Wow! What an incredible few months it has been for everyone. I have been receiving so many questions about COVID-19 and whether newborn photo sessions can still go ahead.
There has been little specific guidance as to whether posed newborn photographers have been able to operate with many discussions in forums etc that I’m a member of. Whilst there was never any specific directive from the NSW Government to close, I felt that as I could not comply with the 1.5m social distancing requirements, that closing my business over the past few months was the most responsible thing to do.
Posed Newborn Sessions Are Back… with extra Coronavirus precautions
As of today (1st June) I am offering posed newborn photo sessions at my Sydney Inner West photography studio. This is in line with the Government’s recommendation that is now allowing hairdressers and similar services where people need to touch clients.
Of course, the health and safety of my little clients (and my own little ones at home) has always been my number one priority. Due to COVID-19, I have added some extra precautions to help keep everyone safe:
No shoes in the studio
Immediate family members only at the session (parents and siblings only)
Extra hand sanitising and mask to be worn by me when I am required to be within 1.5m of my clients/when required to pose your baby
These are in addition to my normal precautions that I have always taken (eg. never photographing when sick, sanitising the studio and props between sessions, good hand hygiene etc).
By hiring me as your photographer for your posed newborn session, I do ask that you complete an extra clause in my contract which outlines the additional measures we must both take to keep both our families safe at this time.
If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact me!
The best camera is always the one you have with you! I don’t always have (or want to carry!) my big heavy DSLR, so knowing how to make the best out of the camera on your iPhone is important. Here are my top tips to get better photos of your baby using just your iPhone
1. Use Portrait mode
Make sure you have the very latest version of iOS installed on your iPhone as there are some important camera additions that have been brought out by Apple recently. Once you’ve sorted that out, you’ll want to make sure you’re using “Portrait” mode. This will change the settings on your camera to give you great images straight away.
2. Turn off the flash
The on-camera flash doesn’t give the most pleasing results when you’re taking portraits. It’s better to just use the natural light. On camera flash gives you yucky flat light and no shadowing on the side of the face – definitely not what you’re wanting! Turn the flash off and you’ll be amazed at the improvement in your photos right away.
3. Lock focus
If you have a moving object (like a child on the move – goodness knows they’re quick!), you might find that locking the focus on their face really helpful. Just touch and hold on the screen to wherever you want the camera to lock the focus on (usually their eyes/face) and the camera will do the rest of the hard work for you.
4. Use the Rule of Thirds grid
The Rule of Thirds is a fundamental rule of thumb to taking better composed images. Basically it says that you should divide an images into thirds both horizontally and vertically. More important or interesting parts of the image should be place on these lines or where the lines intersect to make the photo more visually pleasing. The great news is that you can add some Rule of Thirds guides to your images to help guide you when you’re composing your photo. Just turn on the grid in Settings > Photos & Camera
5. Keep your photos safe!
Now that you have some beautiful images, be sure to keep them safe! The benefit of having a small camera in your pocket (iPhone) is that it is also one of the easiest things to lose. You don’t want to risk losing all of your beautiful photos as well. Be sure to keep your photos safe with proper and regular backups.
For more information about Backing up your photos be sure to check out my article:
As of today, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared a global pandemic for COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. But what does this mean for parents out there wanting newborn photography and how is this going to impact upon the baby photography industry?
First and foremost, I would like to say that I am not an expert in health or in virology. I leave that to the experts in that area. In Australia we should all be heeding the current advice from the Department of Health – for me in NSW Australia that’s NSW Health. They have a great page with all the latest information on the Coronavirus and the latest guidelines and information for the public.
With so much media coverage I know many people out there are feeling concerned (and if you see the state of stocks of toilet paper and paper towels at my local Woolworths, I’d say some our outright panicking!). With this environment on unease, I want to help allay any concerns my upcoming clients may have on my return from maternity leave. Here are some answers to some questions you may have as a parent and are booked in or wanting photographs of your newborn:
I am already booked in for a newborn photography session with you. Will that session still go ahead?
Following the guidelines of NSW Health, there should be no problem with continuing with your newborn photo session (so long as both myself and my clients remain well). Sessions will continue as per normal except where myself or my family become ill (or if my clients become ill), or are needing to self-isolate (due to direct contact with a confirmed Coronavirus case, or travel to an affected country).
The health and safety of my clients and their precious newborns (as well as my own family and small children) are my top priority. I will be in contact with you should any of the above circumstances occur and we will arrange to reschedule your session.
