"I love those images of babies balanced on a swing or moon prop, please can we make sure we get those?"
When I am planning a session with my clients and clients ask for those images (some of the most frequent requests that I get!), I know that my parent has looked on my website and socials, and probably other newborn photography sites too, and have a clear vision of the images that they would like to get out of their newborn session with me. I love this and encourage it with each family who's session I am planning. Though photography is art and I have my own creative ideas for each session, my ultimate aim is to ensure that I provide images to each client with he images that they have deemed of ever since they found out they were pregnant. However, sometimes the image or specific pose isn't quite achieved in the way many parents might think. Newborn safety is absolutely paramount and this is where I use my experience and artistic vision in using composite images. What might look like a simple "baby in a bucket" type image at first glance often involves much planning, parent involvement and post-editing to safely achieve what looks like a regular image. Combining images to achieve this, or compositing, is a frequently used technique to achieve safe images.
In my sessions, I use a mixture of posed images, achieved in camera and blended images (composites) in most galleries, where I feel that an image can only be safely achieved through this technique, or where the sets and props are so timely to set up, that using a blended image of the newborn at their shoot, and a previously captured image, is the best way to ensure that I can capture a varied gallery of images, ensuring the highest levels of safety and so that new parents don't have to wait an inappropriate amount of time in between each set up! Some set-ups can take up to an hour to set up, using fresh flowers etc and to do this for each session would be impossible!
When I do my prop shots, I always have a parent within arms reach. When I am behind my camera, often several feet away, it would be impossible to react to a babies sudden reflexes and so having a parent right next to their baby ensures that even if they do startle, a hand is right there to ensure their ongoing safety. Often I have a parent with their hand on their baby or a finger, holding their head in position. I will take a number of images, moving the hand placement and blend them later so that the parents hand or fingers is erased. This is one way of using composites. In other poses it would be unsafe to balance a newborn in a pose and expect them to be a able to support themselves. Again compositing the image is necessary to ensure a safe and comfortable image for baby.
Like changing the lighting, the styling, the depth of field of an image, compositing is another technique to create an artistic vision for a photographer and is particularly important with baby's safety in mind. I'm afraid in many cases in newborn photography, the camera does lie!
Whilst it may be tempting to try and recreate any of these images at home, I urge you to research and find a specialist newborn photographer who is familiar with composite techniques for your newborn photography session.
Here are some more example composite images to inspire you and how what can be achieved.....