We are so excited to continue Design Aglow’s Baby Week 2016 with a fantastic feature from newborn photographer, Chrystal Cienfuegos. Enjoy!
When I began my my photography career, I was photographing all sorts of things and didn't have much direction. When I became a mother, I found myself completely obsessed with bottling up that emotion and preserving it for my clients. I knew from then on, that this was my path. Once my business started to grow, I was able to slowly start saying no to the things that I didn't love and now most of my work is exclusively built around babies and family.
In motherhood, I sometimes find myself closing my eyes and wishing I can live in moments forever. My favorite part of photographing newborns is knowing that I am giving that to my clients...the ability to remember what it feels like. Not to mention those early days are so foggy for us mothers! Newborn portraits are an heirloom for so most families. The mom gets to remember, the baby gets to grow up and look back on them, the grand babies will one day appreciate them. I love doing something important.
As a newborn photographer, I find myself getting sick and tired of the go-to newborn poses. (Not to mention they really stress me out). When I started taking a more relaxed approach to posing, I felt a lot more confident in my work. There are so many great all-posed newborn photographers, but that has never really been my strength, so I started doing 1-2 more natural poses and left the rest up to normally occurring moments.
To mix it up and keep things fresh, I try to take inspiration from the baby & the family. Instead of going in with poses/images planned in my mind, I look at the baby, the style of the home, the dynamic of the family and take it from there. It's important to me that the images reflect the family and their unique personality. That's actually why I stopped photographing newborns in studio. It feels more authentic to me shooting in their space. In order for them to have the right expectations, I made sure to keep my website portfolio up to date. I still remember the day I went in and deleted all the images and styles I didn't want to do anymore.
One example of my style is that I only use natural light. I love shooting into the shadows and always expose for the highlights when doing lifestyle work. For the poses/portraits, I set up next to the window and always shoot in RAW. I prefer rooms with only one window.
As we all know, newborns can be fussy. If that’s the case, being close to mommy fixes everything. I usually have her give the baby more milk and then place the baby on her chest until they fall asleep; then transfer to a tummy pose on a warm blanket. And if the baby isn't having it, I don't force it. I'd rather get 15 images of the baby relaxing in someone’s arms or on their chest, drifting off into sleepy smiles, then spending an hour trying to get only 1-2 of a certain pose.
My advice for new newborn photographers:
And in the end, never get discouraged! Being a creative is full of ups and downs and they never stop. Keep your head up, keep learning, and follow your heart.
Wow! Thank-you so much, Chrystal.
Stop by the Design Aglow blog every day this week as feature more of our favorite baby photographers!
Chrystal Cienfuegos is a San Diego documentary, lifestyle, & commercial photographer and mentor specializing in birth, newborn, & families. She's driven to create emotive & timeless images for families to cherish for generations. Aside from photo sessions and parenting her three children, she loves teaching photography, working on their fixer, watching movies, and hitting the beach.
To view more of Chrystal's work, visit her here.
From a very early age I loved taking pictures and looking at them in magazines and books, but the art of photography captured my heart when I was a teenager, on my first overseas trip to Wales. From that point, I began shooting with a little film SLR and having my friend model for me. In college I took some digital photography and visual communication courses as part of my communication studies major, and decided to pursue a career in photography. I became a legal business and took my first paid client at age 20, and it's been quite a journey and adventure over the past nine years.
I secretly bought a mail-order 35mm camera when I was 15, and took lots of ordinary photos of animals and nature for several years. Although I majored in art and studied photography in college, my career started in marketing and advertising, from the client service end. Then I had the most beautiful baby, found my old camera and realized how much I love photographing people.