Birth & Newborn Photography with Savannah Lowe

Birth & Newborn Photography with Savannah Lowe

An Interview with Savannah about her and her photography

We’re here with Savannah Lowe who shares with us her passion for birth and Newborn Photography. She explains why she’s particularly passionate about these forms of photography, shares with us some of her experiences and even has some tips for those who may want to get started in Birth and Newborn photography.

Welcome savannah, thanks for agreeing to come on with us. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in photography?

“I’ve always had a love for art. Art is art, no matter what the form. I love Drawing, painting, singing, all types of crafting, but most of all, photography. I always played with my mom and dads camera when given the opportunity, but I really started getting into Photography in my earlier years of high school. My dad, being a professional DJ, took me to big weddings for years on most weekends. I loved it! I loved watching all the love, laughter, and just pure happiness pour out of everyone around me.

This too is where I learned how to interact with what is now my clients. With my dad and a local Professional wedding Photographer running into each other a lot during their wedding jobs, my dad had somehow managed to get me some help with learning the ropes with basic photography skills on a DSLR with him. That’s when I learned the basics of Lighting, posing, camera setting… etc. I found myself after a few weeks tagging along more with him at weddings than helping my dad! I was on cloud nine! From there on out I carried a camera just about everywhere.”

There’s a few types of photography that you are especially passionate about, could you tell us what types and why? 

“As my business grows I find myself photographing and meeting a lot of different unique people for lots of different occasions. Maybe its just a simple family shoot, or maybe I Get to help them announce their pregnancy or adoption! I love helping families tell a story through my lens. I offer Family sessions, Boudoir, Weddings and Engagements, Seniors, Smash cakes…. You name it! My true Passion however is capturing births and the first few weeks of newborn life.”

“Birth and Newborn Photography is very special to me. I think what has most drawn me to newborn and birth photography over the years is motherhood. There is nothing in this world that compares to the moment a mom and dad see their baby’s face for the very first time. It’s beautiful! After almost every birth there’s usually that one captured moment that makes me get all teary eyed.”

We’d like to focus in on your newborn and birth photography. Did you always have an interest in this form of photography? Can you explain?
“I have ALWAYS had a love for babies, and I have ALWAYS had a love for photography… Combining the two only seemed natural. A few years ago Photographing newborns was definitely something I did see myself accomplishing one day, but did I picture myself even 5 years ago ever doing birth photography? Nope! Not even in the slightest. A birth of a baby seemed very personal, and it is… and it’s not for everyone.
People hear the words birth photography and think “Oh my god? you’d let a stranger in the room to take pictures of that?!” Photographing a birth doesn’t mean getting the “Gorey” shots of “down there”. There are plenty of ways to capture the moments of birth beautifully and tastefully.

Since I’ve started photographing Births I’ve been honored to take part in dozens of families welcoming their little ones. Over time, especially after having two natural births of my own, I’ve grown to be more than a photographer. I’ve had people thank me afterwards for not only being their photographer, and a friend, but also their birthing coach. I’ve held the hand of single labouring mothers, I’ve wiped away their tears, I’ve even been the puke bucket grabber for those nervous dads. haha! I don’t just show up, do the work, and receive a paycheck. I fully commit myself to my families, and their journeys.

The day of your child’s birth is a BIG DEAL! What I tell all my Potential Birth Photography Clients is this… On your wedding day, most people hire a Wedding photographer. Probably to capture all the details, right? I’m not talking about the dress, or the bouquets… I’m talking about  those emotional and very beautiful moments. The first looks as the Bride and Groom see each other as she walks down the aisle… the  happy tears they cry as they say their vows in front of all of those that they love… and all those other special emotional moments all throughout the night. There are so many things that need to be captured.

How is the birth of your baby any different?! During the birth of your little one, everything becomes a blur. There’s chaos, visitors, more chaos, painful contractions, Drugs that make you loopy, and the fear and concern that overwhelms us until you see your baby safe and healthy in your arms. You’ll most likely lose some of the special moments in the rush of the big day. That’s where I step in!

I like to capture all the details to make sure the birth story is told through my photos. My job as a birth photographer allows dad to be IN the photos and holding moms hand, and not behind the camera. I, as a mother understand the importance of these moments, and I try my best to capture them from a mothers point of view.

