Category Archives: Uncategorized

When is the best time to have newborn photos taken?

Every newborn photographer will tell you there is only a short window of time for capturing true newborn photos. In reality, any age up to about six weeks old counts as ‘newborn’, but the older your baby is the less likely it is that he or she will sleep soundly and be flexible enough to achieve some of the cute, curled up poses that are typical of posed newborn photography.

5-10 Days Old

If sleepy, womb-like poses are important to you, the ideal time for your session is when your baby is between 5 and 10 days old. You can come to the studio as early as days 3 or 4, but waiting just a little longer gives you more time to recover from the birth and for your milk to come in if you are breastfeeding.

Newborns sleep longer and more deeply between 5 and 10 days old

 

Under 2 Weeks

During these early days, babies tend to sleep better, are easier to pose and haven’t got used to being able to stretch out yet!

While your baby may need to feed a little more often, under two weeks old he tends to be less bothered about being naked – as long as he is kept nice and warm. With each day that passes, he becomes more alert and less flexible.

Sleeping newborn baby

Older Newborns (up to 6 weeks or so)

As the weeks go by babies spend more time awake and may need to be dressed or wrapped to keep them content. Some poses may no longer be possible as they become less bendy. We can still create beautiful photos of both you and your newborn though – ones that focus on their emerging personality and capture the incredible bond between you.

 

The best age for you (mum!)

Sometimes, mums, especially first-time ones, find it all very overwhelming in the early days. Planning your newborn photo shoot before your baby arrives can really help with this, as you know exactly what to expect, and don’t have to panic about arranging your session in between getting to grips with breastfeeding and learning how to do everything with one hand!

That said, if you’ve booked your space in my diary in advance but need more time to get used to this amazing creature you’ve just met there’s no pressure to rush around. Like everything with a new baby, we go at your pace and find what works for you and your needs.

Time to book your free consultation call?

If you’re expecting a baby, or have a newborn and want to find out more about newborn photo shoots at my homely studio in Isleworth, why not book a free consultation call to get all the info you need.

Top 5 spots for an afternoon walk with the kids

Top 5 spots for an afternoon walk with the kids

 

I love meeting new families and capturing memories for them in my fun outdoor family photo shoots. There are so many amazing locations nearby in south west London and Surrey that make a beautiful backdrop to your portraits, we really are spoiled.

I find I am shooting more and more family photo sessions outdoors these days – growing families want to remember ALL the stages of childhood and heading out on location gives kids the freedom to explore and be themselves!

Now that spring is here and we are starting to enjoy some warmer weather, I have been on the hunt for some fantastic new locations to take families to. The bluebell season is in full swing and while all that beautiful spring blossom may have gone, there are still plenty of opportunities to get back to nature for a stunning family photo shoot.

Living in London (albeit the suburbs), it’s refreshing to get outdoors and take a walk in the woods and you don’t have to drive far to feel like you’re in the countryside.

Favourite spots for a walk with the kids

Here are a few fabulous locations that I’ve been checking out that are well worth a visit if you’re looking for an afternoon walk with the kids:

Radnor Gardens, Twickenham

A bench to stop for a rest in Radnor Gardens

A popular spot on Twickenham Riverside, Radnor Gardens is a lovely place to go for a short walk with small children. You can stroll next to the Thames, wander among the ancient weeping willows, or sit quietly in the peaceful rose garden. For such a small open space it offers a surprising variety of backdrops and is perfect for a family picnic on a warm spring or summer day, with plenty of trees offering shade if it gets too hot.

Radnor Gardens has plenty of history and is home to an 18thcentury gazebo and a Gothic summer house, and if you go exploring you may just find a plaque marking a ‘Remarkable High Flood’ in 1771. In fact, when there’s been lots of rain and the river is high, the gardens are still prone to flooding today!

There’s also a well-maintained children’s playground that’s perfect for when your little ones need to burn off some energy and a small seasonal café if you need a dose of caffeine and a slice of cake while they play.

Esher Commons

Brunette girl at Esher CommonsAfter a few visits these past few weeks, I’ve still only just scratched the surface of what this expanse of picturesque woods, ponds and heathland has to offer. There are paths that lead you all over the woodlands, where you’ll find bluebells and ancient trees, along with shallow streams and hills to run up and down.

It’s home to tons of wildlife, including rabbits and deer, which we spotted bounding across the woods during our first trip.

On an excursion with a friend on one of April’s colder days, we even saw a lady wild swimming in Black Pond wearing just a swimsuit and cap. She emerged from the water looking invigorated – her skin red from the cold to match her swimming cap! Having dipped a toe in the water, I can safely say I won’t be going for so much as a paddle this side of August, but if you have a dog, I’m sure they would love it! Needless to say, I encourage families to bring along their furry friends for outdoor sessions, because they are part of the family too.

