In December I received the brilliant news that I had 6 images in the finals of 2 categories for The Guild of Photographer’s Image of the Year - Baby and Toddler and Newborn photography.
The Guild’s 2022 awards ceremony was held on 4th February 2023 in Stoke-on-Trent - the evening celebrates the success of photographer’s from not just around the UK, but internationally also, across a wide variety of genres.
The Image of the Year in the different categories kicked off the evening for me - The judges had chosen their 10 favourite stand alone images in each categories back in December and at the awards they announced the runner up and winning image.
Not only did one of my favourite images of the year win runner up in the Baby and Toddler category, but one of my newborn images also came runner up in the Newborn category.
The image of Amaya (left) was a follow on from a photograph from her newborn session - during lockdown I had to temporarily close my business, like parents up and down the country I had to homeschool my daughter and we ended up spending a lot of time at our allotment. The allotment became such a joyful break from the world around us - and whilst I could not grow my business, I could grow food and flowers. This lead to me commissioning my greenhouse prop and creating the images that combined both my favourite things. This has continued to develop my use of florals which has grown and become more refined. More recently I have been exploring the meanings of flowers and plants along side my newborn imagery. The newborn image of Aarika shows her sleeping, surrounded by shasta daisies - which mean: 'happiness', 'cheerfulness', 'friendship' and 'wholeness'.
During the past year I have been submitting images regularly, pushing myself to create beautiful photographs for my clients, and, with their permission, entering them into competition. For me this is a good way to obtain feedback from internationally recognised judges and find ways to improve the standard of my work.
In doing so I was creating a body of work that on Saturday night gained me the title of Newborn Photographer of the Year 2022 and Photographer of the Year 2022.
I can honestly say that my jaw dropped when my name was called!
My goal is always to create the best possible for my clients, this will always be my aim - but to win a national title whilst doing this is just mind blowing to me.
The images from 2022 - all of which obtained a bronze or high award.
I am so excited to see what 2023 brings, I want to continue to develop my work with flowers, but most of all, I want to capture your precious babies and freeze time for you so you can remember always how teeny they once were.
New Procedures for your session.
I think it as fair to say it's been a long 16 weeks since I shut the doors to my studio. I am thrilled to be back open now. It has been a stressful time, trying to ensure the safety of my wonderful clients and my family too, BUT I would not open unless I felt I could keep you all safe.
With that in mind, I want to share with you what I have done to reassure you that my safe is safe.
Now, most of the following points I did anyway - I always use hand santiser during a session, outfits, wraps and fabrics have always been washed between sessions and I have always cleaned. This should be standard practice with all photographers. I am now, however, leaving a minimum of 24hours between sessions, this does mean I can book fewer sessions but it allows me to air the studio trying to give any germs less of a chance to be transmitted between clients.
I will be wearing a mask throughout the session and I have face masks available for any clients who do not have their own. I will be asking that siblings are only present in the studio for their photographs - this is to minimise the time they spend in an enclosed space.
Prior to all sessions I will need to confirm everyone has been well for the previous 72 hours. I will be taking my children's and my own temperature on a regular basis in order to comply with this.
If you are a newborn client your session will be arranged between 14 and 21 days post birth, this is to allow a 14 day isolation from the hospital (this maybe changed depending on the hospital protocol).
During your session I will be asking you to social distance as much as possible, sometimes, with older babies I do need some help reassuring your little one, in these situations I will move further away to allow you and your little one space. I have rearranged the studio to allow a bit more space between my shooting area and your seating space as well.
With all these adjustments in place I feel the studio is as safe as it can possibly be, I am more than happy to discuss any points with you prior to your session to make sure we are all comfortable and I very, very much look forward to creating some beautiful images for you to cherish...Even if your little one is a little older than my usual newborn window - Little Asees just above came in at 3 months old for her session - we got some gorgeous sleepy shots, and some brilliant smiles too!
It is safe to say I made a very similar face picking up my camera again!
Self-care tips for new mums.
Being a new mum the concept of self-care might seem impossible, between the sleepless nights and a baby that seems to want nothing but you through the day finding time for yourself might be the last thing on your mind. I often have new mums come into my studio that say they barely have time for a shower or a hot drink in the first few months of motherhood.
Self-care is a little bit of a buzz word at the moment and its often a little misunderstood. Self-care is basically just caring for yourself as you do your new baby. I've listed a few ideas below that take less than 20 minutes for you to do and will leave you feeling recharged and ready to go.
Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, take a little time for you, you are just as important as your new addition.
I absolutely love newborn shoots and I'm always so grateful when people choose me to capture such precious moments for them. I've been wanting to do a quick run down of questions that I get asked a lot about newborn sessions, as always though I'm always happy to answer any questions you have.
When can I book my newborn shoot?
You can book as early as you'd like, I've had some parents book as soon as they find out they are pregnant. I only take a small of newborn bookings every month to ensure I can fit you in when your little one joins us so it's best to book early to avoid disappointment.
When is the best time to have a newborn shoot?
Newborn shoots usually take place within the first 3 weeks, this tends to allow for a sleepy baby, so I take note of your due day and there and once you have had baby, simply let me know and we will set a date for the shoot.
