After a long hard week at work I was relaxing into my 2nd Friday evening as a father of 2. I had the whole of the next week off to entertain Jono who was in the middle of School Holidays, so that Kerryn and Natalie could continue the process of figuring out how they worked together.
I had 9 glorious days of Father/Son goodness to plan, where we could go do anything and everything our hearts desired.
Then Kerryn uttered some words that shattered my little moment…
“So I’ve booked in the photo session for Monday“
Boom, there goes a whole day. Crap.
I’d forgotten that Kerryn had invested in a Newborn Family Photography session months before-hand. We hadn’t done anything like that with Jono, so I was a little dubious about the whole thing from the outset.
We have a nice camera.
We managed to get some some nice photos of Jono as a baby.
We would have all the time in the world to do the same with Natalie.
We’d managed to put together a pretty sweet photo book of his first year.
So, why spend money to have somebody else come and snap a few pictures of us?
I’m always happy to be proven wrong when it’s to my benefit, and this was one of those happy “told-you-so” kind of moments. I’m a convert. I think there are a few things to consider before you do it, more on that later, but there are a few things that became clear to me during and after our shoot.
1. You really don’t have the time to get great photos. You need to make it.
It takes time to get great photos. It takes time to go through them. It takes time to do post-processing and retouching (if required – I’m sure Jill didn’t need to touch the photos of me).
You will never have as much time as you think you will. Especially with baby No. 2+. We’ve learned this lesson pretty quickly! So why add to that pressure? Odds are something will have to give. Odds are that given the choice between doing the laundry and whipping the camera out to snap some quick pics you will probably do the laundry. I mean we need to be clean, right?
By booking in some time with a professional you guarantee that it happens. You clear your calendar and commit to it properly.
2. A Professional will see things that you don’t.
A pro will have his/her bag of tried-and-true tricks and poses that just work. But they will also have the ability to see and extract the diamonds that we might not. They know how to use light, space and their surroundings to their advantage.
“Photography is about capturing souls, not smiles.” – Dragan Tapshanov
They snap things that you would probably overlook. A frowning baby for example, which captures so much personality and character but would generally be overlooked in favour of chasing a little smile or a serene sleeping face.
3. It’s hard to be spontaneous with a camera on a tripod and a timer…
When we briefed our wedding photographer years ago our primary objective was to prioritise genuine moments ahead of posed and choreographed shots. The same applied to our shoot with Jill. Yes there are posed shots. But the best photos (in my opinion) are those that capture spontaneous moments within the pose, the warmth and love of our little family that can’t be faked.
Photographing yourself isn’t easy. You really need somebody else there to capture those moments. And really that’s what I believe photography is at it’s core – freezing those moments in time forever.
4. You only get one chance to get it right!
It sounds pretty scary, but like everything in life, you only get one shot at any moment. Your children will never again be as young as they are right now. The same goes for you.
“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.” – Karl Lagerfeld
If you are going to try to capture the magic of a shiny new baby joining your family, you may as well trust a pro with the task. That’s not saying you couldn’t do a good job of it yourself, or that a pro is guaranteed to nail it. You just have a better chance at success.
5. You will feel amazing!
I leave the most important reason to last. If you get the right photographer then you will come away from the shoot feeling great. We all had a lot of fun, messing around, being silly and trying to keep a straight face long enough to get a few photos. Kerryn was giggling like a school girl for the whole session. Months and months of worry and hard work melted away. The trauma of childbirth, still in the back of the mind, disappeared completely.
Then you see the results and you feel even better about yourself!
So everybody should go out and get photos done right? Well, probably, but I’ve put together a little cheat sheet of things I’d consider before rushing out:
Before you lock in a Photographer make sure they are right for you.
Talk to them about you and what you want. Make sure you “click” on some level before they start clicking.
“It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt
We were lucky that Kerryn had met Jill before and knew they got on well. You won’t always have that luxury, so go out of your way to make sure you don’t hate your photographer before you get going.
Don’t commit to more than you can afford.
Photography can be incredibly expensive. Make sure you know what you are getting yourself into – whether it be 5 digital images or 500. Often photographers will charge a sitting fee and then for each individual photo, which can add up quickly! It’s more important to get good digital files than printed photos. Unless you are getting a great deal, you can always get them printed later.
Resolution, resolution, resolution!
Make sure you can get digital copies in a high resolution – it means that you can actually do something with them later. I’m not going to get into the technical side of this, that’s what google is for. Suffice to say that generally speaking the higher the resolution the more you will be able to do with the photos.
If all you ever want to do is stick some up on Facebook then don’t worry too much. If you want to get some big prints or a huge canvas printed then you are going to want big images. And don’t just think about now, consider what you might want in the future.
It’s a bit like buying toilet paper – nobody ever got caught short buying too much…
Square Pegs and Round Holes
Check out their style and portfolio. Most photographers these days have a pretty decent online presence, even if it’s just their Facebook page. Go and have a look. You will notice the recurring themes and styles in their work. Talk to them about the style you want. Photography is like any job, you probably won’t do your best work unless you are enjoying what you are doing.
Don’t try to force-fit your style demands if they don’t align with the Photographer’s. You will get photos, they just might not be as good as if you’d taken a little more time and found a kindred spirit in terms of taste.
Do it somewhere comfortable
We had our shoot at home. It was convenient. It was comfortable. We had everything we needed. Our house wasn’t a bombsite, but it wasn’t exactly clean and tidy (what house with a 2 week old in it is???). I was skeptical about it as a venue for photography, but it worked perfectly.
If you are comfortable going to a studio then by all means do so, but there’s nothing wrong with doing it at home, and the results could be so much better!
As Jill said when she was working “There might be stuff in the background, but at least it’s your stuff.” In the end if the photos are great then nobody is looking at the background, they are looking at you.
We had a great time documenting our little family with Jill. We have a fantastic portfolio of photos to share and enjoy as a result.
The hardest part now is figuring out how and where to use them!
“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen
This post was in no way sponsored or influenced by Jill Allen or Gem Photography.
We are very happy with the outcome and process. If you like the style and want a fun, easygoing photographer to document your precious new life then give Jill a call!
Let’s be honest – I’m nowhere near big enough to be considered a viable advertising channel anyways.
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