The smile that blooms unexpectedly on the face of a baby could be the best sight ever seen by parents. Not only the family, but everybody loves babies due to their innocence and cuteness.
However, the little ones are spontaneous and unpredictable when it comes to emotions. They have not imbibed the art of faking feelings. If we could capture that unexpected gentle smile on baby’s face in a picture, it can be cherished forever. That is the specialty of newborn photography.
In Kerala, newborn photography has not yet become popular. But Midhu Sreenivas from Ayoor in Kollam decided to try her hand in this genre. She is probably the only woman who works as an independent newborn photographer in Kerala. There are ladies who work for larger banners and studios here, while Midhu chose to work independently.
Midhu recalled how she entered the profession. She never planned to become a photographer but always had the love for photography in her.
She thought of taking it up as a profession after she married Jino Sam and started their wedding photography venture ‘Jino and Midhu Photography’ five years ago. She concentrated on newborn photography after having her son Kiyan.
"I would say I am a self-learned photographer. I studied about the technicalities through experiences. I completed my post-graduation in Mass Communication and Journalism. We had photography as a subject as part of the course and I have not attended any special course on photography.
When I started career as a wedding photographer, the factor that drew me to it was the chances to travel with the wedding parties and meet new people. It was all fun!
After Kiyan's arrival, I had to dedicate more time for him. He is two years old now. But a toddler still needs his mother. It was hard to take care of the baby and pursue my career at the same time. Thus I concentrated on a new genre that enables me to look after my kid and do my job at the same time.
When Kiyan was young, I used to take innumerable pictures of him. Even if they were blurred, I never felt like deleting them. That was how I started thinking of the possibilities of newborn photography. Every parent would love taking pictures of their little ones. Then why can’t I be the one who capture the moment for them? That’s how it all started.
Normally, newborn photography period spans from 5 to 15 days from birth. This is the best time for photography because the babies are very easy to handle this time. They would be sleeping most of the time and we can easily adjust their postures and change costumes without much hassle. They don’t even realise they are being manipulated for a click. At the same time, we have to be extra careful while handling the babies of this tender age.
After that, there are milestone photography sessions. The baby’s first sitting, standing, walking and other first times are the major milestones till one year. But there are clients who believe that it is not good to take picture of the kid until it turns a few months old. They focus on covering events like the naming ceremony, baptism, rice feeding ceremony, birthday and the like.
In major cities like Bangalore and Chennai, there are full packages for maternal photography in which pregnancy period of the mother is photographed. The agreement for such long sessions that lasts up to one year is not popular here yet.
On this point, my clients also consider me as a good choice, because I am the mother of a toddler. Parents do not easily trust others when it comes to the matters of their babies. But being a mother, I have firsthand experience of handling babies and this is a qualification in the eyes of a parent.
We have to be cautious about the positions we hold the baby, the materials we use to take them, the hygiene of the products that come in contact with them and the like. As a mother, I take care of these matters more seriously. I know how I took care of my baby, so I do the same for all babies I handle.
Sometimes, the pictures of babies we see on the social media will strike you with the carelessness and negligence they show while taking pictures of children. The unprofessional approach of some people will put the blame on everyone in the industry. It is truly a negative factor that affects the genre.
Magic of props
To add to the beauty of the photographs, we use properties. The props should be safe and comfortable for the kids. When props are creatively used, we get breath-taking outputs. Sometimes parents also give suggestions regarding the props and themes.
Those who love angels may want the baby look like one. Nature loving parents would love to see their bundle of joy in a flowery or leafy costume. Some others simply go for colourful cartoon themes. It is all their choice.
Time and place
The schedule of the job is as unpredictable as the babies. I have sometimes extended 4 hour’s shoot to 8 hours and even one whole day. We cannot force the little ones to pose the way we want. They may start crying all of a sudden. So, we have to be patient and ready to wait till they are ready.
When they are not in a good mood, the session is stopped. In fact, the baby decides the time and all. If it does not want to get pictured, nothing is going to work. Also I visit the client’s home or preferred location for the photoshoot. Parents will be there to help deal with the baby. The baby is photographed in its familiar environment by this way.
Challenges as woman
In the beginning, people used to think that my name in the company name is just for namesake. Even when I used to take photos at events, many thought I was just doing it as a hobby.
This profession is still male dominated. When women take it as a profession, people don’t take it seriously. In their viewpoint, it turns into a child’s play when women take the camera. It is an insult to be the subject of those sarcastic eyes. They would never accept our identity.
But I did not stop and went on working harder. Slowly, the clients started appreciating my work. However, I developed this individuality in my career after starting ‘Midhu Sreenivas Photography’. It is an independent venture and that’s when I received some exclusive attention.
Positives as woman
The major advantage as a woman photographer is the support of families. When we are covering a wedding, some families are hesitant to let men to take pictures of the bride. The bride’s side will be more comfortable to have a female to capture the pictures.
So is the case with maternal and newborn photography. Plus being a woman and a mother is an added advantage in newborn photography genre. We cannot easily obtain the trust of a parent to handle their baby for a few hours. It is not as easy as it sounds.
If I did some other job, I am likely to focus on its monetary benefits only. Also it may seem tedious to stick on the same job for long. But I thank myself for choosing to become a newborn photographer because it makes me happy and the people around me as well. It spreads happiness to all. I ever get bored doing this. It is always the best to make our passion our profession.
Though I have been into this genre for about two years, I still have long ways to go. The people of our place are just beginning to know about newborn photography. Only a very small group of people come forward to try this trend. Once it is established, this is likely to be a new custom.
Even now, mouth publicity and social media circles are the major source of clients for me. I have started a website (midhusreenivas.com) exclusively for baby photography. I really appreciate more people joining this profession and thus growing our community. I would like to take this genre into new heights."