If you are a prospective client and you are wondering about newborn session flow and prop selection, the one thing my past newborn clients will tell you is that I ask about their favorite colors or preferred colors for the session, and if they want to incorporate a specific prop, look, pose or theme. Gender-specific color scheme are always classic and popular, blues and grays for boys, and pinks, lavenders and purples for girls. I do have a lot of blanket color choices at the studio and I always remind parents who are not sure about their likes that they can also go with a gender neutral color scheme (creams, greens, yellows, browns) and use brighter bolder colors (such as teal, tiffany blue, coral, mint, navy blue, red, or orange). In the session below, parents chose mint, cream and brown as main colors for their baby girl’s session while keeping the overall feel of the session clean, simple and not too girlie (no flowers, frilly accessories, headbands, etc). Oftentimes, the simplest set up and look works best to highlight baby’s features! My favorites are the orange/coral/blue knit hat on the teal  and the little bear in the crate! fairfax va newborn photographerIf you like my newborn photography work and if you are expecting in 2016 or 2017 (I am now booking clients with due dates into February 2017!) please email me at chasingmoments@gmail.com or call me (202) 251-6368 to schedule your newborn session.

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I always try to get as many different looks from every pose I do during my newborn sessions. It means adding hats, outfits, wraps and blankets as well as changing angles and zooming in and out. This way, Mom and Dad can pick their favorite from each set up, and I can compose collages with images that complement each other beautifully in terms of posing, lighting and color schemes (for example, the first collage below has grays and greens as two main colors, with teal and cream elements to complete the look).

herndon newborn photographerIf you like my newborn photography work and if you are expecting in 2016 or 2017 (I am now booking clients with due dates into February 2017!) please email me at chasingmoments@gmail.com or call me (202) 251-6368 to schedule your newborn session.

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As my kids returned to school this week, and the busy fall photography season is starting (September and October are my busiest newborn photography months!), I am playing catch up with my blog posts. It is a very long shot, I know, as I am two years behind on posting my favorites from clients sessions. Yet, I am an optimist! So, here is a throwback to a beautiful newborn session from 2015! This little man arrived to the studio with his own sports gear, and looks like he enjoyed his very first photo session! I wonder if he is now getting into baseball or football!

arlington va newborn photographer_chasing moments

If you like my newborn photography work and if you are expecting in 2017 or 2017 (I am now booking clients with due dates into February 2018!) please email me at chasingmoments@gmail.com or call me (202) 251-6368 to schedule your newborn session.

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Dear Friends,

I finally got around to putting together my annual collage of my favorite pictures of newborn babies I had the privilege to photograph in 2016. I know that a lot goes into consideration when parents choose me as their newborn photographer. As my business has grown over the years, and as I have grown as a photographer over the years, I have come to learn and realize that one of their most important considerations is trust. Yes, trust. New mommies and daddies trust me not just to photograph their tiny newborn, but, more importantly – they trust me with their baby for the 2-3 hours that I get to be his or her photographer.  Trust. I am the one they get to trust with their newborn. I get to hold, swaddle, snuggle, soothe, settle, clean up, feed, burp, and, ultimately, pose for pictures. So, from the bottom of my heart, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all my newborn clients. Thank you for trusting me to care for your baby while he or she is in my hands for the newborn session.  Please know that your baby’s safety and comfort are always my top priority (way above pictures and poses).

Phew! So, before I start tearing up, here they are – newborns of 2016! <3

newborn photographer fairfax herndon_web

If you like my newborn photography work and if you are expecting in 2017 (I am now booking into August of 2017!) please email me at chasingmoments@gmail.com or call me (202) 251-6368 to schedule your newborn session.

With love,

Olga/Chasing Moments Photography

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Hi All,

I am excited to meet all the participants next Saturday morning at Claude Moore Park for the annual Scott Kelby’s World Wide Photo Walk. The official photo walk time frame is 7-9am, we will leave at 7am sharp from the Visitor Center meeting spot.

Yesterday morning I went out to the park thinking to grab a couple of test shots before next weekend and ended up staying a while. I would definitely recommend bringing whatever lenses you have, so you can grab a range of wide angle, macro and telephoto shots (plenty of opportunities for all these at Claude Moore), if you have a polarizing filter – that would definitely be a plus!  Also, this being a morning photo walk (dew and all), I would also suggest wearing water proof hiking boots. Below are some shots from yesterday (all taken with my 35mm prime, probably not the best choice of lens for walking around Claude Moore, but I literally grabbed my camera with whatever lens was on it yesterday morning so that’s what I had to work with).

