Mom with Newborn Shot List
Mom shots. The selfie angle, okay? Shoot from up here. We've talked about that. For lack of a better term, I think it's a good modern day term, selfie angle. Most important person in the shoot is mom, right? Okay mom's going into protect and snuggle mode too, so what you want to do is give mom some alone time with the baby. Start with mom holding the baby and just tell her to interact. You saw me do that in the video, right? I'm like just hold the baby, just do what you do, snuggle, kiss, hold the baby's hand. And what you need to do is walk around. Stand above, you saw the above shot. Let me go back to show you again. You see the above shot down here. You see the pullback, you see the closeup-ish shot. And you see the side shot, okay? So you can get a lot of different perspectives with one setup, okay? Just keep telling mom how beautiful she is, she'll naturally smile. Oh, that looks so amazing, that's so pretty. You're baby is the cutest baby I've ever seen. I mean that last baby was...
really cute, but you know, legitimately. Just keep saying those kinds of things, it makes mom relax a little bit. The biggest thing is to have mom bring the baby close, okay? Provides connections, because sleeping babies are not going to interact on their own, okay? So the mom's have to cause the interaction. And that's what you have to do. So this little baby grabbed mom's hand, right here. This was not a forced setup. The only thing I set up was I put mom in the rocking chair, I said will you please interact with your baby, okay? And that just happened, the baby held on to mom's hand and she looked down and smiled and that moment happened, okay. Every moment is going to be different. So when you see your portfolio they should all look different. Similar setups but different moments. Here's a mom shot list. Mom bending over the bed on the baby, okay? I do this quite frequently where I'll put the baby down. Mom can bend over this way, I'm going to show you some more examples in a minute. Mom can bend down this way, mom can bend down, She was just about to un-swaddle the baby. So as you guys now know, now when you start seeing all my images posted you'll know that we just un-swaddled the baby when you see these things happen, okay? So we were about to un-swaddle the baby, but I said you know what, hang on a minute, I love this light. They had one window over here, one. No windows over there, no windows over here, no windows over here, one window, okay. Mood lighting, I love mood lighting, okay, I don't get to do it in my studio because it's all white. I loved the shadows, and you can see connection right here, okay. I said hang tight, you just interact with your baby before you un-swaddle. So any time a moment is about to happen, before mom's about to change the baby's diaper follow them into the nursery, okay. What does mom do when they start to change the diaper? What's the first thing you do? Undress the baby, okay. Capture that, don't just, Oh you have to change the diaper, alright, I'm going to call my husband. Don't do that, okay. Or I'm going to go into the other room and get some water. Bring your water, okay. You need to be capturing these moments. All of these things are constantly unfolding before your eyes and you don't realize it. Because you're always constantly looking for these moments. And that was what was about to happen there, she was about to un-swaddle the baby, and I got a whole set, this is a whole nother shoot I think we got ten different shots just of her about to un-swaddle a baby. She naturally went down and put her nose on the baby, the baby smiled back, she had her hand under the baby, I mean all of these things just happened. She un-swaddled the baby and then we had the hoo rah moment, right, which happens. Mom holding baby in baby's arms. Now, two ways. Hold the baby in your baby's arms, you know, normal. I try not to over pose because moms, if you try to pose on a mom they get all discombobulated and it doesn't feel natural. So I always start with hold the baby how you feel comfortable. Then I'll kind of position how I need to with the lighting, I might spin the chair a little bit, you know, towards the window, ask first to make sure it's a spinning chair and not one you're going to break. You know, those kinds of things. Another thing is mom holding the baby naked, without the swaddle on. A lot can happen once you undress the baby, and we didn't do it in this situation because we had the sibling and we needed to concentrate on sibling shots. But typical photo shoots I'll have mom hold the baby on her shoulder, on either shoulder whichever is closer to the light, okay. And we're going to show you some examples. And then I'll have dad come in and I'll be like hey can you just hug your wife? And what does he do, he naturally touches the baby. It just happens. You can't just hug somebody and not touch the baby. It's just innate, right? Stuff just starts to happen. So just do one position, just guide them, okay. So we're not forcing, we're not posing, we're gently directing. And parents don't know what to do, I mean you're going to get to a photo shoot and they're like, they're going to say, and you don't want them to be like what do you want me to do next, you know, what do you want me to do next? You need to be proactive, you need to be directing, okay? You're not posing, you're directing. Setting them up for success, essentially. Mom in front of a window. Always do the mom in front of the window shot. I'm going to show you some examples in this next slide. We'll do window shots from lots of different directions. There always tends to be a nice