Frensham Ponds – Little and Great

Little boy crouching on the sand at Frensham Ponds

For a taste of the beach, without the drive all the way to the South Coast, a shorter route down the M3 and towards Farnham takes you to the beautiful Frensham Ponds. Ok, it’s not quite the seaside, but you can still feel the sand between your toes and dip your feet on a warm day (though check the water quality first as there can be high concentrations of algae, making it unsafe). We headed there with some friends on a breezy Saturday afternoon, and strolled along the man-made beach – the kids digging holes and leaping from the boardwalk onto the sand, while we soaked up the views of the water beyond the reeds. There are also areas of open heathland with paths winding around the stunning yellow gorse bushes, and a sandy beach. It would offer a stunning backdrop not only for a family photo shoot, but for an outdoors maternity session to celebrate pregnancy.

Frensham Little Pond offers something different, with woodland to explore, and ridges to climb. The reeds around the pond present a beautiful backdrop, and I can only imagine how beautiful the heathland is in summer when the purple heather is out.

A section of the beach there was closed for filming when I visited, as the ponds are a popular filming location. A set was being built on the sand, with thatched roof huts, to look like a village. A short walk round leads you to more open areas of beach and you can easily circumnavigate the whole pond with small children in tow. I saw several families out for the afternoon, and the sandy paths are definitely doable with a pushchair. In fact, there’s a special family trail of 2-2.5 miles that takes around 1-2 hours and offers views over the lake and plenty to explore.

As an added bonus, once you make it all the way round, there’s the National Trust Tern Café at the end where you can get hot and cold drinks, scones and cakes. I resisted the temptation to treat myself to a chocolate brownie, but it took all my willpower! Frensham Little Pond is a popular spot for birdwatchers, and there’s even a hide at the café for watching the activity on the water, so bring your binoculars if your little ones are into wildlife as there up to 90 species to spot.

There is also a toilet at the café, which is good to know if you’re potty training and worried about getting caught short.

Top tip – to make sure the kids don’t spot the café at the start of your walk, you might want to park at the car park to the east (the little one you reach first on Priory Lane from the A287) and pick up the trail from there and do it in reverse.

Parking is £4 per day at the weekends or free for National Trust members. There is a café and toilets at both sites.

Sunbury Walled Garden

Portrait of a girl in a blue and white striped top in Sunbury Walled Gardens

If a long walk is too much for little legs, and you just want somewhere super safe for small children to play and be able to explore freely, head to the delightful Walled Garden in Sunbury-on-Thames. It’s easy to miss on the route along the river from Hampton to Shepperton but well worth a visit. As the name suggests, ancient walls surround this lovely, manicured garden, so it’s easy to keep the children contained while you enjoy this peaceful spot. With beautiful flower beds, rose bushes, and a stone lion statue as its centrepiece, it feels like an escape from the hubbub of daily life and has toilets, so you don’t need to worry if your toddler suddenly has an urgent need to go. It’s also home to a lovely café with plenty of seating indoors, with views over the garden, and the Sunbury Embroidery Gallery is worth a look too.

You’re unlikely to spend a long time here, but if the grandparents are visiting it’s the perfect spot for getting out for an hour somewhere new and maybe grabbing a bite to eat, too.

Crane Park

Little girl holds a flower in a field of wildflowers in Crane Park

Having grown up in Whitton, a lot of my childhood was spent playing in Kneller Gardens and exploring Crane Park, both on foot and on my bike. Less well known Crane Park offers a convenient getaway from the hustle and bustle as it’s right on our doorstep and stretches from Meadway in Twickenham (opposite the entrance to Kneller Gardens) to Hanworth Road.

I’ve introduced it to many of my clients for child and family photo shoots and they are often amazed at how peaceful it is, after telling me they had no idea it even existed!

As well as once being home to the notorious gunpowder mills, a nature reserve has been created next to the old Shot Tower in the middle of Crane Park on the Hounslow side.

As the name suggest, the river Crane runs through the park and there are many makeshift stepping stones in the river where children (and probably adults) have gone before. It’s a great place to head in the summer with a little net for pond dipping – I fondly recall finding tadpoles and all sorts of other creatures on excursions during the school holidays when I was a child.

With a proper path that takes you from one end to the other, and the option to go off the track, Crane Park is fabulous to explore, even with little legs.  I’m planning to go back soon, to check out the nature reserve on foot.

Where do YOU like to spend time as a family?

I’d love to hear all about your favourite places to go when you want some fresh air and a taste of the countryside, even in London. Who knows? We might even find a fabulous new beauty spot to add to my growing list of lovely locations for a family photo shoot.

And if you’re thinking it’s about time you got round to a family photo shoot with your (not-so-little-now!) children, then get in touch today because there’s no time like the present and my diary is filling up fast. Don’t be that mum who never gets round to it and is full of regret when she suddenly realizes her children have all grown up and she never took the opportunity. Your family is unique and changing all the time and what it looks like today deserves to be celebrated.

5 awesome reasons to find out your baby’s sex!

The question over whether to find out your baby’s sex can be a divisive one. If one of you wants to find out and the other does not, it can be hard to find common ground because, let’s face it, who could keep a secret like that from their partner for months and months?

There are so many opportunities to accidentally spill the beans most people would struggle not to let something slip. From shopping for baby clothes and a buggy, to choosing how to decorate the nursery – plus pretty much every conversation you have about what’s to come – just saying ‘he’ or ‘she’ once without thinking could give the whole game away!

