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Find Inspiration for Newborn Portrait

Lesson 4 from: Capturing Story in Portrait Photography

Kelly Brown

Find Inspiration for Newborn Portrait

Lesson 4 from: Capturing Story in Portrait Photography

Kelly Brown

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Lesson Info

4. Find Inspiration for Newborn Portrait

How do you find the inspiration for a storytelling portrait? In this lesson, Kelly discusses researching the subject -- the newborn -- digging into relevant topics, and finding inspiration for the shoot. See other samples of storytelling newborn photography and learn the story behind the images.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


The Power of Portrait Photography


Introduction to Newborn Portrait


Find Inspiration for Newborn Portrait


Create The Scene for Newborn Portrait


Prepare & Pose Newborn for Portrait


Shoot: Techniques for Photographing Newborn


Newborn Image Review


Introduction & Find Inspiration For Child Portrait


Create The Scene for Child Portrait


Prepare Set for Child Portrait


Shoot: Capture Child Portrait


Image Review for Child Portrait


Introduction & Inspiration For Teenager Portrait


Create The Scene for Teenager Portrait


Building Set for Teenager Portrait


Shoot: Portrait with Teenager


Shoot: Pose Teenager for Multiple Looks


Image Review for Teenage Portrait


Introduction & Inspiration For Adult Portrait


Creating The Scene for Adult Portrait


Lighting for Adult Portrait


Tell Your Subject's Story


Shoot: Lighting for Double Exposure


Introduction to Senior Portrait


Create Storyboard & The Scene For Senior Portrait


Connect With Client to Create Portrait


Shoot: Lighting for Senior Portrait


Shoot: Be Creative on Set


Image Review for Senior Portrait


Portrait Shoots Recap


Global Adjustments in Camera Raw®


Editing In Photoshop® CC: New Born Portrait


Editing In Photoshop® CC: Child Portrait


Editing In Photoshop® CC: Adult Portrait


Editing In Photoshop® CC: Teenager Portrait


Editing In Photoshop® CC: Senior Portrait


Introduction to Entering Print Competitions


Process of Print Competitions


What to Consider For Print Competitions


What Judges Look For Overview


Image Impact


Creativity, Style & Composition in Images


Entering Photography Competitions Q&A


Image Lighting


Image Color Balance


Technical Excellence in Images


Photographic Technique


Storytelling & Subject Matter


Lesson Info

Find Inspiration for Newborn Portrait

So when it comes to finding inspiration, you know, these are the things that I've been talking about, you know, talking to your client and listening to their story, asking the right questions, and then researching those relevant things. Researching, just, you know, obviously going to the internet and typing in a million different things and seeing what comes up, and it's allowing yourself that time to do it. Whenever I go through these processes, I dedicate time to these things, so my plan is quite well thought out in terms of, you know, this is my client, this is what I'm going to do, this is how long I'm gonna spend researching it, and communicating that with them. So saying, okay well, I'm gonna spend the next few days, kind of, researching a few things, and then I'm gonna come back to you with a couple of ideas to see what you think about those. Pinterest is another incredible place to find inspiration, there is so much on there. Visiting art galleries is probably one of my favorit...

