baby of the Month images soon, and June is booking up so please do get in touch if you’d like your little one in the spotlight!

Little Leo and Mason Ripley were named top of the shots in the competition after scores from a panel of professional photographers and mums, winning the title for the studio and £100 Mothercare vouchers for their proud mum Rozella.

The points were added to scores awarded based on the number of Facebook likes to find the winners for the April 2015 competition, who will now be entered into the 2015 Baby of the Year competition.

Photographer Doug Brown, who runs Style Photography in Herne Bay High Street with partner Sheila Mann, said they were delighted with the accolade.

He said: “All babies are adorable and it’s a real pleasure to be able to work with them and their parents.

“But as all parents will know, little ones can be tricky models and it does take skill and patience to get the best shots.

“Leo and Mason were fantastic in the studio but getting both of them to look in the same direction at the same time took quite a lot of work!

“We were so pleased when we heard the results, because unlike a lot of other competitions it’s not just a popularity contest where the winner is the one with the most ‘likes’ on Facebook.

“Instead, professional photographers and mums give their scores too so it really is a judge of our skills.”

Leo and Mason’s mum Rozella will receive a £100 Mothercare voucher and is in with a chance of winning £2,000 in the Baby of the Year competition.

Judging has now begun for the May Baby of the Month competition, and Doug and Sheila are busy with bookings for June. Entry is free and they are offering special deals on prints from the studio sessions. For more information call 01227 370650 or text BOMCOMP to 07824 166141.

It’s a girl!

A newborn baby girl with pink background
This little princess was just 12 days old when she had her first photoshoot

So the news we’ve all been waiting for is here – Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, has given birth to a baby girl.

It’s lovely news for the nation and we’d like to add our congratulations to those already flooding in for the proud parents, the Duchess and Prince William.

The little princess will share her birthday with dozens of other babies, all equally precious, and who knows what lies in store for them?

One thing is for certain – time will fly past and in what feels like the blink of an eye those exhausting newborn days will be over and each little cherub will start developing their own personality and preferences.

It’s such an amazing time, to see a little person grow and change in front of your eyes, and what better way to capture the magic of those memories than a beautiful photo when your little one is just days old?

Our team are specially trained in working with your precious little bundle of joy, and we work at the baby’s pace and around their routine.

So royal baby or not, if you’d like some images that are fit for a prince or princess, why not give us a call or drop us a line?

Ask about our Baby of the Month competition too….with entries judged by Facebook users and a panel of mums and photographers, it doesn’t matter whether you’re fourth in line to the throne or nowhere near it – everyone is in with a chance.