Friday, March 21, 2014

Fun With Photography: Newborn Photography Props

Although I'm paying for maternity, birth and newborn lifestyle photos, I didn't want to pay extra to have the cutsey, posed newborn photos done by another photographer. My photographer is great, but she does lifestyle newborn photos, not posed photos. Anyway, I decided I would put my photography skills to work and try to do Baby P's posed pics myself. Then a friend of mine asked if I'd do her newborn photos in August, so I knew I was going to have to find some props for these two sessions. My goal was to find props for cheap and props that were gender neutral or that I could use for possible future sessions.

I'm putting what I've found in one post, in the hope that it might be helpful for others trying to find newborn props on a budget. In an ideal world, it would be great if I could afford the $60 newborn outfits, $40 flokati rugs and $100+ newborn furniture. However, I don't shoot newborn photography exclusively and I don't get any sort of incentive from those that sell props/wraps/hats, etc, so I don't have the money for that.

First step: Browsing for inspiration on Pinterest. I made a board specifically for photos that I wanted to take for my upcoming two newborn sessions and then pinned what caught my eye. Once I did that I made a list in Microsoft Word of what props I already had and could use for these photos and what props I needed to be on the lookout for. It helps immensely when the person that you're going to do newborn photos for, also has a lot of cute props that you can use too.

For example, my to-find prop list looks something like this:

Large woven round basket
Doll bed
Wire egg basket
Faux furs
Cheesecloth wraps
Vintage metal mailbox
Wooden chair

After I made a list, I hit up a bunch of different places to see what I could find. I've done searches on Ebay, Craigslist,  local Facebook Swap and Shop groups and also put up in search of posts with an example of what I want on these local Facebook swap and shop groups. Sometimes it's fruitful and sometimes not. There is a DIY Newborn Prop group on Facebook that I recently joined that is EXTREMELY helpful when it comes to inspiration, DIY ideas, etc. Offline I've searched at Goodwill and other thrift stores, as well as Hobby Lobby, but I have yet to hit up antique shops or anyplace like Ross, Tuesday Morning, TJMaxx, where others have said they've found throws, bowls, etc.

Pinterest is also a great resource for DIY props and outfits. Two posts I've found very helpful deal with upcycling sweaters for newborn hats and pants.

Pixie Hat Tutorial

Newborn Pants Tutorial

Headband tutorials for girls are also easy to find on Pinterest. I found a ton of great flower pieces and bows at Hobby Lobby this past week on the clearance aisle. Nothing was over $3.00, so all I have to do is hot glue some elastic to it and I've created my own headband without having to buy an $8.00 headband on Etsy.

Did you know you can make backdrops or fake wood floors out of snap together pieces of flooring and wall paneling from Lowes/Home Depot? Me either! Or that you can make a backdrop out of foam board, spray on adhesive and scrapbook paper? Yeah, I didn't either.

There are some things that I will actually spend the money on to buy from people on Etsy, because it's cheaper for me to do so than to make it myself. Buying cheesecloth and then buying all sorts of dye to dye it the six different colors I want doesn't make much sense.  Especially if I can find it for a good price on Etsy. Enter JuicyBerries, a seller on Etsy who sells beautiful cheesecloth wraps for a great price.  Anything knit I have to buy as I don't knit, or search on DIY groups for someone who does knit. Unfortunately I don't have anyone close to me that knits, otherwise I'd put them to task knitting cute baby hats for me. I did splurge a little and bought Baby P this beautiful bonnet, but that will probably be my one and only splurge for anything prop related.

For backdrops, I'm most likely going to buy some cheap Martha Stewart throws I've found on Ebay in neutral colors and then get a couple of yards of a two or three brighter colors in a knit fabric at JoAnn. You can also find faux fur at JoAnn, which is probably what I'll end up buying for a basket stuffer. I did notice that IKEA has a cheap sheepskin rug that I'm wanting to pick up on my next visit there and they also have a doll bed that will be perfect for a newborn shoot. That tip actually came from a fellow blogger, otherwise, I never would have known!

Don't forget to take stock of what you actually have in your own home and what could be used as a prop. I have several baskets, curtains (for a fabric backdrop) my bike basket (see pic below for what I mean) our wood floor, hat box, children's' books and a quilt that can be used. You might be surprised about how much you actually already have that can be used in your newborn shoot.

Last, but not least, and this probably should have been at the very beginning of this post, make sure you have some sort of beanbag (preferably the puck shaped beanbags) to pose the baby on as well. I lucked out and found one for $50 on a local Facebook group, but those suckers can get expensive, especially if you have to fill them too. Mine was already filled, so I was extra lucky in this instance.

I'm sure once the newborn shoot happens I'll have to update on what I've learned, but for now, I hope this helps others out there in the search for newborn props!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What Are You Reading?

Time to do another "What Are You Reading" post, since I always like getting recommendations from you guys to add to my "To Read" list.

I just finished the following books:

Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman

This book is about a reclusive millionaire named Hugette Clark. It tells the story of her famous father, who I had actually never heard of, and then details of Hugette's life until she died at age 104. I have to admit that the first part of the book was more interesting than the last, as the last part of the book discussed her will and her relatives contesting it. However, reading about Hugette and her homes, as well as her hobbies was eye opening and very interesting.

The Witch Doctor's Wife- Tamar Myers

Apparently this is the first of several mystery stories in this series set in the Belgian Congo.  I love stories about Africa and this one was decent. I don't know that I'm interested enough to read the rest of the books in the series, but I did finish this one and that's always a plus. The book is about an American missionary who moves to the Belgian Congo in the 1950's. She ends up hiring a witch doctor's wife to work in her household and then later saves the servant from death when she is accused of stealing a diamond and killing a Portuguese man who also lives in the village. The book goes back and forth between several main characters, which works sometimes for me and other times doesn't.

I'm getting read to read:
The Butterfly Sister- Amy Gail Hansen
Calling Me Home- Julie Kibler
City of Dark Magic- Magnus Flyte
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers- Mary Roach

So what are you guys reading?