e things to do. Every city I go to, every time I travel overseas, if I can find an art gallery, I will lose myself in there. There is just so much you can learn from paintings, and I'm a big fan of the Rene Soncera, but just the way that they painted light, the way that they used that light to create a motion and to tell that story is fascinating to me. And magazines, believe it or not, like, when I'm on airplanes for a very long time, (laughs) magazines are a great place as well because you often have, you know, a different perspective on things from artists as in graphic designers, and interior designers, and things like that, and you can find all of that inspiration from those different areas and bring it all into photography. But also brainstorming with friends, I have such an incredible network around me of creative people, and I've purposely surrounded myself with creative people because that's where I feel alive when we're communicating, even if it's over wine, over coffee, we're always chatting about different ideas and concepts, and coming up with different things and helping each other out, which is incredible because as photographers, we're often quite lonely. You know, we're behind a computer for a really long time, and yeah, if you're not out and about and communicating with people on a regular basis, that's a great recipe for, you know, getting stale, unmotivated, and, you know, not sort of experiencing what it is that you can experience when you allow yourself to create. So I'm just gonna show you a couple images and talk about the ideas behind them so that you can understand why they were created. This particular image was, I think it's about five years old now, the twins are about five years old, so I actually went to school with the mother of these twins from grade three, and when she contacted me and she said she was having twins, I was like, I'm there, and I drove six hours to her house to photograph these babies. And the three bowls represent the three babies that they lost prior to these babies. And so they went through multiple rounds of IVF and nothing happened, and then all of a sudden they fell pregnant with identical twin girls naturally, so it's a beautiful, beautiful story. But I wanted to tell their story because it was such a journey for them, and they had so much heartbreak, but then they had this beautiful joy. So it's a celebration, it's not meant to be a sad photograph, but it's a process to get to that result, to get those beautiful babies. And then inspiration can come from many different things. In Australia, we have the Aboriginal community, the indigenous people, this is their Aboriginal flag, and so when I went to take this photograph, the parents brought with them, the flag, and I had some wool, so I've been able to, you know, do a lot to this photograph in post production to be able to create this for them, so it has so much meaning because they're so proud of their heritage. So it doesn't necessarily tell a story about, you know, something that's happened to this child's life, or anything like that, it's purely just a celebration of their heritage and their love of their flag, which is beautiful. And this is a recent portrait that I created for a family, I photographed their first baby three years ago, and they had a very hard time when that baby arrived into the world, and it was born 10 weeks early, so it was about nine and a half weeks old when I photographed it when they finally got home from hospital. And I just remembered this couple, you know, and their story, and then she contacted me, it must be now about 14 months ago, to say we're having another baby, and I was so joyed for them because they'd had such a hard time having their first baby, it took them nine years to fall pregnant with their first baby. And when it came to having their second baby, she said, I really want you to photograph my, the birth, not my birth, sorry, the birth. She said, but I have a surrogate, so she couldn't carry another baby herself, and she wanted me to be there to document that baby arriving into the world. So then I just couldn't stop thinking about how incredible this story is and that I wanted to create something beautiful for them. So what I did was, I went to the internet, and I researched surrogacy and the symbol for surrogacy, and I found this necklace. So this is where I came up with my concept and my idea, and I told her about it prior to the baby arriving, and she said, I would absolutely love that. So then I had to go out and source and find all the materials to make it. I'm not sure what you call them, but we call them pool noodles, they're a flotation thing, well they're hollow in the inside. So what I was able to do was thread the inside of those with wire, and then bend them into a shape. Though, you probably can't see it, but down on the bottom there where there's the tube like circles, in there is a ball, and it's got weights in it, so that's was where the support came to hold the baby into position. So you can see my dog there in the background, that's my backyard on a rainy day in Brisbane, and then over here what I did was, I just wrapped wool all the way around it to create that structure. And at the top here, there was a piece of fishing line that connected that to a support at the top, so it wasn't going to move or go anywhere. And then when I took the photograph, I had mum, 'cause it has to be single capture, I had mum just sitting off to the side here within arms reach of her baby, so it couldn't move, even though the baby was low to the ground, not a lot of support there around her, so I just had to make sure, like, that her back was deep enough in there so there wasn't a lot of rolling, and that when I took the shot it was literally mum's hand, one, two, three, bring the hand away, and then bring it down to be able to create that. But being able to create that for her, she just loved it, she said, oh my god, I can't wait to share this in all of my surrogacy support groups, and it's gone crazy, like, it is absolutely gone crazy. So yeah, that has meaning for her, and whilst other people look at it and don't realize that that is the symbol for surrogacy, that's fine, it doesn't matter to them, but it matters to them, and so it's pretty powerful. This is probably a painting that really grabbed my attention in an art gallery, and I was fascinated with all these kids and the look on this woman's face, like, you know, she could do anything, this woman, she's stern, she's fierce, she's strong, but yet she's being overpowered by all of these little humans. And I was asked to go and photograph a set of quintuplets for their first birthday on the other side of Australia, so I had to fly over there, so I'd never met them, and I was not sure what to expect. And when I got there, these tiny little humans were so fascinated with me, they weren't scared, but they weren't overly, you know, excited to get towards me either, but I wanted to create something for her because what this woman has achieved is really quite phenomenal. So she has a three year and a five year old, and then she fell pregnant naturally with five babies, which is a one in 55 million chance. So, (laughs) and she has one boy, they're all girls, (laughs) and the two older ones are girls. So yeah, she ended up with one little boy, but I wanted to show how she'd got through that first 12 months because we sat and we talked about her struggles, what she'd been through, not only with her mental state of looking after all of those little people. And, you know, them arriving so early and having them in hospital for so long and then, you know, being only to take home one baby at a time, and still having babies in the hospital, like, it was an incredible story. But yeah, she got through it all, she survived, even the changes to her body, and the back problems that she now has from carrying that much weight on her front, she's got that many struggles, it's not funny. But, you know, I've had this judged, and I've had judges say, oh, you know, I don't really like the expression on her face. That's her, I can't change that expression, but that's okay because she knows the meaning behind that, and she's powerful, and she knows that. So that's all that matters, I suppose, when it comes to creating those photos, no one else's opinion but hers. And creating a storyboard, this for me is extremely important. I often just cut pictures out of magazines, or I print photos that I've taken on my phone, and I just, sort of, stick them around so that I can see a visual of what it is that I want to create. So this particular storyboard here, obviously, I'm inspired by this mother child connection and the way that the mother is looking at this child, that's what really grabbed me. And then I started to think about how I was going to style it in terms of color, how I was going to pose them, and then how I was going to frame it. So when my cousin had a baby and she had to go through IVF to have that baby, and she knew this was going to be her only baby, I knew this was going to be her king, like, this baby is, like God to her, and she puts him on such a peddle stool, and he is like a little prince, he is just adorable. So I wanted to create something that was inspired by all of those beautiful paintings that really resonated with me when I wanted to create this photograph for her. So yeah, I just absolutely adore that.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Mind Map & Prep Guide

Ratings and Reviews


Among a sea of wonderful teachers here at CL, Kelly is the cream of the crop. All of her classes are outstanding and this one is no exception. Amazing teacher. Amazing class. Amazing education. If you are hoping to stretch yourself to create deeper more meaningful stories in your images, or are feeling the pull of print competition but need some direction, this is definitely the class for you. Thank you Kelly!

Melissa Soto

Kelly Brown is a true inspiration. She has been my idol in this industry since I began. This class was amazing. I love how honest, authentic and genuine she was. But most importantly I loved her wise direction and teaching style. Kelly brown thank you for this gem. You helped light a fire in me. I’m so excited to start telling amazing stories with the skills I have learned from this class.

Marjorie Stevenson

Just loving this class! Kelly is one of my favorite instructors. She is very good at articulating her ideas and carrying them to an absolutely wonderful end product. Her images are always stunning. I love that she always puts safety first with her models. Thank you Kelly for sharing your creative visions with us.

Student Work