How long does a newborn session take?
This is a tricky one to answer as it depends on how settled your little one is. I usually allow up to four hours of studio time for my newborn session. 4 hours sounds like a lot, but between feeding, burping and getting your little one used to me moving them around it goes very quickly! Allowing a good block of time means we can keep it nice and relaxed and you don't feel pressured if they take a little while to drift off during the session.
My baby is already here, is it too late to book in?
It depends on the age of your newborn. It's easier to get the snuggly, sleepy shots the younger they are but we can always get some beautiful images. Feel free to contact me and we can discuss what we can do to make sure you have some perfect little memories.
Can you do the newborn session in my house?
Because of the huge amount of props and equipment I use to capture the perfect image it's sadly not practical for me to come to your home for the session.
What should I expect during the shoot?
During your session I capture not only baby in a variety of poses but also with you, ensuring you have photographs as a family too. I always value your input as to colours, poses and props that you do and do not like. This way we can create the ideal photographs of your perfect little one.
Can you tell me a little about your studio?
I have a home studio, with wraps, bonnets and props to hand, and I keep the room nice and toasty warm for baby. I've got a whole host of white noise/lullabies on hand to make it as relaxing as possible for you and your new arrival. I'm based in Sidcup, not far from the high street and there is plenty of on street parking nearby.
What if I don't like things like bonnets or props?
Before every session I always discuss things that you would like to have included. You'll receive a questionnaire when you book with me to fill out and I'm always happy to work with you to make sure its absolutely perfect.
What if my baby won't settle during the session?
All babies are different, some are very settled and others aren't its part of what makes them so special. I've been working with little ones for so long now that I completely understand that each baby is totally different so please don't worry if they decide to test out their lungs on the day. I leave enough time in the session so that you can feed your little one as often as you need to and have picked up a few little tricks from my own two along the way that we can try.
Are we allowed to be in the pictures with our baby?
Absolutely! I LOVE it when you get involved. If you have any older siblings they are more than welcome to join in too.
Can I bring my own props/outfits?
I have most things available in the studio, everything is carefully chosen to co ordinate to create the styled images you see on my social media/website. Should you have something sentimental you would like me to include this can be worked out for you :) Just let me know in advance if you can so I can plan it into the session.
What if my baby has baby acne or flaky skin?
Please don't worry about this, Almost all newborns have flaky skin or a few little spots, I am skilled in reducing how much is visible in the images if you’d like me to.
First years...How they fly!
One of the deepest joys in my job is seeing the little bumps and newborns growing and getting to document that amazing first year. The changes that happen are so rapid, the curled up, sleepy bundle that I photograph at just days old that return just months later sitting completely unaided, the little noises that newborns make turning into infectious giggles, that then later return running inquisitively around the studio, with the first words on their lips. It is just amazing and I am so honoured to capture these gorgeous little people growing.
One year ago, I met little Edie. She liked to stare at me...a lot!!
I was delighted when she came back for her sitter session, her beautiful blue eyes still wide for me to capture!
Her first birthday quickly rolled around - cake smash time!! Not only was it lovely to get messy with Edie but was such a pleasure to catch up with her big sister, who showed me her racoon top with great excitement!
I have a guest blog for you! Sharing experiences of motherhood is one of the most enlightening and interesting parts of my job. What was the most surprising part of being a mum for you?
Faye's Journey so far:
Does anything really prepare you for motherhood? That's a question I've been asking myself for the past 8 months. There's programmes, classes, books, family, friends...a whole array of options and advice for 'help' with parenting. But like I said, does anything really prepare you? Can anyone truly explain the range of emotions that we go through?
I think it's something you have to experience first hand to really understand. The exhaustion, pain, fear, annoyance, joy, love to name just a few cannot be prepared for. Now there is not a single thing that I would change about my son, he is the apple of my husband and mines eye. But it's not easy, it's not all sun and roses, in fact it's the most difficult thing in the world.
I'm not just talking about the sleepless nights or the smell of sick that becomes your new brand of perfume, the pain of having to wind, the godawful nappies, the time it takes to leave the house, the lack of alcohol. No I'm not referring to that, although they're hardly a walk in the park. What is truly difficult, what breaks my heart and fills it with joy at the same time, is how fast they grow!
When you realise that your baby is no longer really considered a baby. He is infact an eating machine, a boy, a giggly cheeky little man and you wonder where the hell the time went. Where did my little baby go? The one that couldn't do anything without me? The one that would just lie in my arms without wriggling out of my grip? Now he's off, he's discovered transportation in the form of a walker, he's discovered screaming to get your attention, he's discovered real food, he's discovered words. Motherhood is a roller coaster that no one can prepare for. 8months in and I've already gone through every emotion I can possibly imagine...here's to going grey early...and absolutely loving it!
Eliza was a little older than a typical newborn who comes for a shoot, generally speaking, this makes it a little harder to get those sleepy, curled up shots - but, the positive of it is, more awake shots.
A short nap meant we could get some sleepy shots before some more with big blue eyes.
This little lady was wonderful, and boy does she have a personality!
See what I have been up to recently!