If you’re wondering whether to find out your baby’s sex you are going to need to reach an agreement with your other half. Thankfully, if you haven’t yet had your 20-week anomaly scan – which is when most people find out – the chances are you’ve got some time to think about it.

So if one of you needs convincing that it’s good to know in advance read on to see why finding out the baby’s sex was right for these mums…

 

1. It helps you prepare for what’s to come

‘I always thought I wouldn’t want to know,’ says mum-of-two Ilona O’Donnell, who gave birth at Kingston Hospital. ‘But the reality after I fell pregnant was that I NEEDED to. I suffered from anxiety in pregnancy and struggled to imagine what life would be like with a baby. I needed to visualise a little boy or girl because I couldn’t imagine having an actual baby at the end of the pregnancy.

‘Knowing the sex helped it all feel more real.’

‘I found out as soon as I could with my first two children because I needed to be able to picture something,’ adds mum-of-three Isolde O’Kane. ‘I couldn’t have imagined not knowing the sex.’

And if you’re utterly convinced you’re having a boy (whether due to instinct, the shape of your bump or a family history of boys), having that ruled out at the scan can help you get your head round the idea of having a girl (or vice versa) and what to expect.

 

new mum enjoys snuggles with her newborn baby boy

 

2. You’re totally impatient!

Being pregnant is definitely a good excuse to get whatever you want, so if you want to find out your baby’s sex, now is the time to put your foot down if one of you simply cannot bear to wait.

‘My husband and I had the opposite view on finding out the baby’s sex,’ says mum-of-one Andisheh Thomson, from Twickenham. ‘He didn’t want to, but I’m the type that skips to the end of novels as I’m too impatient to wait.

‘There was no chance of me not finding what my baby’s sex was, so I overruled my husband!’

And mum-of-two Denny Thomas, from Isleworth, adds: ‘You can find out, so why wouldn’t you? I’m a control freak and was desperate to know, because I needed to plan!’

Most people find out the sex at the 20-week anomaly scan, unless they opt to have a private scan at around 16 weeks. But if even that sounds too far away, it’s possible to pay for a simple blood test that looks for the presence of male DNA in the mother’s blood. The test is found to be 98% accurate and can be carried out as early as 10 weeks!

 

3. You can pick out your baby’s name in advance

When I was pregnant I wanted to meet my baby before committing to a name, but are plenty of people who prefer to have everything planned out. Choosing a name can really help you to bond with your unborn baby and knowing the sex makes this possible.

‘As soon as we were told our baby was going to be a boy, we started calling him by the name we’d chosen,’ says mum-of-one Viola Bogdal. ‘When he was born it was still a great surprise to meet our little boy. We’d been talking to him in my belly and using his name for so long, but it wasn’t until that amazing moment that we finally saw him!’

Mum-of-one Melissa Adu, from Feltham, adds: ‘I had been making a list of baby names early in the pregnancy so I was eager to get picking. I chose her name before she was due, so I was also given lots of personalised gifts with her name on at the baby shower.’

4. You can go shopping for lovely things

If you’re someone who wants your baby to be dressed in pink or blue, or have a gender specific décor in mind for the nursery, finding out in advance gives you an opportunity to get organised.

‘I was delighted when I found out I was having a girl,’ says Melissa. ‘Being a first-time mum everything was so exciting and I wanted to be able to pick out pretty outfits and choose a pushchair for my baby.’

And Denny adds: ‘Once I knew I was having a girl I wanted to buy some things. Not because I wanted to identify her as a girl, but because I like things that are pink, sparkly and cute.

‘Boys’ things are cute too, but it’s more about teddy bears, while with girls it’s all butterflies and fairies.’

It’s also handy for friends and family when picking out gifts. ‘If someone has never had kids, they don’t always know what to buy,’ explains Denny. ‘If they know it’s a boy or a girl it steers them in the right direction on what clothes to choose.’

5. If you find out your baby’s sex it can help an older sibling understand what’s coming

Even if you were one of the minority who decide not to find out your baby’s sex first time round, it can be hard helping your toddler or pre-schooler to understand they are going to have a sibling when you get pregnant again.

Explaining that a little brother or sister is on the way can really help them grasp the concept when they look at mummy’s growing belly!

‘I flat out refused to find out with my first pregnancy,’ says mum-of-two Lucinda Christian-Lim, from Twickenham. ‘I enjoyed the speculation and didn’t mind either way, but we decided to find out with my second to make it easier on my son.

‘I can honestly say it was still a wonderful surprise at 20 weeks and I thoroughly enjoyed knowing second time round.’

A big sister cuddles up with her newborn baby brother

A word for warning when finding out your baby’s sex

If you’ve made your decision and are planning to find out your baby’s sex, please be warned – there is always a chance that the sonographer gets it wrong!

