Maybe it had something to do with the maternity shootI did for my niece late last year, but when a friend’s baby was born last month I found myself offering to come and take some photos of the new arrival – in a text message, no less, so she had it in writing.
I recently made good on that offer, and popped round for a late-morning session. As is usually the case, it took a while for me to get comfortable and figure out what worked, but by the time Bailey had had his feed, we were getting into full stride and I started enjoying myself. Editing the photos later, I started to actually see the baby – often when I shoot I don’t really notice the subject, but am paying more attention to the composition and lighting.
As you would know from my first post about this maternity shoot, it is not my aim to be a pro photographer – I just want the freedom to keep on enjoying my hobby.
Soon after I started blogging, I shot a wedding for friends, and wrote about my rollercoaster ride through the emotions of a shoot: from happiness with the tiny images on the LCD screen (everything seems perfect at thumbnail size!), the elation of everything going without incident, to the shock of discovering how blown-out your images are when you look at them full size, how many shots were snapped at inopportune moments (mid-blink/yawn/speech, etc), and that sinking feeling that sets in when you realise you were a let-down. Then the aching climb back to victory, as you begin editing and appreciating the photos for what they are: real moments with real people doing fairly uncontrived things.
This sequence of photos is a great example of something completely unstaged, with a few moments of laughter and candid motion recorded. It’s one of my favourite memories of the day, and it makes me grin when I look at it.
Since their dogs are an important part of their lives, we brought them to the shoot with us. While we had hoped to get some good shots with them walking on their leads, my favourite shots of the day with them were this quick sequence of a random bit of play – look how ferocious the pale dog looks, mum-to-be’s hilarity at the situation, and how happy everyone looks. I love the way dad-to-be didn’t let go of the baby the whole time.
Whenever someone who has seen my work asks if I’ll do a photography session with them, I shy away and mostly say no; I don’t like to be obligated to producing what someone else wants, and I don’t want my hobby to turn into a burden. If I know and like them personally, and they understand to not expect miracles, then occasionally I’ll say yes.
I recently said yes to my niece when she asked me, after a little bit of a chat about what she wanted. Then I did a bit of research online, and found a selection of maternity photos I really liked and showed her what I was thinking to get a feel for what we might try. Being not baby-inclined, I really had no idea, and was glad for the inspiration – especially the idea of using the scan photo. After that I put it out of my mind so that I didn’t talk myself out of it, and when the weekend rolled around I was relaxed about the day ahead, making for a better experience.
Our first location was very windy and challenged by dappled sunlight, but when we moved to the railway loading shed everything fell into place. It offered a good mix of aged industrial backdrop, along with ruined interiors and graffiti – perfect! When I put my head inside a door and discovered the graffiti (third image from top – remember kids, if you do this, you too could end up having a maternity shoot!) I exclaimed with delight: how could we not use that oversized expletive in our shots! Unfortunately my Olympus’ beloved grainy black & white mode didn’t quite handle the light as I hoped, which meant losing precious details of their faces, but you get the idea. After that we went from strength to strength.
We had a really enjoyable time, with lots of laughs and messing around, and I’m so pleased I accepted the challenge. These are some of my favourite photos – as usual, I tend to like the abstracted or the absurd or the downright random shots best.