Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Including Family Pets in Newborn Portrait Session


The joy of photographing newborns at home is that you get all the details of life in your shots whether that’s stunning interior design or beautifully furnished nurseries or, as in this case, the antics of a beloved family pet.  When I visited these lovely clients to meet their newborn baby son I knew they had pet cats and I wondered if they would make an appearance in our photo shoot, but I didn’t expect an image like this one, a subtle appearance but one which makes me laugh so much.

We were photographing in the master bedroom, which is a space I often like to use as the main bedroom often has beautiful light and babies love snuggling on their parents beds as we take pictures.  Here the stunning wooden shutters were folded back allowing in soft diffuse light and the baby was sleeping soundly on a blanket made by their mum.  I chose to shoot into the light, both for a cleaner background but also to produce lovely soft modelling on the baby.  I love how it gives a really clean look to the image while anchoring it firmly in the family home.

As we chatted, and it was a photo shoot so full of laughter, I noticed the cat standing on the window, balanced looking out on the street below. It wasn’t doing anything much but I kept an eye on it as I worked the scene.  Suddenly, in the corner of the viewfinder I sensed a movement and then, in a split second the cat leaped from their position by the window onto the chest of draws.  The shutter was pressed, taking a number of pictures in rapid succession (I do love a motor-drive and the new Canon R5 is brilliant for fast action). I captured the split second when the cat was mid-air, in a perfect arc above the mum’s head.

Moments like this can’t be planned but one of the benefits of almost twenty year’s experience, is that I am ready for them.  Keeping an eye on the details in the corners of the viewfinder is something that I love to do, and which has been honed by years of landscape photography.  Watching for movement is something I always do when I’m working as I often photograph multiple siblings together and I always want to be aware, not just of what is happening right in front of me, but also what might be about to happen outside my frame, what another subject might be about to do.

Images like this are extra special for their unpredictability and humour and also for the fact that they capture a moment of real life, a moment so unique to this family.  Moments like this are one of the real benefits of photographing babies at home.  If you would like to learn more about how I photograph newborn babies at home or get an overview of my London newborn photography services then do look at the links, I hope you will like what you see.

I’m taking booking up until Christmas now so do get in touch if you are expecting a newborn baby this year, I’d love to meet you.