Currently, I don’t have children and I’m a newborn photographer. Is that strange? To some it may be because how does one fall into the niche of Newborn Photography without having a family of her own. Most photographers who specialize in newborn photography usually find their calling after the birth of their child. So the story goes:
Mom (or Dad, but usually Mom) gets a DSLR camera after child is born and finds out she loves to take pictures of her child(ren). She has a creative eye and is hooked. People love her work and encourage her to take photos of their families. Mom uses this opportunity to practice her skills and learn more about her camera. She finds photography online support groups and dives into the world of F-stops, shutter speeds, ISO, and Photoshop. Once she understands the exposure triangle, she sees her images dramatically improve and then she sets-up shop. Mom then learns how to balance work and family so she doesn’t wear herself out. Once this balance is achieved, everyone lives happily ever after!
Some personal stories could be a bit different but children are usually the reason someone falls into this profession. And I’m no different. But my story is the opposite (and a bit longer):
I’ve had a camera since Jr High and got a BFA in Photography. In high school and college all I wanted to do was take photos of unknown people and places. I wanted my photos to make a difference in the world; educate and inspire people. Photographers whose work I enjoyed were Dorothea Lange, Jodi Cobb, Steve McCurry, Hine to name a few. All of them were/are documentary photographers/photojournalists and that was who I wanted to be. After college I did just that. I went to unknown places, Central Asia for a few years and it.was.not.easy. Within the first year I came to realize that I may not be cut out for that line of work which was crushing. I spent most of my life and education preparing for that moment, only to find out I couldn’t do it emotionally and physically. I felt defeated and lost but I continued on for two more years because I had committed three years to the job. But there were also wonderful things about the experience too, so it definitely wasn’t all bad. I made great friends there that I hope to someday see again. It was just a challenge for me living in a remote village.
When my commitment was up, I went back stateside and moved in with my now-husband, Patrick, in Connecticut. I don’t know how we did it, but we managed to stay in each other’s lives for the 5 years we were apart (first 2 years I was in Florida, he was in Connecticut). I stopped taking pictures and took a desk job. Re-evaluating my life, I seriously thought a career in Photography was not in the stars for me. Although I was disappointed, I was extremely happy with my new life with Patrick. Now that we were able to spend everyday together.
Then my friend, Rina, contacted me. She had just gotten her 1st daughter’s newborn pictures done. “You have to get into this, ” she said. “You would be so great at it and you’d love it.” I laughed and told her she was crazy. But, at the same time a friend of mine was having her fourth child. I entertained Rina’s idea and contacted my friend to see if she would be interested in newborn photos. Knowing that I absolutely had no experience in it, she loved the idea! I immediately googled how to take newborn photos.
Talk about culture shock! I was not prepared for all the info on the subject. There’s the props: hats, blanket, baskets, wraps, headbands, etc. There’s also how to photograph: best angle, light, exposure <——which I had already mastered. Then there’s the baby: setting the environment, soothing, just understanding how babies react. My mind was going crazy! I absorbed as much info as I could and set out to my very first newborn session. Here are the results:
Not bad for my first time, right?
As a perfectionist, I always see the flaws and comparing the images to seasoned newborn photographers on the web….well, I had my work cut out for me. BUT, I actually enjoyed the process from start to finish! I loved meeting the little guy in all his freshness and innocence. His dependency and trust in my hands was a rewarding experience that I never knew existed. And the excitement of the poses! When I put him in the little basket and posed, the parents just oohed and aaahed. And that was just the session. Showing the final images to the parents was just plain AWESOME. They had their favorites but loved every single one and I was thrilled at their excitement. They thanked me profusely and told me that because of my photographs, they will always have a reminder of when he was that small and wished they had the same for their three older children. The grandparents also saw the images and just about cried. I was sitting in their living room watching all the love and excitement pour out of them while they talked about his chubby cheeks, and flaky skin and I thought….Wow, Rina was right….and Josephine Photography was born!!