April 13, 2010

Reality Check

Just when I thought a few things were starting to click, I tried my hand today at some newborn photos of 11-day-old Grace.  Oh my.  I think I've gotten better shots with the disposable cameras strewn about at wedding receptions.

Granted, there were a couple things out of my control: 1) Baby Grace was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the entire time I was there; not an ounce of shut-eye for the camera.  The only way you can make newborns "pliable" for all those adorable scrunched up poses is to work quickly while they sleep.  2) it was another dark, rainy morning...I tried to make the most of this with Erin's maternity photos by slowing down the shutter speed to let in more light, but this only works with adults who hold still; toddlers on the move or newborns with their arms & legs flailing equals BLUR at low shutter speeds.  So I had no choice but to use flash.  And, with that, I've learned a couple valuable lessons: 1) this is why the professionals request the first week to 10 days for newborn shots: so they sleep, and 2) there is good reason why babies should be photographed with natural light, studio light, or at the very least a speedlight, but most certainly not a $20 reflective contraption attached to a pop-up flash: it is just not flattering.

With the right equipment & a longer block of time, I may have been able overcome these challenges.  But add to that a whole mess of issues I could have controlled, and my plan to "just wing it" was a bad one.   
  • lack of posing ideas/references (I'd looked at a few blogs - how hard could it be??  um, very)
  • bad props (a couple baskets, blankets, hats, etc. I had gathered from around the house...but without that bendy sleepyhead, a child smooshed in a too-small basket just looks like Baby Jessica stuck in a well; plopping a cute hat atop her head cannot save the shot)
  • no thought of a backdrop (my idea of zooming in superclose to avoid busy backgrounds resulted in wide-angle distortion, causing the appearance of a baby bobblehead, or size 13 feet if taken from the other end)
This photo could have been cute had it not been an example of all three of these problems. And by zooming in to avoid the background mess (almost anyways), I effectively cut off much of her head and the "Future Spartan" catchphrase at the bottom of the blanket.  oops. 

Poor Grace, she was so good and tolerant through it all.  I hope she will let me try again when I get the hang of my new camera & lens (I borrowed Erin's today) but she may have another thought coming...

 Aye Yai Yai camera lady, please do not come back until you know what you are doing.   

 Sorry, Erin, you get what you pay for :)


Update: As I declared in my very first post, "This blog reflects my quest for improvement."  In the interest of that quest, I am including a few additional photos of Gracie before I delete them from my hard drive.  Yes, there are a couple more bobbleheads/baby jessicas/messy backgrounds/9 toes showing instead of 10 :) etc. etc., but they help to complete the picture of my first newborn experience. 
And Erin's response to my grumblings?  That these are pictures of her little girl so she loves them.  Thank you for reminding me what's most important. xo


  1. #2 is not bad at all!! It's cute :) My first newborn was horrid. She was awake and not cooperative. Then I did Nicole's boy Cameron and then Danielle's little Lana....she was a dream because she slept the entire time!! Good for you to give it a shot...you should be proud :)

  2. well, if you're having a hard time, then i throw my hands in the air right now. i actually like these 2 photos. the lighting looks good, and she's a BEAUTIFUL subject, so you just can't go wrong.

    love the side comments- esp. "you get what you pay for." i won't be charging for a LOOOOOONG time, if ever.