Creating the Right Environment
Understanding babies and the environment that they come from is so important and that's important to understand when you're creating your environment and how important it is to keep your baby settled throughout a session so that you don't have to be in your studio for four hours with a baby. It doesn't have to take that long. And when our clients come to us, they're usually sleep-deprived, no doubt about it. And if a mother has had to have a caesarian, they're usually very very sore, and they have an amazing amount of hormones and feelings and everything that's going on. So they're not their normal every day-to-day self. So when they come to us, we want to get that session done as quickly as possible. We want to create the perfect environment so the baby stays nice and sleepy throughout that session. And we want to get them out as quickly as possible so they can go home and get some sleep. So learning and understanding where they come from, I did that when I was sitting in a special ca...
re ward for six and a half weeks surrounded by babies that needed so much attention. And I got to know the nurses and the midwives really well and ask as many questions as possible. But I've also had the opportunity to work with a pediatric physiotherapist who we've been able to talk about every pose and what you should and shouldn't do with babies and what they are actually capable of. So I get a lot of people commenting on images and, especially something like this, and how babies can go into a position like that. I should point out, not every baby can do that. That baby was born breach, so that means that, when it came out, its feet were up here. So it can go into that position quite naturally and quite comfortably because it had been like that for so long. But yeah, not every baby will go into every position. And what you see on the internet on other photographers' websites and Facebook pages and things like that, they're their best images. Not every image needs to be like what their posting. They're not gonna post their worst image. They're gonna post their best image. And I do, I put my favorite best images from my sessions on my Facebook page because I want to get more traffic generated through my page and more information out there to people looking for a photographer. So it's important to understand that the images you see, that's their best image, not every image looks like that. And not every baby will go into that position. So I just wanted to get that out. (laughs) Understanding the environment that they come from, which is the womb, 38 degrees in there, which is in, it's about 100 degrees, is it? Fahrenheit? Is that right conversion? I'm not sure, I only do Celsius. But it's warm in there and when they're born into the birthing suite and places like that, they have heating pads for them to go onto. And it's because at that age they can't regulate their body temperature like we can. So we have to protect them from the heat, and we have to protect them from the cold cause they can't do that themselves. So understanding that is really important for the environment that we're going to create. Their flexibility; so as an adult, we have 206 bones in our body. As a newborn, they have, I think it's like 270 plus bones, but it's soft cartilage. And that's so that they can move easily inside the womb and the last few weeks especially when they're quite big and it gets quite tight. And if you've been pregnant you know that feeling of oh I'm stretching and it's itchy and there's no room for that baby to move. So they are designed to fit into those tight spaces. Designed, that's a terrible word isn't it? (all chuckle) They are made, created. So yeah, the soft cartilage in their bones, that develops into bones as they grow. So that's why it's important to get your newborn sessions done when they are newborns. I get a lot of clients coming to me with older babies and they want their baby photos to look like newborn photos. So it's up to us to educate them and explain to them that an older baby won't go into those positions because their bones that were soft cartilage are developing into bones and they're not as flexible as what they were. So yeah.
Can I just ask you a quick question on what do you define then as that ideal period and what is an "older baby" difference from newborns.
