newborn baby lying in her mothers' arms from a portrait session in south london

A newborn starting to smile – why I chose this photograph:

I love the eye contact between newborn and mother here – at six weeks, babies really do start engaging so much more. It’s such a wonderful feeling for parents to see those first smiles, happiness starting to spread on little faces. And as a photographer, it’s a real thrill to memorialise it.

This moment was so sweet and tender, and an unexpected one as the baby’s mothers were actually laying the baby down for an individual portrait when the newborn decided it was time for cuddles – so that’s what she got! There’s always plenty of time in my portrait sessions to adjust what we’re doing to suit the baby’s mood or needs – if a baby needs cuddles, that’s absolutely fine.

I saw the opportunity for a relaxed portrait with all three girls, whilst still focusing primarily on the baby, and was really pleased with the result: the baby holding one mother’s fingers, and eyes locked on her other parent. So much affection in one photograph!

There’s a delicate balancing act for family photographers, in taking portraits knowing something will bring back a particular memory, whilst at the same time making sure that detail definitely adds something to the photograph in its composition. This photograph is a case in point for me: using both mummy’s heads to frame the baby creates a lovely intimacy in the portrait and will remind the parents how cosy it was holding their baby close between them; and the contrast between the light and dark hair on either side of the frame combine to create lots of visual interest, and wrap our attention round the baby’s face. At the same time, I always have to ask myself as the photographer whether the details are self-explanatory, or need some explanation – do the shapes read as heads, or does it just look like a blur? I always make sure in a shot like this that there are details that read clearly, like the eyelashes and glimpse of an ear on the brunette mother’s head. For me, a photograph has to work on both levels – visually, and emotionally.

What to expect