One of my favorite moments during newborn sessions is when parents think that we’re not photographing them anymore, and the pressure to perform and pose seems to wither away. At the start of my photography endeavors I spent so much time perfecting my technical skills, lighting, posing… now I find myself shifting toward learning how to master the art of getting people to relax, perfecting the art of ‘anti-posing’ if you will. There is truly something to be said about the difference between a real smile and a fake smile – allowing your subject to just be in order to observe a genuine reaction of surprise or love. Henri Cartier-Bresson once said (and thank you to Deb Schwedhelm for putting this post together and reminding me of how amazing and inspirational Henri is)
“The most difficult thing is a portrait. Who is it? What is it?
You have to be like a cat. and not disturb.
A person doesn’t react the same way when he’s not studied.
You see them stripped naked in a photograph.”
I love the sleepy, dreamy, curled up baby work that I do and I don’t think it will ever go out of style but I find myself wanting to give you even more. I’ve started to give a lot of thought lately as to what my clients might truly want to remember when their babies are no longer babies anymore and they are waving them off to college… so when we’re setting up before a session or even taking a break in between, I ask mom and dad what are their favorite things about their little ones? How is being a parent different or similar to what they expected? Being a good photographer is more than just clicking the camera.. it’s watching, listening, feeling, acting.
While at a recent session with twins, mom was feeding one of her boys as we were taking a lunch break. I can’t remember exactly how we got there but I mentioned a conversation with a past client who told me her baby had grown so much she constantly needed to lift the folds in their neck & chin in order to clean the milk that would get stuck in there. The punch line of the story being that if this extra cleaning wasn’t done, the milk would inevitably turn into what she called “neck cheese” lol! The mom that sat in front of me looked down at her own little one and chuckled… I imagine a moment of humorous self-reflection…if only her past-self knew that one day her heart could ever melt over neck cheese. She told me how when baby G would feed he would latch off and have milk all over his face and dribbling down his cheeks as well. A mundane experience, a simple statement lost in our conversation… until at the end of our session when we were doing family photos and baby G needed a break to feed again. As we hung out for a few moments I looked down and noticed the milk dribbling from his mouth just like his mom had described to me earlier that day. Before she could wipe the droplets away I grabbed my camera and let myself be present in her moment so that she could remember this one day when she’s waving him off to college…
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