We will start at 7am, walk around the two fishing ponds (the sunrise is at 7.05, and starting around the fishing ponds will give us an opportunity to catch some sunrise reflections). This is also where I wished I had my telephoto and macro lenses with me.

claude-moore_test_collage_01

Then we’ll proceed to the historic buildings behind the ponds. By about 7.30-7.40am you can try to capture sunbursts peeking through the trees and around the historic buildings. This area offers many opportunities for photographing macro, nature details, and interesting textures and scenes with light spilling over through the trees.

claude-moore_test_collage_02_web

There is also some awesome old equipment to photograph…

claude-moore_test_collage_03

And don’t forget your tripod!

tripod

If you have any follow up questions, feel free to email me at chasingmoments@gmail.com. On the morning of the walk you can reach me via cell at 202-251-6368.

See you on Saturday!

Olga

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You may have seen this handsome little man as part of my website slideshow – this picture of baby J. is among my favorite newborn pictures ever! I love everything about it – the pose, the sweet baby, the way the hat fits him just right, and the bright yellow, imho, exudes everything bright, sunny and happy about the world around us. Any color scientists among us? What say you?

Mommy and daddy received a newborn session as a gift, and they even brought their own “hot air balloon” setup with them (which was so awesome to photograph! I love adding custom touches and personalizing the sessions in ways that are meaningful to parents!). They ended up loving all the pictures from the session, which makes me one happy photographer! Here we go, Baby J (who is probably now an active toddler, keeping his mommy and daddy super busy)! herndon newborn photographer

If you like my newborn photography work and if you are expecting in 2016 or 2017 (I am now booking clients with due dates into February 2017!) please email me at chasingmoments@gmail.com or call me (202) 251-6368 to schedule your newborn session.

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Is it too early to start thinking about Valentine’s Day?! I know, I know! First, we are all looking forward toward fall foliage (awesome here in Northern Virginia), pumpkin flavored everything, hay rides, fall festivals, Halloween and possibly even a mini session or two with your favorite family photographer ;)  In any case! I came across this beautiful session from last Valentine’s Day (Yes, 2015! I am a year and a half behind on blogging!) in my storage and realized I haven’t shared it yet! I love it so! This sweet little boy’s due date was February 14, so Mom brought this awesome bow and arrow set for her little Cupid, and we also incorporated red and blue (for Superman). And don’t get me started on how much I love the family shots from this session – just perfect!

Okay, enough bragging, enjoy the pictures and, by the way, I am totally buying some very cute Valentine’s props for 2017 (and, yes, I am now officially booking into February 2017!!!!!)

newborn photographer falls church nova

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I do not post examples of older newborn sessions (done for for babies between about 4-5 weeks of age and 3 months old), so here is an example! Older newborn sessions are different in their dynamic, flow and the type of images I aim to get as compared to traditional newborn sessions (done for babies under about 2-3 weeks old), but they do result in beautiful photos. Just look at this sweet little lady! At around 3 months old, not only did she let me capture some awesome tummy time and held her head up perfectly, she also did beautifully for family pictures and pictures with mommy and daddy, AND she rocked a couple of outfit changes AND then she fell asleep so peacefully that I could get some sleepy shots!

older newborn photography in northern virginia

Whereas my studio mostly focuses on newborn photography, I do take a limited number of older newborn sessions! So, if for some reason you did not get around to doing sleepy, posed portraits of your newborn baby, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get beautiful pictures after the 2-3 week mark. Please send me an email at chasingmoments@gmail.com for older newborn session availability and information, I’d love to hear from you!