There are no guarantees until your baby is born, as it’s always possible that your baby is feeling shy when you go for your scan. A wrong angle, a slight turn of the hips, and what’s hiding between their legs can easily get missed. Of course, when the sonographer announces the sex it’s usually with a caveat – that it’s not 100% accurate – but in the excitement of being told it’s a boy or a girl, not all parents pay attention to that crucial disclaimer.

Of course, if that beautiful girl you’re expecting does turn out to be a boy on delivery day you’re going to be so blown away by love for that gorgeous bundle of cuteness, all you’ll care about if that your baby is happy and healthy!

On the other hand, even if you aren’t planning on finding out, don’t forget that your baby might have other ideas!

‘When we went for the scan with baby number two the very first image was butt first, legs akimbo,’ laughs Ilona. ‘There was no doubt we were having a boy.’

And having extra scans means more opportunities to accidentally find out.

‘We hadn’t planned to find out with our second child,’ says mum-of-two Hannah MacGregor. ‘But as I was poorly I had lots of measuring scans and at 29 weeks I could tell straight away it was going to be a boy! I was on my own for that scan, but knew I couldn’t keep it a surprise from my hubby!’

Now it’s over to you– will you be choosing to find out your baby’s sex or not?

There are so many decisions to make during pregnancy, including what to buy for your baby, where to give birth, making a birth plan and which pushchair is right for you, but choosing whether to find out your baby’s sex is one of the fun ones.

I’d love to hear what you decide to do, so please comment below and tell us what influenced your decision.

And if you’re still wondering whether you should wait until the birth, you can read the top 5 reasons NOT to find out the sex of your baby here.

5 top reasons to NOT find out the sex of your baby

When you are pregnant one of the few decisions you have real control over is whether you are going to find out the sex of your baby.

It’s remarkable to think that just a generation or so ago, having an ultrasound scan and being able to find out the sex of your baby before it is born was largely unheard of.

But these days, when a couple announces that they are expecting a baby, one of the first questions anyone asks is either: ‘Are you going to find out the sex of your baby?’ or ‘Do you know what you’re having?’

how to decide whether to find out the sex of your baby

More parents are choosing to find out the sex of their baby

With advances in modern technology, and the opportunity to have private scans and tests as early as 10 weeks, more and more parents are choosing to find out the sex of their baby.

In fact, it’s so common these days to find out, it’s almost expected. My own decision to wait until the birth was questioned constantly during the second half of my first pregnancy. People simply couldn’t understand why I didn’t have to know there and then.

‘Don’t you want to be able to plan and buy lots of nice clothes?’ asked the receptionist at the gym. ‘How can you pick out baby names when you don’t know what you’re having?’ quizzed a colleague. ‘How can you decorate the nursery when you don’t know the colour!?’

From the response, you’d think I’d deliberately chosen to expose my unborn baby to a harmful disease. But I am, and always will be, 100% happy with our decision to wait.

Typically, pregnant mums-to-be go for an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks, and it’s at this scan the sonographer can usually tell whether you’re expecting a boy or a girl.

 

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to find out the sex of your baby, here are 5 reasons why it’s good to wait…

you can find out the sex of your baby at 20 weeks

It’s the MOST wonderful surprise

Alright, I get it. Even if you find out at the 20-week scan it is still a surprise, but what better reward for all that hard work and effort during labour and childbirth than to learn the sex of your baby?

‘In the build-up to the birth you get to enjoy the speculation, not knowing if you’re carrying a boy or a girl,’ explains mum of seven Tanya Hatton, from Ham. ‘The surprise at the end when you finally meet your baby is the greatest feeling.’

Mum-of-two Holly Christie agrees: ‘I enjoyed not knowing.’ And Zoe Duff Prindiville says: ‘I wanted a bit of a surprise after all the pain!’

There are very few genuine surprises in life, but looking down at the baby you have just given birth to and discovering whether it is a boy or a girl is the most incredible one of all. With my first child, I was amazed to see I had a daughter, because all my husband’s side of the family are boys. It was the most fabulous and unexpected surprise!

It’ll piss off your mother-in-law!

Having a baby is a life-changing adventure and naturally one that your loved ones and friends are going to be interested in. However, if you’ve got a control freak in your family who wants to be more involved in your pregnancy than you’re happy with, they won’t like not knowing whether you’re expecting a boy or a girl! Likewise all the random strangers who ask what you’re having, as though it makes a blind bit of difference to them.

‘I can’t tell you how many people were annoyed that I didn’t find out,’ says one mum, from Hounslow. ‘But it makes it even more special for you and your partner to not know.’

If you are happy waiting, it’ll drive other people crazy and it’ll also give you a feeling of control over something during late pregnancy when it feels like your whole body has been taken over by the baby that you’re carrying. It’s nice to have that power!

Avoid gender stereotyping for longer.. and get better gifts!

Besides the inherent perils of undertaking a nappy change on a baby boy whilst sleep-deprived, there really isn’t that much difference between caring for a newborn boy and a baby girl. But the moment you tell people what sex your unborn child is they will start dispensing ‘advice’ about bringing up boys or girls. Gender stereotyping is alive and well, you know. Just wait until all those gifts of pink or blue baby clothes start piling up! At least when no-one knows all those well-wishers will have to think outside the box when it comes to gifts for you and the baby. Hello gift cards and practical presents!