As always, I will never continue to run a photo session where I am unwell as I would never want to pass an illness on to a new baby or their family. If you are unwell, I do ask that you inform me as well so that I can help keep my little ones safe also.
What steps do you take during a newborn session to keep my baby safe from viruses and illness?
As a baby photographer (and as a parent of 3 young children), it’s important to me that I do not spread illnesses and viruses to my clients and newborns who can be particularly vulnerable to illness in the first few months of life. I take the following steps at all newborn photography sessions (and I always have) to help keep babies safe:
Cancelling and rescheduling sessions where I/my family are unwell and I am likely to be infectious.
Washing my hands with soap and water and/or alcohol based hand sanitiser prior to handling babies
Cleaning and sanitising the studio area as well as props and fabrics
Ensuring that my vaccinations for whooping cough and seasonal influenza are up to date
What if I no longer feel comfortable continuing with a newborn photo session?
If you are already booked in for a newborn session with me I encourage you to discuss your concerns with me. If you feel that you are no longer comfortable in continuing to have a photography session due to concerns regarding Coronavirus, I am happy to reschedule your session to a later time in the year. Please be aware that newborn-style images are typically not possible after your baby has reached 6 weeks of age so the sooner you are able to come in the better the results will be. You are most welcome to defer your session to a 3 month session, a Little Sitter session, or a 1 year cake smash session instead. Unfortunately I am unable to refund your session fee.
Thank you again to all my clients at this time. As Australians we will weather this tricky time (as we always do no matter what comes our way!). Lets keep calm and get through this tricky time together with clear communication and respect for each other.
If you’re starting out as a baby photographer, you might wonder what things you really NEED to get started. Despite what you might think, you really don’t need much. My advice to all photographers just starting out is to start simple. Master your lighting and posing instead of trying to buy every cute baby outfit on Etsy. The secret to good photography is lighting and posing after all!
Here is a list of the most important items (other than your camera of course!) for baby photographers:
Item #1: Good lighting
The number one item without a doubt is light! Be it natural light (sunshine) or studio light – light is the only thing we as photographers can’t do without. The first thing you need as a baby photographer is to decide whether you’re going to use natural or studio light, and then purchase whatever you need to use that light to your advantage. For natural light photographers that would mean finding yourself a large window and installing sheer curtains to make the light beautiful and soft. For studio light photographers you will need a light, light stand, a trigger (if you’re using flash) and light modifier (I use a PLM with continuous lighting – here is more information about my set up here in this blog post). Most photographers I know have started with natural light as studio light can feel a bit intimidating at first (I was totally intimidated by it until I did the Milky Way Lighting Class).
Item #2: A soft surface to place baby
The second most important item is somewhere soft (and safe!) to place baby while you photograph them. Lots of baby photographers use a firm bean bag or I know many use a dog bed. You don’t really need to invest in anything special though when you’re just starting out. If you have a bed or even just placing lots of soft blankets on a floor or carpet, this could easily be enough. I have used a ShootBaby bean bag for many years. This bean bag is great as it has a faux leather surface – perfect for wiping up any accidents.
Keep it simple! With only 4 items you can create beautiful, timeless photographs of babies. Photograph copyright and taken by me: Amy Tong Photography
Item #3: A scarf or other textured material
I’m a huge fan of simple baby photography – where the baby is the main focus of the image without lots of flowers, props and “stuff” in the image. If you’re starting out and you’re being inspired by established photographers you might be fooled into thinking that you need to spend thousands on all the latest props. Honestly – you really don’t need to! Start with just a neutral coloured scarf or textured wrap to lay over the baby. Some of my favourite images are of babies with only a scarf or material over their nappy.
Item #4: A good quality camera and lens
Of course you can’t take a photo without a camera and a lens. Buy the best quality camera and lens that you can afford. Modern day DSLRs are incredible so don’t feel like you need to have the latest model – truth be told I’m still using an older model Nikon (one day I’ll upgrade!). If it’s a choice between affording a better quality lens or a better quality camera body, I’d choose a better quality lens every time. My current favourite lens is the Sigma Art 35mm 1.2 (although ask me in a few months time as it’s constantly changing). For more information on my camera equipment check out this blog post
Honestly – these 4 items (plus a happy baby of course!) are all you really need when you’re wanting to photograph babies. It doesn’t need to be complex (or expensive!) to have everything you need. I hope this inspires you to take your baby photography journey to the next level.