window in the master bedroom or in the nursery. And if those don't have one there then head to the family room. Many homes have bay windows, right, bay windows are amazing. Mom on the rocking chair. So these are my go-to shots so I always get mom and baby on the bed, mom's on the bed either with her hand right here, right, because that elevates mom up a little bit. You don't want mom laying like this because look at all this skin. You don't want to look, so you do this. You lay here and you put the baby right here about I don't know, mom's shoulder-ish, right here. And you naturally look down. Now those of you looking at me here, what's happening? Here's the baby, what are you noticing? Focal plane, okay, I can now shoot wide open. Everything I do is on purpose, okay. This is the same focal plane. My face is on the same focal plane as the baby. And you can now shoot wide open. You can blur everything out, you can make everybody softer on the edges, but more importantly we can let in light. There is a method to my craziness. Here are some examples. Mom on the rocking chair. This is the same shot previously. See this one down here? I'm going to go backwards, I'm going to show you. Here, there's the closeup, okay. There's the pull back. Two totally different shots and we were able to capture the nursery. Did I luck out with this house, absolutely. It happens, we have some amazing homes and we have some that we have to teach in. When I grab my workshop model homes we always grab one really well illuminated home and one that's more difficult to shoot in. Because that's real life, right? Up here this is actually a workshop that I taught in Tulsa. This was the workshop family. Dark room, look how dark that room was. And they're like oh, we don't want to be in here, it's too dark. I'm like oh no no, we do. Bay window, love bay windows, okay. With this particular image do you remember when I had her turn and face me? No, because we would not have any light in her eyes, okay. So I strategically turned her and we had a whole series of this. I walked up to mom, I shot over mom and shot the baby on her legs. I shot the baby up to mom's nose, I shot the baby laying on mom's shoulder. I think we got about ten shots. Take one situation like this, keep in mind your lighting okay? We're very directionally lit here, side lit, depending on which way you turn your subject. So directional lighting, it's difficult. Just know you cannot back light an image with no light in your eyes. I can not say that enough. People will Photoshop it and add pretend catch lights and I'm like no no no, like, if you see an image and they have catch lights but they're not illuminated that's a problem, that's like zombie. You can't do that, okay, no no. So all you photographers learning how to use Photoshop when you see oh this is how you add catch lights, erase that from your brain. You don't add catch lights. You can enhance them, sure, to a point where they don't look like they're you know, crazy. Sure, you can enhance things. Never add, Photoshop and Lightroom do not replace good photography, okay, they enhance it. Remember this, okay. There's nothing worse than bad photography trying to be fixed in Photoshop. Practice, practice. I feel like I'm like this. So the same with that one. This one, a moment that just happened. It was extremely bright, I still kept it, I let it go. I just wanted to show you one that was not perfectly lit because the baby's face, you know we got the moment, okay, and that's okay. In this one the babies were laying on her right there and they grabbed hands I didn't put my camera down and we were ready. I mean twins holding hands on mom, hello, right. This might have been my favorite shoot of the year. Just because all of these organic things happened. When you have twins things just happen that are cute that you can't force with one baby, you know. So that was the favorite of mine. More side lit. Baby was looking down. Mom was looking down. So I'm fine with that. The baby's eyes aren't open so I was okay with that image. This was one from about four years ago, okay. This is before I knew all my good tricks that I know now. Another lit image. This was, the window was over here. The way that I had them angled I had them turned enough that the light wrapped around the side of the baby's face so it wasn't dark. I did not have a window behind me, there was a wall. I angled them in order to have that connection. This baby is two weeks old. This was actually at my very old studio which was upstairs in a shop, I had one tiny window and a bed, that's all I had. This is how I learned to shoot in low light, because I had one itty bitty window and a little bed, okay. But I angled them, okay. I would not have taken the same image and flipped the baby because what happens with the lighting? It goes up their nose. So you need to be mindful of this. And the baby's smiling and laughing at his mom and he grabbed her face, I'm like, how often does that happen, never. Can you recreate this, no, okay. We're talking about moments. You cannot recreate moments, okay. Another example. Take one setup and change perspectives for a totally different shot. This is the same window. You probably have seen this on my beautiful light set that I use in Photoshop. That's the one thing I use in Photoshop is my beautiful light set. This is what it is created for, this type of imagery, okay? What I did was I shot them this way, okay, photographed her this way, and I loved blowing up the window, it's beautiful, it's ethereal, it's gentle. This is the same family as the dad that was playing with the little girl on the bed, same family. Then