It keeps the excitement higher

While this can be true for all pregnancies, this one is definitely aimed more at those on their third baby or beyond, especially if you’ve already had a boy AND a girl.

‘We found out the sex with our first two children – a girl and a boy – but wanted a surprise for our last baby,’ says mum-of-three Georgia, from East Molesey. ‘It keeps friends and family on their toes, so the excitement level is where it should be!’

There’s also nothing more awesome than looking down at your pregnant belly and not knowing whether those feet kicking your internal organs and pressing on your bladder will belong to a boy or a girl, and wondering what he or she will grow up to be.

Motivation during childbirth

It doesn’t always happen this way, but it’s safe to say that labour and childbirth can be a long and drawn-out process. Having something to look forward to – besides meeting your baby – can be a strong motivating factor in the delivery room.

When mum is coming to the end of a long and tiring labour and struggling to find the energy for those last few pushes, the thought of finding out the sex of the baby could really help her keep going.

‘I wanted my partner to be the one to tell me if it was a boy or a girl,’ says first-time mum Laura Fox, a teacher who works in Twickenham. ‘In this day and age you can find out almost everything at the touch of a button. This way you actually have to give birth to find out!’

So, are you going to find out the sex of your baby?

Choosing whether to find out the sex of your baby is a personal decision and there really is no right or wrong answer. The problem comes when you and your partner can’t agree on whether to find out or not. But if you both love a little mystery in your life and can embrace the joy in NOT knowing, what better than to wait until you meet your baby in person?

Still not sure what to do? Go here to hear the other side of the argument… 5 awesome reasons to find out your baby’s sex!

And if you’ve already decided, join the conversation and tell us below why you went one way or the other. I would love to hear more!

3 reasons to book a newborn photo shoot while you’re pregnant!

When you’re expecting a baby, there are so many things to research, plan for and buy that it really pays to be organised, especially when it comes to a newborn photo shoot.

With midwife appointments to attend, the nursery to decorate, baby equipment to shop for and ante-natal classes to fit in, it can be hard to think past anything else beyond labour and childbirth.

But too often parents-to-be don’t give any thought to professional portraits until after baby has arrived and realise too late that the window of opportunity has passed.  Don’t let that happen to you!

True newborn sessions ideally need to take place just six to 10 days after your baby is born when your newborn is still sleepy and curls up just like in the womb! Booking your newborn photographer while you’re still pregnant is a great way to guarantee you won’t miss out on the chance of those classic sleepy baby poses AND tick a big thing off your to-do list.

I appreciate that mums-to-be may be nervous about planning too far in advance – even fearing they might jinx the pregnancy – but here are my top 3 reasons for booking your newborn photo shoot early.

 1. Less stressful for you

The precious first weeks with your new baby will pass by in a flash. You will quickly forget just how tiny her little hands and feet were, or how small she was in your arms. Within that first month your baby will grow rapidly, become more alert, and change more than you can possibly imagine.

Having newborn portraits taken allows you to stop time and keep those memories forever. I understand that the mere idea of leaving the house can be a daunting prospect for new parents, but if you’ve booked in advance you’ll know exactly what to expect and I’ll also help you to prepare so the experience is as easy and stress-free as possible. You really don’t want to be arranging everything when you’ve got a new baby to care for!

2. Guarantee your slot

As a specialist newborn photographer, I only book a handful of newborn photo shoots at my studio in Isleworth each month and juggle my diary based on when your baby arrives. Once these slots are filled I don’t take any more advance bookings. This ensures I can fit your session in during those crucial first 10 days after your baby is born and give you the very best service during this magical time in your lives. No-one wants to wait weeks to see the portraits of their beautiful new baby for the first time!

Enquiring with me well before the 30-week mark makes it far more likely that I will have availability, but be warned: if you’re due in September, that is always a busy month because all those festive babies start making an appearance!

3. Customise your newborn photo shoot so it’s personal to you

Another huge advantage to booking your newborn portrait session early is that it allows us plenty of time for the really fun stuff. While clients like you book me for my style of posed newborn photography, each session is custom designed to suit your home décor and your taste.

We do lots of planning at your pre-session consultation when you can pick out the colours and textures you are most drawn to. Of course, you always have access to all my props, wraps, accessories, blankets and backdrops at your session, but when you book well in advance we can work together to design something unique to you and your baby.

That might mean ordering in a cute little headband in your favourite colour or a custom-knitted garment to put baby in, incorporating a treasured personal item into your session, or it might simply give you time to find the perfect outfit to wear when you’re photographed with your new baby.

But what if my baby has already arrived?

Firstly, congratulations on your new baby! You are in for the most wonderful ride.

But if you’re worried you’re too late for a newborn photo shoot, don’t be. Depending on when my pre-booked babies decide to arrive (and there’s no way of predicting that for certain!), it may be possible for me to fit you in now. Just get in touch today to see if I have availability and I will do my best to help!