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Sweet baby Lorelei saw me for a short newborn mini session last winter, and I can’t believe I haven’t posted these beautiful images until now. She didn’t want to miss anything during her newborn session (see that wide awake smile she is giving me?) but we did get some gorgeous sleepy shots. My favorite is the one with her “lovey”! newborn photographer in fairfax va

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Thought I’d share my favorites from a newborn stock sessions I photographed last year.  Logistically, newborn stock sessions are identical to how I would work with private newborn clients. The only difference is that I need to make sure to not use any logos, commercial brands, or proprietary designs as part of the session because the final images would be available for commercial usage by print publications, online designers, and product developers around the world. World, meet baby N, who was a rock star model for his first commercial photo session!

reston newborn photographer_web

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So, I thought I’d share how to use an awesome little tool in Photoshop called “content aware”. I personally love it and use it for a wide range of touch ups for almost every session. It can save you a lot of time and is very easy to use. In a nutshell, you pick an area of the picture and content aware fills it in with missing content and/or covers up unseemly items that do not belong in the shot (such as a spotter’s hand or foot, baby’s pacifier, etc).

Here is an image from a recent newborn session. As you can see another background blanket is showing in the corner of the picture. So, I use content-aware. how to use content aware_02

1. First, I use a lasso tool and very roughly outline the pink area (I do not feather), like this:
use lasso tool

2. Then I pull up the “content aware” tool. You can go to edit->fill or press Shift+f5 (I usually remember shortcuts of all the common commands I use, so I do the latter). edit fill

3. In the “fill” menu that opens up I use the “content aware” option, turn on “color adaptation” and use “normal” blending mode at 100% opacity.

content aware menu

4. All done. Takes about 10 seconds.

how to use content aware_02a

Another example (the gray in the screenshots is just the background in photoshop; oh, and also – since these are screenshots colors are a bit off):

how to use content aware_04a how to use content aware_04b

Due to the “color adaptation” option, content aware works great as a way to extend seamless paper backgrounds that may have a bit of light/shading going on. As an added bonus, since “content aware” fills in parts of the picture using existing content, (unlike the method where you paint in the extension ) it does not create any extra banding when extending the seamless (if there is already banding in the picture, of course, it will show). Here is a before and after. I wanted to extend this picture’s width, so first I extended the “canvas” (the white areas are where I want to fill in), and then used a marquee tool to select the empty areas and fill them in using content aware.

how to use content aware_03a how to use content aware_03b

I often use it to fill in gaps in backdrops, to extend patterned backdrops or floors, fill in foliage gaps (for outdoor images). For example, here is a quick background extension to cover up the clutter in the corner: how to use content aware_05c

how to use content aware_05b

The applications of the “content aware” tool are endless! It works best with solid colors or repetitive or patterned floors or backdrops/backgrounds, but you can experiment and find that it works quite well in other situations. You will also find that in some cases it does not work at all (mostly, it is due to the fact that the software can’t tell the pattern you want to extend from other things in your picture, and then includes parts of these objects into the extended ‘filler’). Again – just experiment with it, and find out how it can best work for you!

So, to recap: (1) lasso tool, (2) Shift+F5 to pull up the content aware menu, hit OK and enjoy!

Hope you’ll find it handy, and I”d love to see some examples and hear some feedback!

 

 

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Dear friends, this year I had an amazing and humbling opportunity to meet over 100 newborn babies for their first photo shoot. Thank you, my wonderful newborn clients of 2015, for trusting me with your precious babies! I am so honored and happy you chose me to be your newborn photographer, and I hope you’ll find a lifetime of love and enjoyment looking at your baby’s newborn pictures.

By way of a recap, here are some of my favorites from 2015! I am hoping to see many of these little ones grow return for their sitting, rolling, crawling, 1-year cake smash and other milestone sessions!
2015 newborns_web_sizeIf you like my newborn photography work and if you are expecting in 2016 (I am now booking into June of 2016!) please email me at chasingmoments@gmail.com or call me (202) 251-6368 to schedule your newborn session.

Have a very Happy New Year!

With love,

Olga/Chasing Moments Photography

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Beware, a huge overshare (keep scrolling, there are four sets of images)!

