Newborn Shoot: Family Portrait
We have three beautiful children. I wanna do a set up, and I think this is gonna be really cute. Just sitting down here on the floor with the parents, and make it really casual. I want mom in the front, holding her baby, and then we're gonna get dad in the side, and we're gonna sit the boys; one on mom's side, and one on dad's lap because we have, we have a two year old. He's two? So, he's two. He's gonna be fairly aware of what's going on in here, and he may either go the same way it did with little Milo, when he just wanted to run around, and play, and not be a part of it. But he's looking pretty shy, and pretty aware. I can pick up on that straight away. So I'm gonna keep him on dad's lap, where he's comfortable. And, yeah, pretty much in this same sequence, but over here sitting on the floor, and we're gonna make it look really great. So, I'm just gonna pop, my white, fluffy mat down so it's nice and comfortable. So this white, fluffy mat, if anybody wants to know, is just a little...
Flokati rug I got from Ikea. Really cheap, not expensive, and then natural tones go with everything. And you can, I think you can dye them as well. Okay, now we have some gray tones here, and we have a little baby girl, so I wanna use something that's pretty and make her stand out, like this, but, I also wanna keep it so it's not too distracting. So within those, within those colors. So I'm gonna go with white because we're on a white background, and we can, the white is all around. So I'm gonna bring that white back into the middle, to that focus point, which is the baby of the family. Okay, come on over, all of you. You can carry her over, and we'll keep her in your arms. She's in mom's... I don't need to take her. And we can keep her nappy on as well; purely for this because we're gonna put a wrap around her. Come on over. So what I'm gonna do is ask mom to sit here, and dad to sit here in the middle, facing me. And when you sit down... Are you going to be okay sitting down?
Go down on your knees. When you come down, you can just come into the side. Can you come over here with me? Come over here with me. Yeah, that's it. Then come a little bit closer into the center. That's it. Now, I wouldn't worry too much if the baby is awake or asleep in this particular pose, because, this particular setup... Because mom's holding her, and she's not fussing. So, it's really nice and easy. How you doing there? Are you good?
Oh, it's hot. It's hot. Here, let me sit in front of it. Is that better?
Yep. And do you know what? I'm even gonna turn it this way. There you go. It's gone. Yeah, he can stay there. So, I'm gonna ask, are you able to put your legs back this way as well? Tuck them up in around?
Sure. It's gonna be great. (laughs)
It's perfect. And if you can squish in a little bit more, but come forward just to me, just a touch. And if you bring this leg out a little bit, I'm gonna get him to come and sit in here, nice and even. Easy. Can I take this shoe off? That's all right?
I'm undressing the mom. So just, where you're comfortable. Okay, it's your turn. Come and sit over here. He's all right, he's all right. Let him go. Let him do what he wants. Okay, come here to me. Good boy. And now I want you to sit down; I'm gonna help you. Sit, sit, sit, sit, sit. And put your bum in there. Is that all right on you leg?
Okay. Hey, do you want that? Can I have it? Huh. Can daddy have it? Can daddy have it?
He's all about no.
No. Two year olds love that word.
Yes they do. (laughs)
I love your hair. It's beautiful.
Oh, thank you.
Ooh, what's this?
This is really pretty. What is your sister's name? Do you forget already?
Where you going?
What's the baby's name?
Paisley. (child babbles) Oh, what have you got? What do you have? Okay, quick, sit down on daddy's lap.
You are so food motivated.
Okay, so I'm just gonna drape this in and around here. I'm not gonna make too big of a deal out of it. But it's just gonna add some softness to it, and some color, and it's gonna cover our nappy. Good boy.
Hey, remember how you were sitting before?
There you go. Okay. Ready, are we. Okay, sit down. We're gonna take a photo. Okay, stand up for me again. I'll put your legs over here. There we go, and I'll help you sit down back into that little gap. That is absolutely perfect. (child fusses)
Do you need another fishy?
What's a fishy? Can you show me what a fishy is? Quick, go and get one. Can he get you a fish? Would you like a fish?
