August 3, 2021 | Features
When I first started newborn photography, it never crossed my mind that I’d ever win an award. The struggle between getting the lighting and posing right while keeping the baby happy was all I could focus on for a long time. All I wanted was to get a shot my clients would love and cherish for years to come.
It was only after 6 years of photographing that I decided to join the IPPVA and started sending my work to be judged. And I’m so glad I did this as I really enjoy the process of entering my images into competitions. It helps me push myself a bit further and look at the details that could make my work better.
Getting a silver award for Arthur’s image was amazing. With some of the common newborn setups, like the Potato Sack pose, I always try to find something to make it a little different from the straight-on shots. I try different angles, compositions, and lighting to bring more interest to my galleries.
I knew this specific shot of Arthur was going to be one of my favourites because of how perfect and peaceful he looked — the truth be told, I love his whole gallery! The angle and the backlit lighting really accentuate his tiny little baby feature, making his gorgeous lips and eyelashes really stand out.
Not many of my newborn images are black and white, but I knew this one could really benefit from it. Converting it to black and white really minimised a lot of the distractions and brought attention to the baby’s little face.
Although the potato sack pose is pretty common, it requires good training and experience from the photographer to achieve it safely.
To help keep the baby supported during this setup, I use a posing cushion specially designed for the potato sack pose. Layering up a few wraps (3 or 4) would also work. These extra layers also give that smooth round look that we look for when we photograph the newborn fully wrapped.
For extra safety, I do a composite of two images when creating a potato sack image. I ask the parents to help me by supporting the baby at all times. Then I take one shot where the parent is supporting the baby from the top of their head and another holding behind their neck.
VIDEO OF POTATO SACK POSE BEHIND THE SCENE on IPPVA VIMEO.
Babies really enjoy this pose because they just love being swaddled. As soon as I finish my wrapping and get ready for the shot, they are usually fast asleep.
My goal was to create an image soft enough to represent the newborn subject but also to give it some impact and dimension by keeping deep shadows as well.
For that specific Silver award image, I used:
– Canon 5D Mark IV
– Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4. Lens
– Elinchrom D-Lite RX One on its lowest power
– 1.65m Umbrella with white inner linen and white diffuser from Nice Light
The post-processing of this image followed my usual newborn editing workflow. I cull the images on Photo Mechanic which I find handy and faster than most other software. Then, I bring the images to Photoshop CC to retouch the background, skin and to apply a couple of colour overlays. I use and love the Lemon Sky Photography actions for my newborn images. They do exactly what I need and really speed up my workflow.
On this image, I didn’t need to work on extending backgrounds and the baby’s skin was pretty much perfect. Which made my work much easier.
I finish up my editing in Alien Skin Exposure, where I have a few custom presets to make the final images stand out a bit more. There, I also apply sharpening and do conversions to black and white.
Behind The Image — Elaine Barker, First Place in IPPVA Classic Wedding Photographer of The Year 2021