Baby L is one of my last newborn sessions of 2015, so I thought it would be a great way to wrap up blogging for this year by showcasing the best and my most favorite images from his session. Sessions like his are very representative of my current style and looks I love – clean, simple, timeless, focusing on Baby and a couple of factors most meaningful and important to the family (notice the subtle winter and Christmas theme and the few images with elements of Dad’s military background).

alexandria va newborn photographer_01

And – yes – these are all images from a single newborn session, it was about 3 hours, and we got a full set of shots on the blue blanket, with three props, and with mommy and with daddy and with both parents. Baby L. was a dream sleeper and I am so happy with the end results – there is plenty of variety in terms of posing and looks, yet it all looks consistent and the pictures go well together! alexandria va newborn photographer_02 alexandria va newborn photographer_03 alexandria va newborn photographer_04

If you like my work and want a photo session for your newborn baby, please contact me at chasingmoments@gmail.com  or call me to get more information and to schedule your session! I have years of experience photographing newborns and babies and I guarantee you’ll love the photos! For more examples of my work, please see newborn galleries on my website: http://www.chasingmoments.com

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fall outdoor family mini sessions northern virginia_collage_a

Dear Friends,

Fall Outdoor Family Mini Sessions are here! Book yours now: http://chasingmoments.bigcartel.com/

This year, I have set aside one weekend date in October (October 17, rain date October 24) and one weekday morning date (October 23, rain date October 30) for outdoor family mini sessions in Northern Virginia. Morning sessions will be held at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston, evening sessions will be held at a park-like/natural location in Reston (likely same location as last year’s evening sessions). I will be watching foliage and fall colors and I will finalize the exact shooting spot about a week before the session date. (FYI, pets are welcome at both locations!)

Please notice that in the past outdoor mini sessions sold out FAST, so please purchase yours as soon as you decide!

Depending on demand and my studio schedule, I may open a November weekend date for one more day of outdoor family minis, but I will not decide on these until October. Please note that if your preferred weekend time is sold out, I may be able to accommodate alternative scheduling on a limited basis, so please email me to inquire at chasingmoments@gmail.com!
I am excited to reconnect with past clients and to meet new ones this fall!

Best,
Olga / Chasing Moments Photography
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This post is for moms. Whether this is your first baby or your fourth, I want you to read this before your baby’s first photo shoot.

Chances are, you are sleep deprived, feeding your little one every 2-3 hours. You are also probably tired thinking about and taking care of the million little things that need to be done between the feedings. You are also recovering from the delivery and handling all the emotional and physical changes in your body. All in all, you may not be feeling quite picture perfect, rested and refreshed, and you may not be wanting to be in the photos with your baby.  I am saying this not to put a damper on motherhood and those precious first days with Baby. It’s just my way of saying “I hear you! I know what it feels like!” and “It’s okay” because, realistically, many new moms know what I am talking about. preparing for a newborn sessions_for moms_01

So, if you are not feeling picture-perfect before your Baby’s first photo session and if you are not sure if you want to be in front of the camera, please consider this.

I have photographed hundreds of newborns with their parents. I use flattering angles, poses, composition and lighting to help you look your best. I will pose you, so you don’t have to worry about it.

preparing for a newborn sessions_for moms_02

I will help you adjust your hair, hide your bra strap and smooth out wrinkles on your shirt before taking the shot. Basically, I will be there not only as your photographer but as your girl friend who wants you to look your best. I will also say silly things to keep the conversation light and do everything I can to help you feel your great, happy, beautiful self in front of the camera.

preparing for a newborn sessions_for moms_14

I will help you position and hold your Baby just the right way, so you don’t have to worry about that in advance.

preparing for a newborn sessions_for moms_10

You can bring your make up to the studio and take some time to powder your nose while I am photographing your Baby (this way, you don’t have to rush to do make up at home), and you can bring a special shirt for pictures and put it on for a few minutes of “on camera” time (and hang out in your sweats and your ‘cozy’ shirt during the remainder of the session).

preparing for a newborn sessions_for moms_13

So, if you are in doubt, let’s take some pictures with you in them and then you can decide if you want to order any prints or not – ultimately, it is you choice. But this way, there won’t be any regrets down the road about not being in the shot with your newborn Baby.

preparing for a newborn sessions_for moms_11

I absolutely understand that there are many valid reasons to focus a newborn session on Baby only. I just do not want the reasons above (sleep deprivation, exhaustion, not feeling your best, etcetera) to be one of them.

Please feel free to email me at chasingmoments@gmail.com or comment here with any thoughts and ideas you have on the topic! I’ll be happy to elaborate on this post to include helpful links and expert suggestions or personal stories.