As I mentioned before, there’s always that one moment I Capture at each birth that makes me get teary eyed once I get home and enlarge them on my computer… here’s one of those moments… “

“In these images Dad saw his baby for the very first time. It was a long, long wait to meet their son. This baby is whats called a rainbow baby. Rainbow babies are the great gift that’s presented to a family after a loss through miscarriage or stillborn. They call these children rainbow babies because after a storm there is usually a rainbow that follows shortly after. The storm represents the loss of a baby, and the rainbow stands for the light and hope after such a dark chapter in the parents lives. So seeing his face, and hearing those first cries was a very emotional moment for everyone.
Now, Imagine for me… what if dad had been in charge of the camera? These moments would have never been captured. These images capture the overpowering love they already have for their baby. and it’s beautiful!
Shortly after these images were taken, I caught this one…”
“In this moment dad is completely falling in love with mom all over again, and she doesn’t even notice because shes going over every single detail of her new babys face in her head. This is another moment and memory that probably would have been lost in the excitement of the big day if it had not been captured on camera
These few images alone should help explain why I am so interested in birth photography.
I love it because its candid… beautiful…  and so empowering…”

For newborn photography, thinking back to when my son was born, we took him to a studio and had pictures done of him. Now when we sat down to do the shoot, he got hungry, so he was pretty cranky. We had to feed him first, then right after we were about to get back to shooting he pooped. Just a whole lot of distractions came up. I guess this thing is quite common in this field? 

“***Haha! Absolutely!!! There’s many things that can cause a distraction during a newborn session. Some poop and some pee is definitely to be expected here and there… and some spit-up too! When working with newborns it is important to focus on what keeps them happy and comfortable. A lot of patience needs to go into these types of sessions, because more often than not there will be lots of breaks for feedings, diaper changes, and calming down baby.

A crying baby obviously doesn’t make for a good picture. You can upset them with cold hands, a room that’s too hot or too cold, moving them too much for different poses, being hungry, needing to be changed, and the list goes on. I have to work around the babys schedule, and keep the baby happy. This can take time. Luckily after tons of shoots, and some trial and error, I’ve learned a few tricks to keeping them happy.

To make things easier, I have special equipment I use to help keep baby calm. To name a Few: I have a “Baby Shusher”. This tool helps calm baby in most cases, but not always. It makes a constant calming “shhhh, shhhh, shhhh” sound, so I don’t have too. This allows me to still be able to talk to mom and dad while im working, all the while im keeping their baby calm. Most of the time the little one is asleep within a few minutes.

Another thing I have to make sessions go smoothly is A special Swaddler. The swaddler helps me keep baby wrapped snug. It makes them feel cozy, sleepy, and is very similar to them feeling like they’re in the womb.

During newborn sessions these two items are always my Go-Tos. They help me keep a work flow during my sessions. With a fussier baby, I think I would be lost without them.

Once baby is asleep, just about anything is possible. Posing a sleepy baby is almost like molding putty with your hands.”

Can you tell us about the challenges you face and how you overcome them, and also the joys that comes from shooting newborns?
“As a Birth photographer I face challenges with lighting, time, and unfortunately losses are something I always have to prepare myself for.
In most cases the Lighting is very dim in the delivery room. Naturally, a flash probably comes to mind, but with Birth photography a flash isn’t the best answer. I only use flash in an emergency situation. I always have one packed, but it usually never leaves my camera bag. No laboring mother would be happy with a flash going off in her face every few minutes. (I know I wouldn’t be happy about it) So I have to make sure I always have the proper equipment that will properly light the images without the need of a flash. My light source in a delivery room is always changing. So i always have to be on my toes to make sure i get the shot. With Births You also never know how long mom may be in labor. It could be 45 minutes, or 2 days. Babys come on their own time. So I have to use my best judgement to figure out about what time I should arrive at the hospital (usually around 5-6 cm) , and “IF” and when I should grab a quick bite to eat or nap if I’m there for a lengthy period of time. I wouldn’t want to miss the birth because I stepped out to get a soda, ya know? The most challenging part of my job by far is when a baby is lost during labor and delivery. Fortunately I have first hand only experienced this once, and they were able to bring the baby back (Thank goodness)… however, that feeling of my heart sinking into my stomach will forever be in my mind. It’s very real, and it happens. So as a photographer I have to know my place, know what to capture and when… (if anything at all) and most importantly be respectful to those around me.”

“As for newborn photography, the hardest newborn challenges I face on occasion is the fussy baby, younger sibling shoots, and some poo.Sometimes there’s a baby that’s just having a rough day. Not every session will go as planned. Newborn sessions typically last between 2-3 hours, so there’s usually plenty of time to “get the shot”, but not always. Sometimes you just need to accept the defeat and know when to say when. In these rare cases mom and dad will bring baby back later that date, or a day very soon after.

