Wednesday, April 04, 2007

04/04/07: Lifestyle Baby Photography - Part 3 of 3

Lifestyle Baby Photography- Edition 3: The Session Experience
by Amber Holritz

Once you have established your Philosophy and Strategy and have created your Relationships, it is time to create the Experience of the Lifestyle Session. Your objective during this session is to create the emotional images that your client will treasure for a lifetime, but to do so without causing any additional stress in their lives.

1. The Walk Through
The first thing I do when I arrive at my client's home for the first time (after giving the Mom a baby present of course!) is to do a quick walk through. Mom and I have already discussed which rooms Baby spends most of her time, and now I want to use that knowledge to help me create a "game plan" of sorts. I look for pockets of indoor light, beautiful pieces of furniture, and sentimental touches within the home. As I walk through the main areas, I mentally map out a quick sketch of the session ahead.

2. Interactive Portraiture
When I schedule the session with Mom, we plan for Baby to be awake for the beginning portion of the session. (Of course, babies and schedules don't always sync, so I plan to be as flexible as possible!) This allows us to do the interactive portraiture with Mom, Dad, and siblings at the beginning of the session, freeing the family up to go about their day as Mom and I finish up. I begin this portion of the session by reiterating what we have determined previously. "When you hang out as a family, it's usually in the den, right?" We then head for that area, I have them grab a seat and sit closely (I usually tell them to go cuddle on the couch together...), and then I tell them to talk to the baby and one another, kiss, hug, and just love each other for a few minutes. I shoot this from every angle possible. I focus on the baby, and let the family go out in the background. I use the fisheye to show their environment. I get down low and shoot through a the coffee table. I frame the image wide and center the piece of art hanging above the couch. I do this portion as quickly as possible. Then I grab Dad, and take him to a "pocket of light". This could be a hallway, a window, anywhere that I like the quality of light. I ask him to hold the baby like he usually does and nuzzle her a bit. I shoot this from every angle possible. Wide, tight, low, high. Focus on Dad, focus on Baby. Dad can then leave if he needs to. If he sticks around, I try to get him in the background of images of Mom and Baby. The image of Dad watching over his family is a very powerful one! I do the same with Mom, often using the same space as I used with Dad. But I will continue to photograph Baby with Mom throughout the session as we move from place to place, and as Mom soothes, feeds, and changes Baby.

3. Environmental Portraiture
From this point on my focus is on the child. With newborns, I am focused on capturing the size of the child. I do this by using familiar pieces of furniture in the child's home. I most often use a couch, an interesting chair, and the master bed. I try to use existing art pieces to add additional legitimacy to the images. Using the home in this way adds to the historical value of the image! These images are easiest when Baby is asleep! It is then an easy transition to the crib, to get some beautiful images of the nursery that Mom and Dad have spent so much time on.

With older babies, I am focused on capturing what they are "doing" at this age. I am able to place her in her most comfortable environment (swing, play gym, nursery with toys, ect), lay down on the floor with her, and shoot to my hearts content. Often, she will be completely enthralled with the camera at first, and I will be able to easily snag my "portraits" (with eyes to the camera), and from there will be able to focus on capturing moments.

4. The Fun Stuff
After I have created the important portraits, I can move on to the fun stuff. I look primarily for expression, relationship, and environment when creating these images. I am consistently looking to see where Mom (and the rest of the family, if they are still around) is, and will frame her in the background if appropriate. We do bath time, playtime, pet time, snack time... Anything that Baby normally does, we will try to do! The important thing at this point is to compose creatively. If you are not careful, these images could look like snapshots. Use these ground rulesto create images that look professional regardless of how casual the situation is.

Amber Holritz, and her husband Nathan, run Holritz Photography based in Chattanooga, TN. when they aren't busy shooting amazing pictures of weddings, babies or their own beautiful children, they find time to speak to and consult photographers throughout the United States. You can read more about Nathan and Amber Holritz on their photographer resource blog --

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