I believe all photographers have heard this phrase at least once:
‘That’s a great camera, no wonder your baby pictures are so good’
Now there is no denying that the right equipment can make a huge difference to the quality of your baby’s pictures, that’s a fact! But today, I’m here to bust this myth!
It’s true to say that investing in the right equipment does help me enormously to carry out my job as a London newborn photographer to the best of my ability.
That said, the glass (or the lens) that’s on the camera is probably more important than the actual camera body. Lenses can often be two or three times the cost of the camera itself. I need to be continually investing in equipment such as lenses to be able to give you the very best service possible. However, you can have the best camera and lenses in the world and still only produce mediocre photography.
The most important piece of kit is actually behind the camera!
My brain, my creativity and my ability to put into practice all of the training I’ve invested in is what makes the difference between a mediocre picture and a great portrait.
Firstly I have to understand the ‘basics’ of photography. Anyone can get lucky with a baby picture and snap the perfect portrait. But producing high-quality, wall-worthy work consistently, well, that requires a really good understanding of photography. That takes training, study, practice and experience.
So What does it take for beautiful baby pictures?
Light is the most important factor and is the element that ‘makes’ the image.
Without light, we have no images. Understanding how to control light in the studio and how to make it work in my favour outdoors is essential to creating beautiful portraits for you. Light can shape and flatter or it can be harsh and unforgiving. For example, I want the softest light to gently illuminate your newborn to give us stunning heirloom images that are timeless. I need to create this, it doesn’t happen by accident and it certainly isn’t controlled by the camera I use.
Next up is focus. I need to be able to produce images that are clearly in focus. The model of camera I use can make this task slightly easier but when I’m working with tiny newborns, a few millimetres can make the difference between a face in focus or not! This is something you might not notice so much on the small screen of a phone camera but as soon as I want to create a large piece of wall art, the focus has to be pin sharp! I also need to control the area that’s out of focus. This is called the depth of field. It’s a more complex version of ‘portrait’ mode on your phone camera.
The third element I have to master as a photographer is exposure. In simple terms, this is the amount of time light is exposed to the camera’s sensor. The reality is I have to decide how long I want the shutter open (a long time will affect my focus), how wide I want the opening to be and finally how sensitive to light I want the camera sensor to be. Although this sounds complex, it does become second nature – a little bit like learning to drive a car.
These are all technical bits but I think there are other important factors for good baby pictures.
Another important factor is set-up and clothing. You could have a perfectly exposed image but if you have a busy background or the wrong choice of clothes and colours that photo could never be harmonious and pleasant.
Then there is connection. It’s important to create connection not only between the subjects in the photo but also between the photographer and the subjects. If the parents are relaxed and at ease, the children or baby will be too and that results in better photos.
And last but surely not least, actually probably the most important one is emotions. I believe a good photo is not about technical perfection, that’s a bonus. I believe a photo has to transmit something and has to tell a story. A static portrait of mum and daughter or a family looking straight at the camera to me is kind of dull. A dynamic photo like this below, where there is an interaction is what warms up our hearts when we look back at it. Don’t you agree?
So, all of this is something I’ve dedicated time and money to learning – all before I start thinking about creativity. Choosing wardrobe and simple prop items, thinking about the composition of my images, learning posing techniques – it’s an endless list that I’m constantly investing in and developing.
So, in short, yes, my camera is pretty good but a bit like James Martin’s amazing outdoor kitchen it won’t produce stunning results by itself!
Without my thinking and skills behind it, the camera couldn’t take the same baby pictures. And that’s why parents come to me with their babies.
For tips on how to take better photos of your baby follow me on Instagram. I’m quite active in stories and I often talk about tricks.
And if you are interested in having a shoot with me, fill out the form below and I’ll be in touch soon to discuss it.