It’s every new parent’s dream – the perfect first professional photo shoot with their newborn. Some parents-to-be even hire the photographer for a session before the baby’s arrival! But unfortunately, for thousands of new parents, that dream of the perfect photography session has been shut down. With the onset of COVID-19, parents are quarantining and remaining safe at home. Thankfully, though, there’s now a solution, and it’s virtual newborn photography.
Virtual newborn photography is a real ‘thing,’ and my daughter, Alexis, and son-in-law, Evan, decided to have virtual pics taken of Jack, my grandson, when he was two weeks old. But at five months, Alexis and Evan knew they wanted more professional photos of Jack. This time, however, the session was extra special because it was their wedding photographer (three years ago), Emily Harris, who took the virtual photos.
How did it go? It was a terrific virtual photo shoot. We didn’t use any newborn photography props at all., such as blankets and toys. Since Jack was five-months-old, mom and dad were all it took to keep him happy and attentive.
Virtual Photography Sessions for Newborns
Before the pandemic, South Florida-based Emily Harris and her husband Aaron (they work together), were photographing about 40-weddings a year. They were also shooting 50- 60 lifestyle sessions. Lifestyle sessions include maternity, newborn, family photos, kids, senior photos, and also branding photography. Twelve years into a very successful career, Emily and Aaron, like all of us, never knew what hit them – when it hit.
In Emily’s own words: “The pandemic has devastated the event industry. We were the first to shut down and will be the last to open back up. There is no direction on when venues and weddings can start back up. Also, bans of large gatherings are in place all around the country. COVID-19 is causing most weddings scheduled in 2020 and now 2021 to postpone or cancel completely. Industry professionals like myself have had significant financial losses. These losses will continue until a sense of normalcy returns. The entire industry is valued at $74 billion and employs more than 1.2 million people, according to a report from IBISWorld. Like so many, it has been an emotional rollercoaster trying to weather the storm.”
Enter Virtual Newborn Photography
Emily saw other photographers doing quarantine family photo sessions at the beginning of the shutdown. Because it was outside her comfort zone, she wasn’t quick to hop on the virtual newborn photography bandwagon. However, when a former bride, Jillian Brandsdorfer, asked if she would do a newborn photography session for her virtually, she couldn’t say no. “I love my clients, and forming lifelong relationships with my clients is how I’ve built my business. I wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip away. “
How Do You Take Newborn Pictures?
Baby Photography Tips
Patience and proper lighting are both essential for newborn photos. It is also beneficial to have a decent tripod or stand for your phone. If this is not possible, duck tape works. For a newborn session, it is also helpful to have someone else there (such as a parent) to move the phone around to get the right angles.
The subjects must use the back camera of their phone, not the front-facing screen. As the photographer, Emily communicates with the family as to where she would like them to be. She sets up the shot, and then she takes the photographs from her computer screen. Emily does this with the live photo option on her device, and she will also shoot some of the pictures on her regular SLR camera.
An Essential Key to Successful Newborn Photography
One of the keys to a successful virtual photo shoot is for the clients to remain very still. Action photography won’t work virtually, and this is why a virtual newborn session works so well. Newborns sleep a lot. It is a lot harder to photograph children when they outgrow the newborn stage and are always moving.
Adults and newborns are the easiest subjects to photograph, as is anyone that can follow directions, and doesn’t mind following Emily’s instructions regarding where to place their phone. And again, good light is so essential for the photographs to focus correctly in a newborn photo session or any shoot for that matter.
Photo Quality From Virtual Newborn Sessions
Emily is upfront and tells her clients that the quality of the virtual photographs is not the same as an in-person photo shoot. The resolution of the images they take are excellent for social media, but not for large prints. Emily recommends not printing anything more substantial than a 5X7.
But for parents who are, for the most part, quarantined at home, being able to have these professional family images is priceless. I know they are invaluable to me, as Jack’s Gigi. Of course, diy newborn photography (do it yourself) is here to stay. There’s plenty of info online about the best camera for newborn photography, the best diy newborn photography setup, and baby photography tips, but there’s nothing like professional photos. These newborn photos of Jack and Alexis and Evan are all about preserving precious memories. Fun tip – if there’s a grandparent around to take a few minutes of video, or a few shots of the virtual session, that can be fun to watch and share with family, too.)
Is Virtual Photography Here to Stay?
When life eventually returns to normal, Emily will still be continuing to offer virtual sessions for couples who do not live in South Florida. Many of her brides and grooms live out of state, so photographing their newborn sessions in person would be a costly option. Virtual meetings are an excellent way for the photographer to continue to document these special moments in their lives without being with them in person.
Nonetheless, Emily and Aaron are looking forward to photographing people face-to-face once again, whether it’s in a studio setting or at events. For Emily, nothing can replace an in-person photo shoot. “A virtual photo session is just not the same. That’s evident in the quality of the photographs (Alexis and Evan were thrilled with theirs), and the number of pictures you can expect from the shoot.”
The Cost of a Virtual Session With Emily Harris
Taking into account the reduced quality of virtual photography and time spent together, Emily is currently offering a 60-minute virtual session for $175; Her in-person lifestyle photography sessions start at $550. Hence, the price is more than fair. Clients can expect about 25-photographs, complete with editing, from virtual newborn sessions. They can expect about 175 photos from an in-person session.
For anyone interested in a virtual newborn photoshoot for their infant, you can contact newborn photographer Emily or even have an initial discussion with her via zoom, to discuss what’s involved taking newborn photos, virtually. You can also find more of Emily’s work on Instagram, and book right there. I think this would make a terrific gift for any mommy-to-be for either maternity or newborn sessions. Ask Emily about gift certificates if you need a fabulous gift for the parents-to-be.
Virtual Photography for Every Occasion
Of course, I’m hoping that by the time Jack turns one this coming March, things will be different, but it’s nice to know Emily can cover his cake smash virtually if not in person! Hmmm, I wonder if we can have her photograph Jack’s first Passover Seder in April.
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