This month, we are excited to welcome Stephanie Buckman of Stephanie Robin Photography as our community mentor! Stephanie was the recipient of the 2011 NAPCP Photographer of the Year Award, and resides in Burlington Ontario where she teaches Newborn Posing Workshops and specializes in newborn fine art portraiture.
During the month, Stephanie will be answering all of your questions in our forum area, offering critiques to all of the images on our critique board, and hosting two live chats!
Take a peek at this Q&A with Stephanie, and help us welcome her as our mentor this month!
Q- When did you start photographing newborns? And why did you choose this field?
I really began photographing newborns right from the start. I bought my first DSLR in order to photograph my son at 8 days of age (really not that great of a plan lol). After this, I photographed 5 babies for friends and family and I was completely hooked. I like to think I didn't really choose the field, rather it chose me. I've never really photographed anything but babies and very young children.
Q- Describe your personal 'style' to us.
I would say I photograph in an emotive way. I always prefer images of babies with their parents over babes in props since I feel it's a more real representation of their everyday. Other than that, I strive to photograph newborns in a peaceful and serene way with lighter tones and a soft feel to the image combined with technical excellence.
Q- Do you use natural light, or studio light? Do you prefer one over the other and why?
I use natural light currently though I have dabbled in studio lighting as well. I prefer using natural light due to the sheer size of the windows in my studio space. I'd be hard pressed to find a softbox that large! I do modify my light however and rarely ever photograph using undiffused light from a window.
Q- What's in your bag? (What camera and equipment do you use)
I currently photograph with a Canon 5DMkIII and typically pair this with either the 85mm 1.2, 50mm 1.2, 100mm 2.8 or 24-70.
Q- What is your biggest challenge as a Newborn Photographer, and how do you strive to overcome it?
I think every photographer's biggest challenge ought to be setting expectations for your clients and yourself. In managing expectations, you can avoid a lot of the pitfalls of a service based business, manage your sessions and schedule efficiently, meet your clients' needs and carve out time for your family and friends. If anything, I'd make sure to put a lot of effort into this area as you begin to grow your business and throughout the years that follow as well.
Q - What advice would you give to other newborn photographers, just starting out?
Focus on the basics. Don't get lost in striving for complicated setups, instead, focus your energies on improving your skill set. You can pose with the best of them but if you don't have your technical skill down, you'll fall short. Other than this, try different styles of newborn photography to see what really fits you. Don't forget there are some talented photographers focussed almost exclusively on lifestyle and documentary photography of newborns. Don't limit yourself or your business thinking there's only one way to photograph this genre. Lastly, value yourself, your time and your clients' time as well. It's integral to growing your business, creating lasting customer relations and finding happiness and success in the business of photography.
Q- What are some of your favourite prop vendors?
Honestly, and this might not go over so well, I'm not a huge prop connoisseur. I like items that are neutral, subtle, textural and soft. I'm fairly particular about what I look for and most often fall in love with a few pieces here and there from different vendors. Some of my favorite pieces have come from vendors including Veronika G, Baby in Vogue, Baby Joy, Just Hatched Designs, By the Moonlight, Silky Knits, Whimsy Hats'n Headbands, Goodnight Mouse, Handcrafted Crows and Devoted Knits.
Q- Tell us about your mentoring sessions, what do you teach, and what do your students learn?
I try to run my mentoring sessions like I run my business focussing on the individual needs of the mentoree. During mentoring, I am literally an open book. I'm happy to teach posing (specifically those poses of interest to the individuals in attendance), lighting, styling, editing, business practices or pretty much any topic of interest. I also include a 9 lesson PDF that covers setup and techniques for over 10 unique poses, runs through transitioning to get the most out of your setups and covers several swaddling techniques and prop setups. Mentorships are typically one day in length though for those with an interest to learn about baby and maternity photography, mentorships can last up to two days. I also offer paired mentoring for those who would like to study with a partner. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with mentoring or workshop inquiries.