March 15, 2021 | Features
Lidi Lima-Conlon, one half of a dynamic photography duo with her husband and fellow IPPVA photographer, Gareth Lima-Conlon, picked up her very first category win with the IPPVA this year — and the first of its kind for the Association. The awards night didn’t end there for her, though, as she also took home the Chairman’s award for her stunning image of a child’s little feet being cradled in their grandmother’s hands.
Becoming a mum, myself, to my beautiful children Sophie and Thomas, taught me to cherish the simple things in life. I can still remember so clearly the first time I held them in my arms – their smell, their sounds, their tiny features… It felt like time had stopped for me to savour those moments. While we all wish babies could stay that small forever, it is inevitable that they will grow up, and quickly. That’s why I feel very privileged that my job allows me to capture these wonderful moments for my clients when their babies are so small, sealing them forever in my images to be enjoyed for a lifetime.Lidi Lima-Conlan
Would you share with us a little bit of background on the awarded work?
I’ve been working as a newborn photographer for almost a decade and I have to say submitting my work to competitions has made me look at details I hadn’t noticed before. It’s like an art within an art. It has given me more confidence to create and to push my work a bit further.
I don’t usually create a concept in advance. Inspiration comes to me during the session by looking at the baby, talking to the parents, learning about my clients and their stories.
My work is very minimal. I like having babies as the main focus of my images.
My favourite prop is the parents’ hands as you can see on the image for which I received the Chairman’s Award.
In this case, I actually used the grandmother’s hands. Granny came all the way from Portugal for her granddaughter’s birth. She really wanted a picture with the baby but she didn’t want her face to be in it. So I used her hands and baby’s little toes. I adore this image. I love the texture of her skin compared to the baby’s. This image feels very close to me. It makes me think of my own mother and her grandchildren.
Newborn photography is not something new but it has only become popular in Ireland over the past few years. We have a huge community of newborn photographers in the country and that number is growing every day.
I’m so honoured to be the first winner of the Newborn Photographer of the Year Award within the IPPVA. It is truly amazing to have our field embraced by the Association. This is definitely a huge step for us.
We know a lot of our readers will love to hear more about gear, equipment and post-treatment. Tell us more.
My gear is very minimal:
Most newborn photographers like myself use natural light especially when they are starting off. I know sometimes the thought of using strobes can be overwhelming but I have made the switch to studio lights a few years ago and I wouldn’t go back.
I found doing my session indoors with natural light very difficult. Especially given that the Irish weather is so unpredictable. It was difficult to find good quality light, to keep consistency throughout the gallery, and come winter time I had very limited hours during the day to work.
My lighting setup now couldn’t be simpler. I use one strobe, one umbrella, and my settings on the camera are not complicated. Using studio lighting for newborn photography has helped me to create better images, focus on the baby and posing more, and keep consistency throughout my work.
When working with newborns we have to consider other equipment that wouldn’t be necessary for a regular portrait session but are essential when working with babies.
A good bean bag with a backdrop system is important. I use the Paloma Schell Mini Stand which is perfect for me as a mobile photographer. It is easy to assemble and small enough to fit in the car to transport it. This bean bag and stand have saved me hours in post-production smoothing out blankets.
Positioning beans, a space heater and white noise (I use the Baby Shusher) are also essential. I wouldn’t do a session without these small but very important tools.
What are you working on at the moment? Any personal projects or commissions you want to share with us?
Since the first lockdown, I’ve been focusing more on the training and mentoring side of my business. Obviously, all courses are online since my in-person training sessions had to be cancelled last year due to COVID.
I have noticed a huge increase in enquiries for training from non-professionals looking to start in newborn photography. It seems like the pandemic has given society a sense of value for their time. A lot of people are now looking to start doing something they really love and as it turns out, newborn photography is the hidden passion of many.
Is there a particular image or artist that has inspired/moved you?
For me, Kelly Brown has been an inspiration since the beginning. I came across her work when I first started in newborn photography. At that time, in-person newborn training was pretty hard to find, especially in Ireland. For that reason all my initial training was done online, mostly watching Kelly Brown’s teaching videos.
Kelly puts so much love and care into her sessions it is hard not to get inspired by her. Being exposed to her work early on in my career made me feel confident that newborn photography was definitely what I wanted to pursue in photography.
Have you had any other professions before becoming a photographer? Did you study photography or are you self-taught?
I graduated in Journalism and worked as a TV reporter for 4 years before I decided to come to Ireland in 2008 to learn English. The plan originally was for me to go back to Brazil after 6 months and grow my career in television with a good knowledge of English.
It turned out I needed way more than 6 months to learn the language and that journalism wasn’t really what I wanted. At that point a beginners photography course was offered at the English school I used to attend and that changed my whole life.
I learned a bit about exposure and composition from working on the news. I remember messing around with the videographer’s camera every time we needed to wait for someone to be interviewed just to pass time.
But that wasn’t enough. When I started the photography course I couldn’t stop studying and practising (trying to get my head around f stop, shutter speed and ISO took me ages).
At the beginning, I photographed everything until it became clear that my heart lay in photographing babies and their families.
What would be your 3 main tips for a photographer with a strong portfolio of personal work wanting to start a business?
Can I give a bonus tip? Here it is:
Don’t give up. It’s not easy but it’s exciting and it’s empowering!
What would you most love to photograph right now if Covid restrictions weren’t a reality? What do you miss the most?
I’m gonna sound very cheesy here but whoever knows me knows this comes from the bottom of my heart.
I cannot wait to photograph my little clients again. Newborn sessions are my therapy. Whenever I’m not feeling great, all I need is to photograph a little baby and it lifts my whole day.
I’m truly lucky to be able to do what I love, work with all these cute babies and to capture beautiful memories for their families.