Well you saw that image of my twins. They were seven weeks old but you can still get beautiful photos. But for a newborn session to put them into these beautiful curly poses, that's usually under two weeks of age. But if a baby has been born quite early, prematurely, you can photograph them a little bit older. But I tend to stick between six, I say six to ten on my information that I send my clients, but I usually photograph them under two weeks of age. And the three babies that we had here were all 14 days old yesterday. And they went into those poses absolutely beautifully. And I would never push them into anything. I always put them to where they're comfortable and they move themselves. And if they move themselves, they're not comfortable where they are so you can slightly encourage them into those positions but it's important to read them and see where they are uncomfortable and not push them into something that's going to hurt them and do them any damage. So they're designed basically, to fit into that small space. So when we're posing them, we want to make them look nice and tight and nice and curly. Their hearing is intact in the third trimester. So inside the womb, it's actually very noisy. I hear a lot of people say you have to be really quiet around babies, but you don't. Because it's so noisy in there. They can hear the whishing of the mom's blood in all of her major blood vessels running through her body, her digestive system, every time she drinks, every time she chews, every time she swallows, they can hear all of that. And every time she speaks, it's actually much louder than when we're speaking because it reverberates right through her body. So the sounds are constant in there and it's comforting to them which is really, really nice. And they're moving, they're inside fluid. Their arms are free, I don't actually, I've got the arms held down in that particular image there but that is because that is a two year old and a four year old and it's easy for them to hold him while his arms are down. And believe it or not he was awake in that photo but he blinked. So he looks nice and sleepy. (chuckles) So do photograph them when they're awake. A lot of the times I will have their arms out because they have them up near their face when they're inside and trying to hold them down is restraining them and it's not natural to them. So I like to put them where they're nice and comfortable but keep them up near their face. Moving along, so much information to cover. And if you've got any questions, please ask. So when I'm creating the environment in my studio, I have to make sure that it's nice and warm. But I don't want to overheat it. If you see photos of babies where their skin looks quite blotchy, you can see the blood under them, they're trying to, that's them trying to warm up. So to get that beautiful peachy skin tone, it's to make the warm nice and warm and make them comfortable. So I have it set to about 28 degrees and I've found that that works quite well for me. I think that's about 80 degrees fahrenheit. I have that with a pedestal heater that's about this big and it has a thermostat on top of it. So it tells me what the temperature is in my studio at all times. If it goes up, I open a window, or I open the curtain to my studio or something like that and I let some cooler air in, and I'm always keeping an eye on that. And I've found that that temperature is good because it's quite a comfortable temperature for the parents, it's warm, like it gets warm in there, and when they're moving around they start to get hot, but when they're sitting still it's they're actually quite okay and I'm always asking them how comfortable they are and if they need to step out for a breath of fresh air or something like that as well. So having that temperature in the studio and in the room, a constant temperature and something that's not going up and down that will help keep your baby really settled as well and nice and sleepy. The noise I have playing, I have downloaded from iTunes white noise. So I just play that continually throughout. I have my mobile phone, or you could have it on your iPad. You could have it running through a system in your house, whichever works for you, but I have a mobile phone that sits near my bag and the baby can hear it. It drowns out any talking or loud noise, especially if they come with a toddler and they have toys and they start dropping toys. But you'll find that most babies don't even react to that because they're used to it. But yeah, I have the white noise playing and I also have a little heartbeat monitor, which I'll show you in a while, and it's just a little white box that I can turn on and it kind of sounds like the heartbeat you hear when you have an ultrasound with your pregnancy. And I find that that works really well for me. And it was actually out of the back of a teddy bear that I got from Toys R Us for about $40. They're pretty easy to find. Don't ask me what the name of them are but I got mine online.
Oh people will ask what the name of them are. But you said that you could find that heartbeat monitor in a teddy bear, right?
Yes, from Toys R Us.
From Toys R Us.
And I bought my original one about three and a half years ago. And it still works perfectly, but I have bought another one recently from Toys R Us online. I just typed in heartbeat monitor teddy bear and it came up, so if you search that. I'll try, if no one can find it, I will try in the next couple of days to get a link to that available if people want to know what that is.
Oh I'm sure somebody out there can find it, come on internet.
And they ship, they ship online, so they're available to everyone.
And can you tell us again what the app was that you use?
Oh it's iTunes, so it's just if you go to iTunes and type in white noise, it'll come up with it's just like static noise on the TV channel. But it was funny because when we brought our twins home from hospital, it's so noisy inside the hospital, you don't realize how loud it is in there with the hustle and bustle of nurses and doctors and machines beeping and things going on. And I had these perfect babies, they slept all day in that hospital, they woke up to be fed, changed, they slept. I got them home and they didn't sleep at all. But it was so quiet and I made that mistake of trying to put them down and make everything really, really quiet. I actually put the vacuum cleaner on in the next room and closed the door, just until they went to sleep, and it worked a treat.
