Ellie J Photography: Blog https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog en-us (C) 2021 Lorraine Jardim LBIPP QGPP @ Ellie J Photography. Church Lane, Fillongley, Coventry CV7 8EW ‎07765 718415 (Ellie J Photography) Sat, 11 Sep 2021 05:49:00 GMT Sat, 11 Sep 2021 05:49:00 GMT AF-S Micro NIKKOR 60mm 2.8 G ED - An Apology. https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2021/3/af-s-micro-nikkor-60mm-2-8-g-ed My Lockdown Adventures with the AF-S Micro NIKKOR 60mm 2.8 G ED

....and an Apology.

Ellie J Photography

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One of the few good things to come out of lockdown has been the chance for me to try out different kinds of photography during my ‘down’ time.

I am grateful that I've had this opportunity to step out of my portrait comfort zone and flex some other (very well hidden) photography muscles.  However, as we near the end of what will hopefully be the UK's final Covid lockdown, I do find myself in the position of having to publish an apology. To one of my lenses.

One of the first things I did when lockdown hit was to dig out BOBOG (my big old bag of goodies), aka the huge camera bag I used years ago when photographing weddings.  This is where all the golden oldies of my photography career live, those items which I don't use much these days but just can’t bring myself to part with.  My Nikon D3 is in there for example, alongside my very first DSLR (Nikon D80) plus my first ‘nifty fifty’. 

After a mooch around and a few trips down memory lane, I picked out my prime Nikkor 60mm, a lens I'll admit to having used very infrequently. I'd never particularly liked or felt the need to fully utislise this lens and in a former blog about my gear I even said it was annoying to use (oh the shame!) Back when I was photographing weddings, my 60mm lived on a third camera body and was used very occasionally to capture detail shots such as close ups of rings, flowers and so on.  I then used it for a short time to photograph the little details we all love on newborn babies such as eyelashes and fingernails. To be honest, I was getting great results with my 24-70 f2.8 without the hassle of changing cameras mid session, so the 60mm was eventually allocated a slot in BOBOG, and there it had stayed. 

I thought it would be fun to set myself a little lockdown project, that being to use this lens, and only this lens, to document some of my beautiful surroundings during hours of lockdown walks.

Being a naturally lazy person, I had rebelled against hubby when he first cheerfully suggested long daily walks.  It was his suggestion that I take my camera out with us to soothe the pain. When he eventually got me outside, camera in hand, I did miss my zoom at first.  This prime lens may be as sharp as a needle, but you have to use your legs to ‘zoom’ in and out of your subject, which doesn’t suit those of us more inclined to sit on the sofa, binge watching Netflix and wallowing in misery over the closure of our studios. 

My reluctance didn’t last long however, I mean how could it?  I live in a beautiful area and I really enjoyed the challenge of finding different things to photograph. 

As a result, I've changed my mind.  This little lens is actually rather gorgeous.

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My workhorse lens (the Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 zoom) is a bit of a beast, so in comparison the 60mm f2.8 is light and convenient to walk around with.  On my full frame Nikon it is a standard length, very handy for general photography. (On one of Nikon’s DX cameras, it comes in at about 90mm, which would make it a great length for portraits).

First and foremost this is a macro lens, and I had great fun getting up close and personal with some flowers and textures (and parts of my dog).  Although I’m quite out of practice,  I do love a spot of macro photography and I think a lot of photographers do.  I have very fond memories of my late dad and I, with our matching Fuji S9500 bridge cameras,  focussing on coins, peppercorns and other bits and bobs.

I was actually quite amazed at just how good a macro lens this is, but it does sport a 1:1 reproduction ratio, which is pretty cool. (The ratio shows the reproduction dimensions which a macro lens is capable of producing.  For example, 1:1 means my lens can photograph objects life size, 1:2 would be at half-size).

The one thing I would say is that when photographing macro you do need to watch your light. The very act of getting up close and personal to your subject means of course that you often find yourself blocking your own light. If photographing macro indoors, I found the best light by putting the subject of my photograph on a well-lit windowsill if it was small enough, or as close to a well lit window as possible.


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The ultra close up of my dog's nose (above) shown as captured on my camera really confused some people when I asked them to guess what it was!

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Macro capability aside, I also used the lens during my adventures for a few landscapes.  Although I’ll never be a landscape photographer (far too many early morning 'perfect light' seeking starts for my liking) I have thoroughly enjoyed my short foray into this genre.

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If you’re interested in the technical bumph some of the main features of this lens are:

*Extra-low dispersion glass element which limits chromatic aberration and provides sharper contrast and higher resolution.
*Nikon has nailed great colour reproduction and reduction of flare/ghosting by their use of Nikon Super Integrated Coating and Nano Crystal Coat
*Use of a rounded 9-blade diaphragm opening means out of focus elements in your photo look more natural
*Nikon's Silent Wave Motor means speedy and quiet autofocus
*Internal focusing means you can focus without changing the lens barrel length.
*Lens aberration is minimised by the use of two aspherical lens elements.
*M/A mode means you can switch rapidly between manual and auto focus (I found this great when trying to nail focus on things such as raindrops on windows)
*Closest focus distance is approx 0.6 ft.

I hope you’ve found this blog entry interesting.  After my lockdown adventures I take back the aspersions I had previously cast upon the Nikkor 60mm f2.8.  It's my own fault, I never did find the time to properly get to know this little lens.  Suffice to say this little gem will be spending a lot more time out of BOBOG from now on.

Thanks for reading.

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2021/3/af-s-micro-nikkor-60mm-2-8-g-ed Fri, 05 Mar 2021 12:21:54 GMT
DIY Newborn Photography: Tips for photographing your baby during the Covid 19 pandemic https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2021/2/diy-newborn-photography-tips-for-photographing-your-baby-during-the-covid-19-pandemic DIY Newborn Photography:

Tips for photographing your baby during the Covid 19 pandemic.

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My original blog post from earlier last year - republished by popular demand!

Did you miss out on your Newborn Photography Session due to the Coronavirus lockdown?

Lockdown is a miserable but necessary situation, as we all do what we must to keep our families safe. If you have missed your planned newborn photography session recently or will be missing one soon, I hope you find this blog useful.

The Covid 19 nightmare has rampaged over our world leaving so much destruction in its wake.  In addition to the terrible loss of life, it has taken a huge swipe at our normal way of living. The magical celebrations we should have had this year such as weddings, special birthday parties and being able to properly introduce our new babies to the family, have all fallen in its wake.

As a newborn photographer, I am of course well aware that many new parents have missed out on their plans to have professional photographs taken of their new arrival.  My clients are wonderful, they understand why I am closed, but naturally many of them are bitterly disappointed.  In many cases they are/were expecting their first baby, had booked me many months in advance and were excited for their session.  Then all of a sudden, everything had to stop. 

I have spent my career reminding parents of the importance of photography in making wonderful memories of their baby's first days of life.  To be in a position where I just can't give them the photographs they want is very upsetting and also, the reason why I have written this blog.

So - let’s be a little more positive, shall we?

It is still possible for you to capture some wonderful images of your new baby.  A huge advantage of living in the age we do is that modern technology has made it possible to take great quality photos using just the camera on your phone. 

Of course you will be taking many photos of your newborn during the early days and of course, they will be beautiful. What I'm doing here is sharing a few tips that I use in my sessions, which you may find of use.  By the way - please excuse the appearance of my 'newborn' here - she's actually rather old and has seen better days! 

SAFETY NOTICE

Your baby's safety is of course your highest concern.  Please always remember that professional newborn photographers have been trained to safely pose babies and use Photoshop ‘magic’ where necessary to create some images. Please do not try and copy the more complicated photographs you may have seen online. You will notice also that I am not giving advice on using props here.  Again, newborn photographers are trained in the safe use of props.  Instead, I'm talking about how to get natural, un-fussy images which focus purely on your beautiful baby.

WHEN TO TAKE PHOTOS

My immediate answer to this is - all the time of course!  However, for the purpose of this blog, newborn babies are much more sleepy and curly before the age of about two weeks.  To capture that brand new baby appearance, you'll need to take your photographs early - but not too early.  In my experience, babies before the age of about 5 days are still finding their way in the world and may be a little fussy.  As brand new parents, you are also most likely still adjusting to your new way of life, so aim to take these photos between about 6 and 10 days.

To help ensure baby is content while you take your photos, make sure he or she is fed, winded and has a clean nappy.

LIGHT 

The most important element of photography is of course, light.

Use natural light rather than a direct camera flash. A nice big window or patio door is an ideal light source.  However, bear in mind that you don’t want direct hard sunlight which will give dark harsh shadows on baby’s face.

There are a few ways to help soften the light.

  • Take your photos at a time of day when the light coming through the window isn’t as strong. (Mine were taken at around 9am)
  • A cloudy day will be better than a bright, sunny day (not usually a problem here in the UK!)
  • If you have some light coloured, sheer material (eg white netting), peg it up to your window to diffuse the light coming in

SURFACE

Newborn babies need to be supported and won't settle easily on a hard surface, so make sure you have something nice and comfy for them to lie on. Whatever you choose should be comfortable, but for safety reasons not so soft that baby sinks into it.

A well-stuffed beanbag or one of the firm seat cushions from your sofa could work.  Whatever you use, make sure nothing can obstruct baby’s breathing and that it isn’t too high off the ground, just in case baby manages to roll.  If you can, have another person near to baby while you take your photos to make sure this cannot happen.  

Find a nice blanket in a neutral colour to cover your surface.  Whites, creams, beiges, greys and gentle pastels all work well. Stronger, brighter colours and bold patterns will stand out too much and draw attention away from baby.

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I use a professional newborn beanbag in my studio, but here I have used one of the seat cushions from our sofa.

DSC_9871DSC_9871 If you are photographing baby from the side, use a couple of chairs and peg your blanket up at the back to form a backdrop.

BABY'S POSITION IN RELATION TO THE LIGHT

You can see that I've positioned baby with her head pointing at a roughly 45-degree angle to the light.  You want the light falling downwards over baby’s face, not the other way around (i.e. not going upwards).  DSC_9876DSC_9876 DSC_9867bDSC_9867b

Tip – look for shadows, if you have soft shadows under baby’s chin and nose, you’re on the right track.

POSING BABY

Keep it simple and organic. At this young age they may do it naturally, but try gently positioning baby's hands close to their face, or perhaps with one hand cupping their cheek. Never force a pose, you will know if your baby is resisting in which case, just let them find their own way.

You may want to use something soft under your blanket to gently raise baby’s shoulders and head.  Consider folded up face flannels or even a couple of nappies under the blanket to give a little bit of lift. Again, make sure you use wide enough padding to safely and gently lift baby just a little, don’t raise baby too high.

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I've just used a couple of disposable nappies here to gently lift baby's shoulders and head. Notice how the support extends down to baby's shoulders so no strain is put on the neck.

DSC_9867DSC_9867 Tip - If you can see the outline of whatever you've used to support baby's head (as you can a little here) just layer another similar coloured blanket under your top blanket.
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I love photographing baby from above, but please (and I am stating the obvious, I know!) ensure you are securely holding on to your phone.  If you’re using a camera that has a strap, even better.

Try different angles when taking your photographs, and remember to get in close and capture those details we all love - tiny fingers and toes for example.

BABY WON'T SETTLE?

As a mum, I know that photographing your own newborn isn't always the easiest thing to do.  They seem to know that mum or dad is on hand for a quick feed and cuddle whenever they want it.

I've no doubt that you will have discovered these naturally yourself but remember the four S's!

1) Suck 

A newborn baby will suck to find comfort.  If you use a dummy, keep it on hand if baby needs a bit of reassurance.

2) Swaddle

Try wrapping.  Babies love feeling secure, it reminds them of when they were safe in the womb.

3) Shush

Babies prefer a bit of noise over a quiet room. Try saying "shuuuuuuush!" over and over, drawing the word out or, if you haven't already got one, download a white noise app and use that.  (Remember to activate flight mode on your phone or tablet to avoid getting sudden calls or notifications while baby is relaxing).

4) Sway

Baby was constantly being gently moved around whilst in the womb. Again, sometimes all that is needed to settle a little one is a lovely rock whilst cradled securely  in mum or dad's arms.

On a final note - while you may have missed out on professional photographs of your newborn, I am sure that, as soon as they are able, whichever photographer you have booked will be itching to photograph your family.  Your little one may be a bit older, but each stage of childhood is magical and you will love your professional photographs, no matter how long you have to wait. 

I'll be writing a blog on the magic of older baby photographs soon - please watch this space!

Many thanks for reading.

Stay safe everyone,

Lorraine x

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2021/2/diy-newborn-photography-tips-for-photographing-your-baby-during-the-covid-19-pandemic Sun, 21 Feb 2021 20:29:48 GMT
Maternal Instinct - Real or Myth? (I know what I believe!) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2021/1/maternal-instinct---is-it-real Maternal Instinct – Real or Myth?

(I know what I believe!)

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Ellie J Photography  Newborn Photographer Coventry and Warwickshire

During this third lockdown and while I’m unable to work again, I’ve been trying to find subjects for my blog that might be of interest to readers and will also allow me to further investigate topics I'm personally interested in.

The maternal 'instinct' or 'bond' is one subject that has always fascinated me.  Is it real? Or is it just a myth? I know what I think, but I thought I'd put it out there for consideration as the subject of this latest blog.

Before giving birth myself I was sceptical.  I remember sitting in that delivery room staring into the newborn eyes of our eldest and waiting for that ‘magical moment’ I’d been assured would happen.  Having subsequently seen the Twilight movies (guilty pleasure) I now realise that what I was expecting was something like what Jacob experiences as he 'imprints' on the newly born Renesmee. It didn’t happen like that of course.  I was wheeled back up to the ward feeling a bit of a failure and thinking that this bonding malarkey was all boo hockey after all. 

Thirty years ago when our eldest was born, it was standard practice for the nurses to take your newborn to a nursery on the ward while you rested after labour.  Although I was exhausted and it was late, I could not settle that night.  My adrenaline was too high and there were babies crying all around me.  I remember being able to focus in on an individual (and very persistent) cry and I knew, without a doubt, that it was my son.  Sure enough, an exasperated nurse soon came in carrying my screaming baby and the very second she put him in my arms he went quiet.  That is exactly when it hit me.  I’d say it felt completely natural but at the same time, completely overwhelming. It's as if I was suddenly possessed by the spirit of a mother bear or ferocious lioness, and I knew from that moment on that there was nothing I wouldn't do to protect my child.

Since then, I’ve always known when something isn’t quite right with one of my children.  Even when the evidence says otherwise, or I’ve got no clue what’s going on, something inside of me has always pushed me to take action when necessary.

On countless occasions over the years I’ve woken from a deep sleep and found myself halfway towards one of my children’s rooms before they’d even stepped a foot off their bed after becoming ill in the night. I can’t explain it, it has just always been so and I know from many conversations with clients that they have experienced the same.

Occasionally, this instinct has been overwhelming.  When our eldest was 13 we were out on a day trip and had stopped off for a pub lunch.  Despite having only the tiniest of bites, our son began complaining of feeling sick and began to scratch at his neck. I remember feeling instantly overwhelmed with a certainty that something was very wrong. I insisted that we go immediately to the nearest A&E department and within half an hour we were in the back of a blue-lit ambulance, my son semi conscious and hooked up to a drip and heart monitor, on the way to the local children’s hospital.  It was terrifying. Our son had gone into anaphylactic shock due to a nut allergy that we had previously been unaware of. 

More recently, the same instinct had me relentlessly pursuing an answer to our youngest’s symptoms.  She had been poorly for a couple of weeks or so however, all blood tests carried out were normal and we had been told not to worry and that things would most likely get better soon.  Once again, I just knew I needed to do more. After further investigation she was found to have an Inflammatory Bowel Disease and is thankfully now on medication to control this lifelong condition.

So yes, based on my own experiences I am a firm believer that, however it comes about, a Mother’s Instinct is 100% real.

On further research I’ve found that a decade ago the Lancet medical journal published advice to doctors that they should treat parents’ fear and concerns seriously, because they know their child best. At that time, experts said that “a mother’s instinct is usually right if she believes her child may be dangerously ill”.

A quick Google search will come up with so many examples of what I’m blogging about today. For instance, I recently read a news story about a mum who took her 8 year old son to several different hospitals in pursuit of a diagnosis after repeatedly being told his illness was a virus.  She instinctively just kept on going, pushing for answers until he was eventually diagnosed with paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a life threatening and rare condition linked to Covid.

How many of us have 'sensed' when our child is ill, sometimes before there are any recognisable signs of that illness?  How many of us just know that our child is worrying about something, before they've spoken a word?  Does that demonstrate a type of psychic bond, or is it simply due to an intense understanding of every aspect of our child's persona, giving us the ability to detect problems before anyone else can? 

I have wondered whether this instinct exists on a psychic level. As mothers, we literally 'grow' our children within our own bodies. From the moment of conception and then for nine months our babies are a part of us.  We share the same blood, the same nutrition, the same life force. We cocoon and protect them as they develop and grow and everything they are comes from ourselves and our partners. Surely there is a possibility that such an amazing link would remain in some form after our babies are born and we become separate entities? Are not twins believed to share a 'psychic connection' from their time in the womb?  Who can say then, with 100% certainty, that such a psychic bond can not exist?

Perhaps, on the other hand, this instinct is learnt.  Over time, an adult having responsibility for a child's wellbeing will unconsciously learn every 'cue' given by that child, resulting in an ability to quickly detect when something is 'off'.  An argument against this theory would be the stories of parents who instinctively know their very young babies are in danger, when their child is at far too young an age for all their cues to have been learnt.  However, an argument in favour of this would be the millions of parents/carers who possess a 'maternal' instinct, despite having no biological bond with their child/the child in their care.

And let us address the big elephant in the room.  Why are we calling this a maternal or mother's instinct?  What about the millions of men who share such an intuition? It is far more accurate to call this ability a 'parental' instinct!

Whichever of the two theories behind the existence of a parental instinct you agree with, there is more to it.

Evidence now exists to suggest that the alteration of brain chemicals adults experience when a child is placed in their care could explain parental instinct.

I read an article which describes how a grandmother and grandfather had their levels of Oxytocin measured before and after holding their new grandchild. Oxytocin is a hormone associated with maternal bonding and in the case of the grandmother, her levels rose by 63% after holding the baby. Interestingly enough, grandad's levels also rose by the same amount, it just took a little longer.

The article expressed the view that "mothers who give birth and mothers who adopt should both be considered 'biological mothers' based on the changes that happen in their bodies when they become parents, even without having given birth."

Another article I read explained how levels of Oxytocin, Serotonin and Dopamine were all heightened during the transition to parenthood, for both men and women and also for foster parents. It stands to reason then that anyone who becomes the carer for a child may feel some level of parental bonding, whether or not they are biological parents and no matter what sex they are.

The first article concludes that "as a species, humans remain biologically driven to form bonds with infants placed in their care".

That really does make sense, doesn't it?  When it comes down to it, we are all animals. Just think for a moment of the nature documentaries you've seen where, for example, herds of elephants will travel in a circle, with the youngest elephants in the middle, protected from predators.  You may also have heard that, should one baby elephant be orphaned, the rest of the herd will adopt him. Even whales have been found to care for other creatures in need.  Its comforting to think that deep down, we are fundamentally pre-programmed to care for others, despite all we see to the contrary. 

I find this whole subject fascinating and will be reading further on it.  For now, I will finish by acknowledging that there are, of course, those who will never experience a parental instinct or the desire to have children.  I have written this blog based on my own views and experiences, and we are all unique. I believe someone can be a very caring individual whilst never experiencing a desire to have children of their own and nobody should be criticised for the choices they make in this regard. 

As human beings we may not agree with each other all of the time, but we should always respect each other's choices.  After all, the world would be a much, much better place if we did.

Thanks for reading, and stay safe!

Lorraine.

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2021/1/maternal-instinct---is-it-real Thu, 21 Jan 2021 12:49:18 GMT
Tips for Photographing Your Own Children - from a Child Portrait Photographer https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2021/1/tips-for-photographing-your-own-children---from-a-child-portrait-photographer Tips for Photographing Your Own Children

from a Child Portrait Photographer

I had some lovely feedback on this blog post recently from an overseas colleague.  As we are yet again in lockdown, I thought I'd tidy up the formatting and re-publish this one.  Thanks for reading!

"How on earth did you manage to get him smiling like that?" I've lost count of how many times I have heard a parent ask this or something very similar after a photo session.

Having had three children myself, I know how difficult it can be to take photographs of your own kiddies, especially as they are more likely to play up and be uncooperative with a parent than the funny photographer lady who they've been brought to see.

In these very strange days of the 2020 Coronavirus lockdown, and while professional photography studios have been forced to close, I thought I would share my tips for parents on how to take some lovely natural photos of their children.

1) LIGHT 

I don't want to get very technical but light is important.  Two things to bear in mind:

Position Think of where your child is in relation to the sun/light.  On a bright sunny day with your child facing the sun, there will inevitably be squinting. This isn't an issue of course if your little one is looking down and that is the photo you want, but if you want them looking at you then you need to diffuse the light or re-position your child.  If you are fortunate enough to have open shade (eg from a tree) use this to position your little one in otherwise to avoid squinting, take your photo when the sun is behind your child, bearing in mind you will then need to use some sort of fill light.

Fill light This is just a little flash or reflected light added in to prevent your subject looking too dark.  This applies to any situation where there is a lot of light behind your subject, (for example the sun behind your child outdoors, or your little one standing in front of a window)  If you are shooting in automatic mode, all of the extra light in a scene will fool your camera into thinking it doesn't need flash.  Unfortunately with your subject back-lit in such a way, your subject will come out way too dark and that is where some fill light is needed. 

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On this sunny day despite having my daughter stand in the shade of a tree the bright light behind her meant I still had to use a little flash to prevent her being too dark.

2) FORGET POSING and BE PATIENT

Probably my biggest piece of advice.  After all, the memories you want to capture are the real, natural ones aren't they? The way your child laughs and plays and interacts with their siblings, pets or toys?

When a photographer enters a professional portrait competition, there are lots of rules that must be adhered to regarding pose. I'm not knocking that, competition is an important part of a photographer's journey however, when it comes to my clients in the studio or indeed, when I photograph my own family, I much prefer natural, spontaneous smiles over perfectly placed limbs and forced expressions.

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The above photograph wouldn't win any professional awards.  My little client isn't looking at camera, her hands aren't posed correctly and she's leaning too far forward. However, I really love this!  My little model had burst into a spontaneous fit of the giggles and to me, her expression is worth more than any award.

As a parent, you may find that your child does one of two things when you try to photograph them.  Your child may love being photographed and will present you with a wonderful cheesy smile as soon as you point a camera at them.  However, what if you are looking for more natural photographs and therefore not particularly that cheesy smile, as wonderful as it may be. On the other hand, you may have a 'runner' - a child who disappears as soon as you tell them you want to take a photo.  In that instance you would be grateful for any photo you could get - cheesy smile or not! 

Rather than ask your child to 'look here' or 'hold this' or even 'say cheese' - just forget posing and be patient.  The aim is to make them forget your intention to take photos of them until they are too preoccupied to notice and the smiles and expressions come naturally. (See point 3!) 

3) GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO DO OR SOMEONE TO INTERACT WITH

So, how do you get them looking natural and relaxed?  Simple - give them something fun to do while you wait patiently with your camera to hand. If your partner is willing, get them involved, I've yet to meet a child who doesn't love playing aeroplanes, being swept up into the sky always puts a lovely natural smile on a child's face. Perhaps you have a pet? I've captured endless images of children with their family pet, the love a child has for the family dog, cat (or tortoise!) can result in magical expressions! (I'm pointing out the obvious now, but of course please make sure your pet is safe around your child beforehand).

If they are on their own then wait until they are truly engrossed in a game or reading a book.  In the garden, have them looking for insects, examining patches of grass for evidence of fairy activity, smelling flowers, looking for treasure, finding pretty stones - anything that will keep them occupied.  Take lots and lots of photos and remember, they don't have to be looking at you, the look of concentration on a little child's face is a thing of beauty and wonder.  If you need to undertake a spot of stealth photography you can always use any zoom capability on your camera or phone to allow you to get as far back as possible.

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This young lady may have been a little camera shy, but she was totally fascinated by my roses.
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Who doesn't love a good game of aeroplanes?
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Yes, you read right above!  These sisters just had to have their pet tortoise included in a photo.

4) BE INCREDIBLY SILLY!

As parents, we know better than anyone how to get a smile out of our child. (There is a reason I have a parent at my side when photographing little ones!) Sing a silly song, roll around the floor and generally act like a big child yourself.  Blowing raspberries is always good. The best part of being a child photographer is being able to mess around and act like a child myself!

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If I remember correctly, lots of raspberry blowing was required to get these three handsome brothers laughing!

5) GET DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL

Kneel or even lie down to take a photograph on your child's level - aim to have your lens in line with their eyes.  That way you won't miss any subtle smile or change of expression that may not be seen from another angle.

One of my all time favourite photos from a few years back.  I had to get really low to the ground to capture this little beauty's expression.
 

6) INCLUDE YOUR CHILD

Another tip - if your child isn't massively keen or is perhaps a little too old to be looking for fairies in the garden - ask them for their opinion on the photo you want to take.  What do they think they should do? Have they seen a photo they like and would perhaps like to recreate? I've often used this tactic in the studio when a child hasn't initially been too keen on having their photo taken, but if you include them in the process, listen to them and make them feel like you really value their opinion it can be a game changer.

7) RECOGNISE WHEN ITS TIME TO STOP AND JUST BE MUM OR DAD

Finally - accept that sometimes, it may take a little while.  There is no point continuing to try and take photographs once your little one gets over tired or if they're obviously just not feeling it for the time being.  Sometimes we all need to just put down our cameras and give out the cuddles, there's always another time.

I hope the above tips are helpful.  Have fun and stay safe! Thanks for reading!

Lorraine.

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(Ellie J Photography) child photography photographing children https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2021/1/tips-for-photographing-your-own-children---from-a-child-portrait-photographer Thu, 14 Jan 2021 10:28:10 GMT
The Love of Dogs https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/12/in-honour-of-mans-best-friend-during-the-year-of-covid The Love of Dogs

 

by Ellie J Photography

Pet Photography Coventry & Warwickshire

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I read an article recently about how pets have saved lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. As an animal lover, this has not surprised me in the slightest.  One of my concerns this year has been the increased number of people rushing to buy dogs as they've faced lockdown and restrictions on outdoor activities.  My mum spent many years as a manageress at the Dog's Trust, so I know first hand how many are purchased on a whim and then dumped when the new owners realise they can't cope with the responsibility and expense that comes with dog ownership.  There are also, of course, those heartless individuals who will think nothing of setting up puppy farms to make money at this time as they take advantage of all those people looking for a 'cheap' alternative to a proper registered breeder.

The article, published in Vet Practice Magazine (Australia), was a welcome positive read.  The benefit of having a pet in the family is something I am already aware of based on my own experiences with our dog and also from the amazing bond I see regularly between families and pets through my photography.

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I love my dog.  Sadly, I am not necessarily his favourite human. I suppose its par for the course.  While everyone else in the family gets to join in the 'fun' stuff, like taking him for walks, feeding him treats and so on, I am the one human in his pack who is responsible for the 'bad' stuff; taking him to the vets, forcing him to take medicine and trying to groom and detangle his amazing coat (think big fluffy teddy bear).  

He reminds me of his disapproval regularly. For example, when the family returns home from a trip without him, he will run to every other family member in turn, tail wagging and fussing them as if we'd been gone for hours.  For me, its more of a brief glance in my direction to acknowledge that I have also returned. I can almost hear his thoughts saying "Oh, so you're back too".

There are a couple of occasions however when I am guaranteed to be on the receiving end of my dog's attention.  One is when I have just photographed another dog and I will be his sole focus for a while as he sniffs around, trying to figure out why I suddenly smell interesting rather than my usual boring self. The other is whenever I am ill or feeling anxious.  On these occasions, he will be right by my side.  He may not appreciate the vet's visits and grooming sessions he has to suffer under my care, but when I need him he is always there, and he has never let me down. 

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According to the article in Vet Practice Magazine, 'a new Australian study has found that animals have stepped into the breach for many people, providing much-needed comfort via cuddles, pats and a constant physical presence. The study by University of South Australia researchers points to the lifesaving role that pets have played in 2020. 

“In a year when human contact has been so limited and people have been deprived of touch, the health impacts on our quality of life have been enormous,” lead author Dr Janette Young said.

Pets seem to be particularly important when people are socially isolated or excluded, providing comfort, companionship and a sense of self-worth,” Dr Young said.

I have certainly noticed during my gloomier 'lockdown' moments, as I've worried about Covid 19, the health of my family and the future of my business, that my dog is always here for me.  Whenever I'm feeling low, he will just quietly appear by my side and sit with me until I feel better. I can't explain it - he just knows.

As I have already said, based on my own experiences I am not surprised at all at the outcome of that Australian study, and I know other pet owners will agree with me.  In this year of worry and sadness however, it is so nice to see the role of our pets being acknowledged.

Once you have owned and loved a dog (or indeed any pet) you will understand what a positive impact they can have on your life.  It is such a shame they are only with us for a relatively short time.  To end this blog, I want to mention a wonderful story I heard about the reaction of a young child to the death of his beloved family dog. I can't remember where I heard it, or who told me, but it goes something like this:

After the death of their elderly dog, a young child's family were confused at how well the little boy was taking the loss of his pet.  While talking together about how sad it was that animal lives are shorter than ours, the little lad apparently explained to his family that "humans need time to learn how to live a good life and be loving and nice, whereas dogs are born already knowing that, so they don't have to stay as long"

Give your fur baby a cuddle from me and thanks for reading!

Lorraine x

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/12/in-honour-of-mans-best-friend-during-the-year-of-covid Wed, 09 Dec 2020 10:46:00 GMT
Guest Blog - How Photography can help to boost your child's mental health by Write from the Heart https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/11/guest-blog---photography-can-help-to-boost-your-childs-mental-health Guest Blog

Photography can help to boost your child's mental health

Here's how

 

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a representative of personalised keepsakes brand, Write from the Heart.  They had seen and read my blog, and wanted to know if I would be interested in having a bespoke article written for my readers on the subject of how photography can improve a child's mental health and wellbeing.  As a big supporter of small business (particularly at the moment) and with it being a subject close to my own heart, of course I said yes. 

Write from the Heart offers a wide range of personalised gifts (and also writes a mean blog post) as you'll see below.  Thanks for reading!

Here, Kirsty Prankerd, from the personalised and photo gift specialists Write from the Heart shares her insight into how photography can be such a beneficial hobby for your kids.

You'll want to do everything you can to support your child's development and ensure they're happy. I'm sure you pack nutritious lunches for them every day, help them with their homework, and treat them to fun new toys every once in a while. But have you considered introducing them to a new hobby that could be beneficial for their mental wellbeing?

There are a whole host of different ways in which photography is ideal for this. Here, I'm going to talk you through the many benefits of the hobby, and also outline a few ways you can encourage your children to get involved with it.

Photography encourages mindfulness

The art of taking a photo requires you to live in the moment and properly pay attention to what's happening in front of you. As a result, it will give your child the opportunity to feel focused and present as they're setting up their shots.

Looking closer at their surroundings and searching for subjects to shoot is sure to give your little one a deeper appreciation for the world around them, and they'll hopefully start to see the beauty in the everyday. Photography can also be a great hobby for stress-relief, as it will give you kids something to focus on, so they'll forget anything they're worried about, even if it's only for a little while.

It can help them to make connections

There's a huge community of photographers out there who would love to see your child's shots and offer them some tips. You can often find online groups for beginners, which are ideal for meeting like-minded creatives who also love perfecting an image. Just make sure you monitor your child's online activity if they're quite young. You could even sit with them or share their work for them. This way, they can still make some great connections and pick up plenty of advice, but you won't have to worry about their online safety.

Once things start to get back to normal, you could even take your little one along to in-person photography meet-ups. Other photographers will be more than happy to help your child get to grips with their camera, and you'll find people you can turn to for advice if your little one has a question you can't quite answer.

It will keep them entertained

The possibilities really are endless when it comes to photography, so it's unlikely your child will ever get bored of this hobby. There's always a new place they can visit, a new person they can shoot, and a new style of photography to try out. So, if you're looking for a way to provide your little one with long-term brain stimulation, this could be the perfect hobby for them. Just make sure you're also engaged by asking to see their photos, praising their work, and possibly even asking them to give you a lesson. Photography is even more fun when you get to share it with someone.

It will allow your little one to get creative

Children have the most wonderful imaginations, but it can sometimes be difficult to work out where to channel all of their ideas and creativity. Luckily, photography is great for that! There's also no pressure of getting it right first time when it comes to photography, because your child will simply be able to delete any shots they're not happy with and try again. This can take a lot of the stress out of a creative hobby, which is what makes photography such a great choice if you think your child could do with a confidence boost.

How to get your child interested in photography

If I've completely sold you on getting your child involved in photography, you probably have one big question: how can I do it? Providing them with their own camera is a great place to start. This doesn't have to cost the earth, either. If you have an old smartphone, iPad, or point and shoot camera lying around somewhere, this will be ideal to begin with. You can always update their equipment if they really take to photography.

It's also a good idea to gently encourage them, rather than forcing them to pick up a camera. We all know little ones can enjoy rebelling. So, a soft approach is best. Ask if they would like to go on a walk with you to take some photos, or buy them a photo book of images they might be able to recreate. Inspire them, then leave them to it.

Praise is also a very important part of encouraging your child to take up a new hobby. Ask to see them work and let them know how proud of them you are. If there are any images that you absolutely love, you could even have them printed out and framed in your home. Or you could have them printed onto gifts for your family. This is sure to make your little one feel good about their work, and they'll be more likely to keep going.

Photography is a fantastic hobby for kids, as it can help to boost their confidence, gives them a chance to be creative, and can even work as a great stress-reliever. Take these tips on board and we're sure your child will love being behind the camera in no time at all.

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/11/guest-blog---photography-can-help-to-boost-your-childs-mental-health Thu, 12 Nov 2020 11:39:58 GMT
Guest Blogger - Talking about Tongue-Tie with Teresa Chambers, Director of Feeding Untied Ltd https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/10/talking-about-tongue-tie-with-teresa-chambers-director-of-feeding-untied-ltd Talking about Tongue-Tie

with Guest Blogger Teresa Chambers

Feeding Untied Ltd

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When I first began photographing newborn babies over 12 years ago I hadn't even heard of tongue-tie and the difficulties it can cause for breast fed (and sometimes bottle fed) babies.  You see, none of my own three suffered from this condition, but through my photography I have now met countless families who have had to face this particular challenge of new parenthood.

For this blog, I am pleased to introduce you to Teresa Chambers, Director of Feeding Untied Ltd.  I recently became aware of Teresa and her business through my recent Central England Prestige 'Family Photographer of the Year' award, as Feeding Untied Ltd has been named 'Infant Feeding Specialists of the Year' in the same awards.

For any of my readers who are struggling with tongue-tie or who are just curious about this condition, please read on as the extremely knowledgeable and experienced Teresa takes part in one of my Q&A sessions for parents.

When did you establish Feeding Untied and why did you decide to do so?
I established Feeding Untied in February 2018 following five years as a infant feeding specialist and staff breastfeeding educator in a large local teaching hospital.  Many mothers struggled with breastfeeding their baby due to a tongue-tie, and as the hospital did not offer a service to assess and treat these babies, I felt powerless to help.  I decided to fund myself through the tongue-tie training and also took the Lactation Consultant's exam to be in a better position to help.  Once qualified, I was still unable to offer my specialist services at the hospital so Feeding UnTied Ltd was born.  
Can you tell us a little more about tongue-tie?
When the lingual frenulum underneath the tongue is too tight it can restrict normal movement of the tongue.  This means that the baby is unable to create a vacuum and effective tongue movement for adequate milk transfer at the breast or bottle.  This can cause pain for the mother and poor milk transfer leading to reduced milk supply, mastitis, engorgement and blocked ducts.  Baby symptoms include shallow nipple feeding, clicking, dribbling, inability to latch or maintain suction, disrupted suck-swallow-breathe, tendency to have issues with reflux, colic and associated abdominal discomfort for the baby.
Who would benefit from your services?
We see babies from birth to 9 months of age, whether they are breast feeding or bottle feeding.
What is your educational background and how has this helped your business?
I first did a four year undergraduate degree BA(Hons) in Nursing at Oxford Brookes University and worked for 2 years as a critical care nurse in a major trauma centre and local district general hospital.  I then completed a degree BSc(Hons) in Midwifery and worked as an integrated midwife (hospital and community) for over 10 years.  This was followed by 5 years as the Baby Friendly Initiative Unicef Project and Service Leader training midwives, neonatal nurses, paediatric nurses and Dr's at all levels in breastfeeding education.  Having had the breadth of experience working with professional colleagues at all levels and in close collaboration with families, I gained valuable insight into the importance of listening to the concerns of the families we serve to provide a service that fits the need at point of delivery.  It is imperative that we provide a reliable provision based on a solid foundation.  This should include professional skill and training, clean and safe environment, speed of assessment and treatment at an affordable price.
What do you enjoy most about your business?
Babies and new parents are delightful to work with. To see a baby go from fractious, frustrated feeds to easy, comfortable and effective feeds is so rewarding.  When mums have been in excruciating pain with every feed and then go to not having any pain and enjoying a pleasant feeding experience is incredibly special.
Do you have any memorable moments that you can share?
I had a dad give me a review using the words "your intervention in treating our baby and supporting my wife with feeding has been utterly life-changing for our family, heart-felt gratitude".  These were very powerful words and it truly brought tears to my eyes. 
Where can we find further information?

Phone Number 07588 123284

Address: CW Therapy Rooms, 1st Floor, 56-58 Warwick Road, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 1HH

Email: teresa@feeding-untied.co.uk

Facebook @FeedingUnTiedLtd

Is there anything extra you would like to share with us today?
In many cases, babies have often developed jaw, neck and shoulder tension by compensating for any restriction and therefore bodywork such as cranial osteopathy, craniosacral therapy or chiropractic treatment is also necessary to compliment the treatment of tongue-tie.  If you are unsure whether your baby has a tongue-tie and you feel your baby is tense or stiff when handling them to feed, you would be advised to try a few sessions of this bodywork first before going for tongue-tie assessment.  We also have an online booking service which means you can check availability and book an appointment 24/7.  We closely follow up all clients for a minimum of two weeks post procedure and beyond if required.  A clinic follow up at one week is included, plus email/text message support.  Your GP is notified and comprehensive aftercare information is given and discussed prior to leaving the clinic.
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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/10/talking-about-tongue-tie-with-teresa-chambers-director-of-feeding-untied-ltd Wed, 07 Oct 2020 12:24:10 GMT
Rishi Sunak's Winter Economy Plan explained (by someone far cleverer than me!) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/9/rishi-sunaks-winter-economy-plan-explained---by-someone-far-cleverer-than-me Hello!  I hope everyone is staying safe and well.  For this blog, I thought I would share the wise words of my fantastic Accountant, Paul from ShutterTax.