And even if you’re already outside the first 10 days all is not lost. In fact newborn photo shoots can still take place when your baby is up to a month old or more. The important thing is these wonderful moments are captured for you forever, whether your baby is asleep or wide awake. Now is better than never!

 

Why mums need to get in the picture

It’s sad but true, but mother and baby photos aren’t usually high on the agenda when most mums book a newborn portrait session.

‘I’ve not slept well in months and look exhausted’. ‘I’ve got too much baby weight to lose’. ‘I’m not looking my best’. ‘I’ve still got a baby bump, even though I’m no longer pregnant’.

There are endless reasons why new mums are keen to avoid getting in front of the camera when they come to my studio for a newborn photography session, but these mother and baby photos are some of the most important portraits I capture.

Mother holds her tiny newborn baby in her arms

Think back to the family photographs that you treasure most from your childhood and I bet you don’t care at all what your mother looks like – you’re just happy that she’s in them, and curious to know what she looked like before you even had memories.

I wish there were more images of my mother holding me in her arms as a baby, but back then, long before the advent of digital images and iPhone cameras, family photos were relatively few and far between.

For that reason alone, they are even more important to me. The dubious haircuts, dated clothes and ‘stylish’ spectacles might make me laugh, but I’ve never once thought my mum looked tired or that she could have done with losing a few pounds.

Baby girl held snug in her mother's arms

When clients book me for a newborn session they are letting me into their lives at an emotion-filled time. I love creating gorgeous portraits of sleepy babies all curled up just like they were in the womb, but what I am most honoured to do is capture the beautiful relationship forming between a mother and her child.

Mother and baby photos bring memories flooding back

The newborn stage is a precious time but it flashes by in a blur – images of you holding your tiny baby may well serve as your most powerful and abiding reminders of the intense emotions you felt during these early days of motherhood.

Newborn baby boy rests his head in his mother's arms

Your baby will never be this small in your arms again and you cannot turn back the clock, so I always encourage mums to get in the frame. And appearing in photographs with your newborn can actually help to cement that incredible and overwhelming bond you have with your baby. You may not feel your best, but I use careful posing and framing to flatter your motherly figure.

Swaddled baby sleeps soundly in her mother's arms

It’s these memories that you will truly cherish in years to come and having portraits taken at your newborn session with me ensures that the memories will endure. These portraits will become part of your family’s history.

A doting father embraces his wife as she holds his baby girl

It’s hard to imagine how quickly your baby will turn into a toddler and your toddler into an independent, inquisitive child, but even at the tender age of two my youngest daughter loved looking back at photographs of me holding her as a baby. Would you feel sad if you had nothing to show your children?

• If you are pregnant and contemplating a newborn session for you and your baby, get in touch now to arrange your complimentary consultation.

Stunning artwork to showcase your favourite portraits

One of my favourite parts of being a photographer is seeing my work turned into stunning artwork for your walls. It’s my ultimate goal when you book your session – ensuring every client has something beautiful to display in their home.

So I love it when the delivery van arrives at the studio with a parcel of goodies for me to unpack.

Courier Delivery

This week, the courier arrived with two enormous brown cardboard boxes and I duly got excited to open them. Inside were three stunning new samples for my studio: beautiful, hand-crafted, high-quality products that will stand the test of time.

I am so proud to now be able to offer them to my clients. You’ll have to forgive the iPhone snaps, but I was just too excited to share these with you straight away.

Stunning Artwork

These new products join the line-up of custom framed prints and offer a sleek, modern alternative to traditional framing.

So let’s take a closer look.

Introducing…

1. The Float Print


2. The Framed Float Print


3. The Luxury Box Frame

I filmed a video of me unpacking the boxes where I talk about some of the features and show you how brilliantly well packaged they are. You can rest assured that when your order is ready for collection from the studio you won’t have any concerns about transporting it home safely. Check back soon to watch the video.

Award-winning baby photography in London

It’s been so busy here at Victoria Rowe Photography HQ I’ve not got round to sharing news about my latest award-winning baby photography.

After entering the Guild of Photographers’ ‘Image of the Month’ competition again, I’ve now doubled my tally of awards.

I selected portraits from a newborn and a sitting baby session to be judged in the March contest. Both featured incredibly cute babies, but choosing which to enter was tough as the judging criteria is so strict. To be award-winning, your work has to show technical expertise and creativity. Cute alone doesn’t cut it, so I was thrilled to learn I’d been awarded two more prestigious Bronze Bars when I finally checked the results.

Award-winning Sitting Baby Session

This gorgeous image of six-month-old Sam, from Hampton, was taken during a sitting baby session. He first came to my studio in Isleworth for newborn portraits when he was just six days old. So it was lovely to welcome him back, because this stage is my absolute favourite to photograph. Your baby is full of smiles and able to sit up unaided, but – crucially – not crawling away just yet!

We have lots of fun getting your baby to laugh, playing with toys and seeing what funny facial expressions your baby pulls between all the giggles.

Sitter session babies usually take place between six and 10 months, though it can be later. It’s best to wait until babies are truly ready or they will slump over and get grumpy, and no-one wants photographs of that!