On a personal note, I do not have any portraits of myself with either of my boys when they were newborns (oh, the irony!). The couple I do have when they were a little older are among my most treasured possessions from their baby-hood. So, going back and taking pictures with my newborn baby boys would rank high on my to-do list if I had a time machine!

If the above makes sense to you, if you have been thinking in the back of your mind that you will have other things to worry about when Baby is born and you did not want to do a newborn session because it may be “too much”, but you are now may be changing your mind – get in touch with me! Email me at chasingmoments@gmail.com to book your session and I promise-promise-promise, these pictures will be lifelong treasures.

Email me to book and with any questions: chasingmoments@gmail.com

Cheers,

Olga

 

 

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I offer two types of newborn sessions to my clients: newborn “mini” sessions and newborn “full” sessions. Here is what you need to know when making a decision to book one over the other.

1. Duration: “Mini” sessions are shorter and last about 1.5-2 hours as compared to 2.5-3 hours, on average, for full newborn sessions. Please keep in mind that these time frames are average (for example, a “full” newborn session can only last 1-1.5 hour if Baby is very sleepy and we can achieve all the looks fast, whereas a “mini” session may go all the way to 2 hours and possibly even past that).

2. Main focus of the session: “Mini” sessions are designed as a special time to focus on Baby only so Mom and Dad sit back and relax during Baby’s first photo session while I work my magic photographing their little one to create beautiful memories of his or her baby-hood. “Full” sessions are split between photographing Baby and taking family shots and shots with mommy and daddy alone.

3. Number of setups: “Mini” sessions include 2-3 setups while “full” sessions include 4-5 setups plus shots with parents and siblings. A “setup” is either a (a) blanket for achieving poses similar to the ones in this gallery, (b) a prop such as crates, benches, or bowls as in this gallery, or (c) wrapped shots on blankets or furs or in props. There are considerations of pose transitions, prop transitions and sequencing when planning for either session, and they have a distinct rhythm and flow.

fairfax newborn photographer_014. Size of the proof gallery: Naturally, shorter sessions with fewer setups result in smaller proof galleries, and “full” newborn sessions on average yield twice more images in the proof gallery to order from. I guarantee about 20-25 images in the proof gallery for mini sessions, and about 40-45 images for full sessions.

5. Scheduling: Full sessions are longer and take more time to retouch and deliver to show clients. Consequently, they take up more time on my schedule and are more difficult to fit in last minute. I commonly pre-book “full” sessions for months in advance. Mini sessions, on the other hand, are much easier to schedule and chances are I will almost always find a time in my schedule to fit one in. In any case, I urge you to always drop me a line (just fill out a contact form here) to see if I am available for a last minute session. If you are interested in a “full” session, I may be able to fit you in if my other scheduled newborn clients arrive a bit before or a bit after their due date and I have an opening in my calendar.

6. Turnaround: Usually, since mini sessions are shorter and I have fewer photos to touch up and set up in the gallery, I deliver them to clients for viewing and ordering faster. This is not a formal guarantee that I write into my contract, it just happens naturally as a result of my business workflow

7. Commitment of time and effort: Overall, “full” sessions require a greater commitment of time and effort. They are longer, and they imply that both mom and dad arrive to the session, and bring along their outfits for photos, and that Baby’s older siblings cooperate (and that they can skip school on that particular day). Mini sessions are super easy on parents: usually Moms arrive alone with Baby (especially if Dads return to work; no need to worry about doing it alone to bring the car seat, diaper bags, or special items to the studio – I will come out to your car and help you out and to the studio), and they just sit back and relax or take a nap on my couch while I photograph their Baby. No need to pick and coordinate outfits, remember to bring makeup, or bribe siblings for photos. fairfax newborn photographer_02

When clients ask me whether they should choose a full or a mini session, my go-to answer is – “it is a personal choice, and I suggest you choose whatever fits better with your life and your priorities right now”. Many first time parents are overwhelmed, and it is natural for them to just want to focus on the baby (so, yes, I get many “first babies” for newborn mini sessions). Many second-, third-, and fourth-time parents also sometimes choose to go with a newborn “mini” because they are juggling older kids’ schedules and routines, and want to keep their newborn’s session separate from family photos. Many want the convenience of a shorter session, or they want to schedule another session for later when their spouse or other family members are available. Many know for sure that they want to focus on their Baby only and they want the special photo experience to be all about their little one.On the other hand, many first time parents are so excited about their sweet new Baby that they definitely want to be in the pictures with him or her. And for many families with older siblings it is easier to have me take a portrait of the entire family with the baby as well as of pairs and groups (parents with baby, siblings with baby, family all together), so they choose the “full session”.