I cannot recommend ShutterTax highly enough.  From our very first conversation with them I was confident that I had found a company that completely understood my business and who I could trust to help me navigate the quagmire of book keeping and tax returns.

Paul and his lovely wife/business partner Debra are also both professional photographers with many years of experience, so you see when I say they completely understand my business, its the absolute truth!

You can find out more about ShutterTax here.  In the meantime, the information below will no doubt be a great help to anyone wanting more information about the recently announced government plans to support businesses and the self employed this winter.

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Covid-19 - Winter Economy Plan

On 24 September, Rishi Sunak unveiled the government's plan to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months.

As has been the case with previous announcements, it will be several days before the full details become clear and several weeks before the finer details are thrashed out. This page will be updated as and when we receive more information.

Let's start with a recap of all the help available to include any changes announced yesterday.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)

This loan has been extended to 30 November 2020.

This scheme allows banks to offer loans to all small businesses and the self-employed. The Government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee on the value of the loan which opens this up to those of us who would be unable to get a loan under normal circumstances due to inadequate security. There will be no fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months then after this period the interest rate will be only 2.5% a year. Finance terms for the loan were initially up to 6 years but have now been extended to 10 years.

You can borrow between £2,000 and 25% of your business' turnover. The maximum loan amount is £50,000.

You can apply simply by contacting one of the 11 accredited lenders. It should take no longer than a standard application.

Most participating lenders have a dedicated page explaining the application process.

Please visit British Business Bank - Bounce Back Loan Scheme for full details.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

This loan has also been extended to 30 November 2020.

If you want to borrow more than is permitted under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), then this can be a viable alternative.

The Government will provide lenders with an 80% guarantee on the value of the loan and will also cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any arrangement fees (although many lenders have said they'll waive these fees anyway). Unlike the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), interest rates are set by the lender as opposed to the fixed 2.5% rate. Finance terms for the loan were initially up to 6 years but have now been extended to 10 years.

You can apply simply by contacting one of the 40+ accredited lenders. It should take no longer than a standard application.

There are a few eligibility restrictions but thankfully photographers are not amongst them. However, you must have a borrowing proposal which would have been considered viable by the lender before the current pandemic.

Most participating lenders have a dedicated page explaining the application process.

Please visit British Business Bank - Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for full details.

Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The government originally announced a grant allowing you to claim up to 80% of your monthly taxable trading profit for the period, initially for 3 months backdated to March. This grant was extended to cover the months of June to August and reduced to 70% of your monthly taxable trading profit for the period. You're unable to backdate claims for the first grant available but you can still apply for the second grant (June to August) up to 19 October.

The government have announced an extension of this grant to cover the months of November 2020 to April 2021. The first grant will cover the 3 month period of November 2020 to January 2021 and will be for 20% of your monthly taxable trading profit for the period.

There is no information available yet on the second grant to cover the 3 month period of February 2021 to April 2021.

Let's break this down:

  • Taxable trading profit is the figure on your Self Assessment tax calculation for profit from self employment
  • It will be calculated from your 2019 tax return. If you filed a return in 2018, it will be calculated on an average of the 2 years, and if you filed a return in 2017, it will be calculated on an average of all 3 years
  • If you will be filing a return in 2020 for the first time, unfortunately you are not eligible for this grant
  • Your average profit based on the above must be less than £50,000 per annum
  • Your profit from self employment must be over 50% of your total taxable income (this includes employment, property etc)
  • The second grant is capped at £2,190 per month. The new grant will be capped at £1,875 in total (per 3 month period).
  • It will be paid directly into your bank account in one instalment and will be taxable
  • HMRC will contact you if you are eligible for the scheme and invite you to apply online. If they haven't, you can get more information and check your availability here - Claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

This scheme is due to end on 31 October. For this last month, HMRC will cover 60% of the salary of employees who would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis and you must top up the additional 20% as it is mandatory that employees receive 80% of their salary. This is subject to a cap of £1,875.

To recap the rules:

  • It is available to all employees on the payroll at 29 February 2020
  • All UK businesses are eligible
  • Once furloughed, an employee is not allowed to do any work for the business. Directors can be furloughed but other than statutory duties, they are not allowed to do any work for the company. This would include dealing with bookings/postponements and cancellations unfortunately. However, flexible furlough was introduced in July allowing employees to work part-time and to claim for the hours they didn't work
  • The furlough calculation is based on the higher of:
    • same earnings for the corresponding month last year
    • average monthly earnings from the 19/20 tax year

Job Retention Bonus

Employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for every furloughed employee (including directors) who are continuously employed to the end of January 2021. Employees must earn at least £520 (the National Insurance lower earnings limit) between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021 to be eligible.

Job Support Scheme

The government have announced the successor to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and will run for 6 months.

The main points are as follows:

  • Employees must be on the payroll on or before 23 September to be eligible. This means that an RTI submission to HMRC on or before this date must have been made
  • Employees don't have to have previously been furloughed
  • The employee must work at least 33% of their usual hours. With the lack of guidance for directors, we will use (as we have been for flexible furlough) a standard 40 hour week
  • For every hour that an employee doesn't work during the month, the government and the employer will each pay a third of the 'usual wage'
  • The 'usual wage' will be calculated in the same way as it has been for the Job Retention Scheme

Here's a working example:

  • Employee's usual wage (as per the previous furlough calculation) is 600.00 per month
  • Employee must work at least 33% of their usual hours (usual hours being 40 for directors)
  • In this scenario, the employee earns £198.00
  • Hours not worked are 67%
  • 67% of £600.00 is £402.00
  • Employer must pay two thirds of this to the employee ie £268.00
  • Employer will then receive a grant of £134.00 to the employer (a third of £402.00)

More details will emerge over the coming days/weeks and I will update as soon as I have them.

Self assessment tax payments deferred

As previously announced, payments on account due to HMRC by 31 July 2020 have been deferred until 31 January 2021.

The government have announced a further additional 12 month extension meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now be able to be paid over a twelve month period up to January 2022. No announcement has been made about whether interest will be charged but as this will be under the existing 'Time to Pay' arrangement, it is likely that it will be.

VAT payments deferred

The government initially announced a 3 month VAT payment holiday from 20 March to 30 June.

The government have now announced that instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make smaller payments up to the end of March 2022, interest free.

Mortgage holidays

UK banks are offering various relief measures to customers affected by coronavirus (this includes loss of income). The measures vary slightly from bank to bank but include repayment holidays on mortgages and loans of up to 3 months, increased credit card limits and the ability to withdraw funds from fixed savings accounts with no charges. I would recommend contacting your bank directly.

If you haven't already claimed a mortgage holiday, you have until 31 October to do so. If you have already claimed, you can apply to extend this holiday by up to a further 3 months.

Business rates holiday

For those of you who pay business rates, these have been scrapped for 12 months from 1 April 2020. You'll need to get in touch with your local authority if you haven't already done so.

Grant of up to £25,000

If you pay business rates and operate from premises with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, then you are eligible for a non-repayable, taxable grant of up to £25,000. You should have been contacted by your local authority.

£10,000 cash grant

If you would usually pay business rates, but you're claiming either 'Small business rate relief' or 'Rural rate relief', then you are eligible for a non-repayable, taxable £10,000 cash grant. You should have been contacted by your local authority.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

If you employ staff who are off sick due to coronavirus (either illness or staying at home on government advice), the government will refund up to 14 days of SSP. This will be available from day one as opposed to day four.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

For the self-employed, if you're unable to work due to coronavirus (either illness or staying at home on government advice), and you don't have savings or investments worth over £16,000, you can claim up to £73.10 per week from day one. If you're in receipt of Working Tax Credits, you will still be eligible. To claim, simply go to this page and download the form. You won't need to attend an interview but it may be worth calling the number on the gov.uk page to clarify the sitation.

Universal Credit

This benefit is available if you're on a low income (employed or self-employed) and neither you nor your partner have savings or investments worth over £16,000.

The chancellor has announced an increase of £1,000 per annum (also applicable to Working Tax Credits) and suspension of the minimum income floor for the self-employed. This is the amount used to calculate your universal credit payment each month. The standard rule is that if you earn more than the minimum income floor, you'll get less universal credit, and if you earn less than the minimum income floor, you won't get any extra money to make up the difference.

By relaxing the rules, your claim will be based on what you actually earn each month so you'll be better off.

It is often quite complex to work out the exact amount you can claim but Citizens Advice have a national phone line providing help and advice with your claim. You can also check out the benefits calculator link below.

Other benefits

There are a number of benefits available for both the employed and the self-employed. As your personal circumstances are unique, it would be impossible to list them all. Here's a really useful link - https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators - which should help you find out what benefits you could get and how to claim them. If you need any information from us, please get in touch.

I will do my best to update this page as soon as anything changes but I hope you find it helpful.

Stay safe everyone.

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/9/rishi-sunaks-winter-economy-plan-explained---by-someone-far-cleverer-than-me Sun, 27 Sep 2020 14:25:28 GMT
Guest Blogger - Charlotte, Founder of 'Your Perfect Newborn' https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/7/guest-blogger---charlotte-founder-of-your-perfect-newborn Guest Blogger

Charlotte - Founder of 'Your Perfect Newborn'

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This week's guest blogger is Charlotte of the 'Your Perfect Newborn' website.

Charlotte kindly agreed to take part in a Q&A session for me, and you can read her responses below.  Newborn safety during photo sessions is vitally important, and Charlotte aims to help raise awareness of this important issue through her website, as well as help new parents find a newborn photographer.

Thanks for reading!

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I live in the Midlands with my husband and one year old daughter, Summer. I love long pram walks, decorating and shoe shopping, oh and I really can not bake (I’ve tried- a lot!) I spent the last 12 years in creative roles within the jewellery industry, specialising in diamonds and I love seeing couples at the happiest stages of their life! Last year I became a Mum for the first time and life completely changed, I fell in love with a beautiful, full of character little girl.

When and why did you decide to set up Your Perfect Newborn?

When I was pregnant a few friends mentioned to me about having professional photos taken in the first few weeks, as babies change so quickly and so I began researching for a photographer. I struggled to find photographers in my area and wanted a quick and easy way to see different styles without just searching through countless photographer websites.

So, last year we created a platform just for Newborn photographers. Each photographer has their own profile which they can edit & upload recent work plus they have links back to their website and social platforms (which is excellent for their SEO!). 

As a new mum who went though the experience of hiring a photographer, I can relate to queries and questions I had at the time, so we have a dedicated blog for new parents & parents-to-be allowing them to understand more about Newborn photography, covering topics on how to choose a photographer, questions to ask them and reasons why you should hire one.

I’ve always understood the need for quality photography, capturing precious moments in time to me is something incredibly special which should be treasured. After my daughters Newborn photoshoot this became even more apparent , I’d say I’m definitely a sentimental person, the photos captured take me right back to that exact moment in time of being a nervous new Mum in a bubble of adrenaline and pure admiration. 

What really stood out to me after experiencing our first Newborn photo session was how extremely important safety and experience is. Now I will admit during my pregnancy I pinned lots of Newborn images for inspiration and safety was not at the forefront of my mind when researching, then when our daughter arrived she was the most fragile precious thing in the world and throughout our photography session I put my faith in a professional. 

I want our site to help new parents understand just how important safety is, what composite photos are and questions they should be asking before booking or attending a shoot.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your site and what benefits it provides to your readers/photographers?

Your Perfect Newborn is only just over a year old, so we are at the beginning stages but we have a lot to offer both the industry and parents. 

Our site brings together a community of quality professional Newborn photographers (we have just over 100 at present) and shout about how awesome they are through our stylish, easy to use website, photography awards and across our social media platforms. We offer a platform for photographers to get their name and brand out to their ideal clients. 

For our readers, we have created an easy way to browse Newborn photographers with a range of styles whilst searching a specific location, we also have a Mum blog section for additional support like packing your hospital bag and our articles give valued tips on why it is  important to capture these precious moments and how to do so safely. 

We have lots of exciting ideas for the future and hope Your Perfect Newborn can give expertise to couples at such a happy stage in their life whilst applauding photographers.

Facebook - @yourperfectnewborn

Instagram - @yourperfectnewborn

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/7/guest-blogger---charlotte-founder-of-your-perfect-newborn Thu, 16 Jul 2020 13:04:01 GMT
Newborn Photography Award Winner! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/7/newborn-photography-award-winner NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY AWARD WINNER

NEWBORN AND FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY WARWICKSHIRE

ELLIE J PHOTOGRAPHY

 

A very quick blog this time just to say how chuffed I am to have won the latest quarterly award with the 'Your Perfect Newborn' website.  

I've won awards before, but this one is special because it recognises my work after a very long and stressful few months! It has been a worrying time, first during lock down with such an uncertain future for my business, then with all the work I have had to undertake to ensure that I could open as safely as possible for my wonderful clients.

My socially distanced studio sessions are now up and running, with health and safety precautions in place (you can read all about that here)

I was nervous welcoming my first newborn clients into the studio.  I've had to change the way I have worked for over 12 years, and not being able to get close to people or hold/pose baby has been horrible (I really miss my cuddles!).  However, things have been going very well and my clients have been wonderfully accepting of my new way of working.  In fact, I have been told how safe clients felt during the session, which is a huge relief as the last thing a new parent needs is to be worrying about the safety of their baby.

This lovely couple were among my earliest clients after lock down.  They came to see me with their gorgeous new baby, Effie.  Mum and dad both took direction very well and I was so pleased with their photographs.  This one in particular is a favourite of mine so I was doubly chuffed to find out that it had been selected as Your Perfect Newborn's winner for their quarterly awards!

Thanks to mum and dad for being so wonderful, and thanks for reading!

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YPNYPN

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/7/newborn-photography-award-winner Mon, 13 Jul 2020 15:45:00 GMT
A Star is Born - meet Elsie, star of BBC1's 'Life & Birth' https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/7/a-star-is-born---meet-elsie-star-of-bbc1s-life-birth A Star is Born - meet Elsie, star of BBC1's 'Life & Birth' 

Ellie J Photography
Newborn & Family Photographer, Warwickshire

A few weeks ago, after a very long wait, I finally got to meet and photograph a young lady I'd been looking forward to meeting very, very much.

This gorgeous little lady had been booked in with me for a newborn session back in 2019 however, things didn't go to plan, as Elsie was born 8 weeks premature weighing just 860g and with a large hole in her heart.

From the very first communication, mum and I clicked.  My husband has had major heart surgery and my eldest daughter a stay in the Special Care Baby Unit when first born.  Elsie's mum and I were able to chat about the ups and downs of life as two people who had no option but to stand back and wait as their loved one's lives are taken over by the amazing medical teams who do such a fantastic job in putting right what Mother Nature got wrong.

If anyone has watched BBC1's excellent recent series 'Life and Birth' they will have seen Elsie in the final episode.  (It's still on BBC IPlayer if you missed it).  I watched the series and am not ashamed to admit that Elsie's episode had me in floods of tears.

Her lovely parents, Katherine and William are so amazingly brave and strong.  Seeing them kiss Elsie before she was taken off for her first surgery to fit a temporary band around her heart had me weeping like a child.  Seeing them kiss her again when they were first able to see her after the successful operation had me weeping even more!  

Her story brought back so many memories.  I remember feeling totally helpless when my husband went in for his heart surgery - seeing William and Katherine being so strong as they waited for news made me admire them even more.  I'll admit, I was a total wreck going through that time when it was my family. 

The scene where Katherine is handed Elsie for a cuddle in the Special Care Unit, her tiny body attached to a forest of wires and drips, made me remember the first day I was able to hold our daughter in SCBU. The drips and tubes make small babies look even smaller and as a mum, it breaks your heart so see your baby's tiny little arm with what in comparison looks like a gigantic cannula attached to it.

Born a little fighter, Elsie recovered well from her first operation and did so well that she was able to have her second surgery, to close the hole in her heart, before I met her the day before her first birthday.  She was one of my first jobs back after lock down and the session was absolutely wonderful, even if social distancing meant I couldn't give her the huge hug I really wanted to.

Katherine and William - you are amazing!  Elsie, you little darling, you are such a strong and wonderful little girl, it was an absolute pleasure to photograph you.  Lots of love for an amazing future! xxx 

0202 0404

2020

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/7/a-star-is-born---meet-elsie-star-of-bbc1s-life-birth Thu, 09 Jul 2020 08:23:17 GMT
What shall I wear for my photo session? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/7/what-shall-i-wear-for-my-photo-session I published this blog originally a few years back, but its a question I regularly get asked by clients, even more so now that social distancing means parents are more involved in photos with their newborn as, for safety reasons, it is still not safe for a newborn photographer to get close enough to 'hands on' pose a baby as we did pre-Coronavirus.


While I'll always advise to wear whatever you are comfortable in, here are some general pointers.

Adults:
Avoid bright colours such as reds, oranges and yellows as in the finished photo these colours will draw the viewer's eye away from the subject (i.e. your face!). Avoid bold stripes and loud patterns for the same reason. Subtle patterns and solid colours work best.
Try and avoid logos or slogans as they will date. In the 80's my favourite t-shirt said 'Frankie Says Relax'. It was great at the time - but would I want a photo of me wearing it on my wall today?
Avoid short sleeves and shorts unless you are happy with your arms and legs! From a photography point of view, the extra skin will again draw the viewer's eyes from the face - but also, I've never met an adult yet who is 100% happy with their bare arms and legs in a photo ;)

Newborns and Babies:
I will always advise photographing very young babies in the nude or wrapped in simple wraps (which I have a supply of). This will show off their gorgeous newborn skin and avoid their little frames being 'drowned' by clothing, resulting in the viewers' eye being detracted from baby in the finished photo. When baby is supporting him/herself better and  is less likely to be swamped by clothing and for those occasions when you want baby dressed, (e.g. for a family group photo) I'd suggest keeping it simple - white and pastels are good choices, avoid bright colours and patterns. 

Children:
Children traditionally look good in all white - it helps toward a classic portrait signifying the innocence of childhood.  If that doesn't appeal and whilst I'd still advise avoiding loud patterns and logos - the 'avoid bold colours' rule for adults and newborns/babies doesn't necessarily apply to children. Vivid colours, especially the primary colours (red blue and yellow) can result in a lively, fun portrait.  


Family Groups:
Try and coordinate the outfits so that they complement each other. I don't mean you should all turn up in matching outfits (unless you really want to of course and jeans and white tops for an informal family group is always nice). Choosing clothes in different shades of the same colour or similar, complimentary colours will help. I like the photo below because of the complimentary colours - I don't think it matters that granddad is wearing stripes on this occasion!  On a side note, I met this lovely family again a while back - the children are all very much young adults now!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/7/what-shall-i-wear-for-my-photo-session Tue, 07 Jul 2020 17:10:31 GMT
Covid-19 Studio Safety - Ellie J Photography Newborn and Family Photographer https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/covid-19-studio-safety---ellie-j-photography-newborn-and-family-photographer Covid-19 Studio Safety

Ellie J Photography
Newborn and Family Photographer Warwickshire

The Coronavirus Pandemic has wreaked havoc across our country and rightly caused concern for families who are keen to ensure that they can protect their loved ones.

As we move out of lock down towards a hopefully brighter future, portrait photographers are beginning to open their studios again and I want to ensure you that here at Ellie J Photography we are doing all we can to ensure our sessions are being run as safely as possible.

We are open again as of Monday 15th June 2020 with strict social distancing and health and safety measures in place. Alongside my studio sessions, I have also introduced outdoor portrait sessions which will take place in the park next door to the studio.

Prior to each studio session, clients will be sent a booklet of information detailing the safety measures that have been put in place regarding Covid-19 and explaining what is expected of them in order to make their visit as safe as possible.  In order for their session to take place, clients are respectfully asked to ensure their compliance with the requirements contained in this booklet.

The studio has been risk assessed and re-arranged to support our new way of working.  It is 27 feet long with an entrance at either end, so social distancing can be easily maintained.  Hand sanitiser and face masks are provided and studio bookings will be limited to ensure that the area can be deep cleaned between sessions. In light of this, advance booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.

At the present time I am unable to physically pose my clients, and this includes newborns.  I realise that some parents will be disappointed about this, particularly if they were looking forward to posed newborn images.

Unfortunately, social distancing makes it impossible to get close enough to baby to safely undertake posing, and I make no apology for the fact that I will never put my clients, or indeed my own family, at risk in order to make money.

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As an alternative to my posed newborn sessions I am offering more natural, lifestyle studio sessions, which are proving popular! During these sessions, clients are guided by me as they position their baby into safe and simple poses or as they hold/support baby while photographs are taken.  In this way, new families are still able to capture the early weeks with their new baby in a series of  natural, professional photographs. The photographs included in this blog were all taken during  'hands free' studio newborn sessions.

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Thanks for your interest.  If you are interested in booking a session with me please get in touch.

Stay safe and best wishes,

Lorraine.

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/covid-19-studio-safety---ellie-j-photography-newborn-and-family-photographer Sun, 28 Jun 2020 07:42:10 GMT
How I Lit This - High Key Background Portraits https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/how-i-lit-this---high-key-background-portraits HOW I LIT THIS

High Key Background Portraits

Ellie J Photography Newborn, Child and Family Photographer Warwickshire

You probably already know this, but the word 'photography' literally means 'drawing with light', coming from the Greek photos (meaning light) and graphe (meaning drawing).  It stands to reason that, as photographers, we must therefore learn how to see and shape light to our advantage to achieve the results we want for our clients and for ourselves. No matter how fancy your camera is and how well you know which button does what, if you don't understand the effect light has on a scene and how to use that light, you will never be able to guarantee the images you want.

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Would you believe me if I told you these two images were shot against the exact same background? In both instances I used a mid-grey paper roll, the only difference between the two being how I positioned my client and setup and used my studio lights.  I've saved a small fortune over the years in background paper thanks to my lovely dad teaching me how to use lighting to create different backdrop effects in the studio.

Today I am going to talk about my high key background lighting setup.  Not to be confused with pure 'high key' photography, in this blog I am talking about the version of high key lighting that I have used over the years which renders my background white, while keeping colour and contrast in my subject.

The term 'high key' refers to an image where the emphasis is placed on lots of white/light tones.  A full on high key portrait will usually have the subject wearing all white, have a light and airy feel to it and will have very little to no dark shadows.  I have always preferred to keep plenty of contrast and 'pop' in my images whilst having a clean white/bright background and I talk below about how I light my subjects to achieve this.

For a session where I want a variety of different background tones (such as the maternity images above) I will use a grey paper background and light to taste.  For sessions where I know only a white background is required, I will use a white paper roll.

Plenty of darker tones in this image!

Traditionally, high key imagery has been used to convey images that are happy and upbeat, which makes sense when you think of all the bright, white backgrounds used in child and family photography over recent years.  High key lighting remains popular for product photography, where companies are of course keen to place emphasis on their product whilst promoting a 'good feeling' through the image to their potential customers.

When bright white backgrounds were at their most popular, the majority of my portrait sessions followed the same three or four light setup.  I must admit that, as a lover of low key imagery, my creative side began to yearn for something a little different after a while.

Like a lot of photography trends, pure white backgrounds eventually became less popular and I am now rarely asked for them (although I have noticed a slight resurgence in popularity for newborn photography recently).  I do still use high key backgrounds for certain shots such as product photography and the promotional material I shoot for the Sons of Pitches.  If you've not heard of this amazing British A-Cappella group you can meet them here.

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I shot these little beauties as part of a product photography session.  A high key set up is often used in product photography to isolate the product, remove distractions and promote an upbeat feel for potential customers.

During lock down and while I've been desperately missing work, my lovely personal supermodel (youngest daughter, who is very tolerant!) and I have been re-visiting lighting setups in the studio, including my high key background set up.  I must admit that I did thoroughly enjoy our day in the studio.

Set up.

Set up can be a bit fiddly to start with.  The aim is to produce images with a high key background that are not affected by light spillage which runs the risk of flare.  I am very fortunate to have a long enough studio to ensure that my subject/s are far enough forward (at least three feet) from the backdrop to avoid them being over lit from behind. 

I use three or four lights.  Two of these are on backdrop stands and fitted with a reflector dish and a set of barn door which are crucial in enabling me to control the light.  My key light is a soft box which I will either have at a 45 degree angle or feathered.  For fill, I will either use a silver reflector (for a single subject) or a fourth light with a large umbrella on the opposite side to my key light or directly behind me.

I shoot using Bowens 500w strobes which give me a lot of power in the studio.  Some might argue that 500w is too much power especially as a lot of my work is with newborns however, I would rather have too much light and use diffusion and feathering techniques as needed, than not enough.

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We wrapped my daughter in a very elegant bed sheet for a more high key feel to this image.  I also feathered the key light so she was lit with a softer, more even light and added a slightly creamier finish to the background in post.

Light Settings.

Ideally, I like the background lights to jointly light my backdrop to 1.5 to 2 stops over my key.  If that isn't possible, then I will bring up the background in post process.

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I always photograph the Sons of Pitches' promotional material against white.  With my key light set at F11 (paranoid about crisp images for these guys!) I didn't want my back lights blasting out at F22 and giving us all sunburn, so I used just a one stop difference and brightened in post.

Post Process.

I'm not going to lie, it is very difficult to perfectly light a high key image so that absolutely no post processing is necessary.  Even if the background is perfectly white, you will often find grey spots on the floor around your subject.  The good news is, these are very easy to brighten up in post process.  The only thing to bear in mind is that to avoid a 'suspended in mid-air' look, you need to be careful to ensure that some shadows are still visible in the finished image.

I hope you've found this blog of interest.  Please don't hesitate to get in touch with any questions!

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/how-i-lit-this---high-key-background-portraits Wed, 24 Jun 2020 19:58:30 GMT
Guest Blogger - Nicola Wicks of Hartbeeps https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/guest-blogger---nicola-wicks-of-hartbeeps HARTBEEPS

GUEST BLOG BY NICOLA WICKS OF HARTBEEPS WEST MIDLANDS

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Another guest blogger tonight and I'm chuffed to bits to introduce you to the lovely Nicola Wicks of Hartbeeps West Midlands.  If you haven't heard of Hartbeeps, check them out!  In their own words, they provide award winning classes featuring music, puppets, laughter and fun for newborns, babies and toddlers.

I caught up with Nicola recently and she kindly agreed to take part in one of my Q&A sessions.  If tonight's blog has piqued your interest you'll find Nicola's contact details below.  Oh and spread the word! Her classes are free for new parents until baby is 8 weeks :)

When did you set up your business, ‘Hartbeeps’ and why did you decide to go into this line of work?
I bought the franchise when my son (who is now 5) was 10 months old.  His sister was born when he was 20 months and I started running a class programme when she was 6 months old!
What do you enjoy most about it?
Meeting parents and babies! I love to chat to people and genuinely want to to know how they are, what they are up to and I care about the people who walk through the door. I’ve seen babies grow into little people and then even met their younger siblings. It’s been an honour to be part of their growing up and I love bumping into people around Solihull!  hartbeeps4hartbeeps4
Are qualifications required to run a Hartbeeps class?
No, just a passion for teaching, children and the Hartbeeps model. I have since completed a qualification in First Aid and I am in the process of completing an EYFS course online
Can you tell us a little more about what Hartbeeps does? 
Hartbeeps classes are for babies from birth-4 years old. The classes are held in different venues throughout the week; each week is a different theme where we story tell through props, singing, signing, lights and lots of bonding. I also run a monthly class in The Royal Star and Garter Homes, Solihull where the residents come and watch, joining in the songs and actions. They love to watch the children play and conversations are often sparked between the elderly residents and young children; it is a joy to watch and one of the things I am missing about lockdown. Hartbeeps also runs a nursery programme in line with the EYFS programme. We provide entertainment for birthday parties catering for different ages and themes. I run seasonal baby raves 4 times a year which are a mix between free play with different learning/play zones and a class. These run for Easter, Summer, Halloween and Christmas and are a real success and social activity. HartbeepsHartbeeps
What age ranges do your classes/events cover?
Classes are split into ability first; this is something that I loved about Hartbeeps as every child is different and develops at different rates regardless of their age. Bells - babies birth-sitting. Beeps - sitting/walking and Happy House - toddlers upwards (this class is also suitable to bring younger siblings to) hartbeeps 5hartbeeps 5
What are the benefits of a Hartbeeps class/event and why should parents consider it for their little one?
Hartbeeps HQ produce all the music, so you may think ‘oh I’ve heard that one before!’ but our songs have a little twist to them to make sure they are relevant. Classes are kept small to ensure that interaction between myself and each parent is something that can be achieved at each session, and that there is also time for the parents/grown ups to interact. I’m not one to tell you to be quiet!! Unless I’m trying to explain something!! Each class caters to the age/ability group and we incorporate massage, yoga, music, play and props within every session.
Are the classes/events suitable for all, including babies or children who may have a health condition?
Yes, classes can be adapted and where there is for example, a health condition, alternative moves/actions will be given.
Has anything funny happened during one of your classes that you can share?
In Beeps and Happy House we have a section each week where the children put on their ‘listening ears’. They are given wooden staves to tap together and then they have to listen to the sound and guess if they are able. When I very first started it was time to put our staves to our ears and listen. I asked the children ‘Whats the sounds you can hear?’ I was met with a very loud and well timed paarrrrpp from one of the babies!!! This story sticks with me and me and the mum laughs and reminisces with her 2nd child who now attends!
How can people contact you for further information?
I’m always available on Instagram: hartbeepswestmidlands_solihull and Facebook Hartbeeps West Midlands - Solihull & Henley in Arden. hartbeeps 3hartbeeps 3
Have you anything more to share with us today?

During lockdown I am offering Hartbeeps@Home classes straight to your home. These classes have now been running for 12 weeks, and I am continuing to support parents and children until the guidelines allow for face to face classes. Like face to face classes these are offered free to babies who are 8 weeks and under. 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/guest-blogger---nicola-wicks-of-hartbeeps Thu, 18 Jun 2020 18:50:09 GMT
Why is Newborn Photography Expensive? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/why-is-newborn-photography-expensive Why is newborn photography so expensive?

Well it doesn’t have to be.  There will always be a photographer ready to offer a great deal – perhaps a newborn session plus all images for £70, and that is so much better than someone charging a few hundred for the same service…. isn’t it?

When I worked in Health and Safety many years ago, we operated under a system called competitive tendering.  In short, whenever we needed to buy in a service, we would invite companies to give us a quote and supporting pack of information and decide who to engage based on that.

The most important part of that quote however was never the figure they wanted to charge us.  It was the supporting information, the company’s relevant experience, past clients’ references, their training, safety record, insurance details and so on.  Sometimes we chose the cheapest tender, sometimes the most expensive. The main point is, we chose the company who best demonstrated in their supporting information that they could properly meet our needs for the price quoted.  This was called 'best value' – because it gave us the best value for the money we were spending.  

How I wish 'best value' would always be applied today - that people would take into consideration the service and product they are getting and not just what it will cost from a monetary point of view.

I do understand that people have to be careful with their spending in the current climate.  What does sadden me however, is when I see new parents asking on social media for recommendations for a ‘cheap newborn photographer’.  I'd much prefer to see people asking for a 'good' or better still a 'good and safe' newborn photographer!  

I'd like to state here and now that my issue isn't just with cheaper photographers.  Some photographers will of course be cheaper than others depending on what they offer. For example, I would fully expect a photographer who creates wonderful, fantastical modern art imagery to be more expensive than one offering straightforward baby images due to the hours of additional processing involved. 

So back to my initial statement.  No, newborn photography doesn’t have to be expensive, it can be cheap.  However, (and this is what I take issue with), in its current unregulated form, this unfortunately also means that it doesn’t have to be safe, insured, undertaken by someone who is trained or experienced or actually, any good. 

The old adage ‘You Get What You Pay For’ has never been truer. 

If you’re still with me, let me illustrate just a little. I'm not trying to be condescending here, but I think a big problem is that many people just don't understand the expenses involved with running a photography business.  Why would they? I don't understand how to plumb in a washing machine, its not what I do.  But I digress;

A professional and legitimate newborn photographer will have to pay for the following out of what a client pays them (and this is by no means an exhaustive list):

  • Rent of their studio space (for those using a studio);
  • The energy required to heat the work space for several hours per newborn session;
  • The electricity required to power studio lights;
  • Washing/cleaning of blankets and props ;
  • Their time working during the session (approximately 4 hours);
  • The time and costs involved to professionally process the images or, if they don’t process themselves, the cost of getting someone else to do it;
  • Maintenance of camera and studio gear (one single flash tube costs me £73);
  • Replacement of backgrounds (£200 every couple of months for me) and props as needed;
  • Business insurance payments;
  • Tax and national insurance payments;
  • Ongoing training costs;
  • Childcare (for those with young children themselves);
  • Petrol, taxes and car maintenance costs for those who operate a mobile service.
  • Admin charges; emails/post/advertising/phone bills etc
  • Prints/Canvasses and other photographic products the client may order

I am sure other photographers can add to this list.  And all this has to be paid from what they earn in photography before they can allocate themselves a salary to spend on the nicer things in life - such as food, mortgage etc. 

Newborn photography is incredibly popular these days and as a result, the past few years have seen a concurrent upsurge in the number of people advertising themselves as ‘professional newborn photographers’.

The worrying thing is that, with the industry unbelievably remaining unregulated, anyone can jump on the newborn photography bandwagon without any checks whatsoever.

Of course, you cannot tar everyone with the same brush – but some photographers have appeared in the market offering ridiculously cheap prices which will naturally appeal to unsuspecting clients looking to save money during these difficult times.  Yes, these photographers may enjoy photography as a hobby, yes, they may have a fairly good camera; but have they been trained how to work safely with a newborn baby?  Do they know how to correctly white balance and compose an image or light their subject?  Are they registered as a business and properly insured should things go wrong? The fact is, it costs a considerable amount of money to run a newborn photography business.  It is expensive to be properly trained and insured and to have the right equipment and props.  How then, can they charge so little and still have an income?

Needless to say, I have seen many of these photographers fold their business after a short time, either because they quickly realise they just can’t afford to keep running so cheaply or because they were just not up to the job in the first place.

Unfortunately, a sad side-effect of what is happening in the newborn photography industry today is that, with so many people willing to undercut pricing, I’ve witnessed some brilliant, established newborn portrait businesses going under.  It is truly heart-breaking to see a photographer with many years’ experience, capable of producing fantastic pieces of newborn art, put out of business due to an influx of new local photographers charging peanuts and producing at the best average and at worst potentially unsafe work.

Oh – and before anyone says “Well established photographers should learn to keep up with the times and reduce their prices accordingly” or similar, please see my comment above about how expensive it is to properly run a newborn photography business.  If established professional photographers all cut their prices, then their businesses would no longer be viable and they would soon be out of work anyway.  As they say, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

I don't pretend to have all the answers.  If a family can't afford a professional newborn photographer's service then what can they do? First and foremost I would always say to them please, do your homework.  Don't just jump on the cheapest deal.  If you find a photographer whose price and work you are happy with don't stop there - check their training and references to make sure your baby will be safe and that you'll end up with photographs you will love.  (This applies to all newborn photographers - not just the cheaper ones!)  See what packages the more expensive photographers offer - you may be able to choose a few favourite images and therefore keep within your budget.

Finally - and I am aware this does look like a bit of a U-turn - there are cheap newborn photography deals out there and I have absolutely no issue with the photographers offering them. 

These are the newly established photographers who have already put in the hard work, got themselves safety trained and know how to use their camera and gear correctly.  In other words, they can safely pose and light their tiny little clients and expose and process the resulting images correctly.  Such photographers will often charge a cheaper price whilst building up their portfolios and they will be quite honest about this. As the saying goes, we all have to start somewhere and I sincerely offer such new photographers the very best in what can be a rewarding and wonderful career.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog! Apologies that it is a little gloomier than my usual musings, but after hearing of yet another wonderful and talented friend having to give up her studio I felt the need to vent just a little.  

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/why-is-newborn-photography-expensive Mon, 15 Jun 2020 17:06:19 GMT
Social Distance Portraits - Newborn, Child and Family Photographer Warwickshire https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/social-distance-portraits---newborn-child-and-family-photographer-warwickshire SOCIAL DISTANCE PORTRAITS

Ellie J Photography

Newborn, Child and Family Photographer Warwickshire

 

When the UK Government announced that non-essential businesses including photography studios could open again after lock-down I was thrilled.  Some apprehension began to creep in however, when the amount of preparation needed in order to safely open my doors and carry on with my business hit home.  

During the long weeks of lock-down I had already prepared a Covid 19 risk assessment and, with a studio measuring 27 feet in length and having entrances top and bottom, I am confident that with my longer lens I can easily work whilst keeping more than the required 2 metre distance from my clients.  As I prepare to get back to work however, I have also come to the disconcerting realisation that in order to maintain a similar level of business to what  I had pre-Coronavirus, I must embrace a new way of working.

I have already had a few clients asking about outdoor sessions and so, after being mainly studio based for the past 8 years, I have begun to look at venturing beyond the studio doors once more.

I am very fortunate to live right next door to a pretty little park with several spots for photography, including a little wooded area and stream. I am quite a perfectionist, and if I can't do something to the best of my ability I won't do it at all.  The first thing I needed to do was invest in some equipment as I had sold mine when I gave up weddings years ago.  Then, I needed someone to model for me as I blew the dust off my outdoor photography skills and hoped I could remember everything I had been taught! 

Enter my beautiful little niece Ella.

As soon as lock-down rules allowed, Ella and her lovely mummy came over and we ventured out at a safe social distance to take some photos.  It was an incredibly sunny day and, as any photographer will appreciate, my skills were certainly tested as bright sunshine is one of the most challenging conditions for outdoor photos!  Yes, I could have opted for a very early morning or late afternoon session to take advantage of the 'golden hour' but I wanted to put myself under the most pressure possible.  Besides, in the real world I'm aware that many clients just can't commit to the timing of a 'golden hour' session.  I figured that if I could cope with what I consider to be a nightmare outdoor shooting scenario,  I would be fine.  I'm not kidding, I honestly prefer cloudy even rainy days for outdoor portraits!

At three years of age, Ella was an absolute trooper and really tolerant of crazy Aunty Lorraine taking her on a tour of the park.  You'll see below some of the results and despite the challenging conditions, I was overall quite pleased.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me!