That's smart, very smart. And I've got a Juliana Diaz is saying, I've already seen a photographer using a hair dryer to keep a baby warm, what do you think about that?
I don't know, if it's not blowing on the baby.
Maybe the noise?
The noise definitely, but I think some hair dryers have a button where you can make it cool, so it's not hot. So I suppose if that hair dryer's not gonna overheat and blow up or short out a circuit or something like that. So you don't want to put anything near your baby. And I know that some people put heating pads on their bean bags. In winter if you need to do something like that, I would recommend getting a couple hot water bottles and just heat up your pad, not hot hot, because you don't want to startle that baby like you want it to be just a nice even temperature similar to what the temperature in the room is so that when you move that hot water bottle and you put that baby down, it's not going to be like a cold little space for you to put your baby down or an overly hot heated space either. So that's pretty, you know when you test the milk in a bottle? Test the temperature that's next to your baby. Like I was saying before with the heat is that I have in my studio, the one with the thermostat, it's not near where I'm working. It's there to heat the room, and then I will have a smaller space heater about this big and I will have it relatively close to my baby but it's important not to have it blowing directly on your baby because if you sit too long in front of a heater, it's going to get hot. So that baby's skin is going to get hot, it's gonna go red, and it's gonna get uncomfortable. So have it close but not blowing directly on the baby because you just don't want to run the risk of burning them or overheating them as well because they'll become unsettled and harder for you to work with. Because the whole idea of this is to get a nice flowing session that's over as quickly as possible so those parents can go home and get some sleep. Having the mom and dad as comfortable as possible in the studio is really important because their energy goes through to the baby. When they're holding the baby, the baby will sense if they're not being, if something's not right. If the mother's unsettled, the baby's going to be unsettled. And if that baby needs feeding, and if the mother is really anxious and really nervous, she's not going to sit and relax and feed her baby properly. So it's really important to make them feel welcome, make them feel comfortable, make sure they have everything that they need, and Kenna was saying that I have that ability to connect; everybody has that ability to connect. If we understand where they're coming from and what's going on in their world, I mean if you've all had babies, not everyone has, but if you have you know a little bit about how they're feeling, which is not great. Especially some people feel amazing after they've had a baby, which is awesome. But a lot of people don't and we need to understand to make them feel nice and comfortable throughout the session. And I don't offer tea and coffee in my studio because I don't want to bring hot drinks into my studio. I think, especially if they have a toddler and they get bumped, and it goes somewhere or on the baby, I've seen that happen at a friend's house, so I don't want to do that in my studio. But I tell them to bring a water bottle and if they haven't I offer water. But if they're hungry, I always, it's funny because I've got into the habit of telling them to bring a snack in case they get hungry. Because if you're breastfeeding, your appetite increases and you need to keep up your fluids and you need to eat regularly. And if you're there for two to three hours, at least bring a snack so that you're not getting hungry. I think that's kind of important. And I don't have the time, if I'm in the middle of working with that baby, to jump out and put biscuits on a plate and things like that. And plus you never know who has an allergy, which is really important. So I don't want to go preparing food, which is more of my time, which is valuable. Everyone's time is valuable. And so I just tell them to bring a snack in case they get hungry. And plus you never know what they feel like. They're gonna bring their favorite food. And I encourage them to sit and eat that while I'm working, which is pretty cool. And it makes them relax a little bit more. So that's all about creating the right environment. The heat, the noise, making sure that the parents are comfortable, they have somewhere to sit, that they have everything that they need, and yeah that's pretty much it with with all of that sort of stuff that's going on. Moving on from that, which is keeping in line, the equipment I use in my studio. So this is my little space. I have a home studio, which is perfect for me because of my family situation. I don't have to go offsite to work and it's nice and comfortable. And it's actually pretty cool inviting people into my home. Some people don't do that, which is fine. Everybody's different so we all