Everybody’s reasons are unique, and different, and the reason I offer two distinct types of newborn sessions is to meet the needs of my clients.

If you are ready to book your newborn session, email me at chasingmoments@gmail.com with your due date, and of course also feel free if you have any questions, or any ideas to make your session special.

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This sweet newborn baby girl was one of my clients from last May, I love the soft pink and beige color scheme we used for the session, and the awake shots are just priceless!

Speaking of “awake” shots, I am always very happy when I get “open eye” shots during newborn sessions. Typically, newborns have not yet fully developed eye coordination, and have difficulty looking straight and focusing on objects or faces immediately in front of them (I am sure pretty much every parent has seen the more common newborn ‘cross-eyed’ look or a ‘sideglance’, which is incredibly sweet and expressive but – I must admit – makes for silly pictures).  Therefore, whereas parents love to get open eye shots during their newborn sessions, they are relatively difficult to “get right”, and it is just pure newborn physiology and nothing your photographer or parents can do about.

alexandria va newborn baby photographer

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One of my most popular product offerings are collages. They can be ordered as large or extra large prints or canvases, and they offer an amazing option for clients who are looking to include several images from the shoot within a single wall display without investing in separate wall pieces. When I style photo shoots, I choose colors and setups so they are complementary throughout the entire session so they can subsequently be combined within a single collage or a wall arrangement. They are beautiful and would look great in any part of your home!

Here is an example of a collage for a newborn baby girl from Falls Church, Northern Virginia, who I photographed last May (yes, yes, I am behind on blogging, I know!).  Every client gets to see a few sample arrangements including newborn setups and family shots in their proof gallery.

falls church newborn photographer_01And here is a mockup of what it would look like on a wall (cool, huh?):

newborn baby collage falls church photographer

If you like my work and want a photo session for your newborn baby, please contact me at chasingmoments@gmail.com  or call me at 202-251-6368 to schedule your session! I have years of experience photographing newborns and babies and I guarantee you’ll love the photos! For more examples of my work, please see newborn galleries on my website: http://www.chasingmoments.com

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It is almost summer, and I am sure many of us are looking forward to warm sunny days, lots of ice cream and pool fun! I know I am! I am especially excited about taking my kiddos to the pool (oh, and we are so blessed to be living in Reston, which has 15 pools)! They are almost 4 and 6, and both are very comfortable around water. The “big one” is an independent swimmer (although of course I would never let him too far out of my reach and would never take my eyes off of him), the “little one” is my little fishy and he can float around and even swim a few body lengths underwater. Both LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! doing loud splashy canon-balls and jumping off the diving board. On my end, these days I am a lot less neurotic about taking them to the pool (now that they can just “swim to mama” or “swim to the steps” on their own). Instead, I will be enjoying my splashy summer fun with them and I CAN’T WAIT to bring my camera to the pool and do some awesome underwater photography as they jump, dive and splash.  So, I thought I’d share some pictures of our pool fun last summer along with a few tips about how I got these images.

how to take pictures of your kids in the pool underwater_01

Important considerations

1. Underwater housing and gear: obviously, if you are going to shoot underwater, you need to protect your camera. Most electronics stores carry waterproof cases for different iphone and ipad models, so you can just pick the one that fits your style and budget. If you have a DSLR camera, I recommend the type of underwater housing that allows the lens to be firmly attached to housing on the inside (so, not just a clear waterproof plastic case).  This would prevent focusing and glare/reflection issues (which is a very serious consideration because focusing and glare/reflection issues can render all images you take underwater unusable).

