When I started in photography, I spent most of time following what I thought I was “supposed to be doing“. Many of the portrait photographers that I began to follow on social media were posting their “styled” shoots with children and newborns that included a lot of props- especially anything vintage. I immediately asked my friends and family to dig around their house for anything that I could possibly use so that my shoots could be as “cool”. From antique blueberry buckets, rusted toy cars, old cameras- literally ANYTHING I could find that might give my photographs some “edge”.
As a self-taught photographer, I really didn’t know my way around Photoshop to save my life. I was seeing these “big” photographers post about their vintage editing actions and overlay sets that I could buy that would add in everything from changing the color of the sky to a fake sunset. And as with the numerous antique props, I thought this is what you were supposed to do. That adding all those tints and textures to my images made them like super professional and artistic.
The truth of the matter, if I am being really honest, was that I didn’t have the technical shooting skills to make an impressive image without the extra stuff. And I didn’t have the technical editing skills to use Photoshop without all those heavy actions.
My desire to change how I approach family portraits and my newborn sessions started to evolve when I began to be interested in wedding photography. As I explored that option, I found photographers who were showing an entirely different style- one that was really clean. They were blogging images that really looked like they weren’t edited at all to me- but yet at the same time were VERY professional looking- as if they fell out of a magazine spread. ( I also equated all editing with heavy colorized actions at the time, so you can see why I questioned whether a “clean” edit was even opened in Photoshop at all.)
Over time, I began to see the difference. I realized that I had a lot to learn about actually using my camera, not just the trendiest action set to purchase. I started reading the technical tips on these wedding blogs that were teaching others how to get that classic bridal portrait, and I started applying it to the way I posed my mothers and newborns. I learned about how flat light was not going to give me the iconic and timeless look I now wanted, and how to create dimensional light when I was shooting, and how nailing the exposure IN camera actually DID save me hours of editing work.
This doesn’t mean that my editing or my work is perfect today. Or that my Photoshop skills are off the charts. Every session I learn more about how to make the next one better and I never want to stop learning how to do that. I still use a select set of actions in my editing- but they are cleaner and I highly customize them for a classic look that is consistent with my portfolio.
I had to dig into the core of why I wanted to do this in the first place, and I quickly realized that trends don’t stay around. Those images that I was taking of babies in laundry baskets in a field were probably not going to get passed down to the next generation. And I wanted my work passed down to grandchildren. I wanted to create something deeper, something more, something that lasts.
Trends and edge fade, but art lasts forever. I want to be a photographer known for her art and not for her props. Which is why I will never photograph your baby in anything but your arms. Because that’s what it is all about to me. Motherhood. Your new family. The way you gush over your husband cradling your newborn daughter. The way your husband protectively and gently places his hands on the top of his newborn son’s head while you rock him. That’s where the deeper is.
This an absolute favorite from lat weekend’s newborn collection photographed in San Francisco. I, of course, adore the black and white, but man I just really love the color edit as well.
What do you think? Color or black and white for the win? (Don’t worry, these parents will get both in their collection!!)
To learn more about booking your Connection Portrait Session or the popular Motherhood Collective, contact Tiffany via the Connect link in the menu, or email directly at TIFFANY@TIFFANYFARLEY.COM.
Tiffany is located in New Haven, Connecticut, and frequently travels to her clients from Bar Harbor to San Francisco.
To find out details regarding her upcoming travel dates, or to book a custom travel session, please contact for more information.