A Newbie’s Perspective On Newborns :: Feature Friday :: Wigglebug Photography
While I am still a newbie compared to many wonderful photographers out there, everyone has to start somewhere. I feel like I have finally hit on something that works. I am here to share with you the mistakes I made along the way and what I did to learn from them and fix what was going wrong.
This is the story of where I started and what I have learned along the way.
I had no idea what I was doing, but I did it anyway.
When I shot my first newborn a year ago I knew nothing about newborn photography other than I thought it was really sweet. I did not know that those pictures with the head on the hands were composites – I did not even know how to do a composite. Thankfully, I did not even try one of those poses.
In the year since I photographed my first newborn, I have read and read and read until I thought my eyeballs were going to fall out or at least dry up. I also watched videos. And of course I have become addicted to Pinterest. YouTube and Vimeo have great tutorials and “pull back” videos on newborn shoots. Some of the blogs I follow also have “pull back” articles. A few of the most helpful were on Clickinmoms.
My advice is to read and read and practice before you take on your first newborn. Find as many resources as you can before you begin. The confidence to simply throw yourself into a new style with a little baby is great – but you need some knowledge to go along with it!
You can check out my posing guide here on pinterest to help you get started!
White noise? I don’t want any noise, do I?
I thought that because white noise never helped my boys to sleep, it would not help with my shoots. Why did I want noise anyway?
My first shoot was not terrible, but it could have been so much better if I would have known about the power of white noise. By the time I was working with baby #4, I had decided to try it. I brought down the white noise machine (the one I had for my boys that never helped) and turned it on. I also downloaded a noise app for my phone. I had seen other photogs put their phone in the basket with the baby. When I initially saw this in a tutorial video, I could not figure out what the heck she was doing! Then after the second or third different video with the photographer stuffing their phone in with the baby I figured it out. The combination of the phone in the basket and the white noise machine was a winning combo for me!
Warm is not hot enough
I had read or seen in pull back pictures that you needed a space heater for the baby. Little ones get cold and wake up. I tried the space heater thing and baby #3 would still not sleep. I had a space heater so what was wrong? I really needed to crank up the heat. Just because I was warm did not mean that baby was warm. For newborn #4 I turned up the heat in the house, used a large space heater to heat the room then had a small space heater right on him. I would have used a heating pad too but I thought I would blow a fuse in my house! Baby #4’s feet still got cold and we had to take a few cuddle breaks to warm him up, even with all that heat!! So the lesson I learned is it has to be downright sauna like in the room.
I knew that I needed more light to keep down my ISO and keep up my shutter. So I brought in constant lights. I thought because I had lights I could shoot at night. I even went to a friend’s house to shoot her newborn at night. I thought my lights would be enough. Well, they were not. I got some shots I could save but thank goodness she was not a paying client.
I learned that natural light REALLY is that much better. Newborn #1 taught me not to mix light. I had actually tried to mix window light and constant light bulbs. Yikes! For #4 I used window light and put my set up at a 45 degree angle to the light. This has been the most successful set up so far.
Maybe It IS the camera
Well, for me it really was the camera. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong. Why were my pictures so grainy and out of focus at ISO 400? I had to bump my ISO to 400 to get enough light to keep my shutter speed at least above 60. I was shooting with a Nikon D60. While it was a great camera to learn on, once I really figured out manual I discovered that I did need to shoot at ISO 400 or above when I was inside. My D60 just couldn’t handle it. The noise at 400 and above was so bad that I thought the pictures were pretty worthless. I thought I was doing something wrong until I started to read more. I realized I had outgrown my camera and made a step up to the D7000. Why not full frame? Frankly, I just could not afford it. When I go full frame I will need a new lens also. So far I’m loving the D7000 and plan on using it for at least another year. If I learn as much this year as I learned last year, I might just be ready for the D700! The lesson here is make sure your camera is capable of low-light situations, and that you have a good set of prime lenses so you can stop down to let in more light.
My most recent session with baby #4 has been my most successful shoot so far. I still have a lot to learn. I will keep reading and watching, and enjoying the journey of learning. I realize now the more I learn the more I understand how much I still need to learn. This will be a long journey.
The camera I used for this shoot was my Nikon D7000. I mainly used my Nikkor 50mm 1.4. I did switch to my 35 mm 1.8 for family shots and I used my Tamron 70-200 for a few detail shots.
I hope you learn a little from my mistakes and maybe do not make as many of your own. Although I have to say I have learned the most from my mistakes.
Tricia Schumacher is the owner of Wigglebug Photography in DeKalb, IL.
She works with Children, Newborns, Families and Seniors. Tricia also teaches Photography, Photoshop, and Ceramics at DeKalb High School.
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