I currently use  Ewa-Marine underwater housing (click here to follow to their website) for my 7D+17-40 mm f4 Canon L lens, and I highly recommend it (all the images in the post are shot with the camera+lens+camera housing combination)! It is a respectable underwater housing brand, and I have always felt very comfortable with it! US photographers can purchase their housing via adorama or bhphoto. You would need to think about what kind of photography you do and what lenses you own because you will have to specify lens thread (for example, 72mm, or 77mm) when purchasing the housing because your lens will screw into the clear glass plate protecting the front of your lens while underwater (Ewa Marine housing offers step up rings if you want to use different lenses, but I’d suggest buying the housing to fit the main lens you are planning to use) The Ewa Marine housing secures the lens firmly, and has a special grip to hold the camera, a strap to hang it around your neck/arm while you swim, and a special pocket for your right hand index finger to give you comfortable access to main manual control dials (it does require some practice to get used to). I had many questions when I was researching the right housing to buy, so I just called the brand distributor in the US (info here), and they were happy to help.

Now, I mentioned that I use my 7D camera for underwater photography, and I feel very comfortable using the Ewa Marine housing with it. If I were to engage in more serious, higher-end underwater photography, I’d probably want to use my canon 5d mark iii for best image quality and I’d want underwater housing with faster access to all manual controls – a higher end, pro underwater camera housing (so far, from my own personal research, I can say that I’d confidently invest in an “ikelite” model).

2. Wide angle lens: If you are planning to photograph your kids in the pool, I’d recommend using the widest angle lens possible. Using a wide angle lens for underwater portraiture has several distinct advantages:

– It allows you to get closer to the subject, which is important for two reasons. First, it is a crucial consideration if you are photographing children who are not yet excellent swimmers and you want to be at arms’ reach! Second, the shorter the distance between the camera and the subject the less water there is separating the camera from the subject, therefore your images will be clearer, brighter and less murky (so, you can keep your iso lower and your shutter speed faster). Water changes qualities of light and color and the farther away your subject is, the more distorted the color will appear (for example, reds will be lost and there will be greater shades of blues and grays) and the ‘muddier’ your photos will look overall.

– Wider angle lenses have a greater hyperfocal distance, so even at closer proximity to your subjects you can have better results with focusing and sharpness

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3. Aperture:  using a small aperture between f8 and f16 gives you a greater focal plane, and makes it easier to keep your diving and moving subject in focus (my go-to number would be f11, if I had to open aperture up to add more light and I couldn’t slow down the shutter or boost iso any more, I’d go down to f8). The “aperture” factor is closely related to the choice of a wide angle lens as they complement each other to allow the photographer a greater depth of field and keeps more of your subject in focus while photographing at closer range (small aperture is also more forgiving if you miss your focus a bit). Aperture is the FIRST dial I set when preparing to shoot underwater.

4.Shutter settings: Use at least 1/160 shutter speed to avoid motion blur in your images, if you have to, you can go to 1/125 but then you would need to make sure that your focusing is spot on and you may still get a little bit of motion (especially in hands/legs). It is the second setting I adjust for underwater photography.

5. Iso settings: I set my ISO after  setting aperture and shutter (basically, I set it to whatever iso is required to get the correct exposure). This said, I recommend knowing your camera’s iso limits or, in other words, how high you can push your iso before image quality degrades considerably due to noise. With my 7d, for example, I wouldn’t push it higher than 800 (and I’d use iso800 underwater only if I absolutely have to); with my 5d mark III I’d probably go comfortably up to 1600 (but I do not think I’d ever need to go that high).

5. Burst mode: Photograph in burst mode! If you are using an iphone or an ipad, just keep the shutter button pressed to take a burst of pictures. For DSLRs, you would need to set your camera to burst mode manually (I recommend setting to the fastest burst speed your camera is capable of). Remember, you are dealing with multiple factors when photographing underwater: a moving subject, swimming and holding your breath while photographing, waves and bubbles, and, finally, looking through the viewfinder underwater to focus on your moving subject (OMG, can I just say this was the most difficult thing for me to master, I hate opening my eyes  under water and there is really no way around it I want to see through the viewfinder to focus. Alternatively, you can use live view on the back screen of your camera, but I found that it takes longer to focus and resulted in too many missed shots). Please keep in mind that if you shoot in RAW your camera’s and your card’s recording capacity will dictate the speed of the burst mode and how many shots you can take per single burst. If you feel like you would want or take many images in a sequence to get what you want, I’d go with JPEG only. If you think 3-4 is enough, then RAW or RAW+JPEG would work.