Instead I am looking to create stunning portraits from this wonderful phase in your baby’s development. It will soon become a distant memory and who wouldn’t want this gorgeous image up on their wall?

Award-winning baby photography

Styled Newborn Photography

The second award came from a newborn portrait session with two-week-old William. He was a delight to photograph and the first newborn in ages not to poo on any of my blankets – or me! Believe me when I tell you that’s unusual. Getting pooed and weed on is very much part of the job!

The winning bronze image was from a really simple set-up that complemented his lovely skin tone. I love the styling so much, I’ve turned my favourite into a beautiful box frame sample for the studio. At 30×20 inches, it’s the perfect size to go above a fireplace, a baby’s cot or in the living room.

Bronze award winner in the Guild of Photographers' Image of the Month competition for newborn photography

I love watching babies grow during their first year and it never fails to amaze me how quickly they change. If you’ve missed the window for a newborn session, there’s still time for me to capture beautiful baby portraits for you that you’ll treasure forever. Late is definitely better than never!

Get in touch today to book your complimentary pre-session consultation and together we can build the perfect portrait session for you.

You can view my profile at the Guild of Photographers here.

 

How hypnobirthing can dramatically cut time in labour


It’s not uncommon for mums-to-be to feel anxious in the build-up to their due date. But hypnobirthing is one way to help take control of the situation – and dramatically cut your labour time. 

No-one can possibly know exactly what labour and childbirth will hold for them. When will my baby arrive? Will I get to stick to my birthing plan? Can I cope with the pain or should I ask for an epidural? What if something goes wrong?

These are questions that hypnobirthing expert Anne Williams often hears from pregnant women anxious about childbirth.

Hypnobirthing therapist Anne Williams from Transforming Birth in Hampton, South West London

Hypnobirthing expert Anne Williams

Fears about giving birth are extremely common, with up to one in 10 women suffering a morbid fear of childbirth.

But there are many ways to reduce anxiety. Hypnobirthing helps mums-to-be take control of the experience to increase their chances of a calm, easy labour and a comfortable natural birth. The techniques used are so powerful they can help cut time in labour from 12 hours to around four. Who wouldn’t want that?

Helping anxious mums to be

“Childbirth doesn’t have to be traumatic or hugely painful,” explains qualified hypnotherapist Anne Williams, from Transforming Birth in Hampton. “Hypnobirthing is about giving you confidence to go with your body’s flow to bring your baby into the world gently.

“It can vastly reduce your likelihood of medical interventions.”

Anne offers one-to-one personalised hypnosis sessions with both mums-to-be and their birth partners.

“We address what is making them feel anxious and empower them to take control of the birth experience.

“You’d think from watching One Born Every Minute that every birth is dramatic,” she says. “But the reality is most births would make boring TV.

“It’s helping people look at the likelihood of their fears coming true. If mum is healthy, baby is developing properly, and there are no complicating conditions, it’s highly likely you’ll have a straight-forward birth.”

Hypnobirthing can cut labour time and lead to a happier birth experience

Powerful relaxation techniques

Hypnobirthing uses techniques that focus on the power of breathing, relaxation and positive visualisation to help women go into labour feeling calm and confident.

“Of course, hypnobirthing cannot guarantee a straightforward labour,” says Anne, who started practising six years ago. “But all the statistics show that using these techniques makes it far more likely.

“The more relaxed you are in labour, the better your body will work.”

And it’s not just about preparing mum for the delivery, but also her birth partner too.

“It’s vital your birth partner learns the same techniques as you,” reveals Anne, who helps clients from all over South West London and beyond. “That way he can play an active role, giving reassurance and encouragement when you need it.

“That helps dads feel much more involved and makes all the difference to mum.”

More natural birth experiences

As well as helping women to have a positive birth experience, other benefits of hypnobirthing can be a reduction in the use of drugs for pain relief, fewer Caesareans, and less need for medical interventions such as assisting childbirth with forceps or Vonteuse delivery, which is all better for your baby’s health.

“When a baby isn’t born full of drugs or recovering from a traumatic delivery that is all going to help make breastfeeding easier, because baby is more alert and ready to feed,” says mum-of-two Anne. “We also know that hypnobirthing can reduce the chance of post-natal depression.

“It’s perfectly natural to experience the baby blues because your hormones are settling down, but add an exhausted body and an anxious mind to the mix and that can turn into post-natal depression. Hypnobirthing can really help reduce the risk by dealing with anxieties during pregnancy.”

HYPNOBIRTHING

Benefits at a glance:

• Cut labour from 12 to 4.5 hours

• Chance of Caesarean down from 25% to 7%

• Reduced need for forceps and Vonteuse delivery

• Fewer pain relief drugs used

• Easier breastfeeding

• Higher APGAR scores

• Lower risk of post-natal depression

Dealing with anxieties

She helps first-time mums overcome common fears about whether it will be painful, how they’ll cope or whether they’ll lose control.

“If you’re fearful and have negative expectations, you’ll be more tense, making it more difficult for the muscles of the uterus to work as they should,” explains Anne.

