It’s no secret that dads tend to consider themselves a dab hand at almost everything. We’ve either done it before, seen someone do it or reckon we’ll pick it up quickly. In truth, we’re pretty shoddy at most things except perhaps 1 or 2 hobbies we particularly enjoy.
And based on the new “silent Sunday photo” movement combined with the rise in power of Instagram, it’s also no secret that dads like to think they’re especially good at capturing those special moments on camera: photography I guess you could call it. We like to take pictures, turn them into black and white and put them on the wall, often on a canvas print. There’s nothing wrong with this but, I for one, would like to know a few tips to improve my amateurish excursion into the world of photography. Baby photography is a growing hobby amongst parents and one that can either go very well or pretty horrendously.
We recently had the opportunity to have some ‘bump & baby’ pictures taken (which is also a new craze in the world of pregnant women) by a fantastic photographer. Obviously, she had a relatively easy job considering the subjects are so beautiful… But I took the opportunity to pick Kirsty’s brains for some top tips on how to take pictures of our little ones; newborn photos, bump photos and photos of children.
Interview with Professional Photographer Kirsty Grant
1) What made you want to become a photographer?
I’ve always loved taking pictures (from pics of my soft toy monkey hanging in trees when I was little to taking pictures of our pets) but my Grandad was a keen amateur photographer; my Mum told me how he used to dress her & my aunt up to take portrait shots. He passed away when I was 18 & I inherited all of his cameras, lenses & developing equipment. It all took off from there really as I started photographing my boyfriend’s band & loved it, then went on to photographing some of my Dad’s bands. From there I went to college & then University.
2) Tell us a bit about the work you do?
As I mentioned above I began taking photographs of musicians but then fell pregnant with my son, Josh, in 2011 & found it harder to get to gigs. I did go to one but was too scared of being in the press pit & thinking I was damaging my son’s ears (I think all that music was the start of his love for music!) I naturally started taking more photographs of Josh & decided I didn’t want to go back to my full time job & thought I should try just going freelance & expand my photographic repertoire. I started taking photos of my post natal group’s babies & from there contacted NCT Bumps & Babies and went along to a few sessions with my little studio set up. It grew from there really. I loved photographing little ones, they are all so cute & such little characters from so early on.
3) Have you noticed that bump photo shoots are becoming increasingly popular recently? Why do you think this is?
I have only just started including bump shoots in my packages as one of my wedding clients contacted me to say she was pregnant & wanted a monthly shoot to show her bump growing which is going to be printed & framed as one long picture. I’ve really enjoyed her shoots, we are hoping to squeeze one last shoot in before her due date, so excited to see the final result. It’s something I really wish I had done when I was pregnant. It is such a special time in a lady’s’ life to be completely changing shape & growing another life and possibly something you may only go through once. I haven’t forgotten what it felt like to be pregnant & have this little wriggler kicking away but I think to have it captured in a photograph which shows the love between mother and bump is something you can really treasure.
4) What’s your favourite thing about photographing babies and children?
I love photographing babies, they are so cute when they are curled up, peacefully sleeping and completely oblivious to what is happening. It’s such an amazing privilege to be invited in to someone’s home to photograph their little bundle of joy when they are so tiny & brand new! I like to take my time & really make mummy, daddy & baby feel completely relaxed so we can get the most natural shots. Toddlers & children are always great fun to photograph as you never know what they are going to do next! Occasionally you get the ones that aren’t really up for it but I always carry on as long as everyone is happy & try to keep it fun as what I see through my camera is different to what parents see & 9 times out of 10 they will be surprised as they hadn’t spotted the smile.
5) What’s the trickiest thing about photographing babies and children?
So far I’ve only had positive experiences with newborns, they are always a little messy but as long as I’m prepared with plenty of blankets, muslins & mattress protectors it’s never a problem. Older children can sometimes be tricky as if they don’t want to do it they really don’t want to do it! I will try & think of something to keep them happy or introduce props or their favourite toy but there’s no point forcing the issue. I like pictures to be as natural as possible whether in a studio set up or on location, the more relaxed I can be the better it is for the child.
6) So many parents are taking their babies to get photographed by professionals now, what tips / suggestions / advice would you give parents who are just about to get their baby snapped?
Just be clear; if you have something in particular in mind to let the photographer know. Personally I will always try & capture what each client is after but if they don’t really mind I try to show examples of what we can do. The main thing is to not worry about anything, it should be a fun, enjoyable experience so if you little one doesn’t want to do it don’t get stressed out, always know when they’ve had enough & don’t push it.
7) And what about if parents are taking the pics themselves, what tips would you give to them to get good quality snaps?
If you are taking pics of a newborn try & find a nice big window so you have lots of natural, soft light. If you have a digital slr use a wide aperture & focus on the eye, also good using a wide aperture for the close up hand and feet shots as long as you make sure you are focusing on the correct point. With children…depending on the time of year get outside, find long grass, puddles, piles of leaves & have fun!
8) Can you show us your favourite 3 pictures you’ve taken recently and tell us why you like them?
It’s so hard to choose a favourite newborn shot as they are all so cute but I’d say it has to be this one. She looks so snuggly & peaceful, it reminds me of when I used to watch Josh sleeping when he was tiny (which I still do!)
This shot has to be my favourite child photo so far, just reminds me of long summer evenings being carefree when you are a child, interested in the tiniest things in nature which we probably take for granted now.
It’s probably an obvious choice but I am so happy with this photo! I really wanted a dream-like, angelic photograph showing the love between mother & bump and am so happy with the results. As I said if you have an idea of what you want that’s great, but also leaving it up to the photographer can also be great as they can get creative!