Session Workflow

 

Baby Safety and Posing for Newborn Photographers

 

Lesson Info

Session Workflow

I'm gonna talk a little bit about creating a session workflow now. This is probably, go back one slide, there we go. Creating a session workflow because this is something that made my life so easy in my sessions. You know, when we look at all the different things we have to take into consideration when working with babies obviously the safety, their temperament, their behavioral patterns, their sleep patterns, their feeding patterns, all of those things. Creating that perfect environment, what they're used to, a warm environment that's got beautiful noise. When you set that scene and that tone for your sessions you've got to be able to then know what you're gonna do during those sessions and then understanding all of those things you can put a workflow in practice, and that's gonna make your work smarter nor harder. Your client's are gonna come in, they're gonna enjoy an incredible experience. They're not gonna feel like they're sort of watching their clock the whole time going oh, did...

they get the shot or why don't they hurry up and take the shot, all of those things. They're gonna enjoy it because you're gonna have full control of your session, you're gonna know what you're doing, you're gonna communicate openly with them and explain exactly what it is you're doing, and take every safety precaution that there is to get those shots. And then you shoot specifically for a client gallery. We don't overshoot, we don't shoot for 40 to 50 images and then choose 20. I have 20 images in my client gallery. They know they're gonna get 20 images when they book me. I shoot specifically for 20. Now that I understand how my camera works back to front, I know my camera angles, I know how to read light, I know all of those things. When I'm shooting specifically for it now I'm gonna take on average about 48 to 52 images. That's it. I get my shot and I move on to the next setup instead of wasting time. It's so important being able to get those images. When I hear people who have said that they've had like a six-hour shoot like I feel sorry for the parents not you. I feel sorry for the baby or babies if there's multiples. That's too long for people to be sitting in a hot environment watching their baby be moved from one setup to another. You need to be able to create a session workflow to speed things up. What you have to do is know how many images you're gonna offer. I find somewhere between 15 to 25 images, a good range in size. It's gonna give clients a really good variety. You're not gonna show them five images that are similar. You're gonna create a workflow and know how many images you're gonna get from each sort of setup to give them good variety within that session. My clients if they were presented with too many options they're gonna get confused and that's what I used to do, I used to show them so many options and they would be similar, and then they wouldn't know. So if I've got a mom holding a baby looking at the camera and she's got different smiles I'm not gonna show her four different smiles or possibly a smile looking at the camera from a different angle. I'm gonna choose the best one, I'm gonna move on. Look up, smile at the camera looking down at the baby. Move on to the next setup. So when I'm looking for my different images I've got to know like obviously how long my sessions are gonna go for because I don't want long sessions. My aim at the moment is around two, two and a half hours, that's how long I want them to go for. I still though tell my clients two to four hours because I don't necessarily saying or we want them saying, "I've got an appointment at one o'clock, "I've got to get out of here." Because then that's gonna make me go oh my god, I've got to rush. And then you don't wanna do that. You wanna create a nice, calm environment. If they can sort of estimate four hours and I'm only gonna take two I'm exceeding their expectations. That was great. We're out of here. Wow, that was perfect. When it comes to how many poses that you offer in a session it's how many you're confident in doing. How many you can comfortably do. What we just did in there in those last two segments they were complex setups. I actually don't offer those in my workflow. But they are poses that if I was requested for then I would do towards the end of my session. I would do when the baby's nice and sleeping, nice and comfortable because they are more complex. It requires more time, more fiddling with different things, more positioning, setting things up so it works perfectly. I would do them towards the end of the session when I know that the baby is nice and sleepy. Or when I can kinda gauge that they're in that beautiful, deep sleep and I've kept them beautiful and sleepy throughout that session. When it comes to choosing the poses that you wanna do you also need to know like how can you transition from one pose to the other. When we were doing the froggy pose we transitioned to the side pose so we didn't have to pick the baby up and put it back down. We just gently laid them down and adjusted arms and used a cuff nappy to raise them. And then when we went from the taco pose into that forward line pose, well, we tried to get that shot. (laughs) He was more willing to go into that deep sleep in his position not obviously mine so I wasn't prepared to force him into that pose either. But that's the type of transition that I'm looking for in my sessions. I know that when I have the baby on my posing bag on its back I can gently roll the baby towards the side. I know I can go from the side into the bum up pose and then I know that I can bring the baby around into the chin on hands pose. That's the transitioning moments, movements that I'm talking about so that you're getting the maximum out of your baby without having to pick them up and put them down. But it's all about creating that environment first to be able to move on with those things. When it comes to the amount of setups that you do it's not a competition to see who can do the most setups in their studio. I'm sorry, I see it all the time on social media. How many setups do you do in a session? Oh, I did 