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Mummy Goggles and What They Mean For You

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l’ve been taking photos of newborns for over 9 years now, and have a pretty good grasp on how to produce images of a very high standard. This is because when l started, l simply didn’t. My first images were poor in terms of posing babies.
All were gorgeous to mum of course, and are still hugely valued by the families to this day. But they lacked the skill in posing newborns that meant the images really could and should have been better.
But what l remember from that time is that parents loved them, and didn’t see what I now consider to be  l think l know the answer.
Mummy goggles. l think as a new mum you will love any images of your baby, simply because they have your baby in them. l don’t think most mums can see past that to the images themselves and what might be wrong or right with them. If you showed them to me, l wouldn’t tell you l thought they were awful…how could l? That would be rude, and you would simply assume l was saying you don’t have a beautiful baby. Of course you do…they are always beautiful….but only a good quality photographer will be able to capture your baby the way you see him every day.
Does this matter? l mean, as long as you like the images, who cares if l think they of poor quality?
Well l think it WILL matter. l think that in months or years to come, you will be looking at those images in a different light…because after months of sleepless nights and nappies, and teething, your mummy goggles may have faded. l know mine had. You will still love your baby more than life itself, but that new glow you had the day he was born may well be a little jaded. By then of course, it’s too late to get better images. You may simply look at your images and realise they are poor, and your only option is to never look at them again. Thats really very sad, because they may be the only images of your newborn that you have.
So what l hope to be able to do is to show you what to look for in the portfolio of any potential photographer. l want you to be able to spot poor images and realise why they are poor, and never put yourself in the position of disappointment months down the line.
Theres no doubting that all photographers have to start somewhere..as l did. l am not here to slate poor photographers, and this post will help them too, not just you, the new parents.  ln the interest of fairness l have used some of my first images to show you what a lack of experience can produce.  l’ve put my own head on the block rather than use someone else’s images.
lt goes beyond poor images actually, l am highlighting a way in which you can ensure the photographer keeps your baby safe and comfortable.
l am aware that cost might be an issue for you. The better the images of a photographer, the higher the price is likely to be. Well, as in most things, you get what you pay for. l can’t change that l’m afraid, so it’s up to you to decide the balance between cost and quality. But at least armed with this knowledge, you should be able to get the balance right in a way that suits you.
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 COMFORTABLE POSING

When you look through the work of a photographer to take your newborns images, and you really must, be sure to look at whether the baby looks settled and comfortable. ln the below images, you can see the baby on the left really doesn’t look terribly happy. Her face is expressing that she isn’t relaxed at all in comparison to the baby on the right. She is calm and relaxed, and sleeping peacefully. Also, look at their fingers. This is very important, because a baby will not be able to move their hands if they are squashed and uncomfortable. Her fingers are red, clearly under pressure, and could be the reason she doesn’t look happy. The baby on the right has nice even coloured fingers that are relaxed and in a natural position. Making sure this is the case is the job of the photographer.
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 FLATTERING ANGLES

You see your new baby all squishy and cute, curled up and gorgeous..and you want images that reflect that. The angle an image is taken from is a huge factor in this. The good photographer will know how to use angles to flatter, and capture the way you see your baby every day.
The ‘up the nose’ angle is really not pretty. Nor is a bottom shot of this nature. l know you adore every angle of your baby, but blown up on a canvas these awful angles will not be the talking point of your friends and family for the right reasons.
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 COLOUR POPPING

Just no. This is in the realm of the complete beginner who is playing with Photoshop. l did it…see below…and so do many other beginners. But in time the good photographer realises it is simply not flattering, and not pretty. l refuse to do this on a regular basis…please don’t ask me. lf you see a ‘photographer’ using this technique a lot, unless you really like it, look elsewhere.
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SKILLED PARENT POSING

Getting people to pose in a flattering way is not easy. lts a skill that comes with time, and confidence. Look out for posing that has the best and most flattering angles, has everyones faces nicely visible, and where you can see the subjects look comfortable. Ask yourself, do they look relaxed? Has this image captured how that couple feel about their baby? ls it cropped in a flattering way.
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 SIBLING SHOTS

Sibling shots can be tough going. Many parents have their next baby between 2-4 years after their last, and toddlers are notoriously tough to get to co-operation from in a studio. Look for sibling shots, because if a photographer can get them well, you know they have experience and good skills in this area, and understand how to work with toddlers. lt shows patience, and the ability to get an image that looks natural and comfortable for both children.
Check that both children are visible, and posed in a flattering way. The one on the left is clearly not. Baby is barely visible, and l shot straight up his brothers nose.
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 CONTAINER AND PROP SHOTS

Using containers should only be attempted by someone with experience. there are major safety factors involved. l wasn’t experienced, but did at least know about keeping baby safe. Some ways a good photographer does this will be hidden from you with clever editing. The image on the right included mum sitting on the left with her hand on the basket to guard against tipping, but my editing skills mean you’d never know this. An inexperienced photographer may not know about these editing techniques, and so not have a ‘spotter’, putting baby at risk.
l would advice this: lf their portfolio contains poor images like that on the left below, consider that their inexperience could mean they are not be aware of how to do a container shot safely.
As for image quality, the one on the left is poor because baby is posed badly, his face is hidden and he doesn’t look comfortable or cosy. Mum will still feel he looks adorable, but that doesn’t mean its a great image. This shows my inexperience at that time. Compare it with the image on the right. Baby is visible, relaxed and comfortable.
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Also, please please ask questions of the photographer if they suggest suspending your baby in any way, in or from anything. The hanging shot below is a trick shot. Baby was NEVER suspended. lt was done keeping baby safe at all times.
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Glass is a big NO in newborn photography. lts really that simple.
ln addition to this visual guide to choosing a good photographer, you may like to also read my post on why the very best newborn photography can cost more…. HERE
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