Can you get your brother a fishy? There they are! So I'm gonna increase my aperture. What did you get? Okay, can you do me a favor? Just at the front of you, just pull that rug out. Perfect. Good boy. So, I'm gonna increase my aperture up to about 4. because they're not, you know, they're not back and forth or anything. They're all pretty good. And just lean back on that hand. Quick! Hurry up and chew your fishy. (child cries) (laughs)
You gotta chew your food. And then you can say, cheese. Soon as the camera comes out he'll turn into a ham.
A ham. That's such a cool saying. So I'm just bringing her hand up to her face there, so we can see it. We'll relax these little fingers. The third baby just knows they have to be good. They just know. (laughs) What's it doing? Can you see this camera? Okay. Okay, are we ready? Are we ready? Can you put that hand in behind mommy? Yeah, or on mommy's knees. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. And you can put your other hand up on your leg if... Love it. Absolutely love it. (child fusses) Are you ready?
Okay, one, two... (camera snaps) Boo! (camera snaps) Ready? No, no, no. Hang on, one more photo.
Say cheese. Cheese. (child fusses and cries)
Say cheese. Come on, say cheese.
One, two. Okay, let him get up again.
Go. _ Quick, go, go, go, go, go! As fast as you can. As fast as you can. So finding something that obviously they're interested in is really important to keeping them happy.
Me fishy, get me a fishy, please.
Can you get your brother a fishy? Oopsie!
Okay, come on.
Okay, are you ready? One... I'm gonna, quick, I'm gonna take a photo. Quick! Sit with daddy. Ready, two Peek-a-boo!
Cheese. (child cries) Now say cheese. Are you ready? (camera snaps) Are you ready? He can stand up, and come in behind your legs if he wants to give you a little cuddle around the neck. Can you stand behind daddy? (child cries) Do you wanna stand behind daddy? What do you wanna do?
Come here, come here.
No? What about a high five for daddy?
Come here. Ryder?
Where are you going?
Look at that camera.
Where are you going? Oh, you dropped one. Okay, quick, take it back to dad. Oh, high five. Good stuff. Do you know what? If he can sit on your lap as well, that would be awesome. Wherever. Oh, he's gonna sit in the little hole.
Do you wanna sit here?
Okay, come nice and close to mommy. Come in nice and close.
Come in here. Look at that camera... (child babbles)
Look what I found. (child babbles) Oh, okay, I'm gonna feed you. (laughs) Come here to me. Good boy. Okay, ready? One, two, three, sit.
Oh, that is perfect. Can I have a high five? Good boy! Okay, are we ready? Stay there. Are you ready? Are you ready now? One, two, three. (camera snaps) Boo! (camera snaps) One, two, three... Hi.
Cheese. That is the best cheese ever. (laughs) Okay.
Cheese. So I would keep photographing a family segment like this to get as many as I can before they disappear, because if I need to head swap, I'm gonna have a variety of images that I can head swap from. Because they're just so excited by what's going on around them, and they think it's a game, and, yeah, I'm absolutely stoked with that family shot, so it's really... It's them at this moment in time. It's perfect. And look at this perfect baby smiling. (laughs) She's got dimples. We might stand up from here, and I'll just show you how I would pose them standing up together, from this particular position. I'm gonna take her so that you can stand up a little bit easier.
Okay, no, you eat some.
Okay. We're gonna stand up now. (soothes baby) Now, what I might get you to do is hold onto Ryder.
Ryder. Come here.
Now if we had time, we'd set up a beautiful backdrop, and have this, but we're gonna actually make it a really nice, tightly cropped image. Okay. So bring this hand here up, just towards your collarbone, on your chest. This one here. Up, nice and high across your chest.
That way, and turn your palm out towards me. No, other way. Yep. Keep turning, keep turning.
Right here, and scoop you are hand up underneath her head. That's it. So, I couldn't show her how to hold her hand 'cause my hands were full. So I just had to continually direct her until we got to a nice... Oh, what are you doing? And this is so beautiful and soft. Where has our other little boy gone? (laughs) Where are you?
Boo! Okay, can you come and stand in front of mommy? Come over here. Okay, so what I want you to do is to stand here, and I want you to come in nice and close. Can you swap sides with him, so he's in this hand? And then we're kind of balancing our image, and that way dad can put his arm in, and around. You can turn in here. Are these your feet? You got ticklish feet? And I would get this as quickly as possible. Are you ready? (child fusses)
Can you help me say cheese? You're not gonna say cheese? (child fusses) (laughs) Can you turn and say cheese?