Did you find this blog post handy? I’d love to hear from you!
I get a lot of messages and emails from people who are interested in learning newborn photography. It’s one of the most common questions I’m asked! How do you learn to be a newborn photographer? In 2020 I am SO jealous of the amount of resources out there for people wanting to pursue newborn photography – be it as a profession or a hobby. What I spent thousands and years learning is at the fingertips of most people for a fraction of that cost (and time!). If only these were available back when I was first starting!! Here are some of the most productive things you can do on your journey to learn newborn photography:
ONLINE BABY PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS (MY FAVOURITE!)
When I first started as a newborn photographer, it was long before the advent of the incredible amount of online workshops that there are today! Back in the dark ages (ha!) of around 2011 I ordered a DVD from Wild Spirit Photography (who has since given up photography I believe) in Queensland. It was a collection of DVDs discussing lighting mainly – it was so long ago I barely remember it! Around the same time I also purchased a series of videos by Lana Bell who was a leading newborn photographer in Australia specialising in posed newborn photography. I remember I used to watch those videos over and over trying to figure out exactly what I was supposed to be doing!
Here are my favourite online workshops for baby photography:
CreativeLive CreativeLive is a treasure trove of educational videos from all the top professionals in the world (in pretty much every field from photography to writing to SEO). You can watch videos live for free, or you can purchase videos to keep forever so you can re-watch them again and again. The classes are very cost effective and cover a range of topics from lighting to posing – for all levels of experience. For Newborn Photography, my favourite classes are by fellow Aussie baby photographer Kelly Brown (who is an awesome teacher and all round lovely person). >> DISCOVER NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY CLASSES AT CREATIVELIVE
Milky Way The Milky Way is another fabulous online resource for newborn and baby photographers. There are classes specifically on posing, editing, and lighting and yearly boot-camps with fresh content from some of the best baby and maternity photographers from all around the world. I learned all the basics of studio lighting here when I made the switch from natural light to studio light and the content is so great and easy to follow. I highly recommend it if you’re wanting to take your baby photography to the next level. >> DISCOVER THE MILKY WAY ONLINE CLASSES
For me personally, I have always found that I learn best from online workshops as these allow you to watch and re-watch them over and over until things “click” for you, or if you need a refresher after a bit of a break from photographing babies. The best learning is always when you do it yourself so doing online classes allows you to watch and focus on one particular thing and then to practise it and come back to the next thing. They’re also a lot more cost effective than in-person workshops!
IN-PERSON NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS
As much as I love online workshops, in-person workshops can also work really well. I have done quite a few in-person workshops over the years – particularly in my first few years in business. The benefit to in-person workshops is that you get to meet other photographers (I have met some wonderful people at workshops and made life-long friends). Being a photographer can be super isolated, so getting the opportunity to meet like-minded photographers at workshops is a great way to build a support network in the industry.
Which in-person newborn photography workshops should I do?
I’ve done workshops by Erin Elizabeth, Barb Uil, Minna Burgess, Kath V, and Lana Bell and 1:1 mentoring with Kelly Brown. I came away from each of these workshops/days with some great knowledge which I still use years later. You may find like me however, that after you’ve done a few of these that you come away from each one learning less and less. I decided about 5 years ago that I wasn’t going to do any more and I’ve stuck to that. Each class can be upwards of $1000 to attend (plus travel expenses etc) and I find that so much is covered when you’re first learning that it’s hard to retain everything! If you’re wanting to really make leaps and bounds in your baby photography journey, I would opt for online workshops first, and perhaps one or two in-person workshops with a photographer whose work you really admire (and has great reviews! Remember that good photographers aren’t necessarily the best teachers).
I hope that these suggestions really help you on your baby photography journey!
- Academy of newborn photography certified photographer
- Over 8 years experience
- Current CPR & Infant first aid
- current whooping cough vaccination
- multi award-winningexperience & Safety
Hi! I'm Amy Tong. I'm a newborn baby photographer in the Sydney Inner West surburb of Balmain, Australia. I'm Mum to 3 little ones, and wife to my best friend of almost 20 years. I've always been creative. A lover of music, art and history. Photography has been an important part of my life since I first picked up a camera as a hobby back in 2008.
I began my career as a professional baby photographer back in 2012 and have had the honour of photographing over 300 babies since then. To me, photography allows us to preserve moments in time for future generations. I can't think of any better job in the world. I'd love to hear from you and help you hold on to these special moments too..