6 How and where to photograph: Start out by photographing on a sunny day in a shallow end of the pool. If you have a choice, I’d suggest choosing a pool with white or light blue walls and bottom so you get more light reflected back on your subject. The darker the pool’s walls and bottom, the greater the color cast and the more light your camera’s sensor would need for adequate exposure. Get up close to your subject, and start by focusing on portraits – kids’ expressions are priceless when they pose underwater! And then – practice, practice, and practice some more. And don’t forget to have FUN!

how to take pictures underwater_02I hope you found this article helpful! I’d love to see your underwater shots, so feel free to leave an image or a link to your photos in comments! Also, I am here to answer any questions – just comment with your question here or shoot me an email at chasingmoments@gmail.com. Next, I’ll write about editing underwater photos and getting rid of that murky, blue tint and increasing overall look and clarity (stay tuned, I will be working on it next week!)

Oh, and finally, if you are in Northern VA and you want me to come over to your pool to photograph your kids – shoot me an email at chasingmoments@gmail.com and we’ll work something out! I am starting to consider summer-time underwater sessions for clients with access to their own private pools or where they have community permit to conduct photo sessions, so I”ll be happy to work with you on making a “pool fun” session happen for you.

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One of the most common things my clients say (as I am frantically trying to fit them into my schedule) is “OMG! I didn’t know I had to book a newborn session so early”! Yes! For example, I am currently booking newborn sessions with due dates into late October (and it is mid-May!).

Here is my take on “when to book a newborn photographer”: I recommend booking as soon as you decide that you want a newborn session and you are past the first trimester. Professional, high quality newborn photography is a niche. Experienced, qualified local newborn photographers are often booked up for months in advance. Think about the process of booking a newborn photographer the same way you would approach booking a wedding photographer! You wouldn’t want to wait until the night before the wedding (or the day of the wedding) to find a wedding photographer, right? Now, I am sure you can probably find a wedding photographer – but, most likely, he or she won’t be exactly what you are looking for in terms of style, photography, quality of work, experience and expertise as well as pricing. Same logic applies to hiring a newborn photographer! Newborn photography is at least as important as wedding photography; having a newborn is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event, whether you are looking to photograph your first baby or your fourth!

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So, if you are pregnant and you want to capture your baby’s newborn-ness, get online and research local newborn photographers! Some keywords I suggest are “newborn photography studio” or “professional newborn photographer” coupled with where you are located – either your city/town name, or, if you live in a metropolitan area, your general area name or a county name (For example, I am in Reston, so clients looking for a “Reston newborn photographer”, or a “Fairfax county newborn photographer” or a “Northern Virginia newborn photographer” will find me with ease). If you search for more generic and less precise terms, you will come up with results that are not as relevant (for example, “baby pics” or “newborn photos” without further specifying the location or that you are looking for a photographer).

I also strongly encourage you to try and get an understanding for different styles of the portfolios you are looking at. Are you looking for a “lifestyle”, unposed portraiture? Or are you looking for a more deliberate, traditional, posed session? I would recommend doing the former on location or at your home, and the latter at the photographer’s studio where there are plenty props, blankets and necessary equipment. Just remember, newborn photography is not all the same! With this in mind, do your best to figure out your “likes” and “dislikes” and contact the photographers whose work you love and admire. And, hopefully, book one of them!

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Here is a little bit of my own behind-the-scenes workflow when booking newborn clients: I only book a certain limited number of newborn clients per time period (based on my overall weekly/bi-weekly/monthly commitments) to allow for scheduling, session time, editing, ordering and working with each client individually. Once I book that “certain number” of newborn clients, I close my calendar to booking newborn clients for that time frame. I recommend scheduling newborn sessions within about 2 weeks of birth for the sleepy, posed, curled up images similar to the ones in my galleries.

This said, I always encourage last-minute clients to contact me and see if I have an opening! As we know, babies almost never arrive on their due dates. Quite often they arrive somewhat before or well after their due date and when that happens I have a last minute opening in my schedule and I can take a last-minute client!

Ashburn Newborn Photographer_03If you like my work and want a photo session for your newborn baby, please contact me at chasingmoments@gmail.com  or call me at 202-251-6368 to schedule your session! I have years of experience photographing newborns and babies and I guarantee you’ll love the photos! For more examples of my work, please see newborn galleries on my website: http://www.chasingmoments.com

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