Cheshire’s Award Winning Newborn Photographer Gains Master Craftsman Qualification

Cheshire’s Award Winning Newborn Photographer Gains Master Craftsman Qualification

On the 19th of February 2019, I went to a qualification day at the Guild of Photographers headquarters for my Craftsman panel. It’s a hugely prestigious title to hold and I am so proud to say I passed!

However…

Not only did I pass, the judges were so impressed with my panel of images that they upgraded my panel to Master Craftsman! It’s a very rare occurrence that an upgrade happens and I was completely overwhelmed and cried in front of the judges – being heavily pregnant didn’t help! At the time, there were only 2 other newborn photographers in the world with this qualification and it’s the highest qualification of it’s kind.

I’d like to thank all my wonderful customers for allowing me to express my creativity during their photoshoots and for allowing me to use their images online – I wouldn’t be able to do it without you!

I’d love to share my panel with you – these first two images show how the panel was laid out as the judges walked into the room. It’s important that the images work together as a whole and you can see how I worked hard to pair images into related colours and used shapes and tones to draw the eye to different areas of the panel.

Here’s the panel in full.

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I’d also love to take this opportunity to share with you the accompanying text you are asked to write when you apply for your qualification – Mine is a little personal and emotional but if it wasn’t for the twists and turns my life has taken I wouldn’t have become a photographer. Here’s the text in full, please read and enjoy. 🙂

Lisa Sumner

Craftsman submission

19th February 2019

Three years ago, I gave birth to my perfect little baby boy – Rufus. Little did we know at the time what a transformation he would have on our lives and my career. When he was 6 months old, we began to suspect that something was very different about him and we began to see specialist consultants at Leighton and Alder Hey hospitals. This was an incredibly challenging time in our little family’s life as our journey took a turn away from the ‘plan’ and we discovered that Rufus has Achondroplasia (the most common form of dwarfism). It was clear that I would have to change my career completely because being a teacher with a fixed timetable just wasn’t going to work around the multiple hospital appointments that Rufus requires each month and being a mum will always come first.

I began to pick up my camera more. I photographed my family and friends and their children too. It all came very naturally as it was something I loved as a teenage when I did A-Level Photography and it was therapeutic in a traumatic time. I was instantly drawn to dark, earthy tones and lots of texture which is still dominant in my work. The day I knew I needed to do something with my hobby was when we had a professional shoot done in a large city-based-corporate studio. The images were not as I had imagined: the shoot was impersonal and sterile, and they refused point blank to photograph me whilst breastfeeding which was a nurturing and natural moment of motherhood that I was desperate to capture in print. They did, however, reluctantly agree to my dark and intimate ‘skin to skin’ set up which they still use for marketing on their website today. The experience was sales driven, impersonal and made me feel like ‘I could do this! But better!’ so I came home and set up Little Primrose Photography – named after my Grandma’s favourite flower from her home town in Ireland.

 

My vision was to create images of precious newborn babies in a way that’s rarely seen. I didn’t want to pose them unnaturally on a pastel pink/blue blanket, I wanted them to be cocooned and safe like they were in the womb. I dreamed of enhancing their innocence and natural beauty with the use of dark, sultry colours and organic props while caressed in a soft, flattering light. My customers come to me because my work is unique. I’ve always been brave enough to stick to my vision and I ensure that customers understand how I do things and why. The whole customer experience is ‘womb-like’ as they enter my dark, intimate studio, they are welcomed to soft womb sounds and a comfortable solace for the few hours they are here while I create beautiful, exclusive art with their baby in the centre of it all.

 

Every image in my panel was shot during a customer’s session. Most of these images adorn my customers walls in their homes and they proudly call them Art. When someone books in with me, I send over a questionnaire and this means that everything is pre-prepared and I can plan colour schemes and props before they arrive. I find that ideas come to me at night time or early morning and my customers tell me that they absolutely love watching me set up these images. None of the images in my panel are a digital composite, all are created in front of the customer and, I think, it adds to their precious experience of watching their baby be nurtured and loved whilst they are placed into elaborate scenes of natural beauty.

 

Posing is important because each baby is individual in the way they like to be posed and safety is paramount in all I do.  When wrapping, I work with the baby to find out how they are most comfortable and what they like/don’t like. I wrap the baby first in every session as I find it helps them to settle and become comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. Wrapping/swaddling is an age-old tradition for newborn babies and my techniques are no different – just a little more decorative. The hand placement of each baby is unique – some babies prefer their arms down by their sides so they are completely hidden and secure whereas others will encourage me to allow their hands, and sometimes arms, to be completely free while they practically pose themselves in my comfortable props. You can see from my panel the variety in these poses as I’ve worked with the babies to find their most comfortable positions. I’ve also taken advantage of their natural newborn grip to encourage them to hold tiny teddy bears and flowers.

 

Lighting techniques are obviously essential to help create this intimate vision. Each baby is lit slightly differently in a way that flatters their face and enhances their innocence whilst also creating that soft, nurturing scene that I am looking for. I use a range of equipment, reflectors and lighting techniques to ensure that the light is soft and shadows remain detailed whilst also bringing life to the baby in the image.

 

When editing, I endeavour to keep my babies looking as natural as possible – I only aim to enhance their natural beauty. I rarely use skin smoothing, I just remove a few blemishes and take down that natural redness that newborns often have. After this, my editing is usually just to ensure that baby is the main part of the photograph and that any props around them are not overpowering by being brighter than baby’s face.

 

Overall, for me, photography is about emotion. In our lives there are a number of significant, emotional moments and having a baby has got to be at the top of that list! My photographic vision is to create individual images using unique set ups, intimate lighting and colours that celebrate life and the natural beauty of the birth of a baby.

 

If you’d like to see more of my newborn work, check out my portfolio or if you’d like to talk about how we can work together, please contact me.

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