11. Oh, I did eight. I needed five. Oh, I had a baby that was a bit unsettled. I needed four setups. That's fine, you need to work with that baby but it is not a competition with how many setups other photographers are doing. Create a session workflow that works for you and do the poses and the setups that you are confident in doing. Don't make the same mistake I did years ago and think that I had to do every pose under the sun because I wanted to be a newborn photographer and if doing all those poses was what was required and it's not. When you pick that baby up and down pick that baby up and continually putting it down if you're going from prop to bag, you're gonna overstimulate them. Being able to work with a back up plan is what we often have to do. We have our session flow, I know what mine is but I have a back up plan as well. If I've got a baby that comes in that's wide awake that's why previously in the class we did the potato sack pose because I know that if the baby's wide awake I can wrap it. If it's content, if it's not sort of grizzling but it's just kind of in one of those wake moments where its eyes are wide open and it's just happy to have a look around. I'm gonna wrap the baby, I'm gonna photograph it while it's awake. I'm not gonna waste time rocking it. I can then go into the potato sack shot. I can do a sibling shot if the sibling's there with them. I can use a prop, a crate and put the baby in there like I showed previously on a slide. I can get so much out of that setup and if the baby's still awake after I've done the on the back shot and the sibling shot, I'll photograph the parents holding the baby wrapped. I'm gonna try and get the most amount of shots in different setups with that wrap as I can so that I'm not having to just wait for that baby to go to sleep 'cause as I've mentioned before you can't make them go to sleep. You can encourage it but they have their sleep cycles. And allow a baby to find its comfy place inside your back up plan, you know? Don't push a baby into a pose if it's not comfortable. That's why if I do have my, if I am on my posing bag and I'm going from back to side to tummy and around to front, if the baby's not comfortable in any of those poses I can just move on to the next one. If it's got reflux I'm not gonna put it in the bum up pose. If it's not going to arch its back I'm not gonna put it in that pose. I'm gonna read the baby and work specifically for them, that's what having a back up plan is all about. I've actually created and it's part of the bonus material different scenarios. So for example, my current session flow is my posing, my four poses on the posing bag. And then I move on to two props. I go, I show you in the bonus material how many images I'm gonna get from each of those setups. I go on to my two props and then I do my parent shots. So I'm gonna roughly get about 22, 23 images but I've got closeups of all the faces in the different shots so I'm gonna pick the best closeups to offer my 20 images. Then if there's a sibling I'm gonna shoot the sibling first, this is my second scenario, my second example in the bonus material. I'm gonna shoot the sibling first and then I'm gonna move on to either my four closing, yeah, my four poses and then do one prop and then do my parent shots. If there's no parent shots I'll do an extra prop and I'll bring the hands in, and then I'm getting my gallery. If there is an awake baby like we've been mentioning as part of our back up plan I'm gonna get as many shots as possible from that wrapped baby from the potato sack pose, and then I'm gonna move on to possibly a simple set up on the posing bag with the baby wrapped on its back and then a prop and then the parent shots. I'm always looking at how many different angles I'm gonna get from every setup to fill my gallery. When the baby's on its back I'm gonna shoot from above. I'm gonna get a closeup and I'm gonna get a back lit shot. There's three images already from one setup. When I move the baby onto its side I'm gonna get two. I'm gonna get a pull back and I'm gonna get a nice closeup of the face. There's another two images, so we're up to five in two poses. We go into the bum up pose, I'm gonna get my pull back shot, I'm gonna get a shot from above to get all those beautiful back wrinkles and then I'm gonna get another closeup of the face, and then I might get like a beautiful eyelash shot or a lip shot or a different angle but I'm gonna aim to get four different setups or sorry, four different images from that setup. And I can introduce fabric, I can take hats off, I can put headbands on. I can sort of change the look of that pose with using different materials. Now we're up to nine images and then we're gonna bring the baby around to this one. We're gonna get a pull back and then we might do something different like might change one of the hands or come in and get a side profile shot or something that's different and unique. Now we're up to 11 shots. When I move on to my two props I know I'm gonna get at least two images from both of those props. So there's another four images, we're up to 15 images then we move on to the family. If it's a couple with their first baby I'm gonna get the mom looking at the camera, the mom looking at the baby. I'm gonna get the same with the dad and then I'm gonna get three shots of the couple together. I'm gonna get them looking at their baby, breathing them in, smelling them. I'm gonna get them looking at each other to create that relaxed atmosphere, to get them to laugh and loosen up. And then I'm gonna get them looking at the camera. I want it to be about them. So there's my 22 if I've lost count images that I'm gonna get from that workflow. I know every time I go into my session that I'm gonna do that. When you create a session workflow write down what poses you are comfortable doing, put them in order of how you can potentially transition them. Find out how many images you wanna offer your clients and create a table based on the example that I've put in the bonus material. It's really quite easy but when you can take control of your session, when you go in and you know what you're going to do it's easy. You can get through that process. If it's not going