Lorraine x

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/social-distance-portraits---newborn-child-and-family-photographer-warwickshire Thu, 11 Jun 2020 17:30:00 GMT
Guest Blogger - Baby Massage Instructor Nikki Sanders of Nurture with Nikki https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/guest-blogger---baby-massage-instructor-nikki-sanders-of-nurture-with-nikki BABY MASSAGE

GUEST BLOG BY NIKKI SANDERS OF NURTURE WITH NIKKI Untitled-1Untitled-1

As a newborn and baby photographer I have an interest in all things baby, and I've enjoyed many a conversation over the years with people who have established their careers in baby care. 

I also love talking to and sharing baby tips with new mums and dads, and I must mention a particular session I had a while back.  My little client was a fair bit older than my regular newborn, so I was prepared for a longer session.  On the day however, he was so relaxed and content that the session was finished in record time. I jokingly asked mum what on earth she was feeding him to make him so chilled out, and she told me that she had attended pregnancy yoga before his birth and was now taking him to baby massage classes. 

I've been itching to learn more about baby massage and am therefore delighted to introduce my guest blogger Nikki Sanders of Nurture with Nikki based in Solihull, who took time out from her busy schedule to do a little Q and A session with me.  This lovely lady has helped many parents reap the rewards of baby massage since setting up her business in 2016.  Nikki has recently adapted her way of working to ensure she can continue supporting her clients during Covid 19 by offering on-line classes.  I'm sure all you new mums and dads will find this blog of interest.

Enjoy!

Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Nikki, founder and sole owner of ‘Nurture with Nikki’ Baby Massage. I have five children, their ages ranging from 14 to 21 so our house is very full and home life is very busy! My hobbies include cycling, running, walking and playing Netball which keep me fit when I am not working or looking after my family. I am also an animal lover, having two rescue cats at home called Pepsi and Max. As well as being a Qualified Baby Massage Instructor I am also a Qualified Postnatal Practitioner running postnatal courses for the NCT (National Childbirth Trust). Having enjoyed this particular role for over ten years, I am passionate about helping mums and dads with their journeys through parenthood.
When did you set up your business, ‘Nurture with Nikki’ and why did you decide to go into this line of work?
I set up ‘Nurture with Nikki’ in 2016 after qualifying to become a Baby Massage Instructor. Whilst I was thoroughly enjoying my role running the Postnatal courses, I wanted to reach more parents, supporting them in a positive way at the same time as helping them develop their skills as new parents. Baby Massage was such an obvious choice to expand my skill set as having massaged my own children for many years I already understood the huge range of benefits to parents and babies.
What do you enjoy most about it?
I love teaching the strokes and explaining how each stroke will help their baby – passing on this knowledge and watching the mums and dads grow in confidence in how to handle their baby is heart-warming. Aside from the massage strokes I have the added advantage of being a Postnatal Practitioner and absolutely love talking to the parents and supporting them in the challenges and issues they face. I have recently had to go Online with my classes due to Covid-19 so have added a ‘Nurture with Nikki’s Chit Chat’ session which is purely about supporting mums and dads in this way by discussing all aspects of ‘life after baby arrives’.
Are qualifications required to become a Baby Massage Instructor?
Absolutely – qualifications are essential and require the study of the anatomical aspects of babies to gain an understanding of the effects of Baby Massage. I think it is important that parents have a good understanding of why we do the strokes, almost as important as knowing how we do the strokes so quality training provides this. It is essential parents know how to massage their baby safely so attending a course delivered by a qualified Baby Massage Instructor will achieve this.
Can you tell us a little more about Baby Massage. What are the Benefits and why should parents consider it for their little one?
Baby massage is the art of gentle loving touches of your baby’s skin using oils or moisturisers in a stimulating but relaxing way. It will release tension and help to nurture both their physical and emotional development. Using baby massage as part of your routine, you will find the soothing strokes of your hands stimulate the production of the feel-good hormone known as oxytocin in you and your baby. This lays down the positive emotional foundations for a strong bond between parent and baby and encourages love, trust and emotional security between baby and carer. This is the first step in positive communication with your baby through eye contact and touch and will help you to recognise your baby’s cues by noticing how they respond. Baby Massage has been used for generations in many different parts of the world and across all different cultures; it is widely recognised to have a great number of positive benefits to both parent and baby. There are lots of ways baby massage can benefit not just your baby, but your family as well: • It provides invaluable Bonding and Attachment opportunities • Improves relaxation and sleep patterns • Provides relief from trapped wind, constipation and teething pain • Improves digestion, circulation, skin condition and muscle tone. NWNNWN

How cute are these babies? They even get to graduate from class with a cap and gown!

What is the age range of the babies that you see in your classes?
You can actually massage your baby from birth but I would encourage parents to wait until their baby is six weeks old to get the maximum benefit out of coming to a class – you aren’t able to use oil on your babies skin until this time as their natural skin barrier is still developing. It is also better to wait until they are six weeks old to give them (and you) time to adjust to being in the big wide world.
Are there any restrictions on Baby Massage for example, if a baby has a particular health condition, can they still take part?
The majority of health conditions are often helped by Baby massage however if your baby has specific issues it Is always best to check with your doctor/consultant before joining a class. I always check beforehand if there are any medical issues to be aware of – I can then assess if any of the massage strokes need to be adapted-for example, a baby with clicky hips would need to avoid the two strokes that involve the movement of the hip joint but all other strokes can be used and enjoyed.
Has anything funny happened during one of your classes that you can share?
During my online classes, I encourage any older siblings to get involved using a teddy or doll. A mum sent me a video of her four year old daughter repeating my words and practising the massage strokes on her baby sister later that day– so funny and so heart warming!
How can people contact you for further information?
I run four week courses for new parents and then specific Pay as you Go sessions for those parents who want to continue their Baby Massage journey with me. I find many parents enjoy the information sharing chit chat at the beginning of my sessions as much as the baby massage so stay with me until their baby will no longer sit still! To contact me my email address is Nikki@nurturewithnikki.co.uk
and my Facebook page is @NWNbabymassage

  

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/guest-blogger---baby-massage-instructor-nikki-sanders-of-nurture-with-nikki Mon, 08 Jun 2020 18:00:00 GMT
Stripshow. Portraits using a Strip Softbox as the Keylight. https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/stripshow-portraits-using-a-strip-softbox-as-the-keylight STRIPSHOW

PORTRAITS USING A STRIP SOFTBOX AS THE KEYLIGHT

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Nikon D810, 24-70 f2.8, @ f4, 60mm, iso 100 Nikon D850, 24-70 f2.8 @ f2.8, 62mm, iso 64

Apologies if the title of this blog had you thinking you were going to be reading something far more exciting.

I was planning to blog about my studio gear, but there is so much of it I thought I’d do something a little different that allows me to concentrate instead on individual pieces of equipment rather than try and cram everything in.  So today’s bite-size blog looks at the lighting used in the two images above.

In the studio, my most frequently used lighting modifier has to be my Bowens Lumiair Octabox 140.  I love this softbox, I can use it pulled back to photograph family groups or right up close to a sleeping newborn, safe in the knowledge that, with its double diffusion, it will light baby gently and softly while allowing me to open up my aperture nice and wide.  Another bonus of the Octabox of course (if you are fussy about such things) is that it gives a nice round catchlight.

In my maternity and some portrait work however, I do like to include some nice low key, dramatic images.  In the past I would try and achieve this by severely feathering my rectangular softbox, attempting to light my subject with just the very edge of the light.  This, however didn't give me the control I wanted.

The answer I found was the Bowens Lumiair softstrip 140.  (Yes, I'm a Bowens girl.)

Strip softboxes are more often thought of as a means to provide rim light.  However, when used as a main lightsource they can produce striking and dramatic results (which I love). Being a narrower modifier than its softbox counterparts, the strip disperses its light in a far more concentrated manner, it's long shape producing a uniquely soft and dramatic fall off.

You can use a strip softbox horizontally or vertically, my choice being the latter.  By controlling the spread of light and how it falls on my subject I am able to achieve the dramatic imagery I'm after.  This can be a little tricky, and you do need to learn how to ‘see’ the light in order to make the necessary tweaks however, if you're after low key drama the effort is definitely worth it.  

For anyone new to key lighting with strip softboxes, I would suggest the following;

  • Buy yourself a dummy head
  • Stick it atop anything that will bring it up to an appropriate height (I use posing tubs or in ghoulish 'Lord of the Flies' fashion I'll spear it onto a light stand) 
  • Lock yourself in your shooting space and practice, practice, practice.

The strip softbox is now my go-to modifier for dramatic dark portraits, such as the maternity portrait and that of my beautiful daughter above. 

Finally, whilst the box itself does give me more light control, I do use it in conjunction with a 40 degree soft egg crate grid, which does a fabulous job of helping perfect the light. If you’re not sure how a grid works, it does so by ensuring that the light coming from the softbox goes in a forward direction only and does not spread out from the sides.  With the grid in place, I can direct light even more precisely to the area I want, keeping the light contained as I do so. Made from soft cloth, the grid is also easily removed as necessary.

For those of you who are fussy about catchlights - the long ones are a price I'm willing to pay for the effect I want! 

Thanks for reading my blog – if you have any questions please get in touch!

 

Lorraine.

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/stripshow-portraits-using-a-strip-softbox-as-the-keylight Thu, 04 Jun 2020 16:15:00 GMT
Lockdown and Me - Guest Blog from Midland Mummy, Lifestyle and Mummy Blogger https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/lockdown-and-me---guest-blog-from-midland-mummy-lifestyle-and-mummy-blogger Guest Blogger Jo of Midland Mummy shares her experience of lockdown with her three year old son.

I was thrilled when this lovely lady agreed to guest blog for me and share her experience of lockdown life with her little one.  I may be a mum myself, but my 'baby' is more than capable of keeping herself busy through this new and extremely trying time.  It is lovely to hear how you amazing young mums are coping and staying sane with much younger children in the house. 

Thank you so much Jo for agreeing to be a guest blogger!

When the lockdown was first announced, I was just as shocked and panicked as everyone and it just felt like my freedom had been taken away and not only that my whole daily routine with my little boy had gone out of the window, I really couldn't just nip down to see my mum who is a 15 minute drive from me, I couldn't just go to the shops if I wanted and my little boy absolutely loved going round the shops, especially those with scanners inside what on earth were we going to do? 

At first, I think I put too much pressure on myself as I was trying to balance work as I work in a school and also keep him entertained and I tried to fill our days with everything to the point where he became overwhelmed and I was just exhausted because I was trying to keep everything ok for him but neglected myself, so I was burning out quickly.

By about week 4/5 of lockdown, I took a step back and looked at what he really enjoyed doing, which was baking, playing games with his figures (Bing, Happyland and Hey Duggee) reading books, having a cuddles, some chill time with his favourite TV programmes and when the weather allowed us to having a walk, we are lucky to have a lovely canal path to walk along that's about a 10 minute walk from our house.

I also found that by getting outside, it improved both our moods which I found really made things easier to cope with, we also made sure that we had daily video chats over our Alexa device or on phones to family and close friends.

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I found that having a rough idea of what we could do each day helped but if we didn't do it, that could be moved to another day but some days I'd just go with what he wanted so one morning, we literally spent the whole morning playing every jigsaw that we owned and you know what...the time flew by and he loved it, I think he loved that time that we had together and because he hadn't seen some of the puzzles for a while, they were fresh to him.

Most of all, he loves to bake. It's been really interesting to watch his skills grow and they learn so much through baking. His favourite are cakes and as he loves to get in there and mix, although my poor kitchen is usually in an absolute state after!

There's also a really simple recipe for fork biscuits that use three ingredients, 100g butter, 50g caster sugar and 150g self-raising flour. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy and then slowly add the flour and mix together with your hands until it forms a dough. Then pull off small amounts, place them on a greased baking tray and dip the fork in a little water before pressing down on them.  Bake for 15-20 minutes in 180c/fan 160c/ gas 4.

Also I've found rotating toys help, so that he's not seeing the same toys every week, it changes things up and simple activities such as a paintbrush and some water to paint the steps or fence if you have a garden, whilst the weather is nice can be the best activity and it's generally something you've got lying around so doesn't need anything special. 

So what I've learned from this lockdown so far is take one day at a time, if they don't want to do something one day, push it to the next day and sometimes just follow their lead, you might think that they need to be entertained all the time but they don’t being bored is good for them and one thing I've discovered, is winging it is the way forward, I'm a first time mum and I've discovered so far that a lot of parenting is just winging it, try not to put added pressure on yourself because right now, especially with all of this going on, no added pressure is needed and taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your child.

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/6/lockdown-and-me---guest-blog-from-midland-mummy-lifestyle-and-mummy-blogger Mon, 01 Jun 2020 08:02:41 GMT
My Birth Experience. https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/my-birth-experience My Birth Experiences

by Lorraine Jardim of Ellie J Photography

 

During a newborn photography session I just love talking to new mums and dads about their birth experiences.

No matter how it happens, there is no doubt that welcoming a new baby into the family is a momentous experience and over the years I have heard some truly amazing stories from clients.  I have shed tears on more than one occasion listening to tales of IVF, adoption, and even babies who were delivered at home via 999 phone instructions before the paramedics arrived.

I've been blown away by the strength of my clients, some of whom had struggled for years to achieve their dream of parenthood.  I've spoken with clients who had given up on trying, only to find themselves pregnant a short while later and I've met some who hadn't even realised they were expecting until months into their pregnancy.

I find these stories fascinating, and thought for this blog I’d share my own personal experiences of bringing our children into the world. Please excuse the awful hairstyles in the following photographs.

We are blessed with three children; a son and two daughters.

In creating our little family there has been heartache, worry and complete surprise.  Overall, however, there has been an incredible amount of love and happiness.

Our Eldest - Born 1990

Our first born arrived 30 years ago this year.  As I’ve often told clients, things were very much different back then.  For starters, I was actually told to eat liver during pregnancy to help with iron levels and, once he had arrived, I was taught the importance of lying him on his side to sleep, with a rolled up blanket behind to prevent him lying on his back, which was at the time considered a cot death risk.

Overall, my pregnancy had been good.  I only suffered sickness in the first few weeks and from then on, I bloomed.  As you can see below, my bump grew rather large with him!  I only had one worrying incident in my pregnancy which found me rushing to hospital worried that my waters had leaked.  Apparently, my weak bladder was to blame (too much information I know!).  I remember feeling very stupid until a lovely nurse told me that it was quite common for ladies in later months to have little incidents such as I had experienced.  I blame my sons vigorous kicking.

When baby’s due date came and went with no sign of him wanting to put in an appearance, hubby and I tried everything.  Curries, long walks, tennis games and yes, plenty of the other.  Nothing worked.  Eventually (and eleven days overdue) I was referred by my female GP to a male Consultant.  

Now as a young and fairly naïve girl I had never been examined by a man (with hubby as the obvious exception) and I got myself in such a state worrying about it, that when I walked into the examining room my blood pressure was through the roof.  I was admitted immediately to be induced the next day.  All this without having to remove a single item of clothing!

Our son was, and still is, a rather laid-back individual. As my hubby put it at the time, he didn't want to 'cut his holiday short' and be born on his due date. Here I am on my 23rd birthday, shortly before his arrival.   

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His eyes were wide open when he was born, my first beautiful baby.

The day of our son’s birth finally arrived, and prior to going down to labour ward I phoned my husband and told him that he should wait until it was all underway.  I assured him I was very calm and that he should not worry about coming over until my labour had begun.  Immediately on reaching labour ward and hearing a fellow patient scream however, my resolve vanished and hubby was immediately summoned.

Our son was born approximately eight and a half hours after I was induced. I had an epidural, which worked brilliantly.  So brilliantly in fact that hubby and I were playing cards when the midwife looked at the monitor and said “You’ve just had a massive contraction” I hadn’t felt a thing.  The only negative aspect of my first delivery were the sudden and unexpected bouts of projectile vomiting that began almost as soon as labour proper started (sorry, too much information again).  Incidentally, this was the same with all three of my births.

When the time came I did not feel the urge to push which could have been a problem.  However, our son was a big strong boy and the midwife later told us that he seemed to help push himself out.  I remember the midwife lifting him up onto my chest and his eyes were wide open.  He was staring right up at me (yes, I know he couldn't actually see me clearly at that age but humour me).  He had bounced into the world weighing 8lb 10oz and for those first couple of hours with us, he didn't cry once.

You know that bonding experience new mothers have with their babies?  Well, that didn’t happen at first. It came a few hours later.  Hubby had gone home and in those days after giving birth, your baby was taken to the nursery so you could rest.  As I am sure many new mums will tell you, when you’ve just given birth and your adrenaline is still racing around your body, the last thing you can do is sleep.

I remember lying there in my bed, trying to sleep but all I could hear was one baby crying.  The crying went on, becoming more and more frantic and I just knew it was him.  Eventually a midwife came in and, handing him to me said “I think he needs his mummy”.  As soon as she put him in my arms he shut up.  He just looked up at me with those huge eyes and that was when that amazing bond hit me like a brick.  From that moment on, I knew there was nothing I wouldn’t do for this child.

New mums are discharged from hospital so quickly these days. Thirty years ago and even though baby and I were both healthy, my hospital stay was five days.  During that time we were given lessons on how to properly top and tail our baby, how to bath him and how to feed him.  When we finally came home I was well rested and full of confidence that I knew how to care for our son.  I do feel sad when some first time clients confide in me that they felt rushed out of hospital before they were completely ready.

Our Second - Born 1994

We had caught so quickly for our son that we assumed the same would happen a couple of years later when we wanted another baby.  Sadly, things didn’t go to plan.  After over a year of trying and failing I finally became pregnant again only to suffer the pain of a miscarriage.  We were both so upset, but then a miracle happened, and I found out I was pregnant again.  It happened so quickly that I even began to suspect I may have been expecting twins and lost one, leaving the other alive and well.  This wasn’t the case of course, but to illustrate how close the dates were, the baby we lost was due on July 27th and our second child and eldest daughter was born on August 11th, albeit three weeks early.

My pregnancy with our eldest daughter wasn’t as easy as with our son.  From around 28 weeks I had to have scans twice weekly as there were concerns with her rapid heart-rate.  On one occasion I was taken into hospital and told to prepare for a very early birth, only to thankfully have a Consultant overrule the decision.  In the end, I was induced at 37 weeks, by which time I was a nervous wreck and very concerned about my baby's health.  

I was obviously meant to carry my babies for longer, because despite being induced, our young lady just did not want to be born. I had another epidural but this time it wasn’t as completely effective.  Little one was back to back and I was in slow labour for almost three days. By the time she was ready to be born and despite my best efforts I was just too exhausted to push her out. Forceps were discussed, but ultimately were not needed.  I always say things happen for a reason, and it turns out that the sudden bouts of explosive vomiting I was again experiencing during this second labour were a blessing in disguise!  Our eldest daughter practically flew into the world when my body suddenly spasmed as I heaved to be sick.  I still remember the look of shock on the midwife's face as she caught our daughter, demonstrating lightning fast reflexes that Roger Federer would be proud of.

After a worrying pregnancy, when I was admitted to hospital I was very afraid for my baby's health.  You can tell by the way I'm hanging onto my Crucifix here!

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This photo was taken shortly after she was born.  I think the exhaustion I felt is plain to see. 

The happiness we had at being blessed with a daughter soon evaporated as it became clear things weren’t all as they should be.  I remember watching a Consultant Paediatrician and my husband talking in low voices and feeling absolutely terrified.  Thankfully, after being tested her heart seemed fine, but then there were concerns about her breathing.  She was taken to the Special Care Baby Unit and there followed a week of worry and regular trips from my ward on the top floor of the old maternity building at Walsgrave Hospital, to the basement SCBU.  The lifts in that building were not the most reliable and once or twice I had to drag my aching post-birth body down several flights of stairs to see her. When I first saw her in an incubator,  hooked up to monitors, her little body fighting so hard to breathe and with what looked like an enormous drip in her tiny arm I was beyond upset.  I desperately wanted to hold and breastfeed her, but all I could do was watch as a nurse used a pipette to drip feed her a few drops of my breast milk at a time.

The nursing staff were excellent however and a few days after she was born, I was finally allowed to hold her and try to breastfeed.  She had gained so much strength in those few days and I remember crying with joy when she latched on to feed. Her birthweight of 6lb 10oz had dropped to 5lb 8oz by the time we came home with her and I remember watching her like a hawk those first few weeks.  When he visited us at home, an elderly GP said  “Well, she's a scrawny little thing, but some mothers milk would soon sort her out!” He was absolutely right.

Before I finish talking about the arrival of our second I'd like to just mention here something that I have heard many new mums say. When you've had one baby and are expecting your second, you may well worry that you could not possibly love your second child as much as your first. You might think that there is just no room in your heart, because it is so full of love for your first born.  I thought like that, I really did.  But from the moment I held my daughter, I knew it wasn't true.  At the risk of sounding extremely sentimental, I swear my heart just doubled in size to allow me to love them both equally.  (By the way, your heart can just as easily triple in size too!)

So, with our planned for and very much loved two children, our family was complete.  Or so we thought!

Our Youngest - Born 2003

When our daughter was just over eight years old and we had long since settled into the next phase of parenthood, we had a huge surprise!

I remember I had been going through a busy period at work.  At the time, I worked for the local Authority in Health and Safety.  I had been rather stressed and my period had been all over the place.  One day and completely out of the blue, hubby asked me if I had taken a pregnancy test

“Don’t be stupid” I remember telling him.  “I’m stressed, that’s all!”  I knew I couldn’t possibly be pregnant, we’d been taking precautions after all.  To this day he can’t explain why he suspected I might be pregnant, apparently it was a ‘hunch’.

Hubby kept on about it, so one day I decided the only way to shut him up was to do a test. 

I was on my way to a meeting and, files in hand, I nipped into a chemist and brought a pregnancy test kit.  So sure it would be negative, I took the test in the ladies on the way back to my office. To say I was shocked at the result is an understatement!  I remember walking back into the office and, when one of our new starters asked me if I was ok because I looked pale, I just burst into tears! 

Don’t get me wrong our youngest was very much wanted, but to this day,  I honestly don’t know how she came into being.  One of the 2% of pregnancies to evade birth control I guess!

This time around my pregnancy was awful. I don’t know if it was because I was that bit older, but I just felt horrible.  I was constantly sick in fact, I lost over a stone in the first three months and was on the verge of being admitted to hospital.  Then everything began to balloon.  I became huge;  with my swollen face and huge cankles I demonstrated the exact opposite of what a glowing, beautiful pregnancy would be.  I won't say I hated being pregnant because that would just be untrue, but its fair to say that towards the end of my pregnancy that very hot summer, I was more than ready for baby to be born.  

After being previously induced twice, I had really wanted to experience going into labour naturally but sadly this wasn’t to be.  Three days before her due date my blood pressure was so high I was instantly admitted to hospital for induction.  Again, it took a lot to get me started but after a 24 hour labour she was born in the early hours of the morning.  I had asked for an epidural when labour started but, thanks to my temperature being raised, I wasn’t allowed one.  I bought our youngest into the world on just gas and air and with hindsight, I am so glad I did.  It may have been a lot more  painful than my other deliveries, but I am so pleased I finally experienced that natural urge to push.  What an amazing feeling!  I describe it as an out of body experience.  I will never understand why you hear medical professionals on TV telling labouring mothers ‘not to push yet’ because believe me, there is no way on God’s good earth I could have stopped my body from taking over when the time came to push my baby out. Despite predictions of a nine to ten pound baby our youngest daughter came into the world a dainty 7lb 6oz.  While our son is now just under 6 feet and our eldest daughter taller than me at 5’ 8”, our youngest, at the age of almost 17, remains dainty to this day.  Standing at 5’4” and a tiny dress size 4, followers of my Social Media pages will know her well as she regularly models for me.

Our unplanned, but very much loved, surprise.

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The above image is a section from a photo I have never shared before, even with family! I have converted it to black and white and removed unnecessary (and highly embarrassing) elements.  Despite the frankly gory detail of the original colour version, this image is one I treasure.  Snapped by hubby, it captures the actual moment our beautiful daughter came into the world.  I love so many things about it; the smile on our lovely midwife's face, my hands reaching up to take our baby, the poster which I focussed on during contractions and, of course, our baby girl as she took her first breath. 
The photo below is us just a few hours later when she looked a lot less messy! The look on my face seems to say "Yep, I still don't know how this happened!"
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One final memory I will share from all three of my birth stories concerns my wonderful husband.  He has an underlying health condition and at all three deliveries, whilst being an amazing source of support to me, its fair to say he did have a tendency to lose consciousness now and then.  I have a clear memory of watching him after the birth of our youngest, lying prone on a bed himself and being fussed over by a couple of nurses. I have no doubt he thoroughly enjoyed every second.

Mothering Sunday 2004.  Every contraction was worth it.

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Well, I realise I have written a lot of words here.  You see, I told you us mums like talking about our birth stories!   

One of the amazing things about having a baby is that, almost as soon as your baby is delivered and placed in your arms, the pain stops.  Over the coming weeks, the memory of that pain becomes less and less. I can only assume Mother Nature made it this way to ensure that women would go on to have further children.

If you’ve made it to the end of my very personal birthing blog, thanks so much for reading. If anyone has an interesting birth story they would like to share, I would love to hear from you.

Take care and stay safe!

Lorraine x 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/my-birth-experience Thu, 28 May 2020 11:27:27 GMT
My Photography Gear - Cameras and Lenses https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/my-photography-gear---cameras-and-lenses MY PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR - CAMERAS AND LENSES

Ellie J Photography 

Newborn & Family Photographer

 

Untitled-1Untitled-1 This shelf brings me joy. 

I don't think I've talked about my own photography gear, although it is a subject that (as my husband will tell you) I could easily wax lyrical about for several hours at a time.

For my fellow photography enthusiasts and anyone else who is interested, I thought I would start with a blog about my cameras and lenses.  Later on I will blog about my studio equipment.  

First up - lets get one thing out of the way. 

As a Star Wars fan I hugely enjoy being able to say this but yes, long ago I joined the Dark Side. In other words, I shoot Nikon.

I'm not interested in starting a 'Nikon v Canon v any other camera brand' debate. There are people on all sides with a compelling argument as to why their chosen brand of camera is better for them and I respect their choices.  Ultimately as photographers, we must all choose a system that suits our needs, meets our work requirements and produces the standard of images we are being paid for.  I've never understood the need for heated debate.

Why do I shoot Nikon?

I could start talking here about Nikon's reputation for being a world leader in the photographic industry since the release of its first camera in 1948.  I could also mention their amazing lineup of cameras, from entry level DSLRs to the latest Nikon Z mirrorless cameras.  However, my reasons for shooting Nikon are far more simplistic.

These are:

a) All of my lenses are Nikon, so having already invested pretty heavily in good glass I'd have to be really unhappy, not to mention considerably wealthier, to justify the expense of a change in system this late in the game.

b) I can operate a Nikon DSLR camera with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back (just don't hand me a Nikon compact at a party and expect the same) 

What Nikon cameras have I used?

D80 
 
With an 18-135 kit lens. My first Nikon love and the first one to make me any money.  Hubby paid for her with his bonus one year.  I still own her for sentimental reasons.
D300 Nikon's flagship DX, replacing the D200. I owned two of these back when I was photographing weddings and they never let me down.
D3 Nikon's first full frame offering and a wonderful surprise gift from my late dad.  I'd been wanting to move into full frame and one day he just presented her to me.  She was (and is still) a cracking camera, although a little hefty (bless her). Although very much retired now I still own her, how could I not?
D700 Considered to be a D3 in a D300's more compact body.  Full frame, but easier to handle and lighter than my beloved D3.  I owned a couple and again, they didn't disappoint me once.
D800 Wow.  Just - wow. For more information, read below!
D810 Again - just wow.  I honestly didn't think it could get any better. Now my second camera and still an absolute cracker.
D850 My current workhorse.  Further information below.

The D800 series is very much like marmite.  I am a huge fan (of the cameras, not the Marmite). 

When the Nikon D800 was first announced my research into the model uncovered a fairly equal ratio of positive and negative reviews.

From the time it was announced, I knew I wanted one.

What excited me about the D800 was its crazy 36 megapixels.  My excitement grew when a photographer colleague told me he had tested the D800 and, after having shot previously with a 40mp Hasselblad H4D-40, had found the D800 to be equal in terms of resolution.

Ironically, the majority of negative reviews I read were related to the very same thing. That amazing pixel count may have offered incredibly detailed image quality, but they certainly came at a price.  As I discovered, that price was to the wallet! 

I had to invest in some serious storage, my 16gb cards were just not going to cut it.  I also had to upgrade my computer system - I needed a whole load more storage and back up space and a super fast system to handle the giant files I was now dealing with.  Fair to say, my first foray into the D800 series cost  me a lot more than the camera body itself!

So was moving to the D800 series worth it?

For me - absolutely, yes.  My current workhorse, the D850 rocks 45.7 megapixels, a tilting touch screen, iso range of 64-25600, 7fps continuous shooting and a blindingly good AF.  The detail I get is just incredible.  As a portrait photographer it could be argued that occasionally the detail is a little too incredible (clients tend to not want every imperfection captured so well) however, such issues are easily dealt with in post, and I'd much rather have the detail than not.

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If there is a downside to the D850 at the moment it would be the price of the XQD memory cards. Whether or not things will change, for example, if more manufacturers begin making the cards (at the moment only Sony and Lexar do) remains to be seen. Having to justify expenditure in the region of £150 for one 64 gb card is a pretty tough pill to swallow but despite this, I can't currently see myself wanting to shoot with anything other than the Nikon D800 series. 

Please remember though that I am a woman first, so it is my prerogative to change my mind.

Lenses

Have you noticed how photography lovers are very keen to talk about their camera bodies but not often their lenses?  As a professional photographer I tend to move through camera bodies fairly quickly.  What rarely changes however are the lenses, or the 'glass' that I own.

 What Lenses do I own?

I'm only talking about the lenses I use for my photography business here, not kit lenses.

Nikkor 50mm 1.8
 
A prime lens, very reasonably priced and sharp as a tack.  I own two of these, the older Nikkor version and the more recent model.  Both are excellent.  I've been asked why I opted for the 1.8 over the more expensive 1.4 and being honest, I just couldn't justify the extra expense.  The 1.4 may be a little brighter, but I found it to have more issues with focus.  I never shoot lower than f2.8 anyway.
Nikkor 60mm micro 2.8 Prime lens. Initially purchased for detail shots at weddings, this later found a place in my newborn studio to photograph tiny finger, toes and eyelash details. Although one of Nikon's sharpest lenses, I do find it a little annoying to use, because you have to get so close to your subject that you will often block your own light.  A good lens, but one of my least used.
Nikkor 85mm 1.8 Fabulous prime lens, perfect for portraits.  I use this a lot for head shots and upper body portraits.  Again, I couldn't justify buying the more expensive 1.4.   
Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 My workhorse lens.  I use this one 80% of the time.  A zoom lens, it enables me to safely stand over a newborn posed on my bean bag without having to resort to balancing above baby on a step stool. Great for portraits and family groups.  
Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 A wonderful zoom and my 'stealth' lens.  Back when I was photographing weddings I would have the 24-70 on one body, the 70-200 on another and the 60mm micro on the backup.  This combination of three lenses covered everything I needed.  I've captured many a wonderful candid shot with this lens! I don't use it an awful lot in the studio simply due to the space needed and the weight involved.

I hope you've found this blog on the cameras and lenses I have owned and used during the lifetime of Ellie J Photography to be interesting.

If you have any questions and think I can be of help, please don't hesitate to contact me!

Thanks for reading.

 

Lorraine Jardim LBIPP QGPP

Ellie J Photography

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/my-photography-gear---cameras-and-lenses Mon, 25 May 2020 18:00:00 GMT
Missed your Newborn Session? Welcome to the World of Older Baby Portraiture https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/beautiful-baby-photography Beautiful Baby Photography

The Joy of Older Baby Portraiture

There will be many new parents feeling sad at having missed their planned newborn portrait session thanks to the current Coronavirus lockdown.

As a mum and professional newborn photographer, I completely understand the disappointment. After all, what new parent doesn't want to create a permanent reminder of their brand-new baby’s early days?

You may have read that the ideal window for newborn photography is before baby reaches two weeks of age.  Lets have a look at that, shall we? There is no doubt that having your newborn session earlier increases the chance of it being an easier event for all concerned. At such an early age, babies are generally more sleepy and therefore easier to pose.  Later on, as they settle more into their new world, they begin to stretch out, become more alert, want to feed more and are less inclined to sleep.

So what if you've missed that magical newborn photography window?

Don't worry!

Please remember that, even without the current lockdown, life doesn’t always go to plan! I have photographed hundreds of babies older than two weeks of age and want to assure you that the two week rule is not set in stone.  There will always be times when parents may miss out on an early newborn shoot. For example, if baby or mum has a longer than planned hospital stay or if new parents are perhaps just so overwhelmed in those first weeks that they simply cannot face a photo shoot. No matter why they may have missed out on an early newborn photo shoot, there is no reason why they can't still have some beautiful photos of their older baby. 

Thanks to Covid 19 my own clients who have missed their newborn session with me will be coming back when their babies are older.  I can't wait to meet them but in the meantime, and whilst we are all stuck indoors, I have published a blog giving new parents tips on how to carry out a safe DIY newborn photo-shoot at home. With technology as it is today and the quality of photographs that can be taken with a simple phone camera, I have no doubt that those precious early memories will still be made, even if a professional photographer can’t make them for you.

So - your baby may have grown out of the tiny newborn phase by the time we photographers are safely allowed back to work, but you still want cute baby photos, what do you do?  Just contact your chosen photographer and book your session in, no matter how old baby is.  You will be very glad you did.

Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of older baby portraiture.  

I absolutely adore every single part of my job, but I must admit that photographing older babies, particularly when they have started to interact and smile, is a total joy.

This little man, a long-standing client, claimed a piece of my heart with this early smile!

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I photograph newborns in a very similar pose to this.  As you can see, this little lady loved being cuddled up in my fur throw!

An older baby may not be as sleepy and curly as a newborn, but please believe me, when you look back on your photographs in years to come, you will still marvel at how small they looked, especially when held in dad or mum' arms.

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I love a good daddy and baby photo and this is a favourite of mine. No matter how big they grow - they will always be your baby.
8 bw8 bw I have always loved this image of a lovely dad with his baby daughter.
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I bet the above mum and dad look back on this photo and marvel at how much their little one has grown. After all, he will be at least nine years old now!


Sometimes, an older baby will fall asleep during one of my sessions, allowing me to gently pose them in a similar way to how I would a newborn.

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Despite being much older than my regular 'newborn', this chilled out little man was so relaxed, we managed to get some great newborn style poses for mum and dad!

One advantage an older baby has over a newborn is that of course they can support themselves better. Even if they are not yet sitting unaided, I can still get some fabulous images due to their stronger head control, as demonstrated by the gorgeous young man above.

Non-sitters can still be photographed ‘sitting’. I just use Photoshop to remove mum or dad’s supportive hands from the image. If you were looking forward to photos of your baby in newborn props such as baskets don't worry, they can still be used.  They may just need to be a little bigger to make room for your older baby.
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As pretty as can be - and supported at all times by daddy while she sat there for me.
_DSC6776_DSC6776 How gorgeous is this little lady? Wide awake and photographed in one of my larger baskets, mum got the photo she wanted with the added bonus of a beautiful smile.

If baby has grown too big to lie in a basket, I just use plenty of supportive padding and we have them sitting in it instead.  I also use stools and chairs for older babies, making sure that a parent is always providing support where necessary.
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This beautiful baby boy just loved the camera!

One of my all time favourite images.  A gorgeous little baby, carefully supported, sitting in my vintage ceramic wash bowl.

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Peaches and Cream - and perfectly safely supported by daddy at all times.


If baby is sitting unaided, I have the freedom to create some truly magical imagery.  I love having baby interact with a parent, sibling, favourite toy or family pet! 

Someone loves their teddy!  Another favourite image of mine.

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Safety first! This was actually a composite image, but the little lady above only had eyes for her four legged friend.


What about those little newborn details you wanted captured in your newborn session? The little fingers, toes and eyelashes?  Well, they've not gone anywhere! In fact, your older baby can help draw attention right to those little features all by themselves!
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Look at my toes mummy!  Aren't I a clever girl?

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How can anyone miss the eyelashes on this little beauty?

The aim of this blog is to try and reassure you that, even if you have missed out on a professional newborn portrait session in the early days, it is still very much worth your while to book a professional photographer who will create some wonderful images for you. 

As I have said before, every stage of a child's life is magical.  Each age brings with it something new, but always wonderful and I encourage you to take as many photographs and videos as you can to ensure you have plenty of lovely memories to look back on.

Thanks for reading.

Stay safe!

Lorraine @ Ellie J Photography xx

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/beautiful-baby-photography Thu, 21 May 2020 18:00:00 GMT
Maternity Photography Tips - A Guide for Expectant Parents https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/maternity-photography-a-guide-for-expectant-parents Maternity Photography Tips

A Guide for Expectant Parents

First of all, many congratulations!

If you are reading this, it is probably because you are either considering booking a maternity photography session or looking for tips on how to pose for a DIY shoot at home.

Whether or not to have a bump shoot is a purely personal decision.  Some mums will desperately want to capture their pregnant belly in all it’s glory before baby arrives. Others? Not so much! When I was expecting our third, my face and feet swelled up, my skin broke out and my hair was dry and frizzy. I was firmly in the ‘maternity photography is not for me’ camp.

There is no doubt that images, whether moving or still, provide us with the best way of remembering the important times in our lives. If you have decided that it is for you, a maternity shoot will certainly enable you to capture this magical time forever. One day your child will be able to marvel at these photos, taken before they had even taken their first breath, at a time when mummy really was the centre of their world.

I’ve been photographing mums-to-be for over twelve years now, and I’ve written this blog to hopefully give advice to expectant families in their search for a maternity photographer.

How do you choose a photographer?

There is no doubt that a maternity shoot, with so much focus on your body, is a highly personal thing.  You will want to choose a photographer who you feel comfortable with, so it does pay to do your homework beforehand.

Check their portfolio:

  • Do you like their style of work?
  • Is their work of a consistently good quality?
  • Are they experienced? (I’m not saying new photographers would be unable to give you the results you want, but for a maternity session you may feel more comfortable with a photographer who has been established for a while.)
  • Do they demonstrate an ability to work with a range of body shapes and utilise a variety of lighting setups?

What about price? 

Of course, this can be a huge deciding factor.  You will usually find that a higher price means better quality images.  There will be plenty of cheap deals to be had, but the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ very much applies to photographic services.  Try and find a photographer within your budget who can demonstrate an ability to provide you with the images you want.

When should you have your maternity photo shoot?