I actually have a couple of little toys in my studio as well, that I will hold and rattle and things like that. Two year olds are kinda getting beyond a rattle. But, anything to grab their attention for that split second. So, I even have some great, fake apples that they love to play with, believe it or not, in my studio. So anything that can be distracting. Swap sides. Well, if... No, no, no. Yeah, swap sides. (child fusses) And then our baby is in the middle. Are you ready? We'll do it, what does he love? (laughs) He's down on the ground.
Good boy, stand up for me. Hang on, I'll get a fish.
I want one too.
Okay, I'm gonna grab my camera, 'cause I need to be ready for this. 'Cause we know it's not gonna last long. Are you ready? Stand up sweetheart.
Carson, stand up, please.
You don't want a fishy? Can I take one more photo? (child fusses) Right, I'm not gonna push it. We're done. (laughs) Oh, you can have those. Good boy. That was excellent job. That we have the sitting one. We could go on and do a different one, but we don't wanna push him and make him really upset, because he's obviously not enjoying it. But that's okay. 'Cause we have one. We have quite a few. (laughs)
It's great to see the reality.
And now he wants to go and play in this massive playground. All right.
Great to see the reality of what happens sometimes when you have a family shot; all the different dynamics, all the different age ranges and personalities. One technical question from a viewer about working with a family shot. Where do you generally focus when you have all of them there? Whose eyes are you on? Where do you pinpoint in?
I tend to, because I'm shooting, I've actually closed my aperture down a little bit, which means increased it to 4.5, and what I've done, is I've focused on the middle point. So, not the closest person to the camera, not the furthest person away from the camera, but the person who's smack-bang in that distance to the camera. So I can, you know, make sure that everyone image is nice and sharp. But they were all on a pretty level focal plane, and because mom was the one in the middle holding the baby, I focused on her eye.
That's great. And then, related to the older children. Do you find that the heartbeat monitor, or the white noise ever helps calm them as well? We have that question from Captured Memories. Or is it just something you use for the newborns?
Yeah, they actually love the little heartbeat monitor. They play with it all the time. So it can be a great distraction to a toddler, definitely. Mine is actually, it's over in the pram because it was interfering with my microphone, and I wanted everyone to be able to hear what I was saying. So, that's why I didn't actually have it on, and during that. But yes, it's a great tool, and it can be something fun that they play with. I mean to a child of that age, anything's fun that they can pick up and throw and... (laughs) And twist and turn.
Kelly, I've been amazed at your innate ability to go with your flow posing, from one to the next to the next, to the next. Especially, you've been using this bean bag so much. I'm wondering if you could do, sort of, a review for us of that flow with that bean bag so that we can, kind of, remember how to learn A, B, C, D.
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So, on the very first day, we went through a series of poses from, with one colored backdrop, and I suppose because I offered two colored backdrops in a session, you could offer your first color with a series of poses from the back to the side, and then onto the stomach, with still a side shot, with maybe that bum up in the air shot. There are so many different little variations that you can do of this as well. And then maybe bring the baby forward as well. But if that point, sometimes I found that the baby may stir just after a little while, so I'll do a quick blanket change, and we could then go from say, the Taco Pose into another side pose, but just by bringing the legs forward, which you know, you can capture from a completely different angle. You can style it a bit differently with a different hat, or anything like that, so you get a completely different shot for your gallery. You can come in really close and shoot that. And then, you could just bring the baby all the way around to the front with it's hands up like this, and get another shot from there. So, they would be from back, all the way through to something like that. That would be my flow of posing. And you could break it up in the middle with a blanket change just before say, the Taco Pose, where it's actually easier to have them positioned in your hands before you put them down. Unless, of course, you have a really sleepy baby, and you can pose them like that while they're on the bean bag.
I just have a question in regards to light, when you're doing those poses on the bean bag. So, I've always been taught that the light needs to come from the top of the baby's head, and kinda shine down this way so that you get that little butterfly shadow underneath the nose. So, when you're doing those poses where you want a parent, or someone to help you with that finger, how do you do it so that there's no shadow from the person who's holding the baby's head?