do what fits best. But I love the fact that people come into my home and the minute they walk through the door where my office is they can see all my images on the wall and they get excited about it. So I can welcome them in and make them feel at home, which puts them at ease as well. And they can come into my studio where it's really warm. I have a change table to the left which is the best thing in the world. So the minute they come in I'm like pop your baby up onto the change table. Do we need to feed, is he hungry, has he been fed? All of those things and we get started pretty much straight away. So I have two seats for them to sit on which are nice and comfortable. All my props and my blankets and everything visible for them. And then I have a massive window which is southeast facing, and that's in my location of the world, so it's perfect for me. It doesn't have direct sunlight but it has beautiful soft light which flows through. And I don't have anything on the outside of that that's going to bounce light. I mean I have a wall, a gray wall, but I don't have any color casts coming from anything that's outside that window. So that's really important as well. It's just a very neutral, natural light that flows through. And I have a sheet curtain that's over there, which helps diffuse that light to make it really, really soft. And when I'm setting up my bag and my backdrop stand, I angle it slightly towards the light because what I want to do is have it on a 45 degree angle, we'll have the baby on a 45 degree angle for that light, purely to get that beautiful soft lighting across the face to define all the little features that the parents want to remember. And then opposite my bag I have like a little timber flooring section and a little timber it's called a wood ply panel and I've just stained that with some lacquer. I think in total it cost about $20, it was really cheap. And my flooring, the dark flooring, is just vinyl flooring. So I got that from a company in Australia called Harvey Norman and it's just vinyl timber flooring that sticks together. It's got a sticky back. And I can move it, apparently you can drive a truck over it, you can't damage it. But if the baby decides to go to the toilet, I can clean it up very easily, it doesn't absorb into any canvas backdrops or anything like that so it's really good. Underneath my bag I have some more timber flooring and that's from Ikea. And that was about $40 in Australia for a box and that's one box. So that's really good to be able to have a couple of different options for backdrops and they're cheap options as well. I have a basket, which has all my wraps and small blankets, which I can just grab quite easily. And I have a little stool to sit on, and that's for me. And that's a great place because I can get down, I'm not above my clients when they're sitting, I'm down and I'm on a nice level with them that I can talk comfortably and easy with them. And I'm at a really good height for my beanbag. And not only do we have to consider the safety of the baby and the safety of the parents, we also have to look out for ourselves. I have some back issues, so I have to make sure that I'm comfortable throughout the session as well, which is really important. I'm not bending over and at the end of the day I can't walk, but I have somewhere comfortable to sit and work. I also have, it's a bit hard to see, but a pile of white cloth nappies. And I use those to prop my babies up from underneath. And they're also perfect if the baby goes to the toilet to grab and clean it up without making too much of a big deal out of it. I get a lot of parents in that feel terrible when their baby goes to the toilet. And they do, they feel like oh my god I'm so sorry. But it's, I just don't make a big deal out of it. I clean it up as quickly as possible, put it to the side, because I don't want them feeling uncomfortable or worrying about having to jump up with wetwipes and things like that, even though some of them do. I also have some polystyrene boards. If you have watched any of Sue Bryce's course, she uses the polystyrene reflectors. I got that tip from her, and they work beautifully in there. So my large one is for when I'm doing the parents and the families and I can just bounce light. It just rests up against my chairs or the wall and I can just bounce the light back in on my moms and dads and family shots, which is great. And behind it, I have a smaller one about this big. And I can just rest it against my backdrop stand when I'm working on my bag or with a prop for the baby to bounce some light in if I need it. And the moms and dads are in there and they can move around easily with me and help me, and they like to actually get involved in the session. It feels like they're doing something. Because you know when you bring a baby home, you are flat chat, you're busy, you're washing, you're doing a million things, it's very hard to sit still. So when they come in here, they're forced to sit still, and it's really weird for them. Some will fall asleep, some won't.
