“Hi, we have 1 cute baby and 5 fur children” did not say my client …
It all started with an email “Hi Isabelle, we are expecting a baby girl, and would like to know if you could come to our place to photograph her, and include our fur children, too”.
Then our conversation kept going, and I received more information “the reason we would like you to come to our home is that we also have fur children, 5”.
5 ! Yes, sure ! (inside, I was thinking “wow ! 5 dogs ! Not 1, not 2, not 3 OMG ! Not even 4, let alone, 5 !!! And of course, 1 cute baby. If you are a newborn photographer and are reading this, you know the baby in itself can already be a challenge. Well, I love challenges, and this certainly was one !). I wasn’t sure at all… But then I wanted to know more. Let me tell you, as you can imagine, I don’t receive enquiries like this one often, and this got me willing to know more !
I received more information, such as the parents both being Vets, and that instantly flooded me with confidence. Surely, if they are Vets, they must know each of them really well, and they would be able to answer all of my questions (most on safety with regards to photographing a baby with a dog), and help out during the session.
We went ahead and set a date, 7 days after my client’s due date. This all changed quickly when the mum texted me that their baby was born that night ! Quick call to confirm my make-up artist, and we were all set.
Preparing for the session
To prepare for their session, I went through the usual consultation to learn more about them, their expectations, and get details about their children.
They sent me photos of their 5 dogs, as well as their names : 2 Border Colliers, Sophie (brown and white) and Rupert (black and white) 1 Sausage dog, Pennie, 1 Cavalier King Charles, Thumbelina, and last but not least, 1 Pug, Winnie.
And I’m sure you are dying to know : “I went there to photograph the little girl and her 5 best friends, was it a success ?” YES ! I managed to take a photo with all of them in it ! Let me stop for a second, stand up and do another little happy dance.
Here is the story of how I did it.
I photograph a lot of babies, so, it’s easy for me to work around them and get to know them quickly, know if they are relaxed or sensitive, peaceful or unsettled. So I mostly spent those days learning more about each dog, and trying to know their names by heart.
I knew that they would have to listen to me, so I asked about bribery, or what words they listen to. The word “stay” would be my best friend, closely followed by “good girl / good boy” and I practiced those with great care. I also learnt a lot about dogs, for example the difference between a Pug and a French bulldog…
The day of the newborn session has started !
On the morning of the shoot, I still couldn’t get my head around who’s who, so I decided to write their names with a ball pen on my left forearm, so I could quickly identify them and call them by their names.
As soon as I walked in, I received a very warm welcome from Winnie, the pug, followed by Pennie, the sausage dog (they were soooooo cute !), the dad lets me in, and at this moment, I felt like I was the luckiest girl on this planet.
I was already enjoying the shoot which I knew, would be hard work (but I loved it so much! ). I am so grateful to be chosen by such lovely and incredibly sweet and unique families.
Next thing I know, I unpack my gear and meet everybody in the kitchen. My make-up artist is there, and she is working her magic on my beautiful client (making her even more beautiful !). During that time, I get to know the baby girl, she is so sweet ! I also spend more time around the doggies, so they get used to me, and me to them.
We spend the following hours taking some amazing captures of the whole family, with some highlights being the photo in the living room. The dad helped me a lot, having each dog sit and most importantly “stay” ! It felt a little bit like working with quintuplets (can you imagine for an instant !). The ones who were calmer, and patients first, and the least patients last.
Creating the masterpiece
You can see that Rupert, the black border collier, is looking at the baby.He’s actually looking at the dad, waiting for an approval sign to get up ! I loved how it turned out. It really looks like he’s looking at the baby, don’t you think ?
With any advance creation (yes, this was one of them), I always think about the safety of the baby, not to do it quickly and easily.
For baby’s safety, this image is a composite. I first photographed the dogs, then the baby, then merged the two resulting images in Photoshop.
During the shoot we had some funny moments, like that photo that I took on the bed. All the dogs found it funny to go on that bed during daytime. To them, bed = where they go at night for a cuddle before going back to their little own beds.
I will leave this post with another anectode ! The mum asked me “can we get a shot of Rosie being held up in her dad’s hands ?”, pointing at a birth announcement card with a photo of that pose.
I explained how this image was created. For baby’s safety, baby is never held up in the air, and this photo is taken with baby laying on a flat surface, and taken above, giving the illusion that baby is held up. I will write a full post on that, showing how that particular image is created.
We created so many beautiful images that day. A combination of outdoor and indoor, all in their home, with some beautiful portraits of their baby girl. Some were chosen to be printed and framed, to match the decor of their home. They will keep these beautiful memories for ever.
Here are some of them.
As always, it was such an honour to be chosen as their photographer, and be invited in their lives.
I would love to create some beautiful art for you, too !