Yeah. Well I always have the spotter, and the person on the other side of the light. So if I've got the baby here, and I've got my window light here, I'm always gonna have the spotter over here. So the shadow is actually going in that direction. The shadow is not gonna cast back this way. So that's the easiest way to do it. But yeah, there are occasions when you have a baby and you can't quite move them on the bag. So I would just readjust the bag towards the light if your baby is not at the perfect angle for the... You know, for the direction of the light. So, you can move your prop, you can turn your bag, and always have your spotter person on this side, which is what we've been doing over here, except for when we were back here. But because of the direction of the light; it's coming from this angle, by having someone over there and a finger, it wasn't casting a shadow at all.
Kelly, we have a question about, well, the way that you capture the family, and you were saying that it's really the moment in time, capturing that family and all of the ages, and you know, the real reality of the moment. And we have a question about how you, sort of, help parents get to that, if they're... If they're feeling badly that one of their children, you know, wants to run around and find goldfish and do the whole normal thing, how do you help them understand that this is okay, and that the reality of whatever you get in that photo is what you're trying to get.
Yeah, pretty much by what I just did there. Let the two year old go and do what, do what they wanna do just for that period of time. If you can sense that your family's getting a little bit anxious with them not cooperating, just tell them that it's okay, we're not in any hurry. I allocate, you know, enough time during my day to get all of this. So, I make sure that they know I'm not gonna rush them, and we can go slowly with that child, and we can work on things. We can, you know, talk to the child and figure out exactly what their interests are, what they like doing. I may be able to find something that can sidetrack them enough, you know, to stand there, and sit there long enough for a shot. So, sometimes it's over so quickly. Sometimes it will take a little bit of coaxing. But I just tell them it's all right, you know, let them be, let them, you know, have a little bit of a run around and a play. Let them get what they want, and try and use bribery. (laughs)
I had another question regards to lighting when it comes to families. So, I know here is a little bit different from your studio at home.
So here, we had the light coming at, kind of... I don't know if you'd call that a...
Both directions, yeah.
Yeah. So, at home, do you then put the backdrop kind of slanted sideways?
Yeah, I always turn my subjects 45 degree angles. So, if I've got my backdrop, I'm gonna have, like I did yesterday with my black backdrop. I had it on an angle towards that light. So I'm always going to turn my backdrop, and I'm always going to turn my family, my children, anyone that's... Anything that's the subject of my image towards that light for the best lighting. And you're looking at the falloff on the face. But in this particular situation, we do have so many above lights going on here, which are great for me because they're acting as fill light. In my studio without those lights, if I had my window here, and my family here, I have a very large polystyrene white reflector that I can just rest up against the wall, and it's gonna bounce some light back into those shadows.
One more question for you. And, you've been teaching us so many different factors of what it takes to be a brilliant newborn photographer. You've taught us all of your brilliant posing, how to get kids to go to sleep. We've talked about marketing. We've talked about how to get those clients in the door. We've talked about confidence. What, in your opinion, is the most important one to focus on if you're in that place where you're just starting out, where you're not sure, you might be a little bit overwhelmed right now with these three days. What is the most important aspect of being so successful, like yourself?
Do you know, it's a massive combination of everything. But what shines through for me the most, is having the confidence in myself, in my imagery, in my products, in my service. Having that confidence will allow people to come back over and over again, and to tell more people about me. Because, you know, getting those people in the door, it's all about word of mouth. I want them to have an amazing experience. So having confidence in what I do, and the way I am, it's only going to make those people feel good. I think I mentioned yesterday, you know, they don't always remember what you say, but they remember how you make them feel. So, I wanna make my clients feel good when they're in my studio. And I get all these comments, 'cause at the end of every session, I will post an image on Facebook. And it's for them to share. If they don't want it on Facebook, I won't put it on there. But it's such a great way for them to get excited about the rest of their images. Guaranteed, they will comment on that photo, and tell my how amazing the experience was spending that time with me in my studio. Because I'm confident enough in what I do, I'm not afraid of allowing people in to know me. So, I'm genuine, I'm caring, I will show them all of that. And I think, just having that confidence in yourself will make all those other contributing factors about knowing your craft, knowing how to find your clients, knowing how to market, knowing how to price; all those other things will just fall into place when you truly believe in yourself and what you do.