“There can also be all sorts of other worries that come with pregnancy. You may have concerns about money, whether you’ll be a good parent, or about the disruption to your career. Many fear they won’t cope with the inevitable sleepless nights.

“Dealing with those anxieties in your mind before you go in to labour will all help your body to relax.”

And for mums who have had a traumatic previous birth experience she helps them to conquer the unconscious thoughts that can sabotage the body’s ability to give birth naturally.

“If your brain is telling you next time it’s going to be painful, or that you won’t cope, you will be more tense.

“Fear has a huge influence on pain in childbirth because being scared can send your body into ‘fight or flight’ mode, which interferes with the hormones that help childbirth along. Hypnobirthing uses positive affirmations to stop that stress mechanism from being triggered in the first place, so labour isn’t interrupted.”

Never too early to start hypnobirthing classes

Most pregnant women start hypnobirthing classes during the third trimester, but if you are really anxious it’s never too early to seek help.

“It’s crucial you have time to practise the techniques so that when labour starts the visualisation comes more easily,” says Anne.

She believes women are equipped to give birth without any form of chemical pain relief, if they choose.

“Labouring mums aren’t always given the chance to tune in to their instincts,” she says. “This gives them the confidence to let their body do exactly what it’s designed to do.

“But the NHS is cottoning on to the fact that hypnobirthing works.

“It’s simple, but so powerful, and brings significant benefits for both mums and babies. Who wouldn’t want their baby to have the best possible start in life.”

If you are considering hypnobirthing during pregnancy, Anne recommends choosing a practitioner who is registered with either the National Council for Hypnotherapy or the General Hypnotherapy Council.

• To find out more about Anne’s bespoke 1-2-1 training, visit www.transforming-birth.co.uk or call her on 020 8546 2122. 

Anne's Top 5 Tips for a Great Birth

Don’t listen to negative birth stories: It doesn’t help at all!

Pick the right birth partner: This person acts as your advocate in labour. They need to be calm and reassuring as they help guide you through your relaxation and breathing techniques.

The more undisturbed you can be, the better: Stay at home as long as possible or plan a home birth. Ask for a quiet midwife and request that monitoring is kept to a minimum to help keep you ‘in the zone’.

Make your room as cosy as possible: Dim the lights, cover clocks, play calming music and use a diffuser with a favourite fragrance. 

Listen to your body: When you start to feel you can’t go on, that’s a good sign your baby is coming very soon!

 

Also posted in Experts

Two Bronze Bar awards for newborn photography

And the winner is…

I am both excited and delighted to announce that this week I earned the distinction of winning not one but TWO Bronze Awards in the Guild of Professional Photographers ‘Image of the Month’ competition.

Award-winning image of newborn baby girl just 11 days old captured at Isleworth photographer's studio in South West London

Winning awards isn’t something that I ever think about when I’m photographing a newborn session. My focus is purely on ensuring the baby is happy and safe and capturing a wonderful selection of images for my clients.

But once the session is over and the editing process begins I can’t help but let out a little squeal when I realise one of those images is extra special.

Having the courage to share that work with the esteemed judging panel at the Guild – the highly respected association of photographers – to be assessed is something else entirely.

I’ve been a member since 2014, when I opened my newborn and baby photography business, but this was only the second time I have ever entered the Image of the Month competition. The first was a rushed affair, where I learned not to leave things until one minute before the deadline! But it took me another year to put my work up for scrutiny again, and I am thrilled I did.

The competition attracts entries in a range of categories from photographers all over the UK, with more than 1,200 images submitted in January alone.

National competition

Because I specialise in newborn baby photography it is extremely important to me that my work earns recognition in this field.

Both of my winning images were taken during a newborn session with an 11-day-old baby girl at my home studio in Isleworth.

Whether the baby slept like a dream or barely caught a wink of sleep during the session is irrelevant to the panel who judge the Newborns and Babies category. Instead they are looking at four key ingredients:

  • subject and story-telling
  • composition and creativity
  • lighting
  • technical and post-production excellence

Stronger images will draw the eye in, hold the viewer’s interest and show control and use of light to enhance the subject. They must also demonstrate a high standard of technical ability.

As Guild director Lesley Thirsk says: “Bronze Bar images are something to be proud of.

“These are of a strong standard at national competition level.”

Newborn baby girl held safely in her father's hands

Rewarding

To say that I am proud of this result is an understatement. When I logged in to check the results, I was so nervous. I was hoping and praying for my first bronze bar, but never expected to be awarded two!

Because I am always looking for ways to enhance my skills, I undergo regular training to develop my expertise in the art, craft and profession of photography. Now I plan to enter the Image of the Month competition throughout the year ahead.

Who knows? Next time I might even secure my first gold or silver award! 

I truly love my job and find it so rewarding to be part of this special period in a family’s life. If you would like your own photo session, to capture precious memories of your unique family, I would love to hear from you. Tell me here what your goals for a photography session are and together we will help turn your dream into a reality.

On the other hand, if you appreciate my art and know someone who is expecting a baby in 2017, I’d love it if you would share this post with them.