My challenge with siblings usually is only for ages around 3 and under. Asking a 2 year old to sit still and smile at a camera is a challenge all in itself, adding a newborn into the mix is a whole other ballgame. Luckily with a few tricks up my sleeve, I have always managed to get the shot. One way that I can usually get younger siblings to cooperate in photos is cheerios!!! I know right? Sounds nuts… and it is, but it works! Sometimes I am able to place 2 or 3 cheerios on babys wrap, and have the toddler lean in and grab them. Once the images are on my computer I am able to Photoshop the cheerios out if needed, and it creates what seems like eye contact with the baby, and looks as though the toddler is reaching out to touch their new sibling 😀

What are my joys? EVERYTHING ABOUT IT! With both Birth and newborn photography I find joy in every second of it, I love all those happy moments, whether I’m just living in that moment or capturing it.

I am able to cuddle with these little ones! I get to look at those big cheeks and rock them back and forth until they’re asleep. Then I get to put them in their little perfect little outfits that I’ve color coordinated for them. I have so many hats, bows, wraps, baskets, blankets… The list could just go on! (I have a “slight” prop obsession)

I get to witness a bond between New parents and their baby. Most sessions happen just days after birth, so during their session there’s still a lot of fresh emotion. Sometimes I will get their little one posed and ready for the next shot, and mom will get tears in her eyes looking at how perfect her little one looks all snuggled inside a basket. You can still see so much love on their faces.

Every time I hold someones fresh little one, It often brings me back to my little one being that little once upon a time…”

“Kids grow up a lot quicker than we realize. When people bring in their newborns in just the first 1-2 weeks, it’s so crazy to see how much they change in just the following month. As new (and very exhausted parents) its often forgotten just how squishy, wrinkly, and small your newborn once was. Before you know it, your baby is no longer a newborn… so I am honored to have such a special privilege like documenting those first moments in the first few weeks of life.

One of the best parts though? Seeing my own family. I have the ability to make and plan my own schedule. I get to see my own children and husband as often as I can all while I get to do what I love to do!”

Could you tell us about the most challenging newborn shoots that you’ve done? What happened?

“Every Newborn Session I’ve done has its challenges, but If I had to pick just one, I would have to pick one of my twin sessions. When mom and dad arrived and got themselves settled, they began to feed them to get them nice and sleepy. Before you knew it they were out! Perfect, right?! Wrong! Haha! I picked up “Baby A” and sadly he spit up, and it woke him up… so we traded.

“Baby A” went back to mom, and I was handed “Baby B”. I swaddled him up, placed a bonnet on his cute little head, and laid him on my newborn poser. He was ready to go! I took a few shots, and then went back to “Baby A” to get him ready again. Once he was swaddled (and asleep) I tried to place him on the Newborn poser with “Baby B” for some shots of them together…. NOPE! Haha!

While laying him down “Baby B” got upset because we disturbed his sleep. This went on for a little while… but they took turns being upset…. Settling one baby down and reposing is challenging at times, but two! Phew! With twins it takes double the patience and double the hands, so either I ask mom or dad to step in, or I have an assistant helping for the day. Usually if one is upset there’s a chance they’ll upset each other. We did manage to get all the shots we needed though, so all the patience and hard work did pay off.

This isn’t the twins from that session, I don’t have any pictures from their session anymore, but who doesn’t love pictures of baby feet!!”

What advice would you give to newer photographers trying to get started in newborn photography?

“For those wanting to start in newborn photography, the key is patience and understanding!! Especially if you have a new mom! This is THEIR baby…. their very VERY new baby…and they just handed him or her off to a stranger who they trust. Something you need to be 110% sure of is Newborn safety!! NEVER risk the safety of your newborn so you can ‘Get the Shot’. Don’t suspend your baby in the air in a piece of fabric. Don’t Leave baby placed in a bucket or basket, and walk away. You should ALWAYS have a spotter within inches away from babys head in case he or she were to move.

Newborn photography is a skill you get over lots of time. There’s a lot more to it than a baby and a camera, so don’t rush… and get the good shot. A few amazing shots are always better than a ton of unflattering shots. Good luck, and don’t give up when it gets hard!”

Thanks so much for coming on with us today! It was a pleasure talking about your passion for birth and newborn photography. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.

Enjoy learning about the experiences of other photographers and hearing their stories and insights? Subscribe to our blog for many more such stories and interviews. You may even share your own stories with us here on Talk Photography. Simply fallout the box on our Contact page.

We are also very interested in your thoughts on this form of photography! Please leave us a comment or questions for us and/or Savannah down below.

About Savannah Lowe:

Savannah Lowe PhotographerAs you can see, Savannah Lowe is talented and passionate photographer from the United States. She’s especially passionate about her birth and newborn photography. You can see more of her work and get in touch with her through her Facebook Page Here.

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