We are pleased to continue Design Aglow’s Baby Week 2016 with a fantastic feature from newborn photographer, Kristen Cook. Enjoy!
My business is run from my beautiful home studio in Melbourne, Australia where I specialize in newborn, baby, and wedding photography. I never sought out to be a photographer – photography found me. I was a lawyer in my previous career but after having a baby almost nine years ago, I became enamored with the idea of documenting every moment that I could once she was born. I knew very little about photography then, but the drive and determination to learn, get better and better, and be able to give these sweet moments justice grew stronger day by day.
I had moved from an environment that was constantly buzzing, constantly on the move, always busy – to this gentle, quiet, soul nourishing time that pushed my ability to simply sit still. I wanted to remember how she played, how she would grab her toes, how she would smile at me – I knew those moments would pass. I knew I would forget. I had fought too hard to have her to let that happen. And so, I studied. I read. I practiced. I felt a renewed fire.
Soon, friends were asking me to photograph their loves. Then, friends of friends. The business grew exponentially in such a very short period of time that I still to this day, don't quite know how it all happened so fast. All I knew was that I was waking up every day truly loving life and what it was made of. Since then, the business has continued to evolve with me and it excites me to think of what the future has in store.
I feel incredibly fortunate to be invited into a very special time for new families as they adjust and learn to get to know one another. It’s such an incredibly fragile and intimate time and I feel so lucky that I get to spend time with a brand new person who is just learning to live in a world that is so different to everything they’ve known. There’s an unpredictability that I love too - every baby I meet is different and sessions ebb and flow with the preferences of that baby.
This is the precise reason I don’t have a set posing plan during sessions, and I’m not really a ‘posed’ newborn photographer in the traditional sense. Sessions evolve just as they should - I have no pre-formulated “go to” posing list as other photographers may do. It allows me to be more fluid and baby-led.
When it comes to light, I’m all natural. All sessions are conducted at my home studio, so I always shoot with diffused light and my windows are to the floor. That means that I can control contrast, while also allowing me the ability to remove the scrim on super dark days if I need to.
During sessions, I really let the baby guide the photography. If babies are awake and happy, then I leave them to their own devices - some babies are happiest having their arms explore their surroundings, others are bothered by it and prefer to be wrapped so again it comes back to taking the lead of the baby as to what I might do. If the baby is upset however, then it’s straight to mum. There’s no limit or restrictions on cuddles! I have photographed some of my most favourite images of all time when babies just want to be held by the only person they’ve ever known. There’s something incredibly primal and poetic about it - so why shouldn’t we photograph it?
While I have learned a ton during my time as a newborn photographer, there are definitely a few key pieces of advice that I give everyone.
Know Babies. Newborn photography is more about knowing babies than it is about knowing camera settings. You can’t tell a baby what to do or how to pose it. You need to be so connected with that tiny person in front of you that you know their movements better than themselves.
Go Left. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to learn how to go left when the rest of the world is going right.
Embrace imperfection. Allow yourself to explore and discover, there's no 'one' way to do it all.
This is an art, not a science. Lead with your heart.
Thank you, Kristin.
Stay tuned every day this week for more fantastic advice, stories, and fun from some of the top newborn photographers in the industry today. We can’t wait to share more with you!
Kristen Cook is one of Australia’s premier newborn and baby photographers. She is drawn to the honest beauty of newborns – their fragility, infinite possibilities and power of worth. Her strength lies in her love of connection to the honest, the pure, the exploration of tenderness, and the simple beauty and authenticity that comes from human connection. Her ability to create art with her little subjects inspires as she plays with light, mood and texture to bring her feelings to life.
To view more of Kristen's work, visit her here.
When I was in college, I had a friend who was a professional photographer. The first time I went to her home, I walked in to find stunning photographs of her children on the walls.
There was a huge canvas in their living room and a creative photo display in the main hallway. I remember being so moved by the beauty of those images, thinking to myself, “I want to create images like this!” I bought myself a DSLR as a graduation present, learned photography from online courses and started my photography business about a year later.