Finding Your WHY as a Photographer – with Denise from Appleseed Photography

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Finding Your WHY as a Photographer

What is your why as a photographer?

In today’s episode we speak to Denise Urness, who started her journey to being a newborn photographer as a Milky Way student, and has now come full circle by returning as a teacher.

She is solid on her big why as a photographer, and encourages us all to evaluate the reasons we do what we do, and to discover what it is that gives us energy to keep going even in those hard times.

Introduction to Denise, her family and her big why as a photographer (1:58)

Being a newborn photographer allows you to be part of that magical experience, the special energy, and the high that parents are on when they first have a baby … and to then have that over and over.

It’s also such an honour to be one of the first people to take a newborn baby’s photo.

The therapeutic nature of newborn sessions (5:28)

Sessions act as a creative therapy where you can escape into your own world and hardly feel time passing

How long does it take to gain confidence and a have a proper newborn flow? (6:58)

It can take a year or two to feel that you’re finally knowing what you’re doing. When you’re just starting out, you’re literally thinking of every single part of a session. Even after many years, you may still get nervous, as there is always pressure to perform, but you become better at spontaneously being creative as needed during a session.

Tricks to get toddlers to cooperate in sessions (9:31)

You have to consider the huge life change that toddlers have just experienced, and realize that they may be struggling to figure out where they belong in the new family dynamic. Add stressed out parents to the mix, and it’s easy to see why toddlers can be fearful or uncertain during their sibling’s newborn session.

So it’s important to make accommodations for them to succeed. When they enter the studio, it helps to not immediately fawn over the newborn, and to also give the toddler space to observe you and your energy. Music, and a big basket of toys right at the entrance will help them feel more at ease, as well as gently asking them to help with aspects of the session, like choosing wraps or pressing a shutter button.

It’s also important to prime parents to relax, and assure them that everything will be fine, as they pass energy back to their kids.

Favourite newborn pose (17:20)

The bum-up pose is a favourite because it is so classic and timeless. It is also very comfortable and most babies will settle into that pose.

What to do when a session goes sideways (18:00)

The first step is to always review your checklist – is the studio warm, are you calm, is mom calm, is baby hungry, is baby gassy, etc. If nothing is wrong, simply wrap baby and carry on with the session!

Often, when baby is awake when they arrive, you can do an entire gallery worth of wrapped and awake shots, and then after baby feeds and falls asleep, you can attempt a beanbag flow with no pressure, as you already have enough images to fill a gallery.

What to do when babies refuse to sleep (20:32)

If baby is having a really hard time, perhaps because of colic or feeding issues, it is important to firstly assure the parents that it is normal, and not their fault. You also need to check your own energy, stay calm, and refocus as babies will pick up on any negative energy.

If parents are willing to wait, the session can simply go on as long as needed, but if not, there is the option to reschedule.

How big is an average newborn gallery? (27:48)

Proofing galleries with full families are around 120, and 60-80 when it’s just baby. Parents then choose their images to be edited

Your most memorable session (29:25)

Advice for the new newborn photographer (31:03)

Learn something new every day, no matter how big or how small. In a year, that’s 365 new things that you’ve learned towards your craft.

Do model calls, and actually watch your training videos with a model baby right there – you don’t have to memorize everything and pretend like you know everything. It’s not shameful to look new when you’re new.

When things go wrong, you’re not failing, you’re learning.

What are you creatively curious about (39:49)

We are so excited to have been part of Denise’s journey, and admire how her big why as a photographer has driven her to learn and grow, and in turn pay it forward to new photographers.

Discover more about Denise Urness
Website & Presets:
Facebook Group:
Inspired by Newborn Photography (Appleseed Photography/Olive & Lace)

Resources shared in this episode:
2021 {online} Newborn Retreat

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1 Comment

  1. Barb Lay on January 27, 2021 at 2:06 pm

    What an amazing podcast. I truly enjoyed the conversation between two amazing photographers and I learned so much from listening. Hearing common concerns they too had and still have that bit of nervousness that I experience was comforting. I look forward to listening in on more podcasts and appreciate the advice to learn something new every day. It makes us all better.

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