Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places. Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger. Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Friday, January 19, 2018

Professional Photography, The Insider Secrets No One Ever Tells You



Professional Newborn Lifestyle Photography by Mandy Charlton, Photography, the insider secrets no one ever tells you

Ah January, the month of hibernation, box sets and low income. It's crazy this month that I've earned around half a week's salary during the month so far. Anyone who thinks being a self employed single parent is easy, well send them my way and I'll have a word with them.

It's okay though, I have been beavering away, I have blog goals for this year, you see. I might be a good photographer but there are still skills I don't possess and blog photography isn't in the same kind of style as portrait photography so this year I'm working on making my blog photography more aesthetically beautiful, think flay lays and products in settings which really stand out and sparkle. 

Let me tell you a story. When I had a big studio, long, long ago, we would do product photography on huge light tables that cost hundreds of pounds and I hated it so much that I paid assistants to do it for me. It was the most boring, inane type of photography.  I'm happy to say though, that product photography now is so much more interesting. Great product photography is in it's essence lifestyle photography, if you want to sell a product, it's no good just presenting a cutout of the packaging, you have to sell the lifestyle. You have to make that person believe they need this product in their life. You are essentially selling the dream.  


The insider secrets no one tells you


When you get briefs as a photographer the companies I work with are often looking for aspirational photographs or hero moments, but what does that mean?

Well, quite simply, an aspirational image is one you see and you want it to be you and a hero image is where you have the epitome of life in one photo. It features maybe one or two central characters, a little like the main characters in a movie.  This above all else is why you can't just pick up a camera one day and shoot like Annie Leibovitz the next.

Great photography takes years to master and no one photographer excels at every single discipline. I specialise in children's portraiture photography because it speaks my language.  I love kids and I love having to work for the image, there's no way you can guarantee amazing images at every single photo shoot because sometimes they don't go to plan but in around 97% of cases I know what I turn over is going to capture the very essence of that child's personality. 

Sometimes in less than 30 minutes I have to go in, get to know that child and photograph them, the real them, exactly as they are and you know what, you can be the best technical photographer but if you lack the empathy and communicative skills required to get the most out of that 5 year old, you will fail. There are skills which can't be taught and it's not all down to the way that you use the camera!

As parents you will know that photographing your children can be a thankless task. Sometimes you'll get that shot straightaway and it'll be in a frame on your mantlepiece in no time whilst in other cases, well it's like some kind of warfare and you're on the losing side. Having teenagers, I know exactly how this can be, my children have been testing my skills in some kind of X Factor-style military bootcamp for years and, let me tell you, I didn't always make it through to judges' houses...

Things I've learnt as a professional children's photographer


  1. Chocolate is a good bribe but there's nothing more magical than a chocolate coin
  2. Being silly always works, I mean, wouldn't you laugh at someone with a dinosaur on their head?
  3. Children always respond to a group of adults singing nursery rhymes together
  4. Smaller toddlers will always respond if you cheer at them for doing something good
  5. Patience, you can't buy patience but it's a lot easier than getting a bit stroppy when your small person point blank refuses to play up to the camera for you, I always find positive reinforcement better than negative reinforcement
  6. If you know the Disney back catalogue and you don't mind singing it loudly in public, you will have a high chance of success
  7. Always get down to the level of the child, if you tower over them it can be intimidating
  8. Try to just capture them being kids in a documentary style, some of the loveliest photographs I've ever taken have been completely unposed ones
  9. Is something isn't working, stop and take a break, you can always try again later
  10. If all else fails, book a professional, we're experts in our field


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