The whole point of a maternity photo shoot is to showcase your wonderful bump. Therefore, you will want to wait until you’ve got a nicely rounded belly to show off, but are still comfortable enough to pose.

I like to photograph my ladies at around 31 – 35 weeks. That way, I’ve got a lovely baby belly to photograph but mum hopefully isn’t too tired or uncomfortable.  I did photograph a lady at 37 weeks once, her waters broke on her way home from the session and I worried for days that I had been over-exerting her (she later assured me I had not!)

Each pregnancy is, of course, unique.  Most photographers will want to photograph you a little into your third trimester but only you will know, based on how your pregnancy has progressed so far, whether a slightly earlier session will be more comfortable for you.

maternitymaternity

Clothing Choices

Before a maternity session, I send my clients an information booklet giving advice on what to wear and bring to the studio on the day of their shoot. I am sure whichever photographer you choose for your maternity session will do the same, but in the meantime, you may find the following of use.

As mentioned earlier, the whole point of your session is to show off your bump. There would be little point, therefore, in wearing clothes that will disguise your belly. A nice slim fitting dress is perfect, or perhaps you don’t mind having your bump on display?  In that case, what about an oversized shirt or bra top and leggings that can be pulled down under the bump?


 

I have photographed many mums-to-be either nude or partially/implied nude. Again, this is purely a matter of personal preference. A professional photographer would never try and pressure you into posing this way unless you are absolutely comfortable with the idea.

Many photographers these days (myself included) will have special outfits designed to put your wonderful bump on display.  The floaty dress images are extremely popular!  Remember to check with your photographer what clothes and props they may have before your session to avoid spending money on an outfit yourself.

Underwear colour should be considered and again, your photographer can advise on this.  For example, I use light coloured sheer fabrics in my shoots, so I ask my clients to bring along nude or white coloured underwear if possible.


 
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Finally, if dad/partner or any siblings are going to be involved think about clothing for them too.

If mum is wearing a lovely formal outfit, bring along a shirt or something smart for dad and the kids to wear. 

Likewise, If mum is wearing a more casual outfit, jeans and t-shirts are fab.

What about Props?

I personally am not a fan of ‘over propped’ images.  I am old school and was taught that a portrait should be first and foremost about the person in the image rather than the background they are photographed against or the prop the photographer has included in the set. 

Having said this, some smaller unobtrusive props can make a maternity photo even more special.  For example, a small cuddly toy, a pair of baby booties, or a scan picture.


 

Location, location, location

I’m mainly a studio photographer, although I have been known to venture outdoors for the occasional session, one of my favourites being, as it happens, a maternity shoot which took place on a rather rainy day in a local country park.

You will have in mind an idea of what you want.  Some mums and dads will prefer the privacy of a studio session, whilst others will want to be outdoors or, indeed, in their own home.  When choosing your photographer make sure to discuss your ideas with them to check they can provide what you want. Remember that some of your ideas may not work photographically – check with your photographer beforehand and they should be able to explain what will work and what might not.


 

Strike a Pose!

So, you’ve chosen your photographer, sorted out your clothes and are about to start your photoshoot.  Your photographer should, of course, be able to direct you into poses, but I thought I’d share a few tips from my own sessions.

I am not a huge fan of formal posing.  A maternity session, however, is one situation when I do pose my clients more, as I want to be sure I can capture mum in all her beautiful pregnant glory.

Showing Off the bump

As I’ve said several times now, the focus of your maternity session will be your glorious bump.  During a maternity shoot I will want to draw attention to baby and a simple way to do this is by hand placement.  Using mum (and dad’s/child’s) hands can draw the viewer’s eye directly to the bump, right where we want them to be.  If mum is standing side or three quarter on, one of my favourite things is for her to ‘cradle’ her bump.  When standing face on, I like her hands on either side of the bump, fingers spread to emphasis baby.


 

A side pose or three-quarter pose will, of course, show off your bump to its greatest effect.  I love lighting a side on image as a silhouette, especially if mum is perhaps a little self-conscious.

A photograph taken from a slightly higher perspective will also accentuate mum’s belly and can be great for shots where mum and dad are both involved.

If you are feeling courageous, don’t be afraid to suggest something more fun to your photographer! 

This photo was taken a good few years ago now, but it sticks in my mind as one of the most enjoyable maternity shoots I've done thanks to mum's great sense of adventure.

I love this image!

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Looking at baby

Another way to draw attention to mum’s bump is to have her looking down at it in a photograph.

However, (and this is the trick) don’t actually tuck your chin in and down to look at your bump, as this can cause the dreaded double chin effect on even the slimmest of ladies.

Try this instead - gently incline your head while keeping a strong jaw (by subtly pushing your chin forward) and direct your eyes down the line of your bust or gaze at a spot on the floor just in front of you.


 

Bring your partner/children/pets in!

Pregnancy is of course a wonderful time for the whole family, so do get everyone involved! I love creating images of mum and dad together, but also having an older sibling, excited to meet their new baby and even the family dog can result in magical images.

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I hope this guidance has been helpful to you as you consider whether or not to invest in a maternity photography session.

Please share with anyone you feel may benefit.

Thanks for reading and if you are expecting a baby then once again, many congratulations!

Lorraine Jardim LBIPP QGPP

Ellie J Photography

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/maternity-photography-a-guide-for-expectant-parents Mon, 18 May 2020 17:50:29 GMT
Will camera flash hurt my newborn's eyes? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/will-camera-flash-hurt-my-newborns-eyes This is a question I've been asked just once during my time as a photographer, but in light of a recent national newspaper article, I felt compelled to blog!

The article in question claims that a three month old Chinese baby has been blinded by a camera phone flash.  *Sigh*.  I really do wish newspapers would avoid running sensationalist, unproven stories to fill their empty pages or at least, do their research and give a balanced view.

According to Snopes.com the story that was published came from an unreliable source, who allegedly got it from another source, who got it from another.....and so on. At no point in the worrying story have facts been provided such as, where did the incident happen?  What were the parents' names? Who were the 'experts' quoted? Where was the child treated?

In short, there is no evidence to back this story and photographers like myself are inwardly groaning and thinking of all the worry being caused to parents who might come across this article.

I completely understand the concerns that parents have when it comes to the safety of their children, of course I do - I've got three children myself and I've had all those same worries.  And yes, as a newborn photographer I've also looked at the flash question - and I am satisfied that the appropriate use of flash is not harmful.

Obviously, common sense must prevail. If you visit a photographer who points a powerful bare, undiffused flash directly at and a few inches in front of your face, I would suggest you politely decline to have your photo taken.

On the one occasion I was asked about flash safety I was able to reassure my clients by explaining the following.  The flash I use is diffused through a large softbox, the softbox itself having three layers of diffusion material in front of the bulb. Added to that, the flash duration is a miniscule 1/200th of a second and the light source is feathered (meaning that the softbox is angled away) so baby is lit by the softest edge of the light.  

My dad took hundreds of flash photos of myself and my brother as we were growing up - our eyesight has always been fine.  Think also of the hundreds of millions of photographs that have been taken over the years by proud relatives of their family's new arrival.  If flash has been used on these occasions you can bet that in the majority of cases it would have been the undiffused and direct pop-up flash on top of a camera.  I have to ask therefore, if flash is dangerous for baby's eyes - where are all the similar stories to the one that has recently been published, and where are the government health warnings that would surely have been produced by now?

I'll end with the final paragraph from Snopes.com;

"In fact, several reputable sources have stated that a camera flash is not harmful to a baby’s eyes. The Orange Regional Medical Center, for instance, encourages new parents to take photographs of their babies in the NICU:

We encourage you to take pictures of your baby. Flash cameras are allowed and will not harm your baby.

Thanks for reading!  

 

 

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/will-camera-flash-hurt-my-newborns-eyes Sat, 16 May 2020 17:06:47 GMT
DIY Newborn Photography: Tips for photographing your baby during the Covid 19 pandemic https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/diy-newborn-photography-tips-during-the-coronavirus-lockdown DIY Newborn Photography Tips

How to photograph your newborn at home during the Covid 19 Pandemic.

a4 memories for life poster with layersa4 memories for life poster with layers

Did you miss out on your Newborn Photography Session due to the Coronavirus lockdown?

Lockdown is a miserable but necessary situation, as we all do what we must to keep our families safe. If you have missed your planned newborn photography session recently or will be missing one soon, I hope you find this blog useful.

The Covid 19 nightmare has rampaged over our world leaving so much destruction in its wake.  In addition to the terrible loss of life, it has taken a huge swipe at our normal way of living. The magical celebrations we should have had this year such as weddings, special birthday parties and being able to properly introduce our new babies to the family, have all fallen in its wake.

As a newborn photographer, I am of course well aware that many new parents have missed out on their plans to have professional photographs taken of their new arrival.  My clients are wonderful, they understand why I am closed, but naturally many of them are bitterly disappointed.  In many cases they are/were expecting their first baby, had booked me many months in advance and were excited for their session.  Then all of a sudden, everything had to stop. 

I have spent my career reminding parents of the importance of photography in making wonderful memories of their baby's first days of life.  To be in a position where I just can't give them the photographs they want is very upsetting and also, the reason why I have written this blog.

So - let’s be a little more positive, shall we?

It is still possible for you to capture some wonderful images of your new baby.  A huge advantage of living in the age we do is that modern technology has made it possible to take great quality photos using just the camera on your phone. 

Of course you will be taking many photos of your newborn during the early days and of course, they will be beautiful. What I'm doing here is sharing a few tips that I use in my sessions, which you may find of use.  By the way - please excuse the appearance of my 'newborn' here - she's actually rather old and has seen better days! 

SAFETY NOTICE

Your baby's safety is of course your highest concern.  Please always remember that professional newborn photographers have been trained to safely pose babies and use Photoshop ‘magic’ where necessary to create some images. Please do not try and copy the more complicated photographs you may have seen online. You will notice also that I am not giving advice on using props here.  Again, newborn photographers are trained in the safe use of props.  Instead, I'm talking about how to get natural, un-fussy images which focus purely on your beautiful baby.

When to take photos.

My immediate answer to this is - all the time of course!  However, for the purpose of this blog, newborn babies are much more sleepy and curly before the age of about two weeks.  To capture that brand new baby appearance, you'll need to take your photographs early - but not too early.  In my experience, babies before the age of about 5 days are still finding their way in the world and may be a little fussy.  As brand new parents, you are also most likely still adjusting to your new way of life, so aim to take these photos between about 6 and 10 days.

To help ensure baby is content while you take your photos, make sure he or she is fed, winded and has a clean nappy.

Light 

The most important element of photography is of course, light.

Use natural light rather than a direct camera flash. A nice big window or patio door is an ideal light source.  However, bear in mind that you don’t want direct hard sunlight which will give dark harsh shadows on baby’s face.

There are a few ways to help soften the light.

  • Take your photos at a time of day when the light coming through the window isn’t as strong. (Mine were taken at around 9am)
  • A cloudy day will be better than a bright, sunny day (not usually a problem here in the UK!)
  • If you have some light coloured, sheer material (eg white netting), peg it up to your window to diffuse the light coming in.

Surface

Newborn babies need to be supported and won't settle easily on a hard surface, so make sure you have something nice and comfy for them to lie on. Whatever you choose should be comfortable, but for safety reasons not so soft that baby sinks into it.

A well-stuffed beanbag or one of the firm seat cushions from your sofa could work.  Whatever you use, make sure nothing can obstruct baby’s breathing and that it isn’t too high off the ground, just in case baby manages to roll.  If you can, have another person near to baby while you take your photos to make sure this cannot happen.  

Find a nice blanket in a neutral colour to cover your surface.  Whites, creams, beiges, greys and gentle pastels all work well. Stronger, brighter colours and bold patterns will stand out too much and draw attention away from baby.

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I use a professional newborn beanbag in my studio, but here I have used one of the seat cushions from our sofa.

Baby's Position in Relation to the Light

You can see that I've positioned baby with her head pointing at a roughly 45-degree angle to the light.  You want the light falling downwards over baby’s face, not the other way around (i.e. not going upwards). 

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Tip – look for shadows, if you have soft shadows under baby’s chin and nose, you’re on the right track.

 

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Posing Baby

Keep it simple and organic. At this young age they may do it naturally, but try gently positioning baby's hands close to their face, or perhaps with one hand cupping their cheek. Never force a pose, you will know if your baby is resisting in which case, just let them find their own way.

You may want to use something soft under your blanket to gently raise baby’s shoulders and head.  Consider folded up face flannels or even a couple of nappies under the blanket to give a little bit of lift. Again, make sure you use wide enough padding to safely and gently lift baby just a little, don’t raise baby too high.

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I've just used a couple of disposable nappies here to gently lift baby's shoulders and head. Notice how the support extends down to baby's shoulders so no strain is put on the neck.

If you are photographing baby from the side, use a couple of chairs and peg your blanket up at the back to form a backdrop.
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Tip - If you can see the outline of whatever you've used to support baby's head (as you can a little here) just layer another similar coloured blanket under your top blanket.

I love photographing baby from above, but please (and I am stating the obvious, I know!) ensure you are securely holding on to your phone.  If you’re using a camera that has a strap, even better.

Try different angles when taking your photographs, and remember to get in close and capture those details we all love - tiny fingers and toes for example.

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Baby won't settle?

I know from fellow professional photographers that photographing your own newborn isn't always the easiest thing to do.  They seem to know that mum or dad is on hand for a quick feed and cuddle whenever they want it.

I've no doubt that you will have discovered these naturally yourself but remember the four S's!

1) Suck 

A newborn baby will suck to find comfort.  If you use a dummy, keep it on hand if baby needs a bit of reassurance.

2) Swaddle

Try wrapping.  Babies love feeling secure, it reminds them of when they were safe in the womb.

3) Shush

Babies prefer a bit of noise over a quiet room. Try saying "shuuuuuuush!" over and over, drawing the word out or, if you haven't already got one, download a white noise app and use that.  (Remember to activate flight mode on your phone or tablet to avoid getting sudden calls or notifications while baby is relaxing).

4) Sway

Baby was constantly being gently moved around whilst in the womb. Again, sometimes all that is needed to settle a little one is a lovely rock whilst cradled securely  in mum or dad's arms.

On a final note - while you may have missed out on professional photographs of your newborn, I am sure that, as soon as they are able, whichever photographer you have booked will be itching to photograph your family.  Your little one may be a bit older, but each stage of childhood is magical and you will love your professional photographs, no matter how long you have to wait. 

I'll be writing a blog on the magic of older baby photographs soon - please watch this space!

Many thanks for reading.

Stay safe everyone,

Lorraine x

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/diy-newborn-photography-tips-during-the-coronavirus-lockdown Fri, 15 May 2020 11:06:32 GMT
Then and Now - A Happier Coronavirus Story https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/then-and-now---a-happier-coronavirus-story Then and Now images

A happier Coronavirus Story

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Like many others, I’ve been struggling a bit during lockdown. This awful virus has caused so much heartache, and over the past few weeks of horrible statistics and worrying headlines, I admit I’ve been struggling to keep a brave face.

I know, of course, that there are many people far worse off than me, but having to close Ellie J Photography has broken my heart.  I’ve worked so hard to build my business up over twelve years and to suddenly have to shut the doors and just keep my fingers crossed that one day I’ll open them again is pretty soul destroying.

As I said though, there are definitely people in far worse situations, so a few weeks ago, I began trying to come up with a way of spreading a bit of cheer during these miserable times.

Enter my fantastic clients.

It started off in a small way and quite un-intentionally.  One client sent me a photo of her little girl playing ‘Ellie J Photography’ with her Lego. I hadn’t seen her for a little while, and to see how much she had grown since I first met her as a newborn, and how she still  remembered her later session with me really made me smile.  With mums permission, I posted the photos to my Facebook page where they had a good response.  Then another client sent me an up-to-date photo of her daughter, alongside my newborn image of her and after that it just took off!  So many wonderful images flooded my in-box, so many beautiful children I had photographed as little ones, alongside mum or dad’s up-to-date photo of them.

So – I began posting, then scheduling the posts because I couldn’t keep up with them all.  I decided to pick a name at random from all the clients who had contacted me and give away a free family session and digital files as a thank you.  Soon I upped this to two free sessions, there were so many photos coming in!

I am not exaggerating when I say this little project made me cry.  I was so moved.  Not just because I was seeing all these wonderful faces again, but because, quite simply, I realised my clients have not forgotten me. I had so many lovely messages, so many people saying how they still treasure my images, even after many years. Such wonderful feedback.

Being honest for a moment, I am quite a recluse and I worry, boy do I worry! When I was forced to close Ellie J my insecurities all came out.  What if everyone forgot about me? What if no-one was interested in my work when I open again?  To receive so many messages and photographs lifted my spirits immensely, it meant so much to me. It wasn’t just me either - many, many people got in touch to say how seeing all those beautiful smiling faces on my Facebook page had brightened their day. 

Well all good things come to an end, and this week my little project naturally concluded.  I’ve done my draw, notified the winners and can’t wait to see them as soon as I can safely re-open.

If any of my clients who contributed are reading this, once again I want to say a huge THANK YOU so much for taking part in my Then and Now project.  Believe me, you have made a lot of people very happy, and we all need plenty of happiness right now!

Enough talk – lets see some of those gorgeous faces!  These are just a fraction of the images I received, you'll find them all on my Facebook business page www.Facebook.com/EllieJPhotos  

Thanks for reading everyone, and please stay safe xxx

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/5/then-and-now---a-happier-coronavirus-story Wed, 13 May 2020 11:59:21 GMT
Newborn Photography Leamington Spa https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/4/newborn-photography-leamington-spa Towards the end of last year I welcomed this wonderful family, who came to see me for their newborn photography session from Leamington Spa.  As you can see, big sister was in attendance, as was the family's absolutely stunning four legged fur baby!

I adore photographing new babies against white - such a perfect symbolism of purity, but add a pure white fur baby to the mix and I'm a very happy lady!

I have become well known for photographing newborns and children alongside the family pet, but please be assured that this is done safely at all times using composite imagery. If you would like to read more about including your dog in a portrait session with me, please read my guidance here.

Thanks for reading!  Please contact me if you would like any further information about a session.

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/4/newborn-photography-leamington-spa Mon, 13 Apr 2020 11:48:09 GMT
Tips for Photographing Your Own Children - from a Child Portrait Photographer https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/4/tips-for-photographing-your-own-children---from-a-child-portrait-photographer Tips for Photographing Your Own Children

from a Child Portrait Photographer

 

"How on earth did you manage to get him smiling like that?" I've lost count of how many times I have heard a parent ask this or something very similar after a photo session.

Having had three children myself, I know how difficult it can be to take photographs of your own kiddies, especially as they are more likely to play up and be uncooperative with a parent than the funny photographer lady who they've been brought to see.

In these very strange days of the 2020 Coronavirus lockdown, and while professional photography studios have been forced to close, I thought I would share my tips for parents on how to take some lovely natural photos of their children.

1) LIGHT 

I don't want to get very technical but light is important.  Two things to bear in mind:

Position Think of where your child is in relation to the sun/light.  On a bright sunny day with your child facing the sun, there will inevitably be squinting. This isn't an issue of course if your little one is looking down and that is the photo you want, but if you want them looking at you then you need to diffuse the light or re-position your child.  If you are fortunate enough to have open shade (eg from a tree) use this to position your little one in otherwise to avoid squinting, take your photo when the sun is behind your child, bearing in mind you will then need to use some sort of fill light.

Fill light This is just a little flash or reflected light added in to prevent your subject looking too dark.  This applies to any situation where there is a lot of light behind your subject, (for example the sun behind your child outdoors, or your little one standing in front of a window)  If you are shooting in automatic mode, all of the extra light in a scene will fool your camera into thinking it doesn't need flash.  Unfortunately with your subject back-lit in such a way, your subject will come out way too dark and that is where some fill light is needed. 

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On this sunny day despite having my daughter stand in the shade of a tree the bright light behind her meant I still had to use a little flash to prevent her being too dark.

2) FORGET POSING and BE PATIENT

Probably my biggest piece of advice.  After all, the memories you want to capture are the real, natural ones aren't they? The way your child laughs and plays and interacts with their siblings, pets or toys?

When a photographer enters a professional portrait competition, there are lots of rules that must be adhered to regarding pose. I'm not knocking that, competition is an important part of a photographer's journey however, when it comes to my clients in the studio or indeed, when I photograph my own family, I much prefer natural, spontaneous smiles over perfectly placed limbs and forced expressions.

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The above photograph wouldn't win any professional awards.  My little client isn't looking at camera, her hands aren't posed correctly and she's leaning too far forward. However, I really love this!  My little model had burst into a spontaneous fit of the giggles and to me, her expression is worth more than any award.

As a parent, you may find that your child does one of two things when you try to photograph them.  Your child may love being photographed and will present you with a wonderful cheesy smile as soon as you point a camera at them.  However, what if you are looking for more natural photographs and therefore not particularly that cheesy smile, as wonderful as it may be. On the other hand, you may have a 'runner' - a child who disappears as soon as you tell them you want to take a photo.  In that instance you would be grateful for any photo you could get - cheesy smile or not! 

Rather than ask your child to 'look here' or 'hold this' or even 'say cheese' - just forget posing and be patient.  The aim is to make them forget your intention to take photos of them until they are too preoccupied to notice and the smiles and expressions come naturally. (See point 3!) 

3) GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO DO OR SOMEONE TO INTERACT WITH

So, how do you get them looking natural and relaxed?  Simple - give them something fun to do while you wait patiently with your camera to hand. If your partner is willing, get them involved, I've yet to meet a child who doesn't love playing aeroplanes, being swept up into the sky always puts a lovely natural smile on a child's face. Perhaps you have a pet? I've captured endless images of children with their family pet, the love a child has for the family dog, cat (or tortoise!) can result in magical expressions! (I'm pointing out the obvious now, but of course please make sure your pet is safe around your child beforehand).

If they are on their own then wait until they are truly engrossed in a game or reading a book.  In the garden, have them looking for insects, examining patches of grass for evidence of fairy activity, smelling flowers, looking for treasure, finding pretty stones - anything that will keep them occupied.  Take lots and lots of photos and remember, they don't have to be looking at you, the look of concentration on a little child's face is a thing of beauty and wonder.  If you need to undertake a spot of stealth photography you can always use any zoom capability on your camera or phone to allow you to get as far back as possible.

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This young lady may have been a little camera shy, but she was totally fascinated by my roses.
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Who doesn't love a good game of aeroplanes?
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Yes, you read right above!  These sisters just had to have their pet tortoise included in a photo.

4) BE INCREDIBLY SILLY!

As parents, we know better than anyone how to get a smile out of our child. (There is a reason I have a parent at my side when photographing little ones!) Sing a silly song, roll around the floor and generally act like a big child yourself.  Blowing raspberries is always good. The best part of being a child photographer is being able to mess around and act like a child myself!

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If I remember correctly, lots of raspberry blowing was required to get these three handsome brothers laughing!

5) GET DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL

Kneel or even lie down to take a photograph on your child's level - aim to have your lens in line with their eyes.  That way you won't miss any subtle smile or change of expression that may not be seen from another angle.

One of my all time favourite photos from a few years back.  I had to get really low to the ground to capture this little beauty's expression.
 

6) INCLUDE YOUR CHILD

Another tip - if your child isn't massively keen or is perhaps a little too old to be looking for fairies in the garden - ask them for their opinion on the photo you want to take.  What do they think they should do? Have they seen a photo they like and would perhaps like to recreate? I've often used this tactic in the studio when a child hasn't initially been too keen on having their photo taken, but if you include them in the process, listen to them and make them feel like you really value their opinion it can be a game changer.

7) RECOGNISE WHEN ITS TIME TO STOP AND JUST BE MUM OR DAD

Finally - accept that sometimes, it may take a little while.  There is no point continuing to try and take photographs once your little one gets over tired or if they're obviously just not feeling it for the time being.  Sometimes we all need to just put down our cameras and give out the cuddles, there's always another time.

I hope the above tips are helpful.  Have fun and stay safe! Thanks for reading!

Lorraine.

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(Ellie J Photography) child photography photographing children https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/4/tips-for-photographing-your-own-children---from-a-child-portrait-photographer Fri, 10 Apr 2020 14:26:46 GMT
The BIG SMILE Mission - A fun and free photography competition for 6-14 year olds https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/3/the-big-smile-mission---a-fun-and-free-photography-competition-for-6-14-year-olds The BIG SMILE Mission

PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION FOR 6 - 14 YEAR OLDS

Ok kids – so I know we’re all stuck at home at the moment because of this poopy virus.

How are you getting on?

Do you fancy a challenge?  

How about a bit of photography?

You could win an Ellie J Photography studio family portrait session with photos included for your family once this virus has gone away and we are all out and about again.

The world can be a worrying place at times, so I want you to join me on a special mission. You can photograph anything you want, but it has to be something or someone that will make us SMILE and spread a little happiness. Now don’t just run off and photograph your X-Box, I want you to think about this!

As this is all about fun, I’m not going to be too strict about composition and focus (boring technical stuff), just give it some thought, try to be original and try to make the photo look nice and not too blurry.

When you’re done, get an adult to send your photo to me on Facebook Messenger along with your name, age and a message explaining why you think your photograph will make us smile.  My Facebook address is www.Facebook.com/EllieJPhotos

Start your message “This photo makes" or "These photos make me smile because……........”

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My daughter took these photos of our dog Riley. 

These photos make me smile because....well Riley just smiles and laughs all by himself!

VERY IMPORTANT!!!  Make sure your mum/dad or guardian is happy for you to enter this competition.  Please be careful when you are taking your photograph, ask before borrowing someone's camera or phone and most of all don't do anything that could hurt yourself or anyone else (pets included!).  This includes obeying the Government's advice at the moment about social distancing (mum and dad will explain if you're not sure about that).

Rules are at the bottom (get an adult to read them, they are boring). Good luck!  I look forward to smiling at your photos!

Closing date is Thursday 30th April 2020 so make sure you get your photos to me before then!

Lorraine.

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The Boring Rules (make sure mum/dad or your guardian reads these!)

APPLICABLE TO EVERY ENTRY

This competition is free to enter with no obligation to purchase. 

Children must be aged 6 - 14 years to enter and the submitted photograph must have been taken by them.

Children must be supervised by a responsible adult to ensure safety when taking part in this competition.

The winner will receive an 'e' voucher for a family studio portrait session for up to 7 people (pet dogs welcome) at the Ellie J Photography studio in Fillongley, near Coventry.  The winner will also receive ten high resolution digital files from their session, finished in both colour and black and white (20 images total) plus a mobile gallery app of their images.  The voucher will be valid for one year from the time the studio has re-opened following the current Coronavirus Pandemic.  This one year cannot be extended.

There will be no cash or other alternative to the prize offered and prizes are not transferable.  The portrait session will take place once the current Coronavirus pandemic has passed and it is safe to do so.

Entries should be sent via Facebook Messenger to Ellie J Photography  no other format can be accepted.

Maximum of three entries per child

By entering this competition, parents/guardians and the child taking the photograph agree that the image and child's name may be shared on Ellie J Photography’s social media

The Judge’s decision is final

This competition is open to anyone in the UK however, the prize is a studio session at the Ellie J Photography studio based in Warwickshire so please bear this in mind 😊

We cannot accept any responsibility for any damage, loss, injury or disappointment suffered by anyone entering this competition.

Closing Date - Thursday 30th April 2020 Winner will be notified via Facebook Messenger and announced on our Facebook and Instagram pages. 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/3/the-big-smile-mission---a-fun-and-free-photography-competition-for-6-14-year-olds Tue, 31 Mar 2020 11:45:09 GMT
Happy Birthday Dad https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/5/happy-birthday-dad This very short blog has been started, stopped, re-worded, started again and then stopped again so many times. 

Many of my lovely clients will know that in early March this year I lost my dad.  I've been trying to pluck up the courage to put into words what his passing means to me, but I find that I am still lost and consequently, haven't a clue even where to begin.  I had all these plans in mind to write a lengthy tribute to dad, but when I get down to it, the words won't come.  What I can say though is that I have received so many kind wishes and support from clients and fellow photographers, for which I am extremely grateful.

Tomorrow, May 25th 2019, is the day that my dad should have turned 78 years of age.  That's not old these days, with so many living into their late 80's and even late 90's.  In all honesty, these past few months I have kept myself insanely busy and tried as hard as I can to avoid thinking too much about him, because I'm afraid that if I start down that slope I won't be able to stop for a long time.  I was at the Newborn Photography Show recently when, during a chat with a fellow photographer, the tears suddenly started from nowhere. I know we all grieve in different ways, I guess for me I just need to keep busy and not think too much about it all.  In a while perhaps, they say time heals.  Shortly after his death I had two framed prints made one for me, one for mum.   I still haven't opened mine.  It will at some point go up on the wall of my studio - the place he always inspired me.  But not just yet.

I can't let dad's birthday pass without mentioning him and a blog on my website seems a fitting tribute.  My dad is one of the main people who inspired me to become a photographer.   Because of him, I was never without a camera growing up - I still own the very first one he bought me, the Minolta Hi-Matic GF.  He was a fellow photography 'nerd' - I could talk f-stops and shutter speeds with him all day without his eyes glazing over.  We compared/bickered about digital and darkroom processing ("Photoshop?  That's not the 'proper' way to develop a photo!  You need chemicals and a dark room!") and when I first set up my business he was so supportive and so proud.  

I'm not going to write much more here - I still don't think I'm ready.  I know I've not come to terms with everything yet, but I wanted to mark his birthday with a few words. 

I love you dad - you should still be here, I'm so cross with you that you aren't.  Happy birthday xxxxx

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2019/5/happy-birthday-dad Fri, 24 May 2019 19:18:17 GMT
A life in Photos - Why photography is so important to families. https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/7/a-life-in-photos---why-photography-is-so-important-to-families I first published this blog three years ago, and am republishing it now as it is a message that I strongly believe in.  Photography is so important!  Get those digital files printed and put in a book so they aren't lost to your future generations!

In what would have been his 104th year, I thought I'd share with you some personal memories of my wonderful Grandad, Reginald Ernest Cashmore, a lovely man and talented artist who still inspires me years after his death.

When I was growing up, our house was always full of photographs.  There were photos on walls, sideboards and window sills and we had dozens of over-stuffed photo albums crammed into cupboards and drawers. 

My Grandad (on my father's side) was also a talented artist and our family photographs competed for space alongside some of his wonderful oil paintings.  

I had known that Grandad was also interested in photography, but sadly it wasn't until after his death many years ago that I came to realise just how important photography had been to him.  Shortly after Grandad's death, my dad visited me with a large box he had found in Grandad's loft. When I opened it, I found to my delight it was stuffed to the brim with photographs.

I remember being absolutely mesmorised and I spent several days carefully looking through the images.  During that time I laughed a lot, cried often and felt overwhelmed and grateful to be able to take a journey back through time and see the faces of my grandparents during their 'courting' years; as newly weds and then as a growing family as each of their children arrived.  

I was delighted to discover that on my Grandad's side I could travel even further back into the past.  His interest in photography had obviously been a life long affair, just like mine.  He had kept photos of himself as a cool teenager with a motorbike, a cheeky boy (he had the same mischevious smile on his 5 year old face that he had on his 83 year old face!) and a newborn baby.  Then I found myself looking at the faces of my great grandparents, who had died long before I was born - and then my great, great grandparents!  It seems that photography has always played an important role in my family and I am so grateful that it has, because I have been able to introduce my own children to their relatives and they, like me, have been fascinated to look back down the generations.

When he was alive, I often discussed photography with Grandad as he'd show me some snaps he'd taken around town, on holiday or at a flower show, but I hadn't realised just how passionate he had been about keeping so many photographs from the past. I will always be grateful to him for doing so - as he has kept my family alive for me.

I do worry in this digital age that so many family's photographs are being lost.  Do you realise we are in danger of losing an entire generation's worth of memories? We no longer bother to print photos, preferring instead the instant gratification and ease of digital capture.  How many of us have photographed an entire family Christmas on our mobile phones only to lose all the images when our handset is upgraded?  How many memory cards are accidentally wiped, lost or corrupted? How many years worth of our children's lives are gathering dust on a USB or disc in a dark cupboard somewhere?  If you think I'm being dramatic, consider how fast technology is changing these days.  As we have grown more reliant on digital media to save all our photos and home videos, technology hasn't exactly been sitting idly by doing nothing.  How many of us have recordings of our older children's lives on VHS tapes but don't now own a video player?  Remember the 5 1/4 inch floppy discs? Will your current computer read them for you? In a couple of decades, can we be absolutely sure that our carefully stored USBs,CDs and DVDs will still be a viable format?  The only way to ensure we don't lose precious family memories is to take action while we still can to change our digitally stored images into prints or wall art that will survive the test of time.

Photographs are so important.  They give us a way to connect with the past whether that be our own childhood or that of our great, great grandparents. We owe it to ourselves, and to them, to ensure we don't lose this vitally important link.

There is one photograph from my Grandad's collection which is very important to me.  This now sits in a frame on my office desk. It shows my Grandad as a beaming 5 year old boy, dressed in a top hat, holding a cane and standing next to a smiling little girl.  Written on the back of the image are the words "Albert St, Hillfields. Reg Cashmore and neighbour Edna Watson 1919"  For me, this one image helped determine my career and put me on course to establishing my own photography business with a focus on child portraiture.  I regularly look at the cheeky, fun loving, smiling little boy on my desk and realise that my Grandad is immortal. He will always be here with me; he will always have a smile for my children and in future years, for my Grandchildren.  

Most importantly,  he will never be forgotten.

Thank you Grandad.  I love you.

 

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Grandad as a bouncing baby boy!
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Not looking pleased with the photographer (I've seen that look before!)
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My Great Grandma
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My Great Great Grandma, photographed at her home in Coventry.  You'll note the photographer here pre-empted the 'tilt' so often used in modern photography.....
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That cheeky smile; still inspiring me every day

 

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/7/a-life-in-photos---why-photography-is-so-important-to-families Tue, 10 Jul 2018 13:51:48 GMT
And Now for Something Completely Different....Band Photography by Ellie J https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/4/and-now-for-something-completely-different-band-photography-by-ellie-j One of my first jobs in 2018 was very exciting - but I also had to keep quiet about it for a couple of months so couldn't talk about the tons of fun I had in the studio one cold day back in January.

As an A Capella fan, I had watched the BBC's 'The Naked Choir' in autumn 2015.  Gareth Malone (another one of my faves) hosted the show which auditioned 400 A Capella choirs/groups before whittling the number down to a final eight, who then faced a televised showdown as they battled to become series champions.

Since winning the show, the well deserved victors of The Naked Choir, Birmingham based group The Sons of Pitches, have gone on to tour extensively across the UK and Europe in addition to releasing albums of their covers and more recently, an album of original music.  Their mastery of the human voice is amazing - and its so hard to believe when listening to them perform that the only instruments they use are their voices. They are also the nicest bunch of lads you could ever hope to meet.

Yes, I'm a bit of a fan.  So you can imagine that I was just a little bit chuffed to be asked to do some promotional photography for the Sons' new tour this coming autumn! Insert big smiley face here.

I've done singer/actor headshots before - I've photographed active children and giggly babies.  I've photographed crazy dogs and some very lively cats....but even this didn't quite prepare me for my day with the Sons of Pitches.

What a brilliant experience.

My clients will know that I don't have the largest of studio spaces.  Imagine this then - all six of the boys plus myself spending a day shooting in there.  The brief was fun, fun and more fun.  There were changes of clothes, smart suits to sparkly jackets, balloons, huge foam fingers...laughing, joke telling, funny faces and general horseplay throughout. It was great working with the lads, they knew what they wanted but were also open to ideas from me and I was really pleased with the results achieved from our collaboration.

What a totally bonkers and totally brilliant experience, the end of which saw the studio littered with so much debris and so many sparkly sequins that it resembled Liberace's dressing room. 

Fair to say I ended the day exhausted, but having loved every single second.

The lads are on tour again from 1st October with their new show 100 Number One Hits.

If you'd like to read more about the Sons of Pitches you can see their website here.  If you'd like to see them live you can book tickets for their next UK tour here.

Thanks for reading!

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/4/and-now-for-something-completely-different-band-photography-by-ellie-j Mon, 02 Apr 2018 19:55:29 GMT
Why is Newborn Photography Expensive? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/3/why-is-newborn-photography-expensive Why is newborn photography so expensive?

Well it doesn’t have to be.  There will always be a photographer ready to offer a great deal – perhaps a newborn session plus all images for £70, and that is so much better than someone charging a few hundred for the same service…. isn’t it?

When I worked in Health and Safety many years ago, we operated under a system called competitive tendering.  In short, whenever we needed to buy in a service, we would invite companies to give us a quote and supporting pack of information and decide who to engage based on that.

The most important part of that quote however was never the figure they wanted to charge us.  It was the supporting information, the company’s relevant experience, past clients’ references, their training, safety record, insurance details and so on.  Sometimes we chose the cheapest tender, sometimes the most expensive. The main point is, we chose the company who best demonstrated in their supporting information that they could properly meet our needs for the price quoted.  This was called 'best value' – because it gave us the best value for the money we were spending.  

How I wish 'best value' would always be applied today - that people would take into consideration the service and product they are getting and not just what it will cost from a monetary point of view.

I do understand that people have to be careful with their spending in the current climate.  What does sadden me however, is when I see new parents asking on social media for recommendations for a ‘cheap newborn photographer’.  I'd much prefer to see people asking for a 'good' or better still a 'good and safe' newborn photographer!  

I'd like to state here and now that my issue isn't just with cheaper photographers.  Some photographers will of course be cheaper than others depending on what they offer. For example, I would fully expect a photographer who creates wonderful, fantastical modern art imagery to be more expensive than one offering straightforward baby images due to the hours of additional processing involved. 

So back to my initial statement.  No, newborn photography doesn’t have to be expensive, it can be cheap.  However, (and this is what I take issue with), in its current unregulated form, this unfortunately also means that it doesn’t have to be safe, insured, undertaken by someone who is trained or experienced or actually, any good. 

The old adage ‘You Get What You Pay For’ has never been truer. 

If you’re still with me, let me illustrate just a little. I'm not trying to be condescending here, but I think a big problem is that many people just don't understand the expenses involved with running a photography business.  Why would they? I don't understand how to plumb in a washing machine, its not what I do.  But I digress;

A professional and legitimate newborn photographer will have to pay for the following out of what a client pays them (and this is by no means an exhaustive list):

  • Rent of their studio space (for those using a studio);
  • The energy required to heat the work space for several hours per newborn session;
  • The electricity required to power studio lights;
  • Washing/cleaning of blankets and props ;
  • Their time working during the session (approximately 4 hours);
  • The time and costs involved to professionally process the images or, if they don’t process themselves, the cost of getting someone else to do it;
  • Maintenance of camera and studio gear (one single flash tube costs me £73);
  • Replacement of backgrounds (£200 every couple of months for me) and props as needed;
  • Business insurance payments;
  • Tax and national insurance payments;
  • Ongoing training costs;
  • Childcare (for those with young children themselves);
  • Petrol, taxes and car maintenance costs for those who operate a mobile service.
  • Admin charges; emails/post/advertising/phone bills etc
  • Prints/Canvasses and other photographic products the client may order

I am sure other photographers can add to this list.  And all this has to be paid from what they earn in photography before they can allocate themselves a salary to spend on the nicer things in life - such as food, mortgage etc. 

