Photography expert and business lover, Karen Gunton, hits you with her best shots and offers great tips for how to make each experience the best of its kind.
by Karen Gunton
“You… are more perfect than I could have hoped, more beautiful than I could have dreamed, more precious than I could have imagined. I love you more than I could have known…”
having a baby is momentous. life-changing. soul-changing! and the time passes so quickly, far too quickly as i am sure you have already discovered. photographs are one way to make that time stand still, even if for only a moment. what moments are the essential ‘must-have’ photographs for your memory book? here is a little guide to help you decide….
pregnancy is pretty unique time in a woman’s life, and for most will only happen one or two times. maternity photographs are an amazing way to capture and remember how it felt to be pregnant: that thrill of anticipation, that overwhelming feeling of joy, the love you and hubby already have for baby. these photos are best left till the last few weeks of your pregnancy.
bring: a light tank top that you can pull up to show your belly or a feel-sexy bra; your pre-pregnancy jeans unbuttoned or a simple black skirt; your hubby’s dress shirt to wear unbuttoned or a light gauzy wrap to drape; an outfit that makes you feel absolutely gorgeous.
tiny, squishy, sleepy newborn photos are one of the sweetest keepsakes you can have of your baby. this stage is over in the blink of an eye! the best time to get these types of image is in the first 7 days when baby is really tiny, is generally more sleepy, and before the baby acne shows up.
bring: extra wipes & a change of clothes for mum & dad (naked newborns will poop and pee all over you!); special, lovely baby blankets (yours will have more meaning than the ones the photographer supplies); hand-knitted hats, cute diaper covers, or a special outfit that doesn’t have a loud graphic on the chest (takes away from baby’s adorable face).
if you love those bright, big-eyed, smiley-face, adorable, chubby baby photos, the perfect age is between 6-9 months – after baby is sitting up on their own, but before they start crawling away!
bring: balloons, balls, blocks, wagon, wooden truck, fairy wand, string of beads, teddy bear – basically any prop that baby can hold and put in their mouth, but won’t be a distraction in the photo. simple, old-fashioned or handmade toys are often best! bare bellies are adorable at this age; try boys in just a pair of jeans and girls in a tutu skirt + fairy wings.
a professional photo on (or near) baby’s first birthday is a lovely keepsake and will often capture your baby’s emerging personality. but be prepared with patience and an open mind as babies at this stage are on the move! a very popular trend is to have a cake smash session for baby’s first birthday – a fabulous, fun and messy memory of this big milestone (the bonus is that cakes, balloons & hats keep baby’s attention!)
bring: patience (did i mention that already?); a couple of changes of outfits to get variety; a new toy to hold interest (again, something that will add too rather than take away from the photos); balloons, a birthday hat, and a cake if you have arranged for a cake smash session, or you will be outdoors and the mess won’t matter!
as your child grows, life gets very busy and professional photographs tend to be less of a priority. one suggestion i have for my clients is to try to get a professional photo taken on or around each of your child’s birthdays (at least until they get to school-age) even if it is just a quick mini-session. it is wonderful to document the life of your child as they grow and change and as their personalities continue to amaze you!
bring: changes of clothes for variety; costume or novelty clothes for fun; props that remind you of who they are: their interests and personalities (even if it is a grubby teddy they have been dragging around for three years!)
an alternative to studio style photographs is to hire a photographer to capture a special event such as a baptism, christening, briss, naming ceremony, or first birthday party. you will most likely be too busy to get the photographs you really want, so this is a must if you want to have beautiful shots of the event that you can treasure in the future.
bring: a list of the ‘must have’ shots you want to capture and names of the guests you absolutely want to be sure to get photographs of; a timeline of the event so the photographer can be prepared; a guest book so you can include handwritten notes with the photographs.
i have included this as an extra-special event that you may consider having photographed. is there any other event more special than this? a skilled photographer in this field will be able to capture the beauty and emotion of your baby’s birth without being intrusive, and without showing anything you are uncomfortable with. here is an example of some gorgeous birth photography.
what to look for in a professional photographer
no matter what moments you decide to capture in this journey, the key is finding the right photographer for your needs, your budget and your style (modern, traditional, photo-journalistic, studio, outdoors, or in your own home). thankfully this is a field where there is a huge range of choice in all of those categories.
do your research! ask for recommendations from friends, look through portfolios to see if the photographs match your style & taste, talk to the photographer for a while to see if they suit your personality, and check the prices to see if both the sessions & the prints fit your budget. don’t take a risk on a photographer you are unsure of, the moments are fleeting and you don’t want to be disappointed with the result.
if you find a photographer you love, see if they will give you a package price on getting a number of these sessions done throughout the year. this will allow you to capture all of these incredible moments without breaking the budget. trust me, you won’t be sorry!
Karen is a mum, entrepreneur, and badass in Australia. She never uses capital letters, and lives for capturing memories on film. For more about Karen, check out our Go-to Panel! For more beautiful photography, check out Karen’s site www.smileplaylove.com. And for great business resources, check out Karen’s fantastic mompreneur tools and more at www.buildalittlebiz.com.