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.

Christmas shopping sorted!

A woman posing on a bed draped in a red satin sheet
Baby in a basket with teddy
Photographic gifts make great presents for the whole family – whether it’s a beautiful print or a portrait session

Christmas shopping season is well underway, but we have some good news to save you from braving the crowds and the cold.

Here at Style Photography we can offer perfect presents for the whole family, whether it’s a voucher for a portrait session or a print to take pride of place on the mantelpiece.

Don’t believe us? Read on for our guide to gifts that are unique, thoughtful and will bring joy for years to come…

We’ve drawn up a list for our photography family to show that there is an option for everyone – just get in touch for more information.

Mum: As well as a volunteer to do the washing up, or the opportunity to have a bath in peace, most mums love having the whole family together. So why not book a family photoshoot, meaning that not only will her wish come true (just make sure everyone is free on the same day first!), but she’ll also have some beautiful images to treasure forever. You can even combine it with a makeover for mum, or organise lunch or an afternoon tea for the same day.

Dad: Football-loving dad? How about letting him live out his dreams with a photoshoot featuring him wearing his favourite team’s kit?

A man in a Chelsea shirt with stadium backdrop
Would your dad like to put himself in the picture like his footballing heroes?

The results are seriously impressive and will make him feel like Ronaldo or Rooney, even if in reality he’s more Sunday league. Or if your dad is more into business than ball sports, how about a lovely print of the children or grandchildren that he can keep on his desk?

Brother: See our dad’s suggestion if your brother sees himself as the next David Beckham. Or if he’s grown up with a family of his own, how about a voucher for a family photoshoot? If he has very small children, our Cherubs package could be perfect and also means you’re likely to be rewarded with a copy of one of the beautiful images to remind you just how cute your little niece or nephew is.

Sister: We offer a range of makeover sessions that could be perfect for your sister, from shoots designed for teenagers to boudoir portraits that will leave her looking and feeling gorgeous. Of course, if you’d rather play it safe and involve the whole family, then the family photoshoot options outlined above would also work well.

Uncle: We’re going to mention football again – you could even get the boys all together, assuming they support the same team! If they don’t, how about abandoning friendly rivalry and going for a family shoot that is men-only – the results could be simply stunning.

A boudoir shot of a woman posing on a bed
A classic boudoir pose is subtle yet sexy – and designed to flatter

Aunt: There are a host of options that could work for your aunt, depending on her personality and your relationship. From the boudoir or makeover shoots, to vouchers for family sessions or a beautiful image showing all the cousins together – get in touch if you need some help narrowing it down.

Cousin: Cousins can be difficult to buy for, but there is no need to resort to socks or smellies. Instead, how about inviting them to a family photoshoot that gets everyone together? Or you can get creative with prints and use them to make a collage of the whole family to remember the fun you all have.

Grandparents: If your grandparents are anything like ours, their house will be full of photos documenting the family over the years. So why not bring the collection up to date with an image showing everyone all together – including them!

Family portrait of girls together
A family portrait could be the perfect present for grandparents this Christmas

Or perhaps a photo of the newest additions, or images from a fun shoot featuring props that highlight each members’ personality or hobbies?

Niece: A Frozen-inspired photoshoot – take a look at some of the great images we have produced for other little Anas and Elsas! Or if she’s older, one of our makeover packages could be great at reminding her just how beautiful she is.

Nephew: Your little nephew may like to spend a morning as Olaf, especially if his sister is being one of the Frozen princesses, and it means you can tick two gifts off the list at once. But older boys may prefer the football-inspired shoots above, or if their hobby is mountain climbing or scuba diving, we can even incorporate that into a portrait session.

Friend: Let your friend discover how stunning she really is with a boudoir session or makeover shoot. And you can even book the same for you and make it an experience you share together – happy Christmas to you both!

The ideas above will hopefully have provided some inspiration for your shopping this year but if you have someone else who is hard to buy for, or if you would like more information or suggestion, please do get in touch. Give us a call, drop us an email or pop into our convenient High Street shop – it’s nice and warm and you can park for free on the streets nearby. See you soon!

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.

Teenage photography without the traumas

Two girls having fun at a teen makeover session
Two girls having fun at a teen makeover session
A makeover session in our studio can help teens discover their true beauty

We’ve written before about the challenges photographing babies and toddlers can bring, but what about teenagers, or indeed tweenagers?

It goes without saying that it’s a whole different story – try waving a rattle in the direction of your teenager and you’ll see immediately why.

They are just as gorgeous as they were when they were younger, of course, but as they get older they can find it more difficult to recognise that or to enjoy their experience in front of the camera.

It’s a sad fact that a throwaway comment from a passing stranger can hold more weight than all the compliments of a loving parent, but it’s a fact that we can also use to our advantage.

Teenagers are often happiest in groups, and that’s why we find our party packages are among the most popular we offer for that age group. It can be very daunting to have the sole focus on just one person, especially if you are not entirely comfortable in your own skin yet, but add your friends and it’s much more fun.

Teenager with hat on
Allowing your teenager to chose their outfits and express themselves can help them feel more comfortable

Over half term, we have had several makeover sessions with beautiful young ladies; they were stunning to begin with but, with the right make-up to enhance their features, studio lighting and tips on the best poses, they could really see it for themselves.

You may have a different opinion for the perfect outfit to theirs, so bring both and see what works – you may be surprised!

Of course, it’s a lot easier for us as professionals to share tips, especially when we are not related to the teenagers we are photographing. But if you are taking the pictures yourself, a lot of the same advice applies.

