From time to time I’m contacted by people who have been let down by other photographers and when this happens, I always feel a little bit sad. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that’s that uncommon and it happens far more often then I’d like.
When Amy contacted me late last year to say that they had a photoshoot booked but unfortunately their photographer had pulled out at the last minute and their Newborn baby was already two weeks old I knew that I needed to make this happen for them.
Despite a very full diary with the build up to Christmas I managed to wiggle some extra childcare on a day I wouldn’t normally work so that I could drive down to Portsmouth, Hampshire to photographs Amy’s gorgeous family and their new baby.
I say this often but I am a great believer in fate. I absolutely believe that I was meant to photograph this family. I love all of my clients but there are always a few that hold a special place in my heart and Amy and Gerren family are one of those families.
Before every family and Newborn shoot I send all of the families a questionnaire to help me get to know them better. When reading through Amy’s responses they echoed what so many people tell me before their Newborn or family photo shoot. They aren’t “photogenic” they don’t know how to pose and there are likely to be feeling and looking really awkward in front of the camera.
I hear it time and time again and my response is always everybody feels the same. My job is to make you all feel relaxed and forget that you’re even having your photo taken. A good photographer will direct you in a manner in which you don’t even know you’re being directed. I can guarantee that if somebody put me in front of the camera and didn’t talk to me or even attempt to tell me what day I would feel super awkward. As soon as somebody starts talking to me and giving my direction, I forget that the camera is even there and that is the same for most people.
Anyway, Amy needn’t have worried because they absolutely smashed their Newborn photo shoot. We bounced on the beds, we sang songs, we snuggled, and boy did we laugh!! I left their home in Portsmouth with the biggest smile on my face knowing that I captured some of the best photos I’ve ever taken.
There’s something about a Newborn session with an older sibling which has me hooked. Often people think I’m crazy because I would much rather deal with a Newborn and a 2-year-old then I would older children. But I just love the unpredictability. I love being pushed out of my comfort zone, I love thinking on my feet. I find that the best work I ever create is when I’m under immense pressure.
Sometimes when you have free reign and the most well-behaved children in the most beautiful well-lit home you can overwhelm yourself with the possibilities. Give yourself some boundaries or some difficult 2 or 3-year-olds, overtired Newborn, or even just a reluctant dad and you’ll create magic that you would not of done if all of those things hadn’t happened.
I’m going to leave you with some of my favourite images from our session. I just love the connection that this family had. These connections aren’t forced, they are natural, this is the way this family is, day in and day out. But in order to capture this type of connection in photography you have to know the family and read them. But more than that you have to allow them time to be themselves and know when to stop directing.
And remember how I told you that this family were incredible? I’m going to paste the review that Amy sent me a few weeks after our Newborn photo session. I still smile every time I read this. It’s like all the boxes were ticked and its truly the best confirmation that I am doing exactly what I’m set out to achieve with my business.
“I contacted Carley when our daughter was already 10 days old, after another photographer had let us down (thank goodness they did!) and she kindly managed to move her diary around so that she could squeeze us in for a newborn shoot within the week.
I found her through Instagram and the photographs that she had shared of other work she had undertaken was absolutely beautiful. From our first contact, she was beyond helpful and accommodating from her prompt responses to any questions that I had right through to her amazingly helpful guides about what to expect on the day and even some helpful ideas for what to wear (which was beyond helpful with that post partum wardrobe crisis that was looming!). Carley made the extra effort to discuss what it was we wanted from the shoot as a family and anything that we felt she may need to know about us, including our toddlers temperament or worries we may have.
On the day, Carley arrived and it was immediately obvious that she had an amazing ability to engage with children, as she promptly befriended our three year old. She was so calm and patient and didn't rush to get started, which was hugely welcome considering I had only just jumped out the shower prior to her arrival, she spent the time chatting to my daughter and husband as was able to put them both at ease! My husband reflected afterwards that the idea of having photographs taken, whilst lovely in terms of capturing our girls together for the first time, filled him with dread as he didn't perceive himself as photogenic. I held the same worries, after convincing myself that the beautiful work on Carley's website and Instagram page must be staged by the most photogenic people she could find...what I quickly realised is that Carley is actually magic!
Her ability to put your entire family at ease and talk motherhood with me like I'd known her a lifetime was invaluable and she has this air about her that I can't quite put into words. It felt as though she was so present, getting to know us as a family which meant she was able to capture those aspects through her photographs, yet we felt so relaxed that it didn't feel as though she was even there to take our picture at times. There wasn't a moment that it felt as though she was staging photographs and everything flowed so well, before we knew it hours had passed and after she left both my husband and I commented that we were sad to see her go because of how enjoyable the experience was, this was no mean feat given the dread that he felt about having photographs taken beforehand.
Carley quickly sent through some proofs to us that were absolutely beautiful and everything that we had hoped for when I asked her to come and photograph our family. The importance that she places on getting to know you as a family (and individuals) was so evident and she captured all of the aspects of family life that are so important to us.
They are truly beautiful images and certainly made me shed a tear...as for my husband, he mentioned something about some dust hanging around, and getting some of it caught in his eye when we looked at them for the first time! Carley is a truly talented woman, one of the kindest people that I have met and has an ability to really connect with families. I promptly planned with her to have some more photographs in 2020, we're already looking forward to seeing her again and the beautiful work I know she'll produce “