Newborn photography is incredibly popular these days and as a result, the past few years have seen a concurrent upsurge in the number of people advertising themselves as ‘professional newborn photographers’.

The worrying thing is that, with the industry unbelievably remaining unregulated, anyone can jump on the newborn photography bandwagon without any checks whatsoever.

Of course, you cannot tar everyone with the same brush – but some photographers have appeared in the market offering ridiculously cheap prices which will naturally appeal to unsuspecting clients looking to save money during these difficult times.  Yes, these photographers may enjoy photography as a hobby, yes, they may have a fairly good camera; but have they been trained how to work safely with a newborn baby?  Do they know how to correctly white balance and compose an image or light their subject?  Are they registered as a business and properly insured should things go wrong? The fact is, it costs a considerable amount of money to run a newborn photography business.  It is expensive to be properly trained and insured and to have the right equipment and props.  How then, can they charge so little and still have an income?

Needless to say, I have seen many of these photographers fold their business after a short time, either because they quickly realise they just can’t afford to keep running so cheaply or because they were just not up to the job in the first place.

Unfortunately, a sad side-effect of what is happening in the newborn photography industry today is that, with so many people willing to undercut pricing, I’ve witnessed some brilliant, established newborn portrait businesses going under.  It is truly heart-breaking to see a photographer with many years’ experience, capable of producing fantastic pieces of newborn art, put out of business due to an influx of new local photographers charging peanuts and producing at the best average and at worst potentially unsafe work.

Oh – and before anyone says “Well established photographers should learn to keep up with the times and reduce their prices accordingly” or similar, please see my comment above about how expensive it is to properly run a newborn photography business.  If established professional photographers all cut their prices, then their businesses would no longer be viable and they would soon be out of work anyway.  As they say, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

I don't pretend to have all the answers.  If a family can't afford a professional newborn photographer's service then what can they do? First and foremost I would always say to them please, do your homework.  Don't just jump on the cheapest deal.  If you find a photographer whose price and work you are happy with don't stop there - check their training and references to make sure your baby will be safe and that you'll end up with photographs you will love.  (This applies to all newborn photographers - not just the cheaper ones!)  See what packages the more expensive photographers offer - you may be able to choose a few favourite images and therefore keep within your budget.

Finally - and I am aware this does look like a bit of a U-turn - there are cheap newborn photography deals out there and I have absolutely no issue with the photographers offering them. 

These are the newly established photographers who have already put in the hard work, got themselves safety trained and know how to use their camera and gear correctly.  In other words, they can safely pose and light their tiny little clients and expose and process the resulting images correctly.  Such photographers will often charge a cheaper price whilst building up their portfolios and they will be quite honest about this. As the saying goes, we all have to start somewhere and I sincerely offer such new photographers the very best in what can be a rewarding and wonderful career.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog! Apologies that it is a little gloomier than my usual musings, but after hearing of yet another wonderful and talented friend having to give up her studio I felt the need to vent just a little.  

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2018/3/why-is-newborn-photography-expensive Mon, 05 Mar 2018 10:31:11 GMT
The Penultimate Tale from my Emptying Nest https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/8/tales-from-the-emptying-nest This has been such a difficult blog to write.  I’ve always been better at putting my feelings in writing than trying to vocalise them but even so, this blog has been tough and a long time in the making.  I’ve written this for therapeutic reasons and also, because I don’t think society really understands or accepts what is happening to me and, I am sure, lots of other mums (and dads) out there.

At the moment, I’m not on speaking terms with either Mother Nature or Father Time.  In fact, I feel I’ve been well and truly screwed by both of them.

What seems to me like a relatively short time ago, my life was busy and full of my family.  My hubby and three children were (and always will be) the centre of my world. 

As I write this, my middle child is experiencing a very exciting event in her life.  She is about to move into her first house with her boyfriend and is brimming over with happiness.  My son (our eldest) is about to visit the States on another work visit, having landed himself a fantastic new job. He and his girlfriend had all the house excitement last year when they moved into their first home together.  I am honestly so very proud of them both but, and here is the problem, how can I explain that the exact same events that are making me feel so happy and proud are also making me feel so sad and miserable?

Empty Nest Syndrome

It’s called ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ and it stinks.  Big time stinks.  Along with the approaching menopause (which doesn’t help) Mother Nature and Father Time have really done a number on me with this one.  I went through what I can only describe as hell when our eldest left home a few years back.  As time passed I began to feel better, but boy is it back with a vengeance now.

When you become pregnant, you get all sorts of advice on how to care for your baby.  As a result, when your baby arrives you’re fairly well equipped to deal with everything that faces you as you start this wonderful phase in your life.  Friends, family, midwives and health visitors are all there supporting you during this happy time.  But what happens when this phase is over?  When you’ve lived the past couple of decades caring for your children and now find yourself moving into new territory where this role just isn't needed like it was before?  There’s no advice on how to deal with that.

And so, while my middle child is happily packing boxes, planning colour schemes and housewarming parties, I am trying to battle through a storm of emotions. She is a beautiful, kind young lady who is more than ready for her own space, but at the moment, all I see when I look at her is my three-year-old baby girl, climbing sleepily out of her bed at the crack of dawn each morning, stumbling across the landing to our room and climbing into bed with me for a cuddle before the day properly begins.  I see the girl who loved Britney Spears and white chocolate, the girl I sat through Jonas Brothers and McFly concerts with, the girl who had a hamster called Baloo and a guinea pig called Sophie.  The girl who always asked me for help with her English and Art homework (dad was maths), who loved it when I treated her to Battenberg and macaroni cheese (that still applies). The girl who would play-fight her brother to sit next to me on the sofa. The baby who spent the first week of her life in Special Care and the lifts had broken, so I had to walk in my nightie from the top floor of the maternity block to the basement ICU to feed her after having just spent nearly three days in labour. The toddler who, along with my own mum, I spent one Christmas Day in A&E with when she came down with a raging temperature, the girl who dropped a whole pot of paint on the floor in my new kitchen.  I see the young girl who was determined to be a doctor until the age of 8 when she decided she hated the sight of blood; the talented musician, who amazed me with her ability to play any piece of music within a few hours of hearing it.  The University student who asked me to proof read her wonderful dissertation which I did, despite not being able to understand half of it.  Yes, whilst her head is rightly full of dreams for her future mine, at the moment, is full of memories of the past.  They may be mainly happy memories, but at the moment they all make me sad. And I hate it. 

As a mum, you have to be happy for them.  You’re not supposed to let them know its breaking your heart to see them grow up and away from you.  You have to put on a brave face, smile and help them carry their belongings into the place they will start calling ‘home’ whilst all the while a voice inside you keeps objecting that their home is at your house with you.  When they’ve gone, you still refer to the room they slept in as ‘their room’.  But it's not.  You have to accept they have their own bedroom now, in their own house and what you have is just a spare bedroom. 

I know I have no real reason to be sad.  In fact, most reasonable people would demand to know what the hell it is I’ve got to be miserable about.  Thank God, my children are healthy, wonderful human beings.  They work hard, keep in touch with the family and the two eldest now have wonderful partners who I love like my own.  We are a very close family.

Well - I hereby declare my right and the right of every other mother who may be going through this to be upset.  No-one prepared me for this!  I know there are other women out there who will understand. 

About that ‘Mother/Child Bond’

From the very beginning you have a connection with your baby.  You feel them grow inside you, every kick, every hiccup is a miracle.  You have the difficult yet amazing experience of childbirth and then you and your partner are handed this tiny, totally dependent human and find yourselves responsible for ensuring he or she has a good life and becomes a good person.   Life speeds up – but you remember everything – the first smile, the first taste of solid food,  their first Christmas, the first crawl, the first words, the first steps, the first lost tooth, the first haircut, day at school, illness, holiday.  It’s endless, all these memories fill up inside a mother’s head and they don’t go anywhere.  I know I’m not the only mum who would lie down in front of a train to protect her child, that’s what Mother Nature intended, the mother/child bond is immense.  But then, in all too short a time, the child reaches adulthood and is able to stretch their side of that bond and move on, and society expects mums to do the same.  However (and this is where my argument with her lies) Mother Nature won’t let you.  I know for certain that the connection on my side of the mother/child bond just isn’t as flexible as it is on my children’s side, at least not at the moment.  How do I know for sure?  Because I have a mum.  A lovely lady who I love very much – but as her child I myself once moved on, and I clearly remember the excitement and joy of beginning my own independent adult life, and the ease with which I left my childhood behind.  As they say, ‘what goes around comes around’.

So, what now?

I’m waving the white flag.  I know I have to get past this.  I have to accept that I must now find a way to permanently loosen the bonds of motherhood, that I am no longer always going to be the first point of contact for my eldest children when they need help making a decision, have wonderful news, are upset, hurt or angry.  I must accept that my position as once (possibly) the most important person in their lives has changed.   I have to accept these things; I’ve heard horror stories of ‘interfering Mothers-in-Law’ and pray to God I will never become one of those.  I don’t want to be an embarrassment to my children, I want them to see me as a friend and someone they can be proud of, trust and come to if needed, knowing I will always do my best to help.  What then can I do other than graciously step aside, bow in acceptance of Mother Nature and Father Time’s actions, push down the sadness I currently feel and just get on with life?

A long-standing friend of mine told me that we are adaptable creatures and that is true.  I will adapt.  It will be a long process but I know it will come. 

I do still have my beautiful youngest daughter at home, and I am aware that she too will feel the sadness at her big sister moving out, so I also need to be brave for her.  I can’t even begin to contemplate how I will feel in a few years when she leaves home, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. 

My long-suffering hubby looks forward to the time when we can spend some quality time together again, just the two of us.  Bless him, I adore him and yes, the freedom of being ‘child free’ again and able to do what we want, when we want is appealing.  However, at this point in my life, while that maternal bond is still so powerful and strong, I am finding this gradual transition into the next phase of life difficult.

And so, in a short time from now my ‘nest’ will be emptier.  The house won’t be as noisy.  On the plus side, I guess the bills will be less. I will try and be strong, because I don’t want tears to tarnish such a massive event in my eldest daughter’s life, but with the delights of pre-menopause symptoms exacerbating my emotions I’m not sure how successful I’ll be. 

I am confident that at some point, this newly evolving phase of my life will bring much happiness again in the form of joyful family events and (dare I say it) eventually grandchildren. 

I have a wonderful family with three amazing, caring children and I know I am truly blessed. However, I would like to state for the record that it is absolutely possible for a heart to be bursting with love, pride and happiness whilst simultaneously breaking due to a couple of very deep and painful cracks that you just know will never fully heal.

As for Mother Nature and Father Time?  Nope…still not talking.  Perhaps in a while.

It's been a long one - but thanks for reading.

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copyright 2017 Lorraine Jardim @ Ellie J Photography

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/8/tales-from-the-emptying-nest Fri, 04 Aug 2017 07:51:07 GMT
Tips for parents and photographers #2 Safety must ALWAYS come first! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/tips-for-parents-and-photographers-2 Ok - so I'm cheating a bit here and re-hashing an old post!  My excuse is that I've been poorly....so laziness is allowed... and, despite being a bit of a cut and paste job from a while back, the message remains as important now as it was then.

I saw a disturbing thread on social media recently, where a video showing a newborn being posed in the popular 'head supported on hands' pose was shared. Although the final photograph was undoubtedly cute, the poor baby was pushed and pulled about during posing and to my horror, was left completely unsupported while the photograph was taken.

Newborn babies carry most of their weight in their heads, and they are not able to support this weight until around 6 months of age.  If that baby had moved suddenly and the balance been thrown off - well, I shudder to think what damage could have been done to the baby's little neck and head. 

Those of you who follow my page will know I frequently talk about newborn safety and how I've written and had articles published on this very important subject.  

I believe it is so important for people in this line of work to do all they can to educate parents looking for a newborn photographer in order that they can make a well informed choice when booking a photographer to work with their precious baby.  

This is hugely important as, aside from the actual video mentioned above, what concerned me were the amount of comments from people saying things like 'oh how cute!'. In other words, these people believed that what they were witnessing was standard practice!  Yes there were also comments from people rightly condemning the method of posing, but I shudder to think how many of these wrongly assumed that all newborn photographers using this pose must work that way.

Several newborn photographers had commented about the unsafe methods used however, these comments were then denigrated as being interfering and over the top.  

In my opinion, you can never be 'over the top' when talking about the safety of a newborn baby! 

Ok - I'm dusting off my health and safety cap here.  Every workplace is required by law to control risk.  To do this, we need to think about things that might cause harm to people and decide whether we are taking reasonable steps to prevent such harm. It is obvious to me that by placing a newborn baby into these complicated poses we are exposing them to a risk of injury should baby's head become unbalanced and suddenly fall - it doesn't matter if the risk is a small one, a risk is a risk!

What steps do I take to alleviate these risks?  If a parent requests this pose I will explain that not all babies will comfortably achieve it and I won't force it should that be the case with their little one. My clients have all been great, even if I've had to disappoint them by not giving them the particular image they like, because at the end of the day, they don't want their baby made uncomfortable for the sake of a cute photo.  Secondly, if baby does comfortably achieve the pose, I will ensure that he or she is supported by a parent or assistant whilst I take the photos required to produce a composite image (separate images put together in post process).

This is a popular pose which is widely used and safe when carried out by a good newborn photographer. It just makes absolute sense to me that any potential risk, no matter how slight, should be addressed. 

Thanks for reading!

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/tips-for-parents-and-photographers-2 Sat, 18 Feb 2017 12:16:34 GMT
Tips for New Photographers and Parents #1 https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/1/tips-for-new-newborn-photographer-and-parents-1

As I really do need to start blogging more (oh dear! that was my resolution last year too!) I thought I might every so often share a few tips I've learned since first starting out as a newborn photographer.

I'm not doing this in any particular order of importance, and I don't for one minute profess to be the font of all knowledge.  Apologies to any photographer reading this who thinks I'm teaching you to suck eggs but hopefully, my little titbits might be of some help to new photographers thinking of getting into this wonderful genre or indeed, parents wondering what to look for in a newborn photographer.  

Ok - without further ado.  Tip #1 for 2017!

Get to know your little model.

By this I mean much more than their name, date of birth, method of delivery and so on!

Spend some time before you start posing baby by gently getting to know how he or she reacts to your touch.  You will then know what to expect when it comes to positioning your little model.  For example, we are often taught that when posing baby's hands under the cheek, the 'correct' way to do this is have all baby's fingers nicely laid flat.  However, if baby hates having their hands touched and prefers to curl up their little fingers,  I would personally let it be, as I believe any parent would rather have an image of their beautiful baby comfortably asleep with curled fingers than witness baby become upset by repeated attempts to achieve the 'ideal'.

Some babies are simply more touch-sensitive than others and even the gentlest pressure can trigger the startle reflex.  Others may have already had an experience that makes them more sensitive.  My eldest daughter for example was in special care for a week after birth and, after having canulas in each hand, was very fussy about having her hands touched for a while.  

Make sure you ask mum and dad whether baby has any medical issues because if necessary, you will need to factor these into your session.  For example, I've photographed some babies over the years with Muscular Torticollis, a condition where baby has a muscle on one side of the neck that is tighter than the other.  The good news is that this condition usually gets better without any long term side effects but, as the condition can make it difficult for baby to turn their head a certain way, you do need to think about your posing if this is an issue. If its not possible to adapt a pose to ensure baby's comfort (eg by switching my setup around to favour whatever side baby is comfortable with) I'll avoid poses that could cause discomfort in favour of those that won't. A cute photo is never worth making a baby uncomfortable or upset.

Reflux - plenty of babies suffer with reflux or colic and, having a hiatus hernia and suffering from reflux flare ups myself, I can really sympathise.  My tip for this?  Something I was advised to do myself.  When I sleep, I lie on my left side with my upper body slightly elevated, as this helps prevent reflux symptoms due to the way the stomach empties as opposed to lying on the right side.  Seems sensible to me therefore to lie my newborn clients on their left side in the same way when posing.  

Well I'll leave it there for now and hope to be back at some point to blog some more! 

In summary, tip#1 is all about ensuring you communicate with mum and dad and spend some time getting to know your little client before you start posing.  A few moment's conversation and thought before setting up your session will make all the difference.

Thanks for reading!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/1/tips-for-new-newborn-photographer-and-parents-1 Mon, 09 Jan 2017 11:55:49 GMT
Happy New Year! How did THAT happen? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/1/happy-new-year-how-did-that-happen I can't quite believe I'm sitting here writing a blog at the start of yet another new year.  2016 couldn't have gone by quicker if it were the Millennium Falcon (apparently the Falcon has a top speed of 1,041.66 light-years per hour for any fellow Star Wars nerds out there).

And what a year its been - full of ups and downs.  The ups have been great, I've met so many people, cuddled hundreds of new babies, got messy during dozens of first birthday cake smash sessions and been lucky enough to spend another year doing a job I absolutely adore.  I know how Blessed I am to be able to say that, and I am grateful every single day for the opportunities I have been given.

I've continued along the never ending photography learning path which is so important - photography is an ever evolving art form and you really do need to keep up and try to stand out in an increasingly over saturated market.  I've also continued to rabbit on about the importance of safety during newborn sessions to anyone who will listen and, in February 2016, I was thrilled to have an article on this very important subject picked up by Bokeh magazine, an international digital photography magazine based in California.

My 'newborn with dog' portraits have really taken off this year with more bookings than ever.  (Really must find a snappier title than 'newborn with dog').  I just adore babies, children and dogs...so that's been a very welcome little route for my photography to take.

My friendships with local fellow photographers have strengthened, which is always so helpful in this line of work which can at times be very lonely. Its good to have friends in a similar position to lean on and talk shop with.  I hate to admit it, but I've witnessed a fair bit of jealousy and nasty competitiveness out there in the photography world recently, it's such a shame and doesn't help anyone. I'm lucky to have become firm friends with some lovely ladies which is great,  because I have people whose work I know and trust to refer clients to should I be unable to take a booking. These lovely friends helped out massively when I had to cancel jobs at short notice due to family illness a few months back; they stepped in and took the jobs on for me so my clients didn't miss out on their photos.  

Yes, a lot of 2016's positives have come from my work, but of course there have also been many in my personal life too.  My eldest daughter finally achieved her dream of getting a job in the Arts, something she has worked hard towards since graduating from University. Our youngest had the best school report ever and won awards for her work in french and computing and our son bought his first house with his lovely girlfriend. I also became a Great Aunt in November for the first time...still too young to be a Granny I think, but Great Aunt is lovely!

Unfortunately 2016 also presented a few challenges - the main one being when my darling hubby decided to collapse with a stroke just before my birthday in August, (how dare he!).  This was completely unexpected and knocked the whole family for six. I can't put into words how strong my amazing children were at this time while I fell apart, I am so proud of them and the eldest two's partners, who were amazingly supportive.  Thank God, and with the support of our fantastic family, our amazing NHS and friends, we got through it and hubby has now made a full recovery. I hope and Pray he will not do that to us again!

So - on to 2017!  A milestone year for me as I turn the big 50.  This New Year I'm so excited because I have plans to push myself further in photography and I can't wait to get the ball rolling!

I must finish as always by saying a huge thanks to my wonderful clients.  To those of you who I've known for years who keep on coming back to see me, to all the new clients who have given me the honour of photographing your families in 2016.  To everyone, especially the dads who were bullied into visiting me and really don't want to have their photo taken but grinned and did it anyway; to all the pet owners and everyone else.  Thank you all so much for trusting me and for referring my little business to your friends and family.  Your support is always appreciated.

Here's just a snapshot of some of my 2016 work.  Thanks for reading and Happy New Year! 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/1/happy-new-year-how-did-that-happen Thu, 05 Jan 2017 15:42:14 GMT
Photographing your Newborn with your Dog https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/9/photographing-your-newborn-with-your-dog Photographing your Newborn with your Dog

As a  dog lover and owner myself, I absolutely love meeting new parents and photographing the latest addition to the family beside his or her four-legged friend. However, as a newborn photographer, the safety of your newborn will always be my highest priority.

With this in mind, I have written the following advice, which I would ask you to read carefully before deciding whether you should include your family's dog in your newborn session with me.

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_DSC1844_DSC1844 First and foremost, I need you to be as certain as possible that your dog can be trusted around your new baby.  If you have any doubts (for example if your dog has shown any sign of overly negative/aggressive behaviour towards baby), please do not include your dog in your newborn session.  We all love our pets but we can never be 100% sure how they might react to the sudden introduction of a new family member who will automatically be given a higher ‘pack’ ranking than themselves!  To help your dog prepare for the new arrival there is a wealth of information on the internet such as this one from The Dogs Trust or this from the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors
Please don't be offended if on the day of the shoot I decide to photograph your dog and baby separately. This is actually something I do the majority of the time and you won't be able to tell from the finished image. Its not because I don't trust your judgement, its because in addition to the introduction of a new family member at home, your dog will be coming into the strange environment of my studio (all very exciting!) and I need to be sure I can run the session in the safest way possible. For example, whilst the two dogs pictured right were gorgeous, very friendly and not at all bothered by the introduction of the new baby into the family, they were both quite lively on the day, so to avoid any risk of baby accidentally being bumped in all the excitement, all three were photographed individually and the finished image created in Photoshop. (Don't you just love the bow ties?).

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With regard to the session itself please bear in mind the following:

  • Health and safety in my studio is important.  In addition to the above, please ensure your dog is fully house-trained, healthy and up to date with vaccinations and worming (common sense with a new baby around, I know!)
  • My studio will be very warm for the newborn session, please ensure you bring your dog's drinking bowl with you and, if he can tolerate the warmth, something for him to lie on.  If, like my own dog, he doesn't do well in the heat it would be best to have someone either collect him from the studio or have mum/dad pop him home after the family photos have been done.  As a nice calm atmosphere is preferred for the newborn photos, if your dog is as mad as a box of frogs (like my own!) again, it will be best for him to be taken home after his photos.
  • Please remember to bring some of your dog's favourite treats for bribery/reward purposes!

Many thanks for reading;  I hope to meet you all soon!

 

Lorraine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/9/photographing-your-newborn-with-your-dog Wed, 28 Sep 2016 10:30:33 GMT
Sleeklens Portrait Perfection Photoshop Actions - My Review https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/sleeklens-portrait-perfection-photoshop-actions---my-review A few weeks ago I was contacted by a lovely lady from Sleeklens.com who asked if I would be interested in writing an honest review of their Portrait workflow.  Sleeklens provide professional workflows to photographers who are looking to speed up their editing processes and to be honest, the thought of anything to help me speed up my editing had me interested from the start!

Here's the thing - I'm not a massive Photoshop actions fan and I don't like my images to look over-processed.   It may be that I'm just a bit too fussy (hubs and kids would agree) and I'll also admit that I am not the most experienced Photoshop user in the room; I know what I know, and that's about it!

It was with a little trepidation therefore that I installed and began to play with the Sleeklens Portrait Perfection Photoshop Actions.  I used an image of my beautiful daughter to experiment on, taken on what should have been a lovely summers day last year, on one of the all-too-rare occasions that she allowed me to photograph her.  Living in Britain as I do, summer days are few and far between - so I wanted to end up with an image that had a gentle, summery golden feel to it.  

Included in the bundle you get: (taken from the Sleeklens website)

  • 56 Photoshop actions
  • Compatible with Photoshop 4-6 and Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Works both with JPEG and RAW images
  • Compatible with both Mac and PCs
  • Recipe list and sample images for inspiration
  • An easy-to-follow guide on how to install these Photoshop actions
  • Easy to adjust to fit your own style
  • Exclusive access to our private Help and Tutorial Facebook Groups

After pulling the file through from ACR I opened up my Actions pallette and began to play.

Straight off the bat you get a set of "All In One" actions.  These consist of 8 different ready made 'looks' which do just as it says on the tin; everything kind of all at once.  As I've already said, I'm not a massive fan of actions and I did find these just a little too heavy for my liking. You can't go into each action and fine tune each element to suit - although I did a very basic work around of duplicating my background layer and adjusting opacity. Whilst I'm sure some will love the ease and immediacy of these, for me personally they were my least favourite part of the set.

Having said that......

I pretty much love the rest!

Next down in the column are your 'Base' actions which got my image off to a good start.  There are five 'base' actions to choose from; from scratch, from nature, from bright sunny days, from golden hours and from cloudy days.  I used 'from golden hours' on the image because it added a lovely warm feel,  just what I was looking for.  Importantly for me, every one of these actions is fully customisable so you can go into each element and tweak to your heart's desire.  This is ideal for control freaks like me or for those just wanting a very subtle effect.

Next come exposure, temperature and colour corrections which again are very straightforward and easy to use.  I particularly like the colour corrections set with its eight options, I would suggest you have a play with each of these as I did to find which best suits your image.  For me, the 'Natural' option gave a pleasing skin tone.  Note for newborn photographers there is also a reduced reds option which I have used in newborn imagery with great success.  I always zoom right in, use a soft brush with low flow (around 1 - 3%) and then gradually remove the red until I'm happy.

Next down is the portrait retouch section which contains everything you need to brighten eyes, add a soft glow or a honey tone, desaturate skin, add a bit of blush or create glossy lips.  There is also a handy 'fast retouch' action set, which opens up give options to soften skin, brighten eyes, darken lashes, add blush, and whiten teeth options if you're in a real hurry.

The Enhance Tones section is a great one to play with and I would suggest doing just that so you can get an idea of what each action does.  Once again made up of cusomisable layers, they all give a pleasing effect - my choice for the image below being "Girl Like You" which once again added to the warm sunny feel I was looking for.  Do have a play with them all though - they all have their own merits, I'm already looking forward to photographing my little one in the autumn so I can use the Autumn Love action!

Vignettes is next - Vintage or a set of toned vignettes; brown, blue, cream or dark.  

The Light Glow option is a great addition - literally letting you add a burst of light wherever you want in the image.  These are all moveable, just click and drag and adjust opacity to suit.  I personally used the neutral one but you also have the option of Blue Fire, Blue Ice, Sunny, Peach, Pink and Soft Warm light glows to try.

"From a Candy Store" is the set I found most useful.  Included there are options to add a paint effect (gives a nice 'oomph' although you do need to lower opacity a fair bit), dodge and burn, frequency separation and sharpen.  Once again, there is also an option to open all of these in one for those of us in a hurry!  It was nice to have all of these in one place.  For me though, as I tend to use dodge and burn and Frequency when starting an image, I will probably see about moving these elements higher up the column so I'm not having to search down for them every time.

I thoroughly enjoyed playing with these actions and I will certainly be using them in future.  Do I recommend them?  Yes I do - I think if you are a portrait photographer you will find them very useful. In addition if, like myself, you are not totally knowledgeable about all things Photoshop you will find them very simple to use.  Although I was going slowly with this image as I was making notes and playing with effects as I went, for me there is no doubt that once you're familiar with the action set and know which options will give you the look you want, your work flow will certainly speed up.  It is useful to have everything all together in one place and, as I said above, the ability to reduce/tweak the effect of these actions to suit is great and ensures all tastes are catered for.

If you are interested in finding out more visit the Sleeklens website below.

https://sleeklens.com/product/portrait-perfection-photoshop-actions/

https://sleeklens.com/product-category/photoshop-actions/

Here are the results of my use of the Portrait Perfection actions:

SOC Sleeklens Portrait Perfection Actions for Photoshop
test soctest soc test 2test 2

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/sleeklens-portrait-perfection-photoshop-actions---my-review Wed, 13 Jul 2016 13:15:15 GMT
Safely Photographing Newborns and Dogs https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/safely-photographing-newborns-and-dogs I've received a couple of enquiries about one of my recent images, so thought it was about time to dust off the old brain cells and write a blog.

First things first.  I am a portrait photographer.  That is what I do - I photograph faces.  This includes families, children, my specialist area of newborn babies....... and the furry faces of dogs.  

I wanted to say this up front because I remember reading in another photographer's blog once that animals were never allowed in their studio for 'reasons of hygiene.'  

As a keen supporter of baby safety, I do partly agree.  However, I also understand that for millions of families in the UK, their pet dog is a very important member of the family.  Having said that, dogs would not be allowed in my studio were it not for the fact that I have separate back drops that I use for dogs, separate props (not that I use many props with dogs!) and, after each and every pet session, my studio is thoroughly cleaned (I'm talking about the going to bed with backache because I've been on my knees scrubbing the floor with Dettox type of clean). 

If a couple really want to include their much loved family pet in a photograph with their newborn, I will always try to accommodate. However, those who know me will understand that baby's safety is my number one priority.  Fortunately, with the magic of digital photography, there are ways to safely accommodate such wishes.

First and foremost I need to know that the pet in question has a calm and friendly temperament.  Even then, having literally grown up with dogs (my mum managed a branch of the Dog's Trust for many years) I am well aware that as animals, you can never rely 100% on any dog's good nature.  For this reason, I will have a parent very close by and in total control of the dog at all times.  After all, post processing isn't just for tired eyes and to soften blotchy newborn skin - its also pretty good at removing protective hands and dog leads!  

If I am in any doubt at all about the safety of a set up, I will use composite imaging. For example, I will photograph baby posed in a prop,  then take a separate photograph of dog sitting next to the same empty prop and merge the two together later.  This is something I also do with a younger 'older' sibling who can't always be trusted not to suddenly make an excited grab at their new little brother or sister.

I also need to consider the dog's comfort.  Newborn sessions take place in a very warm studio, which isn't ideal for most dogs who have no choice but to wear a fur coat! For the image below, the family's gorgeous Golden Retriever attended the couple's maternity session and was photographed in a nice comfortable temperature weeks before the couple's daughter was even born.  The photographs needed to complete the final image were subsequently taken during the newborn session while the dog was back in the comfort of his own home.  

I'm including the three separate photographs used below. You will see that baby was fully supported in daddy's well padded fireman's helmet (if baby had been too big for this I would have used another more appropriately sized container) and then all the images were put together in post process. 

Dogs are such an important family member for so many people.  We are a nation of animal lovers after all!  I hope this little blog has given an insight into how I work with pets and newborns.  Thanks for reading!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/safely-photographing-newborns-and-dogs Thu, 28 Apr 2016 07:49:59 GMT
Ellie J Photography goes International! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/2/ellie-j-photography-goes-international Ok - so that's a bit of a dramatic title, but I've got some lovely news to share.

Now if you've been here, read my blogs or seen my Facebook or Twitter pages, you'll know that for about seven years now I've been banging on about the importance of safety during newborn photography sessions.

Our industry remains unregulated - which is quite terrifying really when you think that, as newborn photographers, we are working with tiny little human lives.

As more and more newborn photographers are beginning to talk and blog about the subject of safety, and with organisations such as BANPAS being established and professional bodies such as the Guild of Photographers and the British Institute of Professional Photography asking for evidence of safe practice in their qualification processes, things are definitely moving in the right direction.

I will always, however, continue to talk about this important subject and was therefore thrilled to be approached a few weeks ago by international digital photography magazine Bokeh and asked to write an article for them about safety in newborn photography.

The only slight problem was that I had a tight deadline to work to, I was really busy with shoots and processing and I remember working until the early hours to get the article written.  Don't get me wrong, I am over the moon to see it "in print" but now I have I'm inwardly cringing at some of my grammatical errors. I would therefore like to apologise wholeheartedly to my past English teachers and ask them to please put my grammatical oversights down to some very late nights and far, far too much caffeine!

You can read my article here (its after the image of the attractive gun-toting American couple on the front cover) and you can find out more about Bokeh magazine here 

Thanks very much for reading!
 

Lorraine.

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/2/ellie-j-photography-goes-international Tue, 02 Feb 2016 20:27:50 GMT
It's that time of year again! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/12/its-that-time-of-year-again

I can't believe it - almost 12 months have passed since I solemnly committed to just two New Year's resolutions.  Blog more, eat less. Well how did that work out?  Not very well I'm afraid.  I have managed to lose half a stone - but no doubt that will creep on again over the next few days!  

What a year this has been.  So much has happened both for me personally and for Ellie J Photography as a business.  

It has been a busy year for my little business and I am so grateful to my clients, both returning and new, who have inspired me and helped me achieve my own goals this year.  One such achievement was having the front cover and feature interview with an international photography magazine!  

I have photographed hundreds of families in 2015 and thoroughly enjoyed every single job.  I've been a professional photographer for seven years now and I just can't believe how quickly that time has gone and how much I still enjoy my work. 

I've always said that photography is an ongoing learning process and I've been privileged to meet some wonderful photographers through workshops and mentoring sessions in 2015. No matter how long you've been doing something, I recommend continuing to push yourself as there is always a different way of approaching something and always something new to learn. Even an old dog like me still has the occasional lightbulb moment!

I finally feel comfortable with my own personal style of newborn photography.  At the beginning of this wonderful journey seven years ago, there weren't many newborn photographers around.  Over the next couple of years that changed though, and I'll admit I did briefly wonder whether I was doing something wrong, because I didn't fit into the "all natural light, soft and gentle pastel coloured" type of photography that was springing up around me.  Don't get me wrong, that style of photography is just fine and I know a lot of clients like it, it's just that it isn't me.  I was trained in studio light.   I like being able to create the look I want whether that be gentle or hard light, adding or removing shadow as and when required to give a certain look.  I think recently I've settled back 'into my own skin' and I now feel completely comfortable once again with my style and what I create.  The main thing is of course that clients are booking me based on my work to date, and as long as that continues I'll be a happy photographer!

I'm very much looking forward to meeting some wonderful new (and returning!) clients in 2016 and wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Lorraine

x

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/12/its-that-time-of-year-again Tue, 22 Dec 2015 11:47:03 GMT
What shall I wear for my photo session? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/10/what-shall-i-wear-for-my-photo-session I regularly get asked by clients what they should wear for a portrait session so thought I'd do a little blog on the subject.

While I'll always advise to wear whatever you are comfortable in, here are some general pointers.

Adults:

Avoid bright colours such as reds, oranges and yellows as in the finished photo these colours will draw the viewer's eye away from the subject (i.e. your face!). Avoid bold stripes and loud patterns for the same reason. Subtle patterns and solid colours work best.

Try and avoid logos or slogans as they will date. In the 80's my favourite t-shirt said 'Frankie Says Relax'. It was great at the time - but would I want a photo of me wearing it on my wall today?

Avoid short sleeves and shorts unless you are happy with your arms and legs! From a photography point of view, the extra skin will again draw the viewer's eyes from the face - but also, I've never met an adult yet who is 100% happy with their bare arms and legs in a photo ;)

Newborns and Babies:

I will always advise photographing very young babies in the nude or wrapped in simple wraps (which I have a supply of). This will show off their gorgeous newborn skin and avoid their little frames being 'drowned' by clothing, resulting in the viewers' eye being detracted from baby in the finished photo. When baby is supporting him/herself better and  is less likely to be swamped by clothing and for those occasions when you want baby dressed, (e.g. for a family group photo) I'd suggest keeping it simple - white and pastels are good choices, avoid bright colours and patterns. 

Children:

Children traditionally look good in all white - it helps toward a classic portrait signifying the innocence of childhood.  If that doesn't appeal and whilst I'd still advise avoiding loud patterns and logos - the 'avoid bold colours' rule for adults and newborns/babies doesn't necessarily apply to children. Vivid colours, especially the primary colours (red blue and yellow) can result in a lively, fun portrait.  

Family Groups:

 

Try and coordinate the outfits so that they complement each other. I don't mean you should all turn up in matching outfits (unless you really want to of course and jeans and white tops for an informal family group is always nice). Choosing clothes in different shades of the same colour or similar, complimentary colours will help. I like the photo below because of the complimentary colours - I don't think it matters that granddad is wearing stripes on this occasion!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/10/what-shall-i-wear-for-my-photo-session Thu, 22 Oct 2015 11:22:46 GMT
Ellie J Photography Featured in Bokeh Magazine! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/10/ellie-j-photography-featured-in-bokeh-magazine A few months back I was contacted by Bokeh Magazine through my Facebook page and asked if I would like to collaborate with them.  I was thrilled to bits, as Bokeh (based in California) is a premier digital photography magazine produced for people who are interested in the art and lifestyle of photography.

I was quite frankly gobsmacked that they had approached me for an interview!  A couple of weeks later, I discovered that one of my images was in the running (via a Facebook competition) for the front cover and once again, I was absolutely amazed at the amount of support I received, which ensured that my image of gorgeous James enjoying his post-cake smash bath has appeared on Bokeh's latest cover. 

I am very proud to share with you the cover page of this month's edition of Bokeh The Art and Life of Photography and my featured interview.  Thank you so much to my lovely clients, family and friends for your wonderful support.

(The latest edition of Bokeh can be purchased from bokehonline.com)

covercover

 Q.  How did you get into photography?

A. Photography was always a part of my life as I was growing up.  Both my grandad and dad were keen photographers, and it seemed natural  for me to always have a camera in my hand, even as a child.  I've always been fascinated with and read about photography and my cabinet is full to bursting with books and magazines on the subject along with albums and discs full of my images taken over the years.

Q. What was the journey like transitioning from being a photography enthusiast to a photography professional.

A. I'd always seen professional photography as a dream career when I was young, but as an adult I let go of that dream for the simple fact that I needed stability and a reliable income.  I had a husband whose health wasn't fantastic after two major heart operations, three children and a mortgage, so the expense and uncertainty  involved in throwing myself into a full time photography business made it seem unobtainable.  I had a part time job as a local government officer in Health and Safety and so in the early days, despite the passion being there,  photography remained a much loved hobby.

I had always been the unofficial family and friends photographer and when my youngest daughter arrived I began taking portraits of her myself with my trusty bridge camera (Fuji S9500) rather than go to high street photographers.  Then other family members and friends asked me to photograph their children.  When friends of friends - people I didn't know - began to offer to pay me for portraits, my dream was re-ignited and  I began to believe that I could set up my own photography business, albeit on a part time basis.  I still didn't do much about it but then one day my husband surprised me with my first DSLR, a Nikon D80 and it would have been rude not to pursue my dreams after that!  I attended some training in portrait lighting and wedding photography and, when I felt I was ready, established Ellie J Photography. No one in  my family was hugely surprised when I decided to make it all official.  Except perhaps me - I can't say I was very confident in the early days, I've always been a bit of a worrier and I remember being so nervous before my first paid event that I threw up!   

