Capturing Baby Moments
Photographer & mum Clare lets us know why photographing babies is so enchanting and how you can create a thoughtful heirloom from your images.
Clare Breheny is the photographer behind our MORI photos, and we spoke to her to find out what makes picturing babies, children & families such an intimate moment. She also let us know the unexpected surprises she encounters, along with what you should always remember when deciding to have your little one photographed.
What initially inspired you to start photographing babies & children?
I started photographing children and babies many years before I had a family of my own. I think the wonder of watching a child explore the world and discover things for the first time draws us to want to record those moments. No matter how many babies I photograph, that sense of wonder never leaves me. I also love watching a new family form and discover that very special love and bond – it is really magical and much more intimate than lots of other types of photography.
You take newborn photos with a ‘natural & organic approach’, could you explain a little more about why you decided to shoot this way?
My baby photography has been on a bit of a journey over the 8 years I’ve been photographing. At first I shot in people’s homes. I loved the fact that this was real and honest but sometimes the magic was missing for me – you can be very reliant on the home itself and the light in it.
Then I started to work in a studio and the fashion was for lots of hats and props. I started to notice that clients would come in wanting lots of props to be featured but then when seeing the images would often prefer the more natural images. Then I had my own daughter and hit a turning point. I wasn’t interested at all in what she was wearing or what pose she could get into – I just wanted to capture her and her unique features and personality and that really pure, organic nature of a newborn – so fresh and untouched by the world. So from then on my work became much more simplified in terms of styling; removing all distractions and focusing on the baby and the relationships between parents & baby.
What kind of difficulties do you usually encounter when working with babies?
Babies need to be comfortable – which means they need to be well fed and at the perfect temperature. If they have no clothes on then this means raising the room temperature a lot. All the adults are sweating whilst baby is nice and cosy! It’s obviously important to make sure they don’t get too hot though and I will regularly check their skin temperature. For newborns, I would like at least some of the shoot to be with them sleeping, so I may spend time rocking them (in fact a lot of time!). Over the years I have picked up a number of tricks to get even the most alert or fussy babies to sleep; parents often ask what my secret recipe is – I guess it is just practice and tuning into the baby.
With older babies, I want to photograph them awake and happy so ensuring they have had a nice nap is really important. It is all about holding their attention and getting a reaction from them. I use a combination of their own toys to make them feel comfortable and then I introduce special toys in my studio, which they are unlikely to have at home to keep their interest. I also regularly break into song and silly dances – whatever is required!
Have you encountered any funny moments when photographing? Babies can come with lots of unexpected surprises!
With newborns, who are often naked, I get peed and pooed on regularly! It just comes with the job and I don’t really mind it at all!
For you, what’s the most important aspect to keep in mind when photographing little ones?
I think you need to remember to be true to their age. I often see photos of babies who cannot sit up yet being propped up and ‘flopping down’! Not only does it look awkward but it can also be dangerous. Instead, I focus on capturing what the baby is doing at that stage – maybe they love holding their feet, maybe they are in love with a certain toy… those are the memories you want to capture and hold on to.
What other advice would you give to parents regarding photos of their baby?
Two pieces of advice I am really passionate about:
Back up your photos! Please! So many people lose their phones or suffer a burglary or flood and everything is gone. It’s so sad. Thankfully with cloud back ups these days, it is now avoidable
Print your images! In years to come, some forms of media might not work, and even if they do, I’m not sure our children want to inherit thousands of image files on hard drives. Instead, a baby album or maybe a photo book produced each year would be an amazing heirloom. I still look at my baby album and am so happy my parents took the time to make it for me (even if I am a second child and it isn’t quite finished!)
You photographed the MORI lookbook in your studio in East London. What inspired you with the interior design?
When I moved back to London I had learnt a lot from my first studio in Zurich. I wanted to create a space that looked and felt like a ‘real’ home, so that I wasn’t reliant on using complicated sets. The space is completely clear of equipment and I just bring in what I need for each shoot. This makes the space much more versatile, and most importantly, it’s not overwhelming for little ones.
I took inspiration from interior design magazines and children’s brands, to ensure the space was contemporary. In photography the setting is really important, but I want it so organic that you almost don’t notice it. I am really happy with how it has worked out and I’m loving creating work for both commercial clients and families.
Visit Clare’s website & social pages to see more MORI pictures & find out how you can get your little one photographed >>> www.clarebrehenyphotography.com • www.instagram.com/clarebreheny • https://www.facebook.com/clarebrehenyphotography