Quick question, as for light, you photograph through most of the day and you're in the same spot, do you find that you have adequate lighting throughout the day?
Yes, definitely, even on an overcast day, I actually have beautiful soft light in there. I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III and I can bump the ISO up to about 1000 in there and still get amazing images. But the light is so beautiful and so soft. I shoot from 10 til 1, pretty much, and that's the perfect time. I wouldn't have a client come at 1:00 in the day and shoot because then I would be losing light. But for that period of time, 10 to 1, it's perfect. So I do recommend if you have a space to do your sessions in, work out the best time of day that the light is in there and that's when you should organize and arrange your sessions for them. So you have to do what fits and what works best for you. So 10:00 is the perfect time for me because it gives me enough time after I drop my kids off from school, to get set up before my clients arrive, and start the session and have the session finish with enough light and enough time to go get my kids from school. So that's how I've done it, because it fits perfectly with my situation. But yeah, having the reflector works really well when I am losing light as well and the walls are a very light stony color. And the ceiling's white, the floor's white. So that light just bounces around in there and it's really beautiful. On this end I have, I was going to put in, French doors with glass that you could open and close, but at the moment I have rubber-backed white curtains, which keep the heat in. So they just open and close and I put them together in the center throughout the session. I'm sort of tempted to keep them now because kids can come and go easily through them. They don't have to open and close a door and nothing slams and yeah, I just find that that seems to work really well for me. And the rubber-backed white curtains also bounce light back into the studio, which is perfect because it's white. And any surface is reflective. Another important thing when I am working in there, I always wear very neutral colored clothing. This is probably not something I would wear during a session at home, I'd probably be dressed a little bit more comfortably. Some stretchy pants and I would wear white, gray, black, or a beige color; very neutral tones. Cause if I'm going to wear a bright red top, it's going to throw color onto my subject. So I have to be very mindful of what is around me and what's bouncing and throwing color.
Kelly, we've got a question here from one of the chatrooms. Jencore1 wants to know if you ever go to a client's home to do a photo session or do you always work in your home studio.
Excellent question, excellent question. I used to. Before I had this setup, I used to travel to clients' homes and I would load everything into my car and I would go there. I had to find, first of all I would communicate with that particular client as much as possible to find out if they had a space that was suitable to heat and had natural light window. I have used artificial lights in the past with other areas of photography. I know how to use them, I don't like them on babies' skin. I think that it blows all their features out and leaves very little detail. And the noise is it's just actually another factor that I don't need to worry about in a session and all my attention can be on the baby. And that's why I like natural light. So I would communicate with the client as much as possible about their environment and if they had a space available. But at times it was really hard. I would turn up to clients' homes and I would set my beanbag up on their bed in their bedroom because it was the only room that had light that I could heat. So yes, I have had to go to people's homes and I admire any photographer that still does it because it's hard work lugging everything from your studio into the car, unpacking it, setting it up, and it's quite time consuming because at times I would have to drive 30, 40 minutes away, even up to an hour at times, to a client's home and, because I had to be back to get my kids from school, it meant I had less time that I could dedicate for that session. So being able to find a small space, and this is not a large space. This is very small space, but it's all I need, and it's comfortable. So being able to have that space is not only easier for me but it's easier for the client because I also found that when I went to people's homes that the poor mother, who's sleep deprived because their baby's been awake all night feeding, would be up really early in the morning cleaning her house before I got there and doing her hair and doing her makeup and I get there and the baby would be sound asleep and she'd be rushing around cleaning and making sure everything was perfect. You know what it's like when you have someone come into your home, you run around at the last minute doing a quick tidy-up, and that's the last thing they need to be doing if they've had a baby. And especially a caesarian.