I set Ellie J Photography up to fit around my 'proper' job. My confidence improved as I found myself getting more and more bookings.  At this point, I was still working as a local government officer in Health and Safety, so I had the reliability of a salary coming in each month to ensure the bills were being paid. It was lovely to be able to earn money on the side doing something I loved and still have the reliability of a regular salary to ensure the bills were paid.

Two years in though things got tough as my 'proper' job was suddenly put at risk of redundancy.  Those were worrying times, I knew I had to have an income to support my family and the money I was getting from photography wasn't going to be enough.  The stress and worry got too much for me, my health began to suffer and ultimately, I found myself being treated for depression.

I began looking for other work, planning to forget the photography business if necessary to concentrate on another reliable job. My husband would have none of it though.  He really was my knight in shining armour and I will always be grateful to him.  He had absolute faith in me and insisted that I throw all my efforts into developing a full time photography business.  He was so supportive and  didn't once falter, even when times were tough and I was having a melt-down! Of course he was absolutely right (although I don't tell him that often!).  I was made redundant, took Ellie J Photography full time and haven't looked back since.

Q. Were there people who didn't believe in your passion or photography endeavors?

A. Most people, my family in particular, have been totally supportive.  I think perhaps anyone embarking on what can be perceived as a "dream job" will face some negativity from others. I also think people who don't know much about photography honestly think its just a case of pointing the camera, pressing the shutter button and nothing else!  I had one friend of the family tell me that 'my little business must be a nice easy hobby and what a bonus that it gave me some pocket money' I remember smiling sweetly and biting my tongue after having been up till the early hours the previous night processing a wedding! Sadly I've found that some photographers can be harsh.  I've been a member of some photography forums and can remember in the early days posting images for C&C.  One or two of the comments infuriated and upset me because they were absolutely scathing and not supportive or helpful at all.  I don't mind constructive comments, I am always learning, but to leave just negative words with no advice or explanation is plain bad manners in my opinion.

Q. How did you deal with them and their criticism?

A.It was tough, I'm quite sensitive and I do tend to take negativity to heart even now.  Luckily however, for every one negative comment there were many more helpful people offering sound advice, and some of them have become firm friends.

Q. Did you have mentors or any formal education in photography?

A. I'm still learning and it will be an ongoing process.  I have undertaken training through the BIPP (British Institute of Professional Photography), The Guild of Photographers and other organisations. I've also qualified with both the BIPP and Guild and had some wonderful mentors helping me towards these qualifications.   I regularly attend seminars and workshops still,  as I do think its important, not only to meet other photographers but also to keep on top of the latest developments in our business.

Q. How did you start "Ellie J Photography"?

A.  I began working in clients' homes or in my conservatory using natural light with my D80.  I got myself a simple backdrop and stand and a few props whilst saving for studio lighting.  I bought as I earned. My first studio lights were a set of Bowens Gemini 500s, and later came a set of 250s, so I had a four light studio set up.  Later we converted our garage and back room into a studio space, which doubles as a family room when I'm not taking photographs.  It was very much like that at the start.  Work a few jobs, save money - buy gear and repeat!

Q. What is the main industry for "Ellie J Photography"?

A. When I started I specialised in newborns and also photographed children, families pets and weddings. As I got busier I had to juggle things around so I stopped the weddings. 

Q. What makes your business unique?

A.  My clients have told me that they feel as if they are coming to a friend's house when they visit the studio.  I've always loved working with babies and children and feel totally relaxed and natural with them - they seem to like me too and I'm not afraid to act like a big kid when necessary to get the smiles.  One thing I've never done is put a time limit on my sittings - I've got three children myself and I know from experience that the way to get a young child to co-operate is to be patient with them and let them relax before I start photgraphing. I decided right from the start that I wouldn't restrict my clients to a half or one hour slot. You could argue that I've shot myself in the foot with this, as it does mean of course that I can't schedule as many sessions in a day as other photographers can, but for me its paid off in returning clients and its how I prefer to work.  I want my clients to feel at ease and unhurried so that they can enjoy their session.

Q. How did you grow your business back then?

A. My business has been built solely by word-of-mouth recommendation.  I did do a stint a few years ago of walking for miles and posting leaflets through doors, but the return I got wasn't worth the outlay (both in leaflet cost and blisters!) so it didn't happen again.  It may be a fairly slow process, but word of mouth is the best referral system out there! 

Q. Were there any specific marketing strategies that have worked well for you?

A. Having a good knowledge of SEO is important and I am lucky to have wonderful support in that area. I have a good website ranking and, although most of my work is still word of mouth, many clients these days also find me through a Google search. I have to say that, love it or hate it, Facebook marketing has also been quite good for me.  Every so often I will pay to boost a post after selecting my target audience and I'll always get a return from it.  I do pay for advertising occasionally, but I'm very careful to pick and choose, as I'm all too aware that newspapers ads today will be tomorrow's fish and chips wrappings!

Q. Have you done any commercial work, and if so how did those opportunities come up?

A.Yes for a local company.  It was a literally a case of me being in the right place at the right time.  One of the company directors had children at the same school as my daughter and we got to know each other on the playground, then I took some family portraits for them and later photographed a charity event they were hosting.  When the company was upgrading its website and literature they came to me for the photography.  

Q. What do you do to keep yourself inspired? 

A.  Its easy to be inspired these days!  There are so many great photographers out there and they all have social media and websites.  I also love my books - my latest are Richard Avedon's 'Performance' and my absolute favourite, 'Vivian Maier, Street Photographer'. 

Another thing I do to stay inspired is ensure I always have time for my personal projects.  My children have been wonderfully patient with me as I've tried out new ideas with them as models, and I still carry a camera with me wherever I go, albeit my phone camera now - so I can photograph anything that interests me.

Q. Who do you look up to?

A. Vivian Maier, I know she's not with us anymore but I adore her work and I'm drawn to her story.  It seems she had such a lonely life, but her photographs are stunning - she was able to capture her subject's expressions at just the right moment and of course, she loved photographing children as I do.  How sad that she was not recognised until after her death.  There are so many other photographers around that inspire me - but one that springs to mind is Carrie Sandoval of Captured By Carrie, I love her newborn work.

Q. Describe your photographic style and has it changed over the years?

A.I think simple and spontaneous  probably answers that one.  I've always done newborn photography but in the early days I would use  props routinely in a session.  Now, whilst I still use props if requested, I like a more natural approach.  I seem to have developed a knack for anticipating a moment - a sneeze, a yawn, a sleepy newborn smile - and these are the photos I love to capture.  I love photographing those moments when I've been able to get people laughing, or perhaps that moment when a parent is looking tenderly at their tiny baby.  

Q. What are some of your favorite photography related websites?

A. Planetneil, Strobist and Digital Photography Magazine.

Q. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A. Seeing a parent's reactions when I show them their gallery of photos after what they felt was a difficult session. I love a challenge! Photographing children isn't always easy and some parents worry that if their child isn't being co-operative I can't have got any images.  However, I see things differently through my lens.  Probably my most rewarding moments have come when I've photographed children with special needs.  One mum of an autistic boy cried when she saw the photos I'd taken of her family.  She explained afterwards that she had never been able to get a photo of her three boys together before. It was a lovely feeling.

Q. What is the most difficult part of your job and how do you deal with it?

A. Admin - I hate admin! I have to force myself to be organised by setting aside time to deal with paperwork but I'd much rather be taking photos!

Q. Have you ever said no to a job assignment, and if so why?

A. Yes!  I've had one or two requests to do adult glamour nudes.  While I do photograph nudes they are either carefully posed pregnant ladies or dad's with their shirt off cuddling a newborn.  I'd be far to embarrassed to do anything in glamour!

Q. What are some of the greatest hurdles you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?

A.  I like low key photography for certain subjects and, with my studio space not being the widest, the light coloured walls reflected too much light for what I wanted to achieve.  I considered painting the walls neutral grey, but decided against it as my studio is also used as a family room when I'm not working.  I came up with the solution of dark drapes which my lovely mum and dad made for me.  These are now flush against the walls and can be pulled aside or removed as necessary.  

Q. What are the top 5 things that you attribute to your current success?

A. Perseverance and hard work, you have to be willing to put in the hours which can be tough, especially when you have children.

Treating my clients well - sounds obvious, but it is so important  to treat your clients as you would want to be treated.  I respond to their queries without delay, communicate with them from first contact to delivery of their images.  In the case of new parents, I ensure that I explain how I'm going to work safely with their baby and keep talking throughout the session to allay any worries they might have.

Confidence and experience - I've photographed so many children now, especially newborns, and I do think that experience reassures parents wanting to book me.

My family have always been and still are very supportive, especially my husband and my wonderful children

My lovely clients for their faith in me and their recommendations to others

Q. What are the 3 most important areas of your business right now?

A.  Helping parents and new photographers understand the importance of safety during newborn sessions.To deliver a great, personal service to each and every client. To produce the best work I can.

Q. What initiatives are you working on to improve those 3 areas?

A. I regularly talk and blog about the importance of safe practice during newborn photography sessions. This is such an important issue.  In the UK the newborn photography industry is unregulated and a knowledge of how to work safely is vitally important for new photographers, as is a knowledge for parents of what to expect from their newborn photographer.  I am a member of BANPAS (the baby and newborn photography association) which has been doing great work raising this issue.

I believe ongoing training is important to improve the other two areas, and this is something I always have planned.

Q. How important is having goals to you and what are some that you have at the moment? 

A. I do think goals are important.  From a personal point of view, I'd like to be able to manage the work/life balance more effectively so I'm looking at ways of improving my time management.  From a professional development point of view I'm working towards my next qualification in my spare time.

Q. How important is networking in your specific photography niche?

A. I think networking is important for all businesses, not just to get your name out there but to be able to have people you can bounce ideas off or refer work to/receive referrals from as necessary.  

Q. What do you recommend to someone getting started in the photography business?

A. Learn your equipment inside and out.  Strap your camera to your hand and take it with you wherever you go. Learn to 'see' light - observe how is affects a scene, how it falls onto someone's face.  Practice, practice, practice! If you plan working with newborns, make sure you learn how to do this safely. When you are ready to set up your business, don't worry too much about the competition - concentrate on developing your own style and client base.  If you are going to succeed, you need to put your efforts into being the best that you can be, rather than worrying about who is snapping at your heels or setting up in business a few streets away from you. 

Q. What is something you wish you did differently when you started your photography journey/business?

A. I wish I'd believed in and valued myself more from the start.  One lesson I learned in this respect makes me smile now.  Years ago, a man called and told me that he adored my work and wished he could book me for a location shoot for his wife's Christmas present.  He then told me how he really, really couldn't afford my prices.  He sounded so desperate and pleading that I offered him a fair reduction.  In the New Year I set off to photograph his family and, as I drove into the driveway of his massive detached house and parked my rusty little Fiat Punto next to his two beautiful BMW cars,  I realised I needed to toughen up! 

Q. What equipment do you use?

A. I have five Bowens studio lights, numerous modifiers and reflectors, and paper and vinyl backdrops.  Gear wise I shoot mainly with my Nikon D800, although I also use a D3 and have a D700 for backup.  Lens wise my workhorse is the Nikkor 24 - 70, I also use the Nikkors 70 - 200, 50 1.8, 85 1.8, and 60mm micro.

Q. How do you plan and setup for a shoot?

A.I always pack my gear, check batteries, cards etc for location shoots or set the studio up the night before so I'm not rushing around in the morning while trying to get the school run sorted!  In the studio I'll set everything out that I need based on the job coming in and then sit and write a shot list.  No matter how many times I've done a session I still refer to my shot list as it avoids potential 'blank' moments and is also handy to jot notes down relating to the specific job.

Q. What type of post processing do you do?

A. I use Adobe Camera Raw to do the initial processing before moving into Photoshop CS6.

Q. Do you see any trends developing in your field of photography?

A. I see newborn photography moving toward a more natural approach.  I.e. - less images of babies posed in containers, hanging from trees in hammocks and so on.

Q. What can we expect to see from you in the future?

A. I'm always looking to improve my work and try new processing techniques. I've been looking at digital art lately and, whilst not experienced enough to introduce this at a high enough level in my client work just yet, it may be something I look at incorporating in the future.

Q. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

A. I'm so happy to be finally doing the job I love, although I am aware that I still have more to learn. I never would have dreamed I'd get to this stage and I thank God for my fabulous husband and family for their belief in me when I was wavering. To anyone thinking of becoming a newborn and child photographer I would say first and foremost, be sure you have learned how to work safely, be prepared to work hard and persevere when things get tough. You'll end up with a fantastic and very rewarding career.

 


 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/10/ellie-j-photography-featured-in-bokeh-magazine Sun, 04 Oct 2015 16:52:22 GMT
Do Something Every Day That Scares You! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/9/do-something-every-day-that-scares-you I was recently invited to a local camera club to judge their monthly photo competition, give feedback on the submitted images and tell the members a little about my own journey into photography.

I'll admit that, whilst feeling incredibly honoured to have been asked, I was more than a little nervous at the thought of sitting in front of a group of strangers and giving feedback on their images.

You see, my mind tends to go blank when I'm under pressure, which is why after almost seven years of shooting professionally I still take the time to write out a shot list before each and every job!

What if my mind went blank during my talk? What if someone asked me something and I couldn't think of the answer?

In addition, I don't particularly enjoy critiquing other people's work. You see the photographs we take (especially those we are proud enough of to submit for competition) are important to us.  They are our creations, we have pride in them and it does hurt to hear someone's view that your creation might fall short in certain areas.   I don't like upsetting people but I hate to admit,  there are some people in the photography world who do seem to enjoy doing just that - gleefully shooting down the work of  an amateur or new photographer and slamming into their images without giving any constructive advice at all.  I hate that, so unnecessary and unhelpful.

Anyway I digress.  The members of the photography group had been given a fairly difficult subject for their competition - 'Emotions' and I was very interested to see their interpretations. 

As soon as I started looking through the images my fears melted away.  I made notes on technical things such as composition, clarity and story telling and considered how each image made me feel, what emotions they were portraying.

On the night of the meeting itself I was greeted by a lovely bunch of people and given a cup of tea (which I accepted with shaking hands) while the members of the group arrived and the projector and screen were set up.  There were quite a few people there and quite a number of images to go through, but once I had been introduced and started talking about my favourite subject, my nerves disappeared.  As I went though each image I realised that I need not have worried at all - it was clear that each and every person in that room shared my love of photography and were keen to listen to the advice I had to offer.   I thoroughly enjoyed myself as we discussed the wonderful images the group had taken and I awarded my first, second and third places.

So - I thought I'd share that little first for me!  I still giggle inside when I'm introduced to people as a 'Professional Photographer' - it just doesn't seem right - how can it be a proper job when you enjoy it that much?  The reason for the title of this blog post? My beautiful eldest daughter told me that I should do something every day that frightens me a little bit.  Not quite doing one a day yet - but this is one I'm so glad I did!

Thanks for reading!

Lorraine

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/9/do-something-every-day-that-scares-you Thu, 24 Sep 2015 20:30:08 GMT
What lens for newborn photography? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/8/what-lens-for-newborn-photography I often get asked what equipment I use in the studio in particular, what lenses would I recommend be used to photograph newborns.

First of all, I'm a Nikon gal.  If you're interested in photography yourself, you're probably well aware of the great Nikon v Canon debate. I'll be perfectly honest with you, I personally don't think there's much in it.  

Every camera has its plus and minus points - sometimes the bods at Canon will bring out a new body that just pips the Nikon, sometimes its the other way around.

I, like many photographers I know, have stuck with one particular brand because its what I started out with.  Once you've built a photography business using a particular make and you've got a few bodies plus several lenses, its really quite expensive to think about switching to another system - although I am aware of photographers who have 'jumped ship' mid career one way or another for their own reasons.

Back to the subject of the blog.  What lenses would I advise be used for newborn work? First and foremost, you need to think about how you work, your particular work space, what your style is and what look you're after in your photos. Then you can choose the lens that will best help you achieve that.  

For example, I know some fab photographers who use a 35mm prime to great effect in their newborn work.  For me personally, that doesn't work.  With wider lenses you have to be careful with your distance and perspective, as a wider lens will make close subjects look a lot larger than ones further away.  If you get 'lost' in your work and aren't concentrating, you could well end up with images of big nosed babies with tiny eyes!  

The 85mm prime is a fantastic lens and one I use regularly for head shots, but for me its not wide enough to use throughout a newborn session.  I don't like switching lenses if I can get away with it, so the 85 whilst fine for some shots, doesn't give me enough scope.  Likewise, whilst I do use the wonderful 70 - 200 2.8 for portraits where I've wanted beautiful bokeh, I personally find it far too cumbersome to wield around in a newborn session as my studio space isn't huge.

When I first started, I used my trusty Nikkor 50mm 1.8 ("not the 1.4?" I hear Nikon purists gasp!)  Nope, the 1.8. Cheap as chips, sharp as a pin and in my opinion, great for newborns.  When the new 50mm Nikkor came out I upgraded and continued with that.  

The nifty fifty is great for newborn photography without a doubt - but as I tend to include family portraits it did mean that, to avoid standing with my back pressed up against the wall, I either had to have another body with a wider lens on in the studio, or switch lenses during a shoot.  I also had to climb a stepladder for those cute 'looking down on baby' shots. 

Much as I love my nifty fifty I did question one day, whilst balanced on my step stool in a very warm room trying to get my little model and all the lovely swooshy fabrics that I had painstakingly arranged into shot, whether there was a better option.

Later on as I rummaged through my camera bag I realised of course there was.  I dug out my 24 - 70 2.8.  Fabulous lens, but one that had not seen much use since I gave up weddings a couple of years back. I used it in my next newborn shoot and haven't look back since.  I don't know why this didn't occur to me much earlier - stupid me!  Of course I can still photograph at 50mm, but I can now also easily fit the whole family in.  In addition, I no longer have to climb on my step stool to get those 'looking down on baby' shots so a lot safer from that perspective too - I'm really steady on my feet but one less risk is all good!  By the way - if you are photographing from this position, i.e. leaning over baby, please always remember to have your camera strap around your neck! 

Some photographers might argue that a zoom will never be as sharp as a prime and yes, in most cases I would agree. However, (and this is where my Nikon girl colours really show)....I've never had an issue with sharpness in this particular lens, after all - its a Nikkor 24 - 70 for pete's sake!

Finally I have a secret weapon - the Nikkor 60mm micro for close up shots of those tiny fingers, toes, lips and eyelashes - a wonderful lens but I do find that sometimes you have to get so close to your subject that you're blocking out your own light!

As I've already said, if you're deciding on a lens for your newborn portraiture you must consider your own style, your work space and how you work and what you want to achieve, then base your decision on that.  I hope this little blog has provided some useful tips in the meantime.

Thanks for reading!

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The "Nifty Fifty" - has to be the best value lens on the market.   My secret weapon - the 60mm micro for all those lovely close ups. The 24" - 70" 2.8.  My workhorse, weddings, newborns, families, pets - this fella has it all covered!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/8/what-lens-for-newborn-photography Sat, 29 Aug 2015 16:42:18 GMT
So what have I been up to? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/8/so-what-have-i-been-up-to Thought it was about time I touched base and shared a little of what I've been up to lately.  I've been a very busy bunny (thank you!) but I've also been able to recently take a week's R and R in the beautiful Cotswolds when we rented a house through Watermark at Cotswold Water Park. Who would have thought it?  A little piece of heaven right on our doorstep!  The weather was fairly kind to us and every morning I woke up and had a cuppa on the decking overlooking a beautiful lake, watching the swans and ducks and the occasional fisherman.  

We celebrated my daughter's 21st birthday and my double 21st plus a few birthday and the whole holiday was very relaxing. Apart from the day my poor pup and I were attacked by a couple of bulldogs - but that's another story!

I've been a bit of a propaholic too - lots of orders in for pretty tiebacks and wraps, and you know I'm always  a sucker for a good textured blanket backdrop for my newborns so a few recent purchases made and excitedly awaited.  The week off was nice - but I'm itching to get back into the studio now and, with a busy time ahead of me, I'm looking forward to meeting some lovely new clients.

Here's a little taster of some recent jobs.

As always, thanks for reading!

Lorraine x

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/8/so-what-have-i-been-up-to Sun, 23 Aug 2015 17:16:49 GMT
Will camera flash hurt my newborn's eyes? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/7/will-camera-flash-hurt-my-newborns-eyes This is a question I've been asked just once during my time as a photographer, but in light of a recent national newspaper article, I felt compelled to blog!

The article in question claims that a three month old Chinese baby has been blinded by a camera phone flash.  *Sigh*.  I really do wish newspapers would avoid running sensationalist, unproven stories to fill their empty pages or at least, do their research and give a balanced view.

According to Snopes.com the story that was published came from an unreliable source, who allegedly got it from another source, who got it from another.....and so on. At no point in the worrying story have facts been provided such as, where did the incident happen?  What were the parents' names? Who were the 'experts' quoted? Where was the child treated?

In short, there is no evidence to back this story and photographers like myself are inwardly groaning and thinking of all the worry being caused to parents who might come across this article.

I completely understand the concerns that parents have when it comes to the safety of their children, of course I do - I've got three children myself and I've had all those same worries.  And yes, as a newborn photographer I've also looked at the flash question - and I am satisfied that the appropriate use of flash is not harmful.

Obviously, common sense must prevail. If you visit a photographer who points a powerful bare, undiffused flash directly at and a few inches in front of your face, I would suggest you politely decline to have your photo taken.

On the one occasion I was asked about flash safety I was able to reassure my clients by explaining the following.  The flash I use is diffused through a large softbox, the softbox itself having three layers of diffusion material in front of the bulb. Added to that, the flash duration is a miniscule 1/200th of a second and the light source is feathered (meaning that the softbox is angled away) so baby is lit by the softest edge of the light.  

My dad took hundreds of flash photos of myself and my brother as we were growing up - our eyesight has always been fine.  Think also of the hundreds of millions of photographs that have been taken over the years by proud relatives of their family's new arrival.  If flash has been used on these occasions you can bet that in the majority of cases it would have been the undiffused and direct pop-up flash on top of a camera.  I have to ask therefore, if flash is dangerous for baby's eyes - where are all the similar stories to the one that has recently been published, and where are the government health warnings that would surely have been produced by now?

I'll end with the final paragraph from Snopes.com;

"In fact, several reputable sources have stated that a camera flash is not harmful to a baby’s eyes. The Orange Regional Medical Center, for instance, encourages new parents to take photographs of their babies in the NICU:

We encourage you to take pictures of your baby. Flash cameras are allowed and will not harm your baby.

Thanks for reading!  

 

 

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/7/will-camera-flash-hurt-my-newborns-eyes Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:56:24 GMT
A personal story - remembering my family through photography https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/7/a-personal-story---remembering-my-family-through-photography In what would have been his 101st year, I thought I'd share with you some personal memories of my wonderful Grandad, Reginald Ernest Cashmore, a lovely man and talented artist who still inspires me years after his death.

When I was growing up, our house was always full of photographs.  There were photos on walls, sideboards and window sills and we had dozens of over-stuffed photo albums crammed into cupboards and drawers. 

My Grandad (on my father's side) was also a talented artist and our family photographs competed for space alongside some of his wonderful oil paintings.  

I had known that Grandad was also interested in photography, but sadly it wasn't until after his death many years ago that I came to realise just how important photography had been to him.  Shortly after Grandad's death, my dad visited me with a large box he had found in Grandad's loft. When I opened it, I found to my delight it was stuffed to the brim with photographs.

I remember being absolutely mesmorised and I spent several days carefully looking through the images.  During that time I laughed a lot, cried often and felt overwhelmed and grateful to be able to take a journey back through time and see the faces of my grandparents during their 'courting' years; as newly weds and then as a growing family as each of their children arrived.  

I was delighted to discover that on my Grandad's side I could travel even further back into the past.  His interest in photography had obviously been a life long affair, just like mine.  He had kept photos of himself as a cool teenager with a motorbike, a cheeky boy (he had the same mischevious smile on his 5 year old face that he had on his 83 year old face!) and a newborn baby.  Then I found myself looking at the faces of my great grandparents, who had died long before I was born - and then my great, great grandparents!  It seems that photography has always played an important role in my family and I am so grateful that it has, because I have been able to introduce my own children to their relatives and they, like me, have been fascinated to look back down the generations.

When he was alive, I often discussed photography with Grandad as he'd show me some snaps he'd taken around town, on holiday or at a flower show, but I hadn't realised just how passionate he had been about keeping so many photographs from the past. I will always be grateful to him for doing so - as he has kept my family alive for me.

I do worry in this digital age that so many family's photographs are being lost.  Do you realise we are in danger of losing an entire generation's worth of memories? We no longer bother to print photos, preferring instead the instant gratification and ease of digital capture.  How many of us have photographed an entire family Christmas on our mobile phones only to lose all the images when our handset is upgraded?  How many memory cards are accidentally wiped, lost or corrupted? How many years worth of our children's lives are gathering dust on a USB or disc in a dark cupboard somewhere?  If you think I'm being dramatic, consider how fast technology is changing these days.  As we have grown more reliant on digital media to save all our photos and home videos, technology hasn't exactly been sitting idly by doing nothing.  How many of us have recordings of our older children's lives on VHS tapes but don't now own a video player?  Remember the 5 1/4 inch floppy discs? Will your current computer read them for you? In a couple of decades, can we be absolutely sure that our carefully stored USBs,CDs and DVDs will still be a viable format?  The only way to ensure we don't lose precious family memories is to take action while we still can to change our digitally stored images into prints or wall art that will survive the test of time.

Photographs are so important.  They give us a way to connect with the past whether that be our own childhood or that of our great, great grandparents. We owe it to ourselves, and to them, to ensure we don't lose this vitally important link.

There is one photograph from my Grandad's collection which is very important to me.  This now sits in a frame on my office desk. It shows my Grandad as a beaming 5 year old boy, dressed in a top hat, holding a cane and standing next to a smiling little girl.  Written on the back of the image are the words "Albert St, Hillfields. Reg Cashmore and neighbour Edna Watson 1919"  For me, this one image helped determine my career and put me on course to establishing my own photography business with a focus on child portraiture.  I regularly look at the cheeky, fun loving, smiling little boy on my desk and realise that my Grandad is immortal. He will always be here with me; he will always have a smile for my children and in future years, for my Grandchildren.  

Most importantly,  he will never be forgotten.

Thank you Grandad.  I love you.

 

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Grandad as a bouncing baby boy!
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Not looking pleased with the photographer (I've seen that look before!)
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My Great Grandma
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My Great Great Grandma, photographed at her home in Coventry.  You'll note the photographer here pre-empted the 'tilt' so often used in modern photography.....
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That cheeky smile; still inspiring me every day

 

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/7/a-personal-story---remembering-my-family-through-photography Sun, 12 Jul 2015 19:44:59 GMT
Why should I book my newborn session with Ellie J Photography? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/5/why-should-i-book-my-newborn-session-with-ellie-j-photography If you are considering booking me for your newborn portrait session first of all, thank you very much! 

As a new parent, you may be wondering what to expect.  You may have read some of the recent worrying reports about safety during newborn sessions and be understandably concerned about putting your precious baby into the hands of an unknown photographer.  I have written this blog to hopefully put your mind at rest about booking with Ellie J Photography.

I have been photographing newborn babies for over six years now and have lots of experience in posing and soothing my little clients. You can be assured that I will always put the safety and comfort of your little one above all else in fact, please be prepared for me to refuse to undertake any pose, even one you've requested, that I feel may upset your little one or put them at risk.  Not all babies will adapt to all poses and I would never make a baby uncomfortable or put them at risk for the sake of a cute photo.  This hasn't happened too often over the years, but when it has my wonderful clients have always been completely understanding because after all, when it comes to the care of their baby, they feel exactly the same way I do.

I am a member of BANPAS, the Baby and Newborn Photography Association, whose members must demonstrate that they are working safely and that they have in place the insurances necessary for business. 

As a professional photographer, despite technical advances and the development of cameras that promise to do everything bar make a cup of tea, there is so much more to be learned than just how to release the shutter. Before setting up my business I undertook a lot of photography and lighting training and I have continued to develop my knowledge over the years leading to my qualifications with both the British Institute of Professional Photography and the Guild of Professional Photographers. As a digital photographer,  I use Photoshop on a daily basis to subtly and expertly process every image I take (for example to soften baby's skin and remove newborn blemishes) and add those finishing touches that will ensure my clients receive a beautiful set of photographs in their completed gallery. 

As a professional newborn photographer there is even more that must be learned. For example,  how to soothe a baby and recognise certain cues such as those which might indicate hunger or discomfort; how it is important to ensure cleanliness for example, by regular use of hand sanitiser/hand washing during a session and by washing all blankets used post session; how the studio must be heated to a certain temperature, as a young baby is unable to regulate their own body heat; how to spot signs that a baby's circulation has been restricted when placed in a certain pose and much, much more.  Very importantly, a professional newborn photographer must know how to pose their tiny client safely for example, by using composite images, where a few photos taken with baby being carefully supported are expertly merged in post process into a final image where baby appears to be supporting himself.  In any poses where baby is at risk of fall, a 'spotter' (someone close by baby supporting where necessary) must be used to ensure safety at all times.  As with all genres of photography, continuous professional development is important to keep up with industry standards and ensure safe practice. 

I believe it is very important to provide my clients with as much information as possible and to this end, my web site carries an important newborn information page and my booked clients all receive a PDF booklet containing advice about how to best prepare for their newborn session.

When I got to this point in drafting my blog it occurred to me that, no matter what words I might put down here, word of mouth recommendation has always and will always be my best source of recommendation.  And so I will finish now with the words of Mandy Smith and Mariyana Mihaylova, whose beautiful daughters I had the privilege of photographing back in 2014, and who have both kindly sent me the following comments about their Ellie J Photography experience.

"We loved our visit to Ellie J Photography with our tiny 4lb newborn premi. As you can imagine we were very overprotective especially as she was so tiny... The room was lovely and warm so we didn't worry about Maddison getting cold and from the minute we walked in we felt at ease. Everything was worked round how happy Maddison was, even stopping for a feed part way through and if she didn't look comfy in a pose Lorraine would know how to move her so she was, or wouldn't do the pose at all. Our favourite picture was a composite image created from two poses with daddy holding Maddison and the finished picture just amazed us. It was a fantastic experience from start to finish and Lorraine didn't even flinch when Maddison decided to wee all down the front of her twice oops. 
The only worry we had was the fact we loved all the photographs and trying to pick one for a canvas was such a nightmare we ended up with three."  Mandy Smith

 
"I would like to say that I have never thought how important it is to book the right photographer, with the right competence and skills to ensure child safety is on high level! 
On the photoshoot day you greeted us with a big smile and all the compliments you made for our baby made us feel very proud parents.
You explained how important is the safety of the child and also gave us full information of how and what you will do during the photoshoot. I must admit, you had Savannah a few times, while mummy was having her cuppa tea and handled her very gently and carefully. I felt very safe while you were doing all the poses and I must say you absolutely know what you are doing! 
I must stress how important it is for every parent who books a photoshoot to make sure the photographer has the right skills to ensure the safety of the baby."  Mariyana Mihalova
 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/5/why-should-i-book-my-newborn-session-with-ellie-j-photography Tue, 26 May 2015 15:27:20 GMT
So proud to have my work on display! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/5/so-proud-to-have-my-work-on-display 2121

 

A few weeks back I said on my Facebook page that I had received some great news.  Well, now the official handover has happened I can tell you just what that news was!

A few months back I was contacted by one of my lovely clients who asked if I would care to submit some work for consideration by Warwick Hospital, who were asking for photos of newborns to put on display in their Maternity Unit. The idea, I was told, was that having the photos on display would give the unit more of a "homely feel" for patients and visitors.

I was only too pleased to help and so, after speaking with Helen Keast, Chair of the Maternity Partnership, I sent over a selection of my images for their consideration.

There was a fantastic response to the appeal, with over 150 images submitted which had to be whittled down to a final 37 to be put on permanent display.

I was over the moon to learn that ten of mine had been chosen!

Now I'm not going to lie, the fact that my work was chosen by the panel has been a wonderful boost for my self esteem, but I am also chuffed to bits to think that I am able to have my images on display in the very place that so many of my gorgeous little clients come into the world.

Speaking of my little clients, thank you so much to all my lovely mums and dads (you know who you are!) who agreed that the images of their little ones could be used.  

The hospital have promised to send us photographs of the images once they are framed and hung and I will of course update you when that happens.

Meanwhile, you can read a copy of the hospital's press release and see two of my images (far right) here.

 

 

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/5/so-proud-to-have-my-work-on-display Thu, 14 May 2015 16:38:59 GMT
St George's Day - a learning curve! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/st-georges-day---a-learning-curve Happy St George's Day!  Are you celebrating?

If like myself, your knowledge of our patron saint is a bit limited, you might find this blog of interest.

A couple of days ago, my youngest asked me about St George's Day (I think she was hoping it might mean presents!) And so, quite ashamed of my lack of knowledge about our Patron Saint,  I thought I'd better do some reading up on the subject to refresh my long lost school-learnt knowledge. 

Its actually been a fascinating rediscovery.  For example, I hadn't realised that he wasn't even English, having been born in Turkey in the third century.  His parents were Christians and, on becoming a Roman soldier at the tender age of 17, good old George soon built himself up a reputation for acts of valour. 

When the pagan Emperor Diocletian began persecuting Christians however George, a faithful Christian himself, protested and was imprisoned and tortured for his trouble.  Refusing to deny his faith despite the torture, George was eventually beheaded in Palestine on 23rd April 303.

After visiting his shrine whilst on Crusade, Richard the Lionheart declared St George to be his protector and it is said that a vision of the Saint inspired his men to victory.  The famous legend of St George and the Dragon is also said to have been brought back to England by the Crusaders.

There are many different versions of this story - but most have the following in common;

1) A town is terrorised by a dragon;

2) A young princess is offered to the dragon;

3) George hears about this, isn't best pleased and rides to her rescue;

4)George fights and slays the dragon, rescuing the princess and becoming an absolute legend.

In 1222 the council of Oxford declared 23rd April to be St George's Day and in the 14th century he replaced St Edmund the Martyr as England's Patron Saint.

St George is a busy Saint - in addition to England he has responsibility for Aragon, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia, as well as 13 cities around the world.  On top of that, he's patron saint of archers, farmers and field workers, scouts, soldiers, cavalary and chivalry, riders and saddlers and he helps people suffering from leprosy, plague and syphilis!

Whilst researching the story of our Patron Saint, it did occur to me that, as a newborn photographer I have not photographed many little 'Georges' lately and I wondered if the name had dropped in popularity, despite the birth of our gorgeous Prince George on 22nd July 2013.

I did a bit of research at babycentre.co.uk and sure enough, the name has dropped down their most popular boys names rankings, falling from position 6 in their 2012 list, to position 18 in 2014.

Well, I feel in need of a coffee, but I am now properly clued up about the Patron Saint of England and will be able to impress my daughter when she gets home from school.....despite there being no presents involved!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) George Prince George St George https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/st-georges-day---a-learning-curve Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:56:17 GMT
To Prop......Or Not? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/to-prop-or-not I was trying to be awfully clever yesterday and create a slideshow of some of my various props to put on my Facebook page.  Being the techno-dunce I am however, this failed miserably - so I decided to write this little blog instead and show some images here.

The first thing to say would be that I am slightly addicted to prop purchases - to the extent that, if we are away from home, hubby takes great care to steer me away from any establishments that look as if they could be selling anything I could use as a prop!  This doesn't always work though - he thought we were safe at Twycross Zoo last summer and I came home with an amazing wicker basket to add to my already huge collection!

I have all kinds of baskets, in all kind of shapes and depths - gorgeous natural wood bowls, different chairs, a vintage wicker pram, wagon and different coloured and textured blankets and throws which I use on my baby poser.  There are lots and lots of hats, head bands and beautiful floral crowns, wraps, dainty little trousers and more.  

Not all parents will want their session overly propped and will prefer photographs of baby on my simple mohair backdrops or furs rather than posed in my rice bucket, pram etc. This is why I like parents to look through the large portfolios in my newborn and baby galleries and let me know at least 24 hours before their session if they have seen anything they particularly like - or don't like - so I can get things ready.

Of course I wouldn't be me if I didn't say at this point that my props are all used carefully, with baby being supported at all time by a parent or assistant through composite imaging to ensure their safety.

Thanks for reading!.

 

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/to-prop-or-not Wed, 15 Apr 2015 07:04:02 GMT
Newborn Photography - Home or Away? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/newborn-photography---home-or-away When booking your newborn photographer you might want to consider whether you choose a mobile photographer offering lifestyle sessions (i.e. they come out to your home) or a studio based photographer (i.e. you travel to them).

You might of course have fallen in love with a particular photographer's work so much that you don't mind where your session takes place, as long as you can book them.  For many new parents however, the choice of a studio versus home visit might just sway a decision on who to book.

I made the decision to hang up my mobile newborn photographer boots a few years ago.  After working for a while as a lifestyle newborn photographer,  I carefully considered the options available and came to the conclusion that I could give my clients a better service by becoming solely studio based for newborn work.  My reasons were as follows;

I am primarily a studio light photographer.  I have been taught how to use studio lights to ensure I can always get the best from an image, no matter how miserable the British weather might be outside.  By being based in a studio I am not reliant on the vagaries of the weather and the light available in a client's home. Granted there is always the option to take smaller, portable lighting with you on location, but I much prefer having my professional studio lights with their variety of modifiers directly to hand to ensure I can get the style and look I want in an image.

Newborn photographers generally like to have the room toasty and warm when photographing their little subjects. Babies lose body heat quickly as their little bodies are still working out how to regulate their body temperature, so a nice warm room will help keep them comfortable (and sleepy!) during a session where they are usually photographed mostly in the nude.  By having my clients come to me, I can ensure that my studio is always at the right temperature for my work.

Over the years I have collected a wide range of backgrounds and props from all shapes and sizes of baskets and bowls to hats, blankets, wraps, headbands and everything in between!  I simply could not transport all my props to a location shoot  and its wonderful to have everything to hand during a studio session meaning I can offer my clients plenty of variety in their finished gallery.

Finally, something I didn't think of initially but which has been said to me on numerous occasions by clients, sometimes a trip to my studio has actually given new parents a much needed break! 