what I did was I had her so you could see the window, I had her turn. So I have the side, you know we're shooting back lighting, now I'm like this is gorgeous, I want the mood. So let's change the mood, let's bring in some shadows. So I turned her towards the window. Obviously I would not turn her away from the window, right, because we wouldn't have any light on her face. Always positioning my subjects where we have some light illuminating their face somewhere, okay. Towards that way, would it have been fun to turn the baby the same direction, sure. But I kind of like this moment because that's what organically happened, okay. Then I was able to maintain the shadows and what I did was I spot metered off the mid tone highlight area of her face, okay, the brightest part of her face. If you meter too much on a true mid tone, the highlights are going to keep getting brighter. Since they already had such strong highlights a lot of newer photographers will run into this situation. If your highlights are already strong before your camera even sees the highlight you need to meter and tell your camera okay I see that highlight so I want that to be my go-to. I want that to be my standard gray, essentially is what it's telling the camera. This is what I want to be set at that middle exposure, okay. And then let the shadows fall. The shadows could fall because that's not an important part of the story, we're not trying to illuminate that over there. Does this all make sense? So you can take one window, the whole point of this is you can do a whole bunch of things, okay, all sorts of different stuff. And all about perspective. Alright, that's it for the mom, so I'm going to see, stop if we have any questions, yeah.
You were talking about, again, the wrapping of the light and a lot about light. Hannah Schree Photography asks can you reflect light back into the face with a reflector when back lighting to get those catch lights?
You can but it looks pretty artificial in my opinion. If you can do it well, more power to you. The problem is when you are back lighting, and true back lighting, if you use a reflector, have you ever had a reflector reflect light in your face? It's like blinding, okay. It's not a comfortable situation. The only time I am personally comfortable, again, you need to do what is right for you. The only time I am personally comfortable using a reflector is to fill a shadow, not to add light into eyes, okay. I will fill shadows pretty frequently with a reflector or with the white side of the reflector. Sometimes I'll have dad in a situation like this, hypothetically I could have had dad hold the reflector over here to bounce some light back on to the baby. That's not the story or the vision I was trying to tell. But you could do that. So you have to thing of the reflector in home sessions, again this is my personal opinion, is I like to fill a shadow with them versus create something that's not there. Make sense, okay? I do not like reflectors blinding me, blegh, it hurts your eyeballs.
That's an awesome way to think about it.
Mhmm, filling the shadows versus creating something that's not there.
And I think that goes with anything with photography, you don't want to, there are times like I did a shoot in my studio where I had a little girl and she was feeding a gumball to a zebra. And she said, we had somebody call me and she said, I got to show you this picture later, it's the cutest thing ever, okay, and I'm obsessed. And people call all the time, did you bring a zebra into your studio? I'm like, I would never bring a zebra into my studio. So we got a zebra and we flipped the shadow and I made it look like there was a zebra. That's fun and playful and whimsical and because she loves zebras she wanted to put it on her wall. Do I do that on a regular basis, no. It takes way too long. I leave all of that fun creative kid stuff to Jinky Art, she is amazing and I want to be her in my next life. But I just don't, it takes so long but it's beautiful and fun and whimsical. That's the time to bring in something to create art, okay. To create that kind of art, you know. This kind of art you don't want to fake, okay. You don't want to fake catch lights, you don't want to fake, you know, whatever. It's just, keep it real, okay. On that note, yeah.
Can you just remind us again, this is from Jackey Vitiello, What age baby do you prefer for newborn lifestyle sessions, so you talked about twelve days as being the earliest, what is that sweet spot again?
So for me personally I like two to three-and-a-half weeks-ish, the closer to four weeks we get they start getting more of the baby acne. So I try to do it between two and three weeks it's kind of when they become more alert. However many parents are not comfortable waiting that long and they want them at that one week point, seven, eight days, and I would never say no. I just let them know if you want them awake and you want connection shots let's wait. If you want to make sure you have sleepy baby pictures and you're not worried about the eye open shots we can do it earlier, okay. And that's a personal preference upon the family. And I never try to put my ideas. You know, as a photographer you have to step back and think okay is this for me or is this for the client. The clients end up loving the connection shots more but they also like to have a sleepy baby picture so it's kind of a, you know it's one of those in-between things. I find that two and a half, three weeks tends to be pretty good where you can still get them sleeping but we still have connection. But I will go up to four weeks and I will go little, you know, depending on what they want.