It’s also worth gaining their trust by showing them the images as you take them, thanks to the magic of digital photography. You never know – when they see how good they look, they may be more willing to co-operate for the rest of the session.

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.

Do you want to build a snowman?

A young girl as Anna in a Frozen costume
Our studio turned sparkly when we held a day of Frozen photoshoots

It may be summer, but there was a distinct chill in the air in our studio last week – and it wasn’t because of the air conditioning!

We gave some of our clients a frosty reception, but they absolutely loved it as it was all part of our popular Frozen-inspired photoshoots.

Our latest session featured lots of little Annas and Elsas who were all more than happy to Let It Go in the style of their heroines from the smash hit Disney film.


Two sisters pose as Anna and Elsa from Frozen
A girl power theme added to the success of Frozen – just add your own sister!

It hasn’t disappointed, and the look on children’s faces is just magical every time.

And when they see the resulting images, and get the chance to live their dreams as a real-life Disney princess, it’s enough to make anyone burst into song…

We’re planning another Frozen session before the end of the summer holidays, so if you have someone who could do with some Disney magic in their lives – whatever their age! – do get in touch.

A little Elsa with Olaf the snowman
One of our Elsas with Olaf the snowman

The magic of the movie has still not faded (or should we say melted?) thanks to the winning combination of sing-a-long songs, girl power, a loveable reindeer and snowman and an unlikely iceman as a hero while the prince turns out to be the bad guy. If you haven’t seen it, we can highly recommend it – even if you don’t have children!

The stunning animation and cool blues with plenty of icy sparkle also makes for great images and we just knew we had to have our own Frozen set to use for photos.

Olaf the snowman and a little Anna  in a Frozen photoshoot
Olaf makes another friend

When a makeover is part of a total transformation

From this…

Emily before her weight-loss transformation
Emily before her weight-loss transformation

…to this – stunning!

Emily Case after her transformation
One of Emily’s favourite images after her makeover photoshoot – just gorgeous!

We are lucky enough to have some fantastic clients and it’s always lovely to see their reactions when we show them the results of their photoshoots with us.

But sometimes, the images we take are extra special because of the journey that person has been on to get to this point – and we’re not talking about mileage! This week, we were delighted to meet the lovely Emily Case, who had booked a makeover and studio session to celebrate losing weight – a whole 13.5 stones of it!

It was an emotional experience, as the last time Emily had posed for studio portraits, for a family photograph last year to mark her grandfather’s birthday, she was so unhappy with the way she looked that she desperately hoped her parents wouldn’t buy the prints. She told us she didn’t recognise the uncomfortable-looking girl in those photographs.

But this week, after shrinking from a size 28 to a 10 in just 18 months, she couldn’t wait to see the results!

Emily after her makeover and weight loss
Emily felt confident and comfortable during her photoshoot with us – and rightly so!

Emily, 22, who works as a trainee mortgage advisor and also has her own business as a nail technician, told us she had struggled with her weight since childhood and went on her first ‘diet’ aged just eight.

Years of cruel comments left her with very little self-confidence; her self-esteem was at an all-time low and her family were growing more and more concerned about her health. After many failed diets, her parents took her to have some blood tests and the results showed Emily suffers with hypothryoidism. The condition runs in the family and it left her feeling depressed, fatiqued and struggling to lose weight.

Emily hit breaking point after seeing pictures of herself at a wedding reception and this time she decided to finally take control for good. She began taking medication for her underactive thyroid and went on a calorie-controlled diet.

She told us: “I lost three stone myself but I had done a lot of research about the science of weight loss and I knew that a large percentage of morbidly obese people regain most of weight they lose within a few years. ”
“The odds were not in my favour and I really wanted to make sure that this time I turned things around completely.”

In June 2014, Emily took the drastic step of paying for private weight-loss surgery to give her the best chance of keeping the weight off for good.

She said: “I had been offered a gastric band when I was 16 but I turned it down. But this time I felt ready to make the changes and the surgery gave me the kick start I needed.”

Pre-surgery, Emily led a very sedentary life, sitting for up to 10 hours a day working as a nail technician. Instead of eating a balanced diet of healthy meals, she grabbed whatever was to hand in between seeing clients. In just 18 months, she put on approximately four stone thanks to her bad habits.

But now, she has a new love of sport and enjoys running, clocking up an average of 10 miles per week. She has also taken up horse-riding – something she enjoyed as a child but couldn’t do for years because of her weight.

Emily posing after her weight loss
Emily posing after her weight loss

Emily also eats a high-protein, low-carb diet with strict portion control, eating around 1,200 calories a day to maintain her weight. Unlike a gastric band, which can be adjusted to control the amount of food a person can eat, she opted for a gastric bypass, which is permanent. Surgeons sectioned off a small part of her stomach, connecting it directly to the small intestine, meaning it takes less food for her to feel full, and fewer calories are absorbed from whatever she eats.

Emily said: “Despite the weight loss, I don’t really feel any different until I look in the mirror! I had been in denial about how big I was. I knew what size my clothes were when I was bigger but I rarely looked in the mirror back then and I hated seeing photos of myself.

“When I had some photos taken early last year for a family portrait, I didn’t recognise myself. I hated those pictures. But with Doug and Sheila at Style Photography, I felt so confident and at ease.

“I wanted to treat myself to the photos to celebrate reaching my goal and to have proof of the difference in myself; not just physically but emotionally too. It has been a long journey but it is lovely to know that the girl in those photos is me.”

It certainly is – and we’re delighted to be part of that celebration.