So, Kelly, you are flooding me with memories and some nightmares because, some of you may not know, you may not know, that I was building a business around babies and bellies, which I'm not doing anymore, but I didn't have a space in my home to set something up and so I thought this is great, I'll just go to people's homes and everything you just described is what I experienced. But the lighting being something that was most challenging, I think I've set up in a bathroom once because that was the best light as well.
And even if you did use artificial light, having to lug not only your bad, your backdrop stands, all your props, all your blankets, everything that you need for a session, you would have to take artificial lighting along with you and set that up. So it's hard
Going to people's own homes.
It's hard, it's hard but do you recommend that or are there other things that you recommend for people who, like me, didn't have a space in their home.
If you don't have a space, that's pretty much what you have to do. I've only been lucky enough to have this space for the last two years, or two and a half years. So I'm so grateful to have built a home that I can allow an area at the front of my home, sorry, we designed the house perfectly for my business. Because I work from home and we needed it to fit with our family and our children and make sure I was there for them all the time, whenever they needed me. So we made sure that I had a space at the front, which is my office, and the next room is my little studio. And then I have a toilet right next door to that, with a little basin. So I have everything I need for my clients right there at the front of my house and they don't have to come into the rest of my house. I actually have a friend back home in Australia and she actually convinced her husband to turn their master bedroom, because it had an on its way bathroom into her studio, and they moved themselves into a smaller bedroom. And you know what, they just did whatever they had to do to make that work, obviously, because that's what she does for work, so she needed to do that.
Kelly we have another question that's related.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go for it. Jerry Bangston, via Facebook, wants to know about if you have suggestions for keeping the baby warm when you're doing a shoot in their home, rather than in your studio. What are some ways that you can make sure that temperature stays up?
Well definitely being able to find a space that you can heat in their home, preferably with a door. I've had to do a shoot in a room that had an open doorway, that I couldn't close, and it was very hard to regulate the temperature in there. I had the heaters going and the heat was escaping. And if someone opened a door to outside, the cold air would come in, so it was really hard but usually there is a bedroom or a room in their house that has doors that they can close, and if they can be closed definitely. But taking a heater that has a thermostat or buying a thermostat so you can keep an eye on the temperature, I would recommend that, definitely.
Okay, that's great.
And just on that, a question came in that was, "Do you still try to keep that at 80 degrees," is that the target number that you said?
Usually around 28 degrees celsius so, I don't know, maybe Google convert to definitely get that right temperature. But I've found that that works perfectly for me. I'm quite comfortable working in that temperature. And the baby seems to sleep quite well in that temperature. And the parents don't get too overheated. But if they, you have to read them as well, if they say they're getting to hot, ask them to step out and get a breath of fresh air or with the window, they can go outside and watch from outside, which is also really nice as well. I can open up one panel of that sheer curtain.
But yeah, I'm sort of moving along here, please ask some questions.
Oh we have more questions
Yes, go for it, please go for it. Cause questions are good, because then that makes, I'm answering what people need to know.
We can take one from the studio? Yeah, go ahead.
I have a question. In terms of preparing the parents for the session, whether they're on location in their home or whether they're coming to you, what do you tell them? You mentioned earlier, bring a drink and something to eat, but what about how to prepare the baby?