Those first few days at home with baby are absolutely wonderful - but can also be quite stressful with visits from midwives and health visitors - not to mention countless well wishing family members and friends all popping in for coffee and a cuddle with the new arrival. I offer new parents a lovely comfy sofa to relax on, changing facilities, refreshments and perfect peace and quiet for a while as I take over charge of baby during their first professional photo shoot.  I've lost count of the number of new mums and dads who have fallen asleep on my comfy green sofa, listening to my white noise and enjoying the warmth!  There's also the added bonus of not having to worry about tidying up your house before a location newborn session - so you can leave those piles of ironing, washing up and cob webs where they are and not worry about them spoiling any photos!

The above are the reasons why I personally chose to establish myself as a studio based newborn photographer,  but there will of course be reasons why you might prefer to book a photographer to come to your home.

Not everyone feels great after giving birth and the thought of leaving home during those first couple of weeks can be daunting.  This is where a location shoot for your newborn can be the obvious choice. 

You won't have to worry about remembering everything you need to take on a trip out with your new baby. I remember those early days and having to pack the nappies, creams, wipes, bottles, and so on.  If you're staying at home everything will be to hand!

In addition to being able to relax and not worry about travelling with a newborn, your photographer will be able to capture your family in your personal surroundings and among your own belongings, which will create wonderful memories for you in years to come.

It might be that you aren't a fan of posed newborn photography.  In my own experience, due to me being unable to take lots of props with me on location, most of my work in client's homes involved baby being photographed more in a lifestyle fashion, (eg, in another family member's arms etc).  This could be a style of photography you prefer.  

In conclusion, whilst my own personal preference might be for studio based newborn photography sessions,  there are very good reasons for booking either.   I hope this little blog can help you with your decision making.

Thanks for reading.

Working in a studio with my professional lights and backdrops allows me to shape the light and create the kind of effects I want within an image...
.... whilst working on location allows a client to have lifestyle photographs taken within their own home environment.

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/4/newborn-photography---home-or-away Sat, 11 Apr 2015 14:31:24 GMT
So many newborn photographers - how do I choose? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/3/its-all-about-style So you're expecting a baby - congratulations!

If you like the idea of a newborn portrait session, you may have heard that it is best to book your chosen photographer early whilst still pregnant.  A newborn photographer will be limited to the amount of bookings they can take per month, as babies are notorious for arriving either earlier or later than expected, and your chosen photographer will want to ensure they can fit you in before baby is past the ideal newborn photography age (typically around two weeks for full term babies)

You might have done a Google search or friends may have referred lots of different photographers to you and so here you are, a list of recommended local newborn photographers in your hand.  What's next?  How do you choose?

Safety will be your number one priority and a look at a photographer's web site should tell you (for example) if they are members of BANPAS, the UK association that promotes safe working practice and whose members are assessed to be working safely and have the right insurances in place. (You can also search the Banpas website itself here)  The photographer might talk in their blog or on their Facebook page about working safely, eg by using composite images, or they might have examples of 'behind the scenes' photos showing how a particular shot is set up using safe practice.

Cost will be another consideration.  These days everyone is counting the pennies and looking for a bargain. Running a newborn photography business is not cheap. There is so much to pay for, the training costs, the right equipment, the props, the cost of heating the studio, the travel expenses (if the photographer is mobile), the software and computer, the expenses and time involved in processing and so much more have to be taken into account.

There will always be what we call 'shoot and burn' photographers offering a session plus all images on disc for £50, but the old adage "You get what you pay for!" applies in most cases.  There are always exceptions of course for example, a newly trained photographer might be looking to build up their portfolio and offering a cheaper introductory rate, but please be wary of all 'too good to be true' offers.  You want to ensure your baby will be safe and that you end up with some beautiful photos, so make sure you do your homework before booking.

You might want to ensure you book an experienced photographer. I'm always careful about this one because its easy to say that of course, a photographer's portfolio will answer that one for you.  I myself have a large portfolio, because I've been in business over 6 years and have photographed hundreds of newborns.  However, we all have to start somewhere and there are plenty of new photographers just starting out who have done everything right, been trained and know how to work safely with your baby.  Its just that due to the newness of their business they will have a limited portfolio. 

These days a lot of us seem to have the title 'Award Winning' next to our names.  Now don't get me wrong, genuine awards from legitimate professional photographic bodies are hard to come by and well deserved.  Its just that there are so many newborn photographers around these days that we are all working hard to try and get your custom and many of us will do similar things to promote ourselves (e.g. join professional photographic bodies and gain awards to demonstrate our ability!)

So - back to your list. You have determined that we are all safe working, award winning, brilliant photographers who have been booked by your different friends, each of whom say their photographs are absolutely the best. So how on earth do you choose?

At this point, I would say it comes down to style - both yours and the photographers.

You may already have in your head an idea of what you are looking for in your newborn photos and, despite there only being a certain number of poses a photographer can do with a newborn, we do all have our own particular style.

For example;  some parents love the use of props, baskets, buckets, baby in a hammock, prams etc - is that something you would like?  

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Other parents prefer natural photographs with the focus being just on baby without all the fuss

Some parents love hats and bows, others detest them!

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Some parents want the composite poses; others find them unnatural.

Some parents are looking for arty, black and white images of their newborn

A photographer's portfolio (look at their web site or their Facebook page) will demonstrate whether they have experience in the style you prefer, so having a good look through these will help you decide on a photographer whose work you particularly like.

Finally - do remember to contact your shortlisted photographer to discuss your style requirements before booking. I think most of us would prefer this,  because if we have an idea of what props, colours etc you prefer we can plan ahead for your session.  

A pre-booking call is also a good opportunity to ask a photographer about their experience of working with newborns and how they ensure they work safely.

All the best with choosing your newborn photographer and thanks for reading.

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/3/its-all-about-style Sun, 29 Mar 2015 10:09:39 GMT
"But mummy that lady said I didn't have to smile!" https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/3/-but-mummy-that-lady-said-i-didnt-have-to-smile Recently a question was asked in one of my photography groups, that question being what is was that we, as photographers, most liked to capture in our work. 

My answer was twofold;  what I like to capture are connections and emotion.

I'll be honest, it was a pain in the butt getting my qualification panels together and its a similar pain in the butt entering images for competition.  You see to be successful in both you need to demonstrate technical ability and a knowledge of your craft, so there are certain rules that must be followed.  For example in portraiture, hands must be elegantly posed, a nose shouldn't break the line of the cheek when the head is turned and so on.  I primarily photograph babies and young children and, as any parent to a lively two year old will appreciate, its not often you can capture a technically 'perfect' pose in addition to a perfect expression that parents will love. 

Therefore, whilst these posing rules are all well and good for competition and qualification,  when I'm shooting for clients what my shutter finger is waiting for is a specific moment in time.  I might catch that moment when a parent is looking adoringly at their newborn baby, or when a small child is concentrating really hard on something he or she is holding in their hands.  Back when I photographed weddings I would look for the expression on the groom's face when his bride first appeared at the bottom of the aisle and it never failed to tell the story. Whether it was a look of pure love or sometimes what looked like pure terror on that groom's face - I wanted that expression on my memory card!

For me, I would rather capture moments of emotion and connection than have the most perfectly posed portrait with a forced, unnatural smile.

So yes mummies and daddies, please don't worry if your little one doesn't want to give me the biggest smile.  Just let them get used to me and my little studio and trust that the camera will capture some wonderful, natural expressions.  At Ellie J Photography smiles are lovely - but not compulsory!

It doesn't always have to be a smile that makes the photo! Yawns, frowns and sneezes are all good to capture!

In fact, some of my favourite images are taken when a smile seems a mile away!

Young children don't hide their natural expressions like adults can and if you press the shutter at just the right time the results can be magical.  I love capturing moments like this....surprise!

Babies never cease to amaze me - even at a young age they are capable of the most amazing connection with their parents.....

...or even, the most amazing connection with my camera and I! 

​The right expression, for me, is priceless.  It doesn't always have to be a smile, but smiles are always good to get....

...And yes, of course windy smiles count!

 

Thanks for reading!

 
 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/3/-but-mummy-that-lady-said-i-didnt-have-to-smile Fri, 20 Mar 2015 00:01:17 GMT
A Baby's Safety - So Much More Important than a Photo https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/2/your-babys-safety-is-worth-more-than-a-picture I saw a disturbing thread on social media recently, where a video showing a newborn being posed in the popular 'head supported on hands' pose was shared. Although the final photograph was undoubtedly cute, the poor baby was pushed and pulled about during posing and to my horror, was left completely unsupported while the photograph was taken.

Newborn babies carry most of their weight in their heads, and they are not able to support this weight until around 6 months of age.  If that baby had moved suddenly and the balance been thrown off - well, I shudder to think what damage could have been done to the baby's little neck and head. 

Those of you who follow my page will know I frequently talk about newborn safety and how I'm a keen supporter of BANPAS (the Baby and Newborn Photography Association) which promotes  safety, standards and development for newborn photographers.  

One great thing BANPAS also does is try and educate parents looking for a newborn photographer in order that they can make a well informed choice when booking a photographer to work with their precious baby.  

This is hugely important as, aside from the actual video, what concerned me were the amount of comments from people saying things like 'oh how cute!'. In other words, these people believed that what they were witnessing was standard practice.  On the flip side of that you had comments from people rightly condemning the method of posing, but assuming that all newborn photographers using this pose must work that way.

Several newborn photographers had commented about the unsafe methods used however, these comments were then denigrated as being interfering and over the top.  

In my opinion, you can never be 'over the top' when talking about the safety of a newborn baby! 

Ok - I'm dusting off my health and safety cap here.  Every workplace is required by law to control risk.  To do this, we need to think about things that might cause harm to people and decide whether we are taking reasonable steps to prevent such harm. It is obvious to me that by placing a newborn baby into these complicated poses we are exposing them to a risk of injury should baby's head become unbalanced and suddenly fall - it doesn't matter if the risk is a small one, a risk is a risk!

What steps do I take to alleviate these risks?  If a parent requests this pose I will explain that not all babies will comfortably achieve it and I won't force it should that be the case with their little one. My clients have all been great, even if I've had to disappoint them by not giving them the particular image they like, because at the end of the day, they don't want their baby made uncomfortable for the sake of a cute photo.  Secondly, if baby does comfortably achieve the pose, I will ensure that he or she is supported by a parent or assistant whilst I take the photos required to produce a composite image (separate images put together in post process).

This is a popular pose which is widely used and safe when carried out by a good newborn photographer. It just makes absolute sense to me that any potential risk, no matter how slight, should be addressed. 

Here is an example of a composite image.  I would urge all parents and photographers interested in newborn photography to have a look at the BANPAS website for further information.

Thanks for reading!

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/2/your-babys-safety-is-worth-more-than-a-picture Tue, 24 Feb 2015 10:40:01 GMT
Twins - Double the Trouble - or Twice the Fun? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/2/double-the-trouble---or-twice-the-fun Twins!  Love them - Love photographing them.

So many times someone has mentioned to me that it must be much more difficult working with multiple newborns.

Well in my experience it isn't - in fact, I've found it to be quite the opposite!

In many respects, I find twins easier than singletons!  Why? Well I think its quite simple really - each adorable little twin set of newborns has recently spent 9 months in very close proximity to each other developing in mum's tum until their joint birthday.

During that time they've been very close and, apart from the voices that drift in to them from the outside world, they have known only each other.  They've gone through the trauma of birth together and in most cases, been put down to sleep together in the same cot or moses basket since their arrival into the world.  

In my experience, whilst I might sometimes need to soothe a singleton for quite a while to get that lovely deep sleep we newborn photographers love, twins will naturally soothe one another.  All I usually have to do with twins is put them down into a pose together and the majority of the time they've settled themselves without much attention needed from me! 

Don't get me wrong - double the number of babies does mean double the time getting poses right and double the observation required to ensure safety.  I've also occasionally chosen to photograph each twin separately in a more challenging pose as I've needed my helper's full attention on one baby at a time, which then of course means extra work in Photoshop - but the resulting photos are always worth it.

Here are some of my more recent double bundles of gorgeousness.  Thanks for reading!

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/2/double-the-trouble---or-twice-the-fun Tue, 10 Feb 2015 23:38:37 GMT
A slightly brilliant day! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/1/a-slightly-brilliant-day As a photographer, I am always trying to push myself - to discover new ways of doing things, or to find those 'tweaks' that will mean the next image I produce is better than the last. You see, I'm a perfectionist - always have been, always will be.  I've been working as a professional photographer for just over 6 years now, but I always want to push myself further and achieve more.

One day I had a bit of a 'lightbulb' moment.  "Why didn't I just find a photographer whose work I loved, and spend some time with them?"

Now I'm quite a shy person, so the thought of doing this, to be honest, didn't sit that comfortably with me.  However, in the middle of an on-line chat with a man whose work I greatly admire, I plucked up the courage and was absolutely thrilled to bits when he agreed to drive down from Yorkshire to visit my studio for the day!

Mr Rob Mank is, in my opinion, one of our finest newborn photographers. I have admired his work for a long time now.  Like myself, he uses studio rather than natural light, so it was an honour to have him visit my studio and give me tips on how to better use my personal lighting set up.

In the morning we had a willing gentleman model (thanks dad!) who sat very patiently while Rob and I flitted about him with my lights trying different ratios and light positions.  Rob very patiently answered my (occasionally rather stupid) questions and the 'Eureka!' moments began to come thick and fast.

In the afternoon we had the most gorgeous ten day old baby boy to model for us, how lovely it was to work with another newborn photographer - with both of us soothing him he soon fell into a lovely sleep and we got some great photos. 

Thank you so much Rob for your time, support and expertise today, I am really very grateful - and to Mrs Mank - thank you for the beautiful dungarees, you have a real talent!  Last but not least, to my two wonderful models, thank you so much for your time and patience too!  Here are some of the images captured today.

Rob Mank's wonderful work can be seen here

Thanks for reading!

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/1/a-slightly-brilliant-day Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:17:39 GMT
Why So Young? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/1/why-so-young While I do photograph babies of any age, I was asked recently why I prefer to photograph newborns before two weeks of age if possible (ideally between 6 and 10 days), so I thought I'd do even more towards my New Year's 'Blog More, Eat Less' resolution and write about it on here!  
 
Aside from the fact that babies this young are more likely to sleep, thereby allowing me to easily position them, we newborn photographers also take advantage of this young age and baby's natural flexibility to safely achieve the wonderful 'curly newborn' poses that are so popular today.
 
As a point of interest; You will already know about your baby's 'soft spots' or Fontanelles on his or her head, which were of vital importance during baby's birth as they allowed the skull to flex during passage through the birth canal.  Did you also know that babies are born with around 300 bones?  Adults only have 206!  
 
A newborn's bones are soft, flexible and contain lots of cartilage and its because of this that I am able to easily use poses like the one shown below.  Your little one's bones will harden as they get older and some of them will fuse together until eventually they end up with 206 bones like the rest of us and the ability to be this flexible, except in rare cases, is lost (I haven't been able to even touch my toes in years!)
 
Please note though, an experienced newborn photographer will always know if a baby isn't comfortable with a specific pose and will always put the safety and comfort of their little model above all else.  Not all babies will comfortably achieve all newborn poses, and a good newborn photographer would rather explain to parents that a requested shot cannot be achieved rather than make a baby uncomfortable.
 
Thanks for reading!
 
 
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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/1/why-so-young Tue, 06 Jan 2015 16:45:01 GMT
First Blog of 2015! Important Newborn Information https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/1/first-blog-of-2015-important-newborn-information Well - I'm starting my New Year's Resolution to blog more and eat less!  As I've had so many enquiries lately I thought I'd post my Newborn Information page here.  New parents booked in for a newborn session with Ellie J Photography will also receive a PDF booklet of important information prior to their session, which has been written to help ensure, as far as possible, that their sitting runs as smoothly as possible. 

So - 2015 Blog No. 1 down.......The eating less thing might happen tomorrow......or the day after!

Important Newborn Information

When to Book - To avoid disappointment, please book your newborn session with me as early as possible, ideally whilst still pregnant.  I will then reserve time for your sitting based on your due date, allowing flexibility in my diary should baby (as they often do) decide to arrive early or late.  It is important that you contact me as soon as possible after baby has been born to confirm your session date.

Safety -  I am proud to be a certified member of the Baby and Newborn Photography Association (BANPAS). Our members are amongst the UK's leading baby and newborn photographers.  The Association promotes safe working practice and is dedicated to ensuring your baby's comfort and safety whilst we create beautiful images for you to treasure.  I hold full insurance and have had my work assessed to ensure that I will always work safely with your precious newborn.  In order to ensure baby's safety during a session, I will ask mum or dad to assist with some photographs for example, to safely support baby to create 'composite' shots, an example of which can be seen here.  As you can see, this tiny baby was fully supported by daddy and the resulting images put together carefully in Photoshop to create the final photograph.   

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AgeThe age of your baby will determine what poses I am able to use. In order to create those gorgeous, curly poses, your newborn session ideally needs to take place within ten days to two weeks of baby's birth. After this age, your baby will begin to  lose their newborn appearance and be less likely to fall into that deep newborn sleep that allows me to gently position them into the poses I use.    

Please don't worry however if we miss that window of opportunity! All this means is that I may not be able to use some of my 'tiny' newborn props and your session could take longer as little one will be more alert and less inclined to sleep. 

Personally, I love 'wide eyed' newborn photographs and am always amazed at a young baby's ability to give me some amazing eye contact. Even in sessions where little one has absolutely refused to sleep for more than ten minutes, mum and dad have still ended up with a set of gorgeous photos!

 
Session LengthYou need to be aware that newborn shoots take time.  I will always work around the needs of your baby allowing for feeds, nappy changes and cuddles to soothe your little one to sleep.  It’s not unusual for a newborn session to last four hours and it is for this reason that my newborn sessions all start at 10.00 am. Once we have confirmed a date for your newborn shoot, you will receive an advice booklet designed to ensure your session runs as smoothly as possible.  It is very important that you read this booklet carefully to prepare for your session. 
 
 
Older Siblings - As important members of the family, older siblings are of course welcome to be photographed with their new brother or sister at no extra charge. However, please let me know if older children are involved, as I will need to arrange for the sibling and family portraits to be taken at the start of the session.  If your older children are at school, please inform me at the time of your initial booking and I will do my best to keep a weekend free for your newborn session, however this cannot be guaranteed.
 
As the newborn part of your shoot requires a calm atmosphere and will take some time, I ask that in order to avoid boredom for your older child and disruption to the session, arrangements be made for siblings (especially younger children), to be collected from the studio after their photos.  Luckily I live in a lovely country village with plenty of pubs and am based right next door to a park with childrens' play area which is always worth a visit!
 
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Clothing Choices - As very young babies are so easily swamped by clothing and in order to show off your baby's flawless skin and tiny features, I photograph newborns in the nude or in my lovely simple wraps.  Of course if you have a favourite outfit you really want your baby photographed in, bring it with you and we will work it into the session. 

For adults/siblings choose clothes that are not heavily patterned or brightly coloured - such clothes will draw attention away from your faces (and of course baby) in the finished photos.  Family groups look great if you are all dressed in complimentary colours.

Mums are often concerned about their post-pregnancy shape and having had three children myself, I can associate with that!  The most flattering thing to wear for those lovely mummy and new baby shots are dark colours with long sleeves. 

 
 

 

 

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2015/1/first-blog-of-2015-important-newborn-information Mon, 05 Jan 2015 20:52:43 GMT
Happy Christmas! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/12/happy-christmas Elves and SantaElves and Santa Wow!  Another year almost gone - I can hardly believe it! 

This year has been absolutely amazing for my little business.  I have won several awards with the Guild of Professional Photographers, had my work published three times and, most importantly, have had the privilege of photographing so many more clients than I have in previous years.  

I've welcomed people from as far afield as New Zealand into my little studio, giggled and got to play the fool with dozens of babies and children and had the absolute delight of cuddling countless tiny newborn babies.  

I've laughed and chatted with families, been seriously worried that some of my maternity sessions might require a bit of on-the-spot midwifery, been covered in sticky icing during cake smash sessions and even managed to get smiles from some very serious teenagers.  

Its so difficult to pick a highlight - so I've just selected the job above as it had me grinning from ear to ear.  Its also very appropriate to post this, as I would like to thank all my fantastic clients for their support and wish you all an absolutely brilliant Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! 

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/12/happy-christmas Tue, 16 Dec 2014 17:15:56 GMT
Who cares about Copyright? I do! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/11/who-cares-about-copyright-i-do Had an interesting discussion recently on a rare night out.

The person I was talking with didn't see the harm in going to a professional photographer, purchasing one print only from the session and then copying it several times for family members to save herself a bit of  money. 

Being a photographer myself, this of course sparked a teensy-weensy debate!

The lady in question honestly hadn't seen the harm in saving money and was oblivious to the laws of copyright.  I explained to her that, had she taken the professional print she had purchased to a legitimate high-street printing company, they should have refused to copy the images without first obtaining permission from the photographer.

Then I put it this way.

IT IS ILLEGAL AND IT IS STEALING!

I'm sorry, but that's what it is. 

Many of you might think photographers have a fantastic life, being paid the majority of time to do a job they enjoy.  In my case, that is certainly true but something else you can take my word on - this job costs a heck of a lot of money!

In addition to the expensive gear needed to undertake professional photography work, most photographers will have spent an absolute fortune in training and development .  Add to this the costs of running the studio, maintaining their gear, insurance premiums, childcare, postage, administration, processing.......the list is endless.

When a client comes along for a studio portrait session they will have paid a minimal session fee.  This session fee will, in many cases, not even have covered the expense the photographer will have gone to in just setting up/carrying out and processing the session.  The photographer's "salary" comes from the subsequent sale of prints and photographic products.

For a client to then only buy one image to reproduce is not only illegal, it will result in them having poor quality prints and is quite literally taking away the photographer's income. 

Not fair, is it?

I am lucky to have some wonderful clients, but I do know of other photographers who have been affected by copyright theft.  We don't just do this job because we love it.  For many of us (myself included) it is our only source of income.  We all have houses to run and children to feed!

When the word copyright is mentioned many people might roll their eyes and yawn but it is there for a reason; to protect people's livelihoods. 

Look at it this way.

Imagine you work in a factory.  You've trained very hard for your job, are good at it and work extremely hard to produce the end product.

Its getting close to Christmas and you have bills to pay, but on pay day you open your pay-packet to find a tenth of what you were expecting.

You challenge your boss who informs you that he's now got a machine which allows someone with no experience and no qualifications to press a button and get a similar (though less polished) product at the end of it. 

Oh and by the way - your workload hasn't changed, you are still expected to come in tomorrow and put in all the effort, time and hard work you did before.

Not fair, is it?

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/11/who-cares-about-copyright-i-do Wed, 19 Nov 2014 15:11:25 GMT
Babies Don't Keep https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/11/babies-dont-keep "BABIES DON’T KEEP"

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Author: Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

 

I admit to shedding more than a few tears writing this post, thinking of how quickly those precious childhood years have sped by for my own three children.  One minute you are wiping runny noses and sticking plasters on grazed knees, the next you are sending them off to University.  My youngest is only 11, but I can already clearly see the young lady she is becoming as she settles into Year 7 at school.  

Photographs are so important.  They provide us with tangible memories that can be revisited time and time again when our babies have long since flown the nest.

To illustrate how fleeting time is - have a look at some of my wonderful clients below;  sometimes I can't believe the child I'm welcoming back through the studio door is the tiny helpless newborn I carefully photographed what seems like just a short time earlier.

Cuddle your children often - even when they are not so little; and never let a day go by without telling them how much you love them.

In reference to Ms Hulburt Hamilton's wonderful poem - our home has never been tidy.  My children know this - but it is my dearest hope that they also know how much I have loved them throughout their childhood and, for my two grown babies, every day since xxxxx

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/11/babies-dont-keep Mon, 17 Nov 2014 21:40:46 GMT
Beautiful Little Lady https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/10/beautiful-little-lady This gorgeous little lady, 10 days new, came to my studio today with her mummy and daddy.  I first met her when she was a lovely little bump in mum's tum!  As Facebook seems to be absolutely murdering my colours these days, I thought I'd post her session preview here.

Thanks so much for choosing Ellie J Photography mum and dad!

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/10/beautiful-little-lady Wed, 08 Oct 2014 16:59:36 GMT
Cool Dude! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/9/cool-dude A quick blog post because I wanted to share the photos of this gorgeous young man, but the photo quality on Facebook wasn't cutting it.

I've had the pleasure of photographing this little boy and his family since he was a young baby.  It makes me realise how quickly time is passing by when he comes back through the studio door, each time so much more grown up and confident in himself.  Wonderful to see, and a wonderful model and client.

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/9/cool-dude Sat, 27 Sep 2014 11:34:33 GMT
The Importance of Early Booking https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/9/the-importance-of-early-booking When you are pregnant you have plenty of things to organise.  You might still be at work trying to get everything sorted out before you head off on maternity leave, or you might simply be one of those people who doesn't want to 'tempt fate' by booking their newborn session before baby has been born.  (I say this as one of those people myself - I didn't buy anything for any of my three babies until at least a week or so before they were born!)  

I absolutely understand all of the above.  I can understand that when you are pregnant, booking your baby's first portrait session could well be the last thing on your mind.

However, the reason for my blog post today is this.  I have had to turn down so many new parents over recent weeks because they have waited until after baby has been born to book a newborn portrait session. I hate doing this, I hate disappointing people and not being able to give them the photographs they so desperately want.

I have discussed the situation with some newborn photographer friends of mine and discovered that they, like myself, are more and more frequently finding themselves in the horrible position of having to turn people away. As parents ourselves and, of course, photographers wanting to do the best for our clients, this makes us all very sad. 

Newborn photography has become so popular recently.  Everyone wants the gorgeous newborn photos they see in the press and on the internet but too many people are leaving it too late to book in with the photographer of their choice.

In order to avoid disappointment it is never too early to make that call and get your due date entered into your chosen photographer's diary!  Many of my clients book in just after their 12 week scan!  A newborn photographer will only be able to take a set number of bookings per month, as newborn sessions take a while and are carried out within a certain time-frame (usually within the first two weeks of birth).  Early booking is therefore vital if you want to guarantee a session with a particular photographer.

A word about your baby's safety.  As newborn photography is getting more and more popular, it is even more important to choose the right newborn photographer for your baby.  This should be someone whose work you like, who perhaps has been recommended by a friend, but most importantly someone who will work safely with your newborn.

Unfortunately there are people out there who will buy a half decent camera, set up a free web site and call themselves a photographer without having undertaken any training or had their work assessed.  I am not saying this to be critical of such people, after all we all have to start somewhere, but newborn photography is a specialist area requiring a special skill set and I would urge all parents seeking a newborn photographer to please be very careful of who they are booking.  

I wrote an article for the Small Steps Parenting Community about choosing a newborn photographer which can be read here. 

When considering a newborn photographer for your precious baby, a good starting place would be the Baby and Newborn Photography Association (BANPAS),  an Association whose members are amongst the UK's leading baby and newborn photographers.  The Association promotes safe working practices and are dedicated to ensuring your baby's comfort and safety takes priority whilst our members create beautiful images for you to treasure.

To summarise;  If you have fallen in love with the newborn photographs you've seen and are keen to have your own new arrival photographed, please do your research early and don't leave it too late to make your booking!

Thanks for reading!

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/9/the-importance-of-early-booking Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:32:44 GMT
How time has flown! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/8/how-time-has-flown I really, really must try harder with my blogging!  I do have an excuse though - the last few months have been so amazingly busy for me, I've almost met myself coming back around the other way! 

Business has been booming with lots and lots of gorgeous newborn babies to photograph in addition to families, proms, plays, dogs and horses!  In addition to that on a personal basis, we've gone through the heartache of losing a much loved family member, the trauma of going through the appeals process to find a suitable school for our youngest as she leaves year six, hubby being made redundant, heart procedures.....the list goes on! 

On the plus side I've been pushing my photography to new levels and hope to have some exciting news ahead. I've also won more awards and been published twice in the last few months.  I've been getting so many enquiries from new and returning clients recently that sadly, I've had to turn several people away (something I always hate doing).  As always, I am endlessly thankful to be able to do this job which I absolutely adore and hope to continue doing for many years to come.

I really must try harder to keep up with my blog posts!  Here are just a few images from recent jobs - and I do promise to try harder in future!

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/8/how-time-has-flown Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:47:15 GMT
Published Again! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/8/published-again Chuffed to bits to have been contacted by renowned photographer and Editor of Creative Light Magazine Julie Oswin to appear in this months magazine!

My story appears on page 38 and tells a bit of how Ellie J Photography came into being.  It has been tough getting my little business up and running, but boy has it been worth it!  I have had the honour to meet and photograph so many wonderful people (and animals!) and I am always very conscious of how lucky I am to be able to say, with absolute honesty, that I completely love my job!

If you want to read my story, you'll find the magazine here

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Thanks for reading!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/8/published-again Thu, 07 Aug 2014 19:29:19 GMT
Ellie J Photography - Where DOES that come from? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/6/ellie-j-photography---where-does-that-come-from A very quick post to give a little bit of history about me and answer a question that puzzles some of my clients - i.e. if my name is Lorraine, why on earth do I call my business Ellie J Photography?

First of all - how long have I been a photographer?  The simple answer is,  I have been a paid  photographer since setting up my business officially at the beginning of 2009.  In reality, I have been taking photographs since I was old enough to hold a camera.  

My dad was a photographer way back in the day when 'digital' was just a pipe dream and happily, I inherited his passion.  I greedily drank in everything he told me, read all of his photography books and, when I was given my very first camera, (a Minolta Hi-Matic), I terrorised my beautiful dog Molly, dressing her up or styling her fur for photos (she was a very patient dog!).

In later years I moved on to Fuji cameras.  When I wanted to step my photography up a bit I had the excellent Fuji S9500 bridge camera which was great, but still not quite enough.  My first DSLR was a Nikon D80 and I was blown away with the quality of the photos I was able to take. I often get asked 'why did I choose Nikon over Canon?' but it was simply the fact that the D80 was the camera I picked up in the showroom, played with and loved!  

I don't get involved with the 'Nikon/Canon' disputes - in my mind, there's not much between the two.  I've stuck with Nikon because, as any photographer will tell you, its the 'glass' (i.e. the lenses) that you tend to have around for ages - camera bodies are upgraded so frequently and now I've built up a decent collection of lenses its easier to stick with Nikon than switch.....although if anyone wanted to buy me a few Hasselblads I wouldn't say no!

I began photographing babies and children after taking my 'little' boy (who is now 23!) to a local high street photographer and being astounded at their hard sell tactics and prices (the company is no longer in business).  I knew I could do what they were doing myself - so that's what I did.  Family soon started asking me to take photos for them, then their friends asked me, then friends of friends - and that's how it all started.  I was happy taking photos for people on that basis for years, but once I had decided to try and make a career out of photography I didn't look back.  In 2008 I undertook studio lighting training with master photographer Ray Davenport.  I also joined the British Institute of Professional Photographers, training with them and receiving mentoring from acclaimed child portrait photographer and Fellow of the Institute, Bella West.  I proudly became a qualified member of the BIPP myself in 2010.

You can't sit still with photography - in addition to technological advances, styles come and go like any other art and fashion trend and if you don't keep up, you'll be left behind.  For this reason, I regularly attend workshops and training days and update my library of information to try and make sure I don't get left behind.  Since starting out on a professional basis, I have also qualified with the Guild of Professional Photographers and become a member of the Baby and Newborn Photography Association (BANPAS, formerly BANP), an incredibly important organisation which promotes safe practice in baby and newborn photography.

So, if you are still awake - that's my story in a nutshell so far.  

Oh - and why Ellie J Photography?  When I was setting up my business I was playing with names.  I didn't want to be called 'Photography by Lorraine' or anything like that - I wanted something slightly different.  I was writing down different ideas based around my initials, when my little girl said "mummy - your initial are L A J (Lorraine Ann Jardim) - that really sounds like Ellie J......".

Thanks for reading!

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Excuse the quality!  This is a phone-shot of a photo I took of my beautiful Molly when I was 14.  Taken on my fab Minolta film camera. This photo hangs on my office wall alongside photos of my family. Molly was such a great model, dog and friend - I really miss her :(

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/6/ellie-j-photography---where-does-that-come-from Tue, 10 Jun 2014 07:04:34 GMT
Safe Newborn Photography https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/5/safe-newborn-photography Greetings all!

Well, I thought it was about time I blogged again about a very important subject - the importance of safe practice, especially when photographing newborns and babies.

Posed newborn photography is becoming more and more popular in the UK, and more and more photographers are beginning to offer this service to new parents.  

It is important to realise that the professional newborn 'posed' photographs (eg tiny babies propping their heads up in their hands or apparently being suspended from tree branches) seen on professional web sites are the result of carefully planned and executed photographs, which are then expertly post processed to produce the finished image.  

I would advise all new parents to use caution when selecting their photographer.  Have a look at their work - have they photographed many different babies? Do they have experience? Do they provide information about what to expect?  Most importantly - will they work safely with your precious baby? It might also be a good idea to see if they are a member of any newborn photography associations.

I myself am a proud member of the Baby and Newborn Photography Association BANPAS (who have recently changed their name from BANP).  In their own words, this association is:

"...the foremost group of leading newborn photographers dedicated to ensuring your baby's comfort and safety whilst creating beautiful images for you to treasure. We strive to encourage high standards of customer service, quality images and safe practice across the profession of newborn photography."

I joined this organisation because, like many of my fellow professional photographers, my primary concern whilst working with babies is their safety (as well as creating some gorgeous photos for mum and dad, of course!)

An experienced newborn photographer will know how to set up today's popular 'posed' shots safely, without causing discomfort or distress to your baby.  He or she will have either an assistant or parent close by to lend a supporting hand wherever necessary (for example in any shots where there is a risk of fall). Post processing skills will later be used to produce many of your final images; some of these might involve the removal of a supporting hand or in more complex shots, the blending together of more than one image to create a composite shot. In addition to all this, an experienced newborn photographer will know how to soothe your baby, be incredibly patient and calm and also make sure mum and dad are looked after during the session!

I'm sharing below a photo from one of my recent newborn sessions.  This gorgeous little baby was under 5 lbs in weight when this image was created and quite obviously would not have been able to support her head in her tiny little hands.  This is a very popular pose requested by many of my clients and an example of a 'composite' image (i.e. the result of two images blended together). To the side of the main photo you will see the original 'straight out of camera' shots that were used to create the final image.

Someone once asked me if I was worried about giving away my 'secrets' like this - the answer is no.  Lots of newborn photographers I know regularly update their own blogs with similar posts to this.  I suspect that like me, they do it in the hope of educating new photographers and parents and preventing,  Heaven forbid, someone trying to copy one of these poses thinking the baby was posed just so and risking harm to the little one.

Thanks so much for reading.  If you know anyone who is considering booking a newborn photographer perhaps you could share this blog with them.


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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/5/safe-newborn-photography Mon, 26 May 2014 16:18:30 GMT
Let them Eat Cake! (but we'll have some clean photos too!) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/5/let-them-eat-cake-and-well-have-some-clean-photos-too Had a fab time in the studio today with this gorgeous little Angel who allowed me to share in her first birthday celebrations.  A cake smash session with Ellie J Photography isn't just about the glorious mess - there's also time for family photos and photos of birthday boy or girl in their nice clean outfits before all the fun begins!

I charge £45 and, to avoid any complications with food sensitivities, ask my lovely clients to provide the cake.  Then we get busy with lots of lovely photographs and I clean up all the mess afterwards!  As with all my sitting fees, you get a free print with your first order, there is no minimum purchase required and you have the option of buying all of your gallery images as high resolution digital files with print release.

If you'd like to have me help your child celebrate their first birthday is messy style, call me on 07765 718415 or get in touch through my contact form here.

Happy Birthday!!!

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/5/let-them-eat-cake-and-well-have-some-clean-photos-too Fri, 23 May 2014 14:28:53 GMT
The Eyes Have It! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/4/the-eyes-have-it The majority of newborn photographers will agree that sleeping newborns are easier to work with.  After all, a fast asleep baby means a quicker, generally more productive session, with your sleepy tot able to be gently posed in all those cute positions and using props that parents love.

However - if for some reason your little one decides that the inside of a studio is far more interesting than the inside of his or her eyelids, don't panic!  During my newborn sessions, I often have wide eyed babies who just don't want to miss a thing!  This doesn't worry me at all.  My studio is lovely and warm and, once my white noise has been playing for a while and I've done my 'swoosh and shoosh' (clients will know what I mean!) they have all eventually given up and fallen asleep.  In the meantime, I certainly don't waste those gorgeous wide awake eyes!

I often wonder, when processing such photos, what is going on inside those tiny heads.  Isn't nature wonderful?  A matter of days ago these tiny tots would have been inside the womb and now here they are looking around, taking in whatever they can. Amazing stuff!

If you would like me to photograph your new addition to the family, contact me on 07765 718415 or through my contact form.

Thanks for reading!

Lorraine x 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/4/the-eyes-have-it Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:39:16 GMT
Little Miss Gorgeous https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/4/little-miss-gorgeous Spent some quality time in the studio today cuddling this gorgeous little lady.  This time last week she was still snuggled up safe and sound in mummy's womb, today at 6 days of age I am pleased to say I got the honour of cuddling her and helping her make some great memories for mummy and daddy of this early stage in her life.

As I've said before (many times!) the first pose is not what it seems - this is an image created in post process from two separate photographs taken whilst little miss was securely supported by her daddy.

Welcome to the world little girl, you're a lucky young lady with two wonderful parents who totally adore you.

If you'd like me to photograph your little bundle of joy - contact me on 07765 718415 or through my contact form here. 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/4/little-miss-gorgeous Thu, 10 Apr 2014 21:26:25 GMT
Beautiful Little Lady https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/3/beautiful-little-lady-newborn-photography-leamington-spa What a pleasure it was to photograph this gorgeous young lady and her parents.  Despite her young age, my little client was alert and very interested in what was going on in the Ellie J Photography studio!  A photographer in the making perhaps?

As always, the popular 'head in hands' image shown below is a composite, made up of two or more separate photographs taken with daddy fully supporting his baby's head and arms at all times.  Babies this young simply cannot support themselves due to the weight of their heads, so composite imaging is the only safe way to achieve the finished photo. 

When you are booking your newborn photographer, please don't be afraid to ask them how they will work safely with your precious newborn.  Have a good look at their portfolio.  Aside from whether you like the look of their style ask yourself whether their little models look comfortable?  Do they have a wide variety of images demonstrating experience in the newborn genre?  Is your chosen photographer insured and trained?

The demand for cute posed newborn photographs has increased dramatically in recent years and in response to this we've seen a lot of newborn photographers advertising their services.  Unfortunately, this business is not regulated and you simply cannot be sure that the person you are handing your tiny baby over to pose and photograph is trained or insured to do so.  This is why I and other experienced, professional newborn photographers are always promoting safe practice; to try and educate new parents and new photographers alike. 