according to plan then you go to your back plan. You know, I've got a plan B, I've got a plan C and a plan D if things aren't going according to plan. And at any point if I feel like I'm kind of like this is just not working, I take a breath and I say, "Excuse me, "I'm just gonna go and use the bathroom. "Can I get you anything while I'm out? "While out can I get you some water or something?" Go out, take a deep breath, relax, calm down. You are setting the tone for your session and how you do that is your body language. How you when we talked about before about some of those questions about well what if a client's sort of telling you to take the shot or what if a client's kind of asking you why this and why that. It's because you're not communicating with them, it's because you haven't set the tone for your session because you haven't taken control of it. When you walk into a shop and you spend money what happens? You have a sales assistant that guides you through the process. Car salesman guides you through that process, they tell you what you want. That's our job. Our job is to take control of our environment when our clients come in and provide them with enough knowledge, enough information about what it is that we do and why so that they feel confident in you. Again I said over and over again it's gonna give you the confidence. That's everyone's problem. And when you have clients that are questioning what it is you're doing it's because they just don't know and you need to be able to share that information with them. When I am doing my session workflow I have eliminated a lot of the shots that we did do in there. I don't do the froggy pose because you can see that it's a bit of a process. I don't work with an assistant some people do, that's fine. That's their studio. I love that intimate session with my clients and it's such an incredible experience for them but also for me. And when my clients are coming back for their second, third, fourth session they're family, they're friends, I hug them. It's such an incredible thing to do and it's the most rewarding aspect of what we do as photographers. Being able to create something that will last a lifetime. When we go back to why we create these images what is your purpose as a photographer? Is it to create the next best image? Is it to become a highly awarded photographer? Is it because you wanna be a service provider? We've forgotten what our purpose is. We get so sidetracked with everything that's going on in social media that we are not focused on the reason why we've become a photographer and we own a business. And for me, it's none of my business what anyone else is doing and like I said it's none of my business when anyone thinks about what I'm doing in my business. All I know is that I actually provide for my family, I can pay my mortgage and I can pay my car bill and I can take my family on a holiday because I've set my business up so well with so many systems and strategies in place because I make a plan about everything. I plan my session flow, I plan how I'm gonna communicate with my clients. Even when I didn't know how to communicate with them I would sit down and write a list of questions that I could potentially ask my clients because I was nervous. I wasn't confident. I get a piece of paper and go okay, how do I start a conversation with these people? I'm so nervous. Like standing up here in front of all of you was a nightmare many, many years ago. So walking into a small environment and trying to have a conversation with someone that you're meeting for the first time can be a little overwhelming. So I started to think what do I need to know from these people? So I wrote down all the questions. How is that gonna make my session workflow easier? What sort of images are you looking for? What sort of colors do you love? Have you seen anything that you like on my website? They're the type of questions that I ask my clients. And then you know what else I ask them? How did you find out about me? And then I start to gauge how my marketing is actually working in terms of that. But having a list of questions to ask your clients then you go in and you're not stumbling, you're not fumbling, you're setting the tone for your session, you're taking control, you're organized, you're gonna get your clients in and out as quickly as possible. You're gonna create an incredible experience and they're gonna love it and they're gonna tell everyone about it. And during that whole process I've worked out exactly how to eliminate all the risk from my session, how to create a safe environment because that's what makes my clients confident in me and calm throughout the session. That's all I want.

Class Description


Parents hire newborn photographers to document every detail of their babies at that brief instant at the start of their lives when they are tiny, bright and new to the world. Newborn photographers can feel a lot of pressure to fulfill parents’ wishes. In the rush to capture the perfect shot, it’s easy to forget that the subject of these photos are incredibly fragile little beings. Safety should always come first.

Join Kelly Brown for tips on handling newborns safely, reading their moods and needs, and prepping your studio for a newborn shoot. You’ll learn:

  • Safe posing techniques
  • How to operate a safe environment in your studio and on external shoots
  • How to understand newborn behavior
You’ll discover how to sanitize your studio, choose cleaning products and plants with the newborn’s health in mind, and make sure that your furniture and equipment meets newborn safety standards. Kelly will also focus on safely posing and handling a newborn during the shoot. She will teach you how to execute poses like the Potato Sack, the Froggy pose, and other advanced techniques used to create composite images. You will learn about newborn anatomy and the environment they come from to help you better understand what they are capable of doing in a shoot setting: how to avoid imbalance, overheating, and injury.

Finally feel capable of communicating about newborn safety. If parents feel that they can trust you around their child, they will be put at ease and remember the experience of the shoot more fondly.