I don't like to tell them what to do with their baby. I don't really think I have a right to give advice for their baby because we're all different. We're all going to raise our children differently, we're all going to do things differently. I don't want to tell people, you know, I'm not an advocate for one particular thing. You do what's best for you and your baby so I don't like to tell them, make sure you do this with your baby, you should buff them, you should massage them, make sure they're fed before they come, because they already have enough pressure on them getting themselves dressed and out the door. And it's usually when you're about to walk about the door that you have to change a nappy or something like that. So putting as little pressure on them about the session, I find, has worked comfortably for me. And I can work with them. So when they get to the studio, I ask them, "How're we going?", I find out what the, well I obviously already know what the baby's name is, some babies come and they don't have a name, but I will use the baby's name and ask them if he's due for a feed, if he's had a feed, how far have they traveled, how long has it taken them to get here. Because obviously babies need to eat regularly. I have the chairs there, I give them the space to feed their baby, and, that way, I'm ready to go as soon as that baby's finished feeding. If it's sound asleep when it arrives, we'll start straight away. But if that baby's hungry, it gives me and opportunity then to sit with the client and find out exactly what they like and what they want. We're gonna talk a little bit more about that on day three with an actual couple who are gonna come in and I'm gonna pretty much go through with them, in front of everyone, what I would do in a normal situation with them and how I get them involved in the session. So we can talk a little bit about that now, but I'll cover it a bit more deeply. I like to know what sort of decor they have in their home. I like to know what images of mine they've seen that they really, really like. I like to know just a little bit more about their style. I have so many different clients that come to me and some will come to me because they live near me. They found out that I'm a baby photographer and I live in their area; it's convenient for them to come to me. Some will come to me because they love my style. Some will come to me because they trust that I've been doing this a long time. So they all come to me with different needs. So the person who comes to me that lives around the corner, might not necessarily like my style, but I'm the most convenient baby photographer, so I have to find out what she wants and give that to her. I'm not gonna set up Lets look at a picture on the wall. Something with a timber crate that's quite vintage for someone who doesn't particularly like that style. I will get clients that come in that want everything very minimalistic. They love black and white, so we'll concentrate on setups that look great in black and white. I ask them if they like headbands, I'll ask them if they like hats. All those things that we can contribute into a session and I have to give them what they want because they're paying me. And if I just go ahead with a session and do all the things that I love, that I find creatively and aesthetically pleasing to me and then they don't like it, they're not gonna buy it. So it's up to me as a professional photographer to find out what they want and give them what they want because I want them to buy every image from that gallery. So I think that's really important.
We have another question in the audience.
This might be a little bit off topic but what happens on the day of the shoot if, say, the baby shows up and they just having a horrible morning? Do you reschedule?
No, never. I've only ever rescheduled one session and that was about four years ago, and I went back the next day and the baby was still really unsettled. It was actually something going on there that they had to go and see their pediatrician about. But I find that just giving them time, like they're probably a little bit unsettled for a reason. A baby only cries for a reason. It's not until they're a little bit older that they realize that when they cry they're actually gonna get something. So a newborn is crying for a reason. Either they're hungry or they're tired. They can get overstimulated. And, purely, by the parents getting up in the morning and getting ready to come to the session. But there could be a number of reasons. The mother could have eaten something, and they're breastfeeding and it could've gone through them. I had one lady have three mangoes for breakfast, and that boy, the baby a few hours later was feeding and she said, "Oh my god I haven't had mangoes." So I don't know really if that's going to affect the baby, but there is a reason that they're unsettled. So giving them time, time to sit in the studio, time to relax, talking to them like this, finding out what they want, and you can see the parents start to relax, and you will see the baby start to relax. And we'll go through, we'll undress the baby, we'll make sure if the baby's hungry that it's fed, all of those things, we'll take the time to make sure that they do settle down and get what they need.
And while you're settling the baby down, do you stay with the parents or do you leave for a while, give the parents some alone time?
I will bring them into the studio when they first arrive and say this is it, come on in. Because some of them haven't been there, I get a lot of clients coming back to me, but for people that haven't been into my studio before they think it's really kind of cool to walk in there and see everything and they're like, "Oh my god, look at all your stuff." So I'll stay in there with them for about five, ten minutes, and talk to them about whether or not their child has been fed, ask them to undress their baby, leave the nappy between their legs just loosely done up so it's not gonna have marks on their skin, and put a wrap around their baby. Encourage them to sit down. "Can I get you a cold drink of water?" "No, I have my drink bottle," that's fine. And then I give them five minutes, I say I'm gonna go get all my stuff, I'm gonna wash my hands, I always tell them I'm gonna wash my hands, and I do wash my hands, and people find that very comforting knowing that I'm actually going to lengths to make sure that my environment is clean and hygienic and I'm very aware of passing on germs and things like that; that also puts them at ease. So them knowing that I'm doing all of that, also gives them time in that room to really have a good look around, take a breath of fresh air, and sit down and relax. So creating that space, and giving them enough space to relax is really important. But if I'm gonna be constantly in their face and fussing around them, it's probably gonna make them a little bit more anxious. So taking a step back and reading them definitely is an idea. Yeah.