Newborn photography requires a totally different skillset and the safety of our babies is so much more important than a cute photograph or a cheap deal! Apologies if I sound preachy, but this is such an important area and I will always encourage expectant parents to do their homework before booking their photographer. 

I have been a specialist newborn photographer since setting up my business in January 2009.  After photographing hundreds of babies I know from experience what a rewarding but challenging genre of photography this is.   A newborn photographer, in addition to understanding the technical aspects of photography, must also know how to soothe and calm a baby, how to pose them correctly, comfortably and above all else safely.  Over the years I have shuddered to see some of the images that have appeared on the web - for example, babies posed in glass vases or on high props with no support. 

A newborn photographer needs to be patient and have an understanding of a baby's behaviour and physiology, being able to recognise cues and work around baby's needs. They must also be able to communicate with new parents, explaining what they are doing to dispel any concerns.  Finally, of course, the photographer must be able to professionally post process images to compile composites, smooth away newborn rashes and produce a high quality product for their clients.


 

 

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/3/beautiful-little-lady-newborn-photography-leamington-spa Wed, 26 Mar 2014 18:07:00 GMT
Ever had one of those days....? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/3/ever-had-one-of-those-days You know, today really started out as one of those days.  One of those "Am I really the only person in this house who knows how to clean the bathroom sink?" kind of days.

And then this happened.  My little visitor to the studio this morning, at just 6 days of age, brought the sunshine and happiness in with her, despite the miserable weather outside!

I don't think I have ever met a 6 day old who was so alert and so full of wonderful expressions and smiles.  I photographed her smiling, yawing, sneezing and, in the gorgeous photo below, looking up towards her daddy.

Yes, today has turned into one of those lovely days - one of those "I most certainly have the best job in the world, who cares about a dirty bathroom sink?" kind of days.

If you'd like me to photograph your little one, contact me on 07765 718415 or through my contact form here. 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/3/ever-had-one-of-those-days Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:43:35 GMT
Award Winning Images! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/3/award-winning-images I was thrilled recently to discover that with my first ever entry to the Guild of Professional Photographers' international 'Image of the Month' competition I was awarded a Bronze Bar and a Silver Bar. In the words of the Guild - a Bronze bar is awarded for "Images of a strong standard at a professional level - something to be proud of" and a Silver Bar for "Images that are very well crafted at a professional level - difficult to achieve"

A member of the family asked me why I bother to enter competitions like this as I'm already set up and have qualified as a professional photographer.  The answer is quite simple - with photography, you can never stop learning.  I like to continually push myself to see what I can achieve and am always looking to develop my craft through workshops, training or research, whether that be by perfecting a new pose, a new lighting set up or a new Photoshop technique.  Photography, like fashion, goes through phases - what might be highly popular now might be 'out of fashion' a year or so down the line, so it is important to keep in touch with what is happening in the industry and adapt as necessary to ensure you can survive in what has become a very competitive market.

Having said that, there are certain things that will never go out of fashion such as correct lighting, a pleasant composition and in portraits, the right expression.  No, you can never stop learning and competition entries like this help ensure you are always developing your skills to produce an image not only to impress a panel of judges but more importantly, keep your customers happy.

Enough waffle!  Here are my two "Award Winning Images" (ooh that sounds posh!), one of which has been published in the Photographers' Academy Year Book, what an honour to appear alongside so many wonderful photographers!

Thanks for reading!

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/3/award-winning-images Thu, 20 Mar 2014 08:01:18 GMT
Spring has Sprung! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/3/spring-has-sprung Spring has finally arrived to 2014 - and isn't it about time after all the horrible stormy weather we've had recently?

How lovely it is to walk my little girl to school and see the daffodils and crocuses appearing.  We've even had a bit of sunshine lately!  

Spring is the season of new life, new beginnings and I love it!  It means summer is on its way at last.  Are you expecting a new little life this year?  Well read on - this offer is just for you!

Until 31st March 2014, I am offering a professional studio newborn portrait session for just £50.  Even if your baby isn't due for a while yet please do take a look - as long as you have secured your booking before the end of March I will honour that fantastic price for you.

If you know anyone who might be interested, please forward them a link to my web page.

I can be contacted on 07765 718415 or through my contact form here

Thank you!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/3/spring-has-sprung Wed, 05 Mar 2014 08:22:31 GMT
Brothers https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/2/brothers These two gorgeous brothers came to visit my studio in the week for their first photo session.  Both children were so well behaved and, despite a small age gap, there was no trace of jealousy from big brother toward his tiny seven day old sibling.

I was able to capture some lovely photos for mum and dad.  Thank you so much for bringing your babies to Ellie J Photography, you have a wonderful family and your boys are a credit to you.  

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/2/brothers Fri, 28 Feb 2014 18:18:49 GMT
My Poor Old Heart Strings! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/2/my-poor-old-heart-strings Well, my poor old heart strings took a right tugging today.  Firstly, witnessing the adoration in the eyes of my little model's two older brothers who, at the grand old ages of 7 and 4 were totally in love with their 11 day old sister. Then, when daddy had taken the big brothers out of the studio, I got to play with my beautiful little model herself who was an absolute dream.  Just look at that gorgeous dark hair!  I literally could have spent the entire day photographing this beautiful little girl if I could have got away with it!

Thank you so much for choosing Ellie J Photography mum and dad and congratulations on the latest addition to your lovely family.

If anyone reading this would like me to photograph their own growing family, please call me on 07765 718415 or get in touch via my contact form here.

Many thanks!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/2/my-poor-old-heart-strings Wed, 19 Feb 2014 17:55:47 GMT
Valentine's Day Darling https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/2/valentines-day-darling Happy Valentine's Day!  There was certainly a lot of love for this beautiful little Princess in my studio today.  8 days new and an absolute dream - even when she wasn't sleeping she was so relaxed and calm,  a complete joy to work with.

As always during a shoot with Ellie J - mummy got to put her feet up and relax while daddy, baby and I worked hard to get lots of lovely photographs.  Daddy did very well today, helping support baby and lending his arms as props when necessary!

This little Angel was quite at home whether in mummy's or daddy's arms, on my poser or in my props - and I am really looking forward to processing the rest of her gorgeous photos.

Thanks so much for choosing Ellie J Photography mum and dad!

If anyone reading this is expecting a happy event and would like to book a newborn sitting with me, you can contact me on 07765 718415 or through my contact form here  

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/2/valentines-day-darling Fri, 14 Feb 2014 18:15:16 GMT
The Complex Art of Baby Photography ;) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/2/the-complex-art-of-baby-photography Ok - so you all know by now that I love photographing newborns.  However, I also love photographing older babies like this young chap, 8 months old.  

At this age, baby will be interacting nicely with mummy and daddy and, if I play my cards right, that strange photographer lady at Ellie J Photography.  

Over the years I have built up quite the repertoire for coaxing the smiles, or at least - the looks of complete wonderment, out of my little subjects.  Its all highly sophisticated stuff requiring many hours of gruelling, complex preparation and training.

This weekend's session (for example) had me blowing complicated raspberries, jumping around like a gorilla and attacking mum, dad and baby with my toy giraffe....tough stuff, not for the faint hearted, but well worth the expressions I managed to get from this little man!

Thanks for reading!  If you're interested in booking me to photograph your little bundle of fun, contact me on 07765 718415 or through my contact form here. 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/2/the-complex-art-of-baby-photography Sun, 09 Feb 2014 17:17:22 GMT
Mum and Dad - Its About You Too! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/2/its-a-family-affair As I've mentioned in a previous blog, I am often asked whether family photographs are included in a newborn or baby portrait session.  My answer is always - of course they are!

I've waffled on many times about how much I enjoy photographing older siblings with their new baby brother or sister, but something I love about working with babies is seeing the interaction between doting new parents and their precious new arrival;  Its an absolute honour to be able to catch emotional moments such as these on camera.  

One thing I have learnt through years of photographing children and newborns, is to train my shutter finger to be very patient. It now waits for just the right moment before capturing an image.  That 'right' moment could be a windy smile, sleepy yawn or even, as in the lovely photo below,  where baby is trying to decide whether to cry or smile! Here, my little model held that frown for a split second before smiling at his mum. I'm so glad my intuitive shutter finger worked well on that day as I adore this photo!

With newborns I always try to capture 'detail' shots using my macro lens.  

Details shots are so important as they provide another memory for parents of just how tiny their baby once was.

Look at my little model's tiny newborn fist closing around daddy's finger here - I remember taking a similar photo of my own son (now 23!) holding my husband's finger.

I just can't tell you how much I love this photograph.

Daddy's tender expression as he cradles his new son is just amazing and tugs at my heart strings every single time I look at it.

I set up this shot up by asking daddy to hold his baby and 'have a chat' with him.  Then I waited.  Moments like this always happen, without fail.  If daddy had been looking at me it wouldn't have worked - I wanted that tender moment where father and son interact, and that's what I got. 

This lovely couple are just bursting with pride over the arrival of their beautiful little girl and I am so happy they asked me to share in their happiness by photographing their new family.  Look at the way mum is looking up at dad - its as if she's saying 'look what we've achieved!' - Love it!

 

The right shot and the right expression - they are so worth waiting for! 

If you're reading this and think you would like to put my patient shutter finger to the test - contact me on 07765 718415 or through my contact form here.

Thanks for reading!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/2/its-a-family-affair Fri, 07 Feb 2014 01:27:48 GMT
Dancing Girls https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/2/dancing-girls Now we all know how much I love photographing newborns - but I also love photographing young dancers as I am always guaranteed to get photos that are full of movement, vitality and fun.  I've been asked in the past how I've managed to achieve shots like these in the studio as, for those of you who are interested in photography will know, a fast shutter speed is crucial when freezing the action mid-air.

Outdoors in good ambient light fast moving photos like these are no problem as you can whack your shutter speed up as high as necessary to capture the action.  In the studio, we are bound by our camera's fastest sync speed, so freezing the action is more difficult.

Now I'll let you in to a secret - these photos are relatively easy to capture.  It just takes patience and knowing a bit of science (I sucked at physics at school, but bear with me).

If you are pressing the shutter when the dancer is on the way up - you'll most likely get blurry photos.  If you press the shutter while the dancer is on the way down - you'll most likely get blurry photos.  When an object (or a person) is travelling upwards, it is moving very fast and the same applies on the way down.  However - for the tiniest fraction of a second, that object will pause in mid air as it stops its upward run and prepares to travel down again.  And that is when you press the shutter.  Ok - so you need to practice...and practice... and practice and most often it will take a few shots to nail the photo - but eventually it happens and the resulting photos are well worth the effort.

Thanks for reading my ramble!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/2/dancing-girls Sat, 01 Feb 2014 16:31:52 GMT
A first for Ellie J Photography! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/1/a-first-for-ellie-j-photography Well what an exciting day!  This little man came into my studio with no name, and left with one! Yes, mum and dad decided what to call their new son whilst he was busy being the perfect model for me this morning.  

Whilst I do keep my clients anonymous, what I will say is, he has a really cool name ;)  Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby boy mum and dad!

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/1/a-first-for-ellie-j-photography Sat, 25 Jan 2014 17:54:57 GMT
Why am I a Newborn Photographer? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/1/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-newborn-photographer This post is prompted by an in-depth conversation with a client who wanted to know why I chose to specialise in newborn photography.  She said she was amazed at my levels of patience.  The session with her little one had been a fairly long one, he had taken a while to settle and managed to wee or poo on just about every prop and blanket I had.  I had to smile when she asked. Yes, my other photography can certainly be a lot easier.  Portraits of older children and families, business headshots, even pets - all can be done in less time and with less washing afterwards!

The answer is simple.  I love my job. I love photography, I love working with children and I especially love working with newborn babies.  Mother Nature fascinates me, its amazing to photograph a lady in the later stages of her pregnancy and then see her come back a few weeks later with her tiny baby.  That tiny child will change so much in just a few short weeks and I think it is so important for parents to have a record of those first early days.  I look back now at photos of my own children taken during their first few days and I just can't remember them being so small.  We all lead busy lives and life takes over, pushing important memories like this to the backs of our mind. Photographs are so important.  

I love helping people make memories.  I love it when clients come back to me after a couple of years and tell me how they still have my photographs of their newborn baby hanging on their wall and they can't believe the difference between the baby then and the child now.  I love being in the honoured position of being able to see these children grow for myself and provide their families with a lasting record of their baby's life.

Yes, you could call me sentimental and emotional (I know my family do!).  I make no apologies for that, I think it helps me be a better photographer and, if the time ever came that I didn't care as much - I know that would be the time to hang up the Nikons and call it a day.

Thanks for reading. This little lady is a client who I first met when she was in her mum's tummy - I photographed her as a newborn and still have the pleasure of photographing her today.

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/1/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-newborn-photographer Fri, 24 Jan 2014 17:09:01 GMT
The Best Things...... https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/1/the-best-things Well, the saying goes "The Best Things Come in Small Packages" and this was certainly the case 11 days ago when this little fella made his entrance into the world.  Weighing in at just over 5lb 5oz, he might have been a dot but he certainly held his own during the photo session and some of the expressions, (including yawns and smiles!), he treated me to were priceless.  The studio was lovely and warm to make sure my little model was comfortable in his birthday suit and he was an absolute pleasure to photograph, sleeping through different poses and background and prop changes.  The only slight downside was that even my tiny newborn hats looked just too big on his little head!  

Thanks so much for giving me the honour of photographing your little boy mum and dad. x

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/1/the-best-things Wed, 15 Jan 2014 17:33:51 GMT
"He Ain't Heavy..." Brotherly Love https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/1/-he-aint-heavy-brotherly-love Had the absolute pleasure of welcoming these two gorgeous little men into my studio this morning.  We started off with some lovely family photos, including the photo below of big brother at 5 years of age proudly cuddling his little brother aged just two weeks.  Both were very well behaved, although the newest family member showed his stubborn side and needed lots of cuddling to drop off to sleep.  Not that I minded, its the best part of the job!

Lots of people ask me whether I include family photos in my newborn sessions the answer is yes of course!  The arrival of a new member of the family is a massive event and I will always include photos of mum, dad and any siblings with their new arrival at no extra charge.

Thanks for coming to see me mum and dad.

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/1/-he-aint-heavy-brotherly-love Mon, 13 Jan 2014 17:01:18 GMT
Gorgeous little Dinosaur https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/1/gorgeous-little-dinosaur I've nicknamed this little chap, just 7 days old, my gorgeous little dinosaur.  Even when asleep, he makes the most adorable growling sounds and like a little star, he slept lots, allowing me to capture some fantastic images for mum and dad.

I had the honour of photographing this young man's cousin as a newborn, so to meet another member of the family was wonderful.

Thanks so much for coming to see me mum and dad, here are just a few from your session, lots more to come.  Give my gorgeous little dinosaur a big cuddle from Aunty Lorraine for being such a superstar in the studio today xxx.

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/1/gorgeous-little-dinosaur Fri, 10 Jan 2014 16:37:18 GMT
Happy New Year! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/1/happy-new-year-newborn-photographer-coventry-and-warwickshire Happy New Year to you all!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and is looking forward to 2014.

Last year was wonderful for me - I got to cuddle and photograph so many beautiful babies and children and met many wonderful families.  My article about newborn safety was published twice and one of my newborn images was selected as a top five for the Photographer Academy and will soon be published in an e-book.

I am already very excited about this year - and what a way to begin!  This gorgeous little chap, just 7 days new, came to visit my studio today with his mummy and daddy.  What an absolute star!  He slept for ages and enabled me to get some fantastic shots, using some of my lovely new props for the first time too!  To top it all off - he didn't even wee on me once! (although he did on both mum and dad).

Congratulations mum and dad on your beautiful little boy.  Here are some photos to keep you going until I've processed the rest. Thank you so much for choosing Ellie J Photography xxx

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2014/1/happy-new-year-newborn-photographer-coventry-and-warwickshire Fri, 03 Jan 2014 17:34:29 GMT
What a Fantastic Year! https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/12/what-a-fantastic-year-newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by!  Here we are with Christmas knocking on the door again and before I know it, it will be January and I'll be feeling miserable about not fitting into my jeans again :(

I used to get a little despondent at this time of year, especially recently when I've seen my eldest children leave home for University and starting their lives away from the 'nest'.  

'Empty Nest Syndrome' is just awful!  Who knew?   When the midwife places your newly born son or daughter in your arms the furthest thing from your mind is the day when you are packing up their belongings and waving them off to start their own independent lives.  Of course, it's all part of the natural order of life.  I have been so Blessed with and am so proud of my own children that I wouldn't have it any other way - but that still doesn't stop me sitting in their empty bedrooms and bawling my eyes out every so often!

Life moves on - sometimes faster than we would like it to - and I know I've said it before but that is the reason photography is so important.  Photography offers a kind of immortality - it forever preserves moments in time before wrinkles, grey hair, mid-life saggy bits and grown-up children happen.  You can pick up a photograph and remember wedding days, special birthdays, school sports days, first loves and very importantly, loved ones who might no longer be with you.  It captures fun times, crazy times, glorious landscapes, the city you grew up in before the planners ruined it with high rise flats or huge department stores....like a time machine, a collection of photographs can send you back to visit places and see faces you never want to forget. This is why I love photography and am so lucky to do the job I do.

Do I feel despondent this year?  I am pleased to say - no! I am very excited to be looking forward to 2014 and seeing how Ellie J Photography develops further.

This year has been splendid for Ellie J Photography and I have my wonderful clients to thank for that.  My little business is run solely on word-of-mouth recommendation and I feel so honoured each and every time someone calls and says "Hi - my friend's photos were so fantastic, we'd like to book you".  

Thank you all for your kindness, recommendations and custom.  I have thoroughly enjoyed every single job (and how many people are lucky enough to say that?) I have shared in the joy of weddings, got to play a part in 60th birthday celebrations, photographed some fabulous furry friends, and had an absolute blast photographing some wonderful little people both out on location and in the studio.  I've been covered in icing during some wickedly fun and very messy cake smash sessions, photographed aspiring actors, actresses models and singers, been honoured to photograph some beautiful expectant mums and of course, thoroughly enjoyed being able to cuddle and photograph lots and lots of gorgeous, brand new babies.  Has it been hard work?  Yes - I've gone to bed many times in the early hours of a morning, but do you know what? I honestly believe I have the best job in the entire world!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.

Lorraine xxx

adad

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/12/what-a-fantastic-year-newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Mon, 16 Dec 2013 13:04:25 GMT
What to expect at your Newborn Session with Ellie J Photography https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/12/what-to-expect-at-your-newborn-session-with-ellie-j-photography I've had a lot of newborn bookings recently (thank you lovely people!) and also several few phone enquiries from people who were wondering exactly what to expect during a newborn session at Ellie J Photography.

First of all, I always advise booking early -  around the time of your 20 week scan is ideal.  I do get very busy and have had to turn a few people away this year due to a full diary.  I can sometimes squeeze people in, so its always worth a call - but if possible, its best to plan in advance.

Once I know your due date, I will then reserve time for a couple of weeks around that date (because newborns might be lovely but they are notoriously unreliable when it comes to time keeping!)  Once your little one has arrived, I ask that you phone me as soon as possible in order to confirm a day for the session (ideally before baby is ten days old).  Once a date has been finalised, I will email you a confirmation together with some important pre-session advice and we're good to go!

On the day of your sitting the studio will be toasty warm and I'll ask you to undress little one as soon as you arrive.  I will then get to work cuddling and posing your baby and taking some wonderful photographs for you while you put your feet up.  If you've followed my pre-session advice, the sitting should run smoothly, allowing me to use different setups and effects/props. I always like to include family photos too.

Safety is of the utmost importance during a session, and I will ask a parent (usually dad because I think mum has earned a rest) to help out by supporting baby for some of the shots or simply being close at hand to ensure baby is secure at all times.

Once the session is ended, I'll reluctantly give up my cuddles and wave you off before putting all my blankets and wraps in my poor over-worked washing machine.  

Then I get to work on the photos.  All the 'keepers' (i.e. where dad hasn't got his eyes closed etc!) will be individually processed. This takes time, as newborns very often have overly red skin and milk spots or rashes which need airbrushing away.  I also use 'composite' shots for certain poses to ensure baby's safety - so there will be lots of Photoshop work required to remove the supporting hands from such shots and produce the final image.  I ask parents to allow me two weeks to process their photographs, but always upload a Facebook preview within 24/48 hours as a little taster, so they don't have to wait too long.

Once your images are finished, they are uploaded to a secure gallery on my web site and you are emailed a password.  Your gallery remains live for a few days during which you can view your photos and decide on your order.

If you are thinking of booking a newborn session with me and would like to discuss anything, please don't hesitate to contact me on 07765 718415 or through the 'contact' page of this website.

Thank you for reading!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/12/what-to-expect-at-your-newborn-session-with-ellie-j-photography Mon, 09 Dec 2013 18:28:31 GMT
To prop....or not? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/12/to-prop-or-not-newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire I know I've said this before - but when you are choosing your newborn photographer have a good look through their portfolio to decide whether you like their particular style.  Do you want props or just straight forward images of your gorgeous little one?  Never be afraid to call your chosen photographer and discuss what you do and don't like so you are both singing from the same hymn sheet on the day of the session.  I personally like to use props to a certain extent, but not to a level where your eye is drawn away from the rightful star of the show, and I will always listen to what mum and dad want, no matter how keen I might be to use a particular prop! I am very lucky to have a wonderful mum who is a wiz with a pair of knitting needles (a gift I unfortunately lack!) and she supplies me with the most wonderful hats and knitted props.  This gorgeous little girl who visited my studio today was the perfect model for me - 8 days new and still lovely and sleepy so, with mum's blessing - I had a great time!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/12/to-prop-or-not-newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Tue, 03 Dec 2013 15:28:51 GMT
Beautiful Girl https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/12/beautiful-girl---baby-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Ooh I've been such a busy bee lately!  Haven't been keeping up my blog posts so here's one from today.  This gorgeous young lady first came to see me earlier in the year as a newborn when she wasn't even a week old. How time has flown!  Mummy and daddy booked in months back to get some lovely photos for Christmas gifts and I can't believe how quickly the sitting has come round!  Lots of smiles for the camera today, what a beautiful little lady she has grown up to be.  I send you lots of love and best wishes for a fabulous first family Christmas together xxx

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/12/beautiful-girl---baby-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Sun, 01 Dec 2013 17:29:50 GMT
Gorgeous Sisters https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/gorgeous-sisters---child-photography-warwickshire Well, its been a tough old week for Ellie J, but these two little beauties always make me smile and the same was true today.  I've had the honour of photographing these sisters for a few years now and they are growing into beautiful young ladies.  I like for everyone to have fun during my sessions, I've found that's the best way to get some nice naturally beaming smiles so, whilst I will do some ever-so-slightly 'posed' images - there is always plenty of time for kidding around.  My repertoire of terrible jokes always gets the kiddies smiling eventually - even if I do have to resort to raspberry blowing 95% of the time.....

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/gorgeous-sisters---child-photography-warwickshire Sat, 23 Nov 2013 13:23:59 GMT
Beautiful Brothers https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/beautiful-brothers---child-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire A couple of lovely little visitors to my studio today.  Meet these two beautiful brothers - the youngest at 6 months, the eldest not even 2.  Sometimes younger 'older' siblings can take a little while to adjust and might feel threatened by the sudden appearance of a new challenger for mummy and daddy's affections.  Not the case from what I could see in this instance.  Big brother was not holding back with his kisses and cuddles - although I had to be lighting fast with the shutter to catch them!  Hubby and I had large age gaps between our three children, four years between the first two and nine between the second and third - but I often wondered what it would be like to have a smaller age gap like with these two little boys today.  It might be hard work for a short time, but these little ones obviously adore each other and I can see them being close friends as they grow. Thanks for coming to see me mum and dad!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/beautiful-brothers---child-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Sat, 16 Nov 2013 17:13:11 GMT
Beautiful Baby Girl https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/beautiful-baby-girl---newborn-photography-warwickshire This lovely family travelled down from Northumbria to show off their beautiful baby girl to their family and took the opportunity to book me for a photo session while they were in Warwickshire.   What a little angel!  7 weeks old and full of smiles!  Of course my patented figure of 8 rocking method (still got some life in the old hips yet!) soon got her to sleep, and we got some lovely sleepy shots too.  Congratulations mum and dad, your baby girl is beautiful.  Thank you so much for choosing Ellie J Photography.

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/beautiful-baby-girl---newborn-photography-warwickshire Thu, 14 Nov 2013 16:02:49 GMT
Newborn Photography Styles https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/newborn-photography-styles-newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire The main consideration when choosing a newborn photographer should always be safety, a topic I've blogged and had articles published about recently. 

This blog is about style.  Photography is an art form and like all art, whether that be paintings, sculptures or theatre pieces, there are different styles.  What might be the perfect piece of art for one person, will simply not be for another.  

Like other art forms, photography is also prone to fashion trends, and what might be very popular today may not be so a few years from now.  Does anyone remember the 'Crying Boy' paintings of the 80's?  My mum had one!

When considering a newborn photographer have a careful look at their portfolio and the type of work they are producing.

Some photographers may use lots of props in their photographs, and as long as this is always done safely and baby is always comfortable, it could be exactly what you, as a parent, are looking for.

How about the overall finish to the photograph?  There are those photographers who will specifically shoot and process for pastel tones.  Others might just offer black and white,  some of us will offer a variety of styles. Once again, provided each is done well (and of course, safely!) no particular style is wrong.  Depending on your personal taste, all can be equally beautiful.  It is simply a matter of your preference.

What about airbrushing effects?  There are those photographers who will use quite dramatic post-processing techniques to visibly soften and smooth skin, removing every visible flaw and creating a beautifully excessive 'dreamy/creamy' effect.  

On a personal note, I learned that correct skin tone has a particular 'formula' and, whilst almost every newborn photograph I take will need some careful processing (e.g. to remove milk spots or excessive redness) I prefer not to alter natural skin tones to a great extent, unless there is a reason to do so or I am specifically asked to by a client.

Minor skin flaws aside - another consideration for parents is whether or not you want the photographer to remove more pronounced marks, such as birthmarks, from your baby's skin.  This is something I always ask of my clients. I will never assume that a parent wants a birthmark or other blemish removed completely from a photograph before checking with them. Your baby will change so much in the early months, let alone years, and a photograph records a memory of a precise moment in time so it's just a question of how true to memory you want that photograph to be.

To illustrate, many years ago I photographed a newborn with a superficial haemangioma (a 'strawberry birthmark') on her forehead.  At the time, mum initially asked me about  the possibility of airbrushing out the birthmark, (which of course I would have done had she been certain).  However, after considering the matter, she ultimately decided that to record a memory of how her beautiful baby really looked at that point in time, the birthmark should be kept in, with a little work on my part to make it slightly less prominent.  

To conclude, when considering a newborn (or indeed any kind of photographer) have a good look at their body of work and decide whether their particular technique is something you personally like and can visualise hanging on your living room wall for potentially years to come.  Provided it is carried out with the utmost safety where little ones are concerned and professionally, no one style is more 'correct' than another, it is just a matter of taste.

Thanks for reading!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/newborn-photography-styles-newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Wed, 13 Nov 2013 10:28:39 GMT
Big Sister, Little Brother Baby https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/big-sister-little-brother-baby-photography-birmingham Another very busy week for me and I'd like to say a huge thank you to my lovely clients for trusting me with the very important task of photographing their lovely families.  The fact that almost all of my work is gained through word of mouth recommendation means a great deal to me and I thank you all for your wonderful support.

I have photographed many children and babies over the years and one thing that always makes me smile is to see a 'big' sister or brother who is so in love with their new little sibling.  This young lady came to see me with mummy, daddy and baby brother.  At the grand old age of two years she was so gentle with her little brother, helping to make him smile and not hesitating once to sit patiently and have her photos taken with him.  Thank you so much for choosing Ellie J Photography mum and dad.  I'll be in touch with the rest of your photos soon.

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/big-sister-little-brother-baby-photography-birmingham Sat, 09 Nov 2013 13:06:25 GMT
Beautiful Baby Boy https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/beautiful-baby-boy---baby-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Oh this gorgeous little fella was just so nosey!  Almost ten weeks of age and he wasn't missing a thing - he didn't want to sleep, far too much going on!  Eventually with lots of cuddles (best part of my job), white noise and a full tummy even he couldn't resist, and he fell asleep long enough for me to get some gorgeous sleepy photos for mum and dad. Sorry mum - I just had to share Mickey - couldn't resist!  Thanks so much for choosing Ellie J Photography - and a big thanks again to my own lovely mum for making me the Mickey hat!

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/beautiful-baby-boy---baby-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Thu, 07 Nov 2013 14:20:00 GMT
Growing So Fast https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/growing-so-fast---baby-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Well what a busy weekend it has been for me, for all the right reasons.  I welcomed another repeat visitor back to my studio this afternoon.  I first photographed this young man when he was a baby and he returned today to have more photos taken with mum and dad and both sets of grandparents.  He has grown into a very inquisitive young man, carefully looking around my studio between poses and studying anything from the studio lights to the studs in the ceiling. I think mum and dad are going to be answering lots of questions when this little one starts talking!  Despite all the distractions around him, he was as good as gold and we managed to get some lovely photos.  Thanks for bringing him back to see me mum and dad, and it was lovely to meet his grandparents.

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/growing-so-fast---baby-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Sun, 03 Nov 2013 18:14:18 GMT
Newborn to Young Lady https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/newborn-to-young-lady---newborn-photographer-coventry-and-warwickshire What a treat for me today!  This stunning little lady first came to see me as a newborn. Her very clever mummy makes the most wonderful customised crystal encased footwear - so we just had to get a shot of little miss with an example of mummy's work.  It seems like yesterday I was photographing this tiny little newborn - and all of a sudden, here's this 7 month old beautiful young lady.  We had a great session with lots of gorgeous smiles and even a nap in between sets so we were able to get some sleepy shots!  Thanks for coming back to see me mum, dad and nanna!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/11/newborn-to-young-lady---newborn-photographer-coventry-and-warwickshire Sat, 02 Nov 2013 19:56:07 GMT
Big Sisters in Waiting https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/10/big-sisters-in-waiting---maternity-and-newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire I love seeing the excitement in an older sibling's eyes as they await the arrival of a new baby brother or sister.  These two lovely young ladies today were no exception, telling me about name choices, whether they preferred a sister or a brother - both obviously looking forward to welcoming their new baby soon.

Someone asked me recently when is the best time to schedule a maternity session, so I thought I'd mention it here. The best time to have your maternity portraits done is when you have a lovely bump to show off, but not so late in the pregnancy that you are too exhausted to enjoy the session. Obviously, everyone is different, but as a general rule, I advise clients to book in with me at around 35 weeks.

A maternity portrait session at Ellie J Photography is a very laid back affair.  An expectant mum's comfort is most important, so the session will go at mum's pace and never be rushed.  Warning though if older siblings are involved - my recent idea of hand prints on the bump is proving to be very popular with little ones!  

Thanks for reading.

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/10/big-sisters-in-waiting---maternity-and-newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Tue, 29 Oct 2013 13:57:12 GMT
Beautiful Baby Boy https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/10/beautiful-baby-boy-newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Another gorgeous little visitor to my studio today.  At almost ten weeks old, this young man is older than most babies I photograph but, as I've said before, even if you can't make the ten day deadline for newborns - there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't have photographs taken. Ok - you might not get the tiny curly newborn in a bowl shot - but you'll still get some wonderful photographs.

Personally, I love photographing babies at all ages.  This little chap was so awake at the start of the session - we had some amazing eye contact, he really was aware of his surroundings.  Then, Bless his little heart, it all got a bit too much for him and in an instant he went from being the alert young man wanting to watch everything around him to a sleepy little almost-newborn, enabling me to get some gorgeous sleepy shots too.  What a star!

Thanks for coming to see me with your lovely little boy mummy and daddy x  

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/10/beautiful-baby-boy-newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Sat, 26 Oct 2013 13:41:15 GMT
Beautiful Girl https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/10/beautiful-girl-child-portrait-photographer-coventry-and-warwickshire Where is the year going?  I can't believe that Christmas will soon be knocking at the door once again!

This young lady is one of my favourite little clients of all time - I have had the honour of photographing her since she was a little dot.  This is one part of my job I love, being able to watch little ones as they grow up. The only thing is - it makes me feel so old!

We got some lovely studio shots and were even lucky enough to get outside for a short while before this horrible weather started!

Thanks for reading, here is the gorgeous young lady in question.

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/10/beautiful-girl-child-portrait-photographer-coventry-and-warwickshire Mon, 21 Oct 2013 12:38:08 GMT
What shall I wear for my photo session? https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/10/what-shall-i-wear-for-my-photo-session I regularly get asked by clients what they should wear for a portrait session so thought I'd do a little blog on the subject.

While I'll always advise to wear whatever you are comfortable in, here are some general pointers.

Adults:

Avoid bright colours such as reds, oranges and yellows as in the finished photo these colours will draw the viewer's eye away from the subject (i.e. your face!). Avoid bold stripes and loud patterns for the same reason. Subtle patterns and solid colours work best.

Try and avoid logos or slogans as they will date. In the 80's my favourite t-shirt said 'Frankie Says Relax'. It was great at the time - but would I want a photo of me wearing it on my wall today?

Avoid short sleeves and shorts unless you are happy with your arms and legs! From a photography point of view, the extra skin will again draw the viewer's eyes from the face - but also, I've never met an adult yet who is 100% happy with their bare arms and legs in a photo ;)

Newborns and Babies:

I will always advise photographing young babies, especially newborns, in the nude or wrapped in simple wraps (which I have a supply of).  This will show off their gorgeous newborn skin and avoid their little frames being 'drowned' by clothing, resulting in the viewers' eye being distracted from baby in the finished photo. There will be occasions however when you will want baby dressed, (e.g. for a family group photo). In this instance, keep it simple - white and pastels are good choices, avoid bright colours and patterns. 

Older Babies and Children:

Children traditionally look good in all white - it helps toward a classic portrait signifying the innocence of childhood.

Whilst I'd still advise avoiding loud patterns and logos - the 'avoid bold colours' rule for adults and newborns/small babies doesn't necessarily apply to children. Vivid colours, especially the primary colours (red blue and yellow) can result in a lively, fun portrait.  

Family Groups:

Try and coordinate the outfits so that they complement each other. I don't mean you should all turn up in matching outfits (unless you really want to of course!) but choosing clothes in different shades of the same colour or similar, complimentary colours will help. I like the photo below because of the complimentary colours - I don't think it matters that granddad is wearing stripes on this occasion!

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/10/what-shall-i-wear-for-my-photo-session Sun, 13 Oct 2013 10:45:23 GMT
Newborn Baby Safety https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/10/newborn-baby-safety---newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Greetings all!

I've had several people asking me about my Facebook post yesterday with the photo of my gorgeous little client hanging from a tree branch.  Because of this, I thought it was about time I posted my planned little ramble about newborn safety.

Posed newborn photography is becoming more and more popular in the UK, and more and more photographers are beginning to offer this service to new parents.  

It is important to realise that newborn 'posed' photography (eg baby hanging from a tree branch!) is totally different to regular photography and requires a lot of skill, patience and care.  

I would advise all new parents to use caution when selecting their photographer.  Have a look at their work - have they photographed many different babies? Do they have experience? Do they provide information about what to expect?  Most importantly - will they work safely with your precious baby? It might also be a good idea to see if they are a member of any newborn photography associations.

I myself am a proud member of the British Association of Newborn Photographers who, in their own words are:

"...the foremost group of leading newborn photographers dedicated to ensuring your baby's comfort and safety whilst creating beautiful images for you to treasure. We strive to encourage high standards of customer service, quality images and safe practice across the profession of newborn photography."

I joined this organisation because, like many of my fellow professional photographers, my primary concern whilst working with newborns is their safety (as well as creating some gorgeous photos for mum and dad, of course!)

An experienced newborn photographer will know how to set up the 'posed' shots that are popular today safely without causing discomfort or distress to your baby.  A lot of these shots will be 'composites' (i.e. separate shots blended together in post process to produce the finished image).  They will also know how to soothe your baby, be incredibly patient and calm and make sure mum and dad are looked after during the session!

Enough waffle!  I'm sharing below a photo from one of my recent newborn sessions.  A newborn cannot safely be posed like this - it is a composite image using two original images. To the side of the main photo you will see the two original 'straight out of camera' shots that were used to create the final image.

Someone once asked me if I was worried about giving away my 'secrets' like this - the answer is no.  Lots of newborn photographers I know regularly update their own blogs with similar posts to this.  I suspect that like me, they do it in the hope of educating new photographers and parents and preventing,  Heaven forbid, someone trying to copy one of these poses thinking the baby was posed just so and risking harm to the little one.

Apologies if I sound a little preachy.....and thanks so much for reading.

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/10/newborn-baby-safety---newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Fri, 04 Oct 2013 07:31:14 GMT
Sleepy Baby Boy https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/10/sleepy-baby-boy-newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire This very contented young man came to visit my little studio this morning.  The room was nice and toasty, I had my white noise cd playing and this little chap just slept, and slept.....and slept!  A newborn photographer's dream!  I was even able to slip him into my latest prop (thanks to my mum again for her skill at all things wool related) and he didn't bat an eyelid.  Between setups he snoozed peacefully, only stirring once for a quick feed from mum and then he dropped straight back to sleep again!  Have wanted to hang a baby from a tree branch for ages....but please note, it was all very safely done!  Once again Photoshop was used to merge two images together, one of my tree branch with the empty pod tied to it, and one of baby in the pod, securely held in two hands by dad and supported a few inches above my bean-bag.

Enough of my waffle!  Thanks for bringing your gorgeous little man to see me mum and dad, and thanks for reading.  xxx

 

 

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(Ellie J Photography) https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/10/sleepy-baby-boy-newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Thu, 03 Oct 2013 14:45:25 GMT
Beautiful Baby Girl https://www.elliejphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/10/beautiful-baby-girl-newborn-photography-coventry-and-warwickshire Well I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself lately.  Eldest son moved out over the summer and eldest daughter has just gone back to University.  I think I have a touch of 'empty nest syndrome', despite still having my lovely ten year old at home with me!

This gorgeous little girl came in to see me today with her mum and dad.  The first thing I noticed was her fabulous hair - which reminded me of my eldest when she was first born, hence the mention at the start.

It seems like yesterday my now nineteen year old 'baby' was this tiny.  The years really have flown by.  Someone commented to me recently that I have the best job in the world and all I could think to say was "Yes, yes I do"  How can you beat being able to cuddle such gorgeous little babies for a living?  I wouldn't even give it up to be Head Taster for Cadburys....

Thanks for coming to see me mum and dad, your little girl is absolutely beautiful, I know how precious she is and I am so happy for your lovely family.

x