So just a quick question about that, so are you only scheduling one newborn a day?
Okay, so you have that three hours in case things don't run smooth. And do you ever schedule more than one a day?
I have, but it was only because I was going away, in March last year, and I had a heap of babies born late. So when I do book a session with a client, I take a tentative due date from them. So I write that in my diary and then after that, I allow two weeks for that session and I won't book in any more than three to four newborn sessions a week. So I can shoot five days of the week or I can work five days of the week, but I need an extra day to run around doing print orders, doing all the other aspects of the business as well. Because so much is involved in running a business, as you know. So you need that extra day to do all of that, so I'm not doing that on the weekends. So three to four sessions, I would max book in my studio for the week, and only one a day. I would allocate that time, but prior coming away, I had babies born like a week overdue and I had to try to squeeze them all in before I left. So I had two in one day, which wasn't ideal, but the first baby was perfect and slept the entire time so it meant I got that session done quickly and get into a fast turnaround.
I have a question, before you, the parents comes into the studio, do you pick out your props and colors and blankets, or do you do it while they are there?
Yeah, so I have everything set up exactly like this and, what I was saying before is, finding out as much about my clients as possible and what they like, and what their decor and everything is like at home and if there's anything they see. I get an idea of the colors that they like and yeah, I ask them what they like. I use the colors that they like. I will style the session, but I find out, you know they can see all my blankets hanging like you can see them all hanging here, and they can pick which colors they like. They can, I usually pick two blankets for each client. So I'll do a change on the beanbag with the backdrop stand. And then I'll probably choose probably three props. Let them choose three props that they like. And if they're choosing things where I would position the baby very similar in them, I will help and say well we're kind of positioning the baby on their back in two of these props, would you like to try something a little bit different? And I will help encourage them and say oh, well have you seen this yet and pull it out. Another really great tool for that is I actually have an album in my studio which has all my images in it. Because, while they can see them there on the shelf, it's very hard for them to visualize what they're going to look like in the photos. So showing them some of my photos, if they haven't been or had the time to go through my galleries on my website or my blogs or things like that, they can actually sit and go, "Oh, I really like this one," or, "I really like that and I love how you've put this together, can we do that?" So I'm talking to them constantly about that, but no, I don't pick out the colors or the props because I used to do that and I would get really excited about a setup that I would be creating and I'd have it all perfectly and they didn't like it. And they're not gonna buy it if they don't like it. So I still get to be creative with putting everything together and styling that setup, but I've got their input. I'm not using colors they don't like, I'm not using props they don't like. And I fill my studio with things I love. I'm not gonna go and buy things I don't like. So they have to choose from everything that's in there that I love. So I want to use all of that stuff, I think it's great. I occasionally will buy something new and it will sit there and I'll be looking at it while they're choosing, like, "Please pick that, please pick," and they don't pick it. (audience laughs) Like I really want to use that prop, but I do actually occasionally get friends that come with their babies that'll give me a little bit of free range. And then I will get clients that come in and say, "Do whatever you want, I love everything," and that's pretty cool,but I still get their input. And I'll be doing it and I'll get out a variety of hats and I'll go, "I love these three, which one do you love?" and they'll pick one and I'll go, "Okay." But you will get people that will tell you everything they want, and then you'll get people that will, "I don't know, you pick whatever you want," which is fine, you can do that. So fill your studio with props and colors and things that you love that fit your style and your brand because trying to put a million things in your studio, it's not you. So people come to me for so many different reasons but I have enough stuff in there that I love to use that I can satisfy their needs.