One Photographer’s Tips on How to Create Your Own Milestone Photoshoot

“I had a number of maternity, newborn and cakes smash sessions booked for March and I hated the idea that my clients wouldn’t get to have their milestones documented.”
ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
Apr 2020

With the COVID-19 still in full swing, many are missing out on the milestones they had been looking forward to, including photoshoots, be it for maternity, newborn, or a first birthday. Now, one photographer is adapting to the current circumstances and conducting her photoshoots virtually.

Michelle Rose Sulcov, a lifestyle portrait photographer based in NY, was forced to pause her work as non-essential businesses closed down all over the state. “I had a number of maternity, newborn and cakes smash sessions booked for March and I hated the idea that my clients (among all of the crazy things happening right now) wouldn’t get to have their milestones documented,” she tells The Bump, adding that she got the idea from another photographer friend who was offering virtual sessions to clients.

Deciding to try it for herself, she worked with a previous client to test-drive a virtual Cake Smash photo session. “I already knew the layout of her home and where the best light would be coming from. It lifted the spirits of not only my client but also for me as well. Having something to look forward to during this time is essential,” she explains, adding, “I’m planning a pregnancy reveal for a client right now and it’s so exciting, it’s a quarantine-friendly activity that you can put positive energy towards. If you want to do a cake smash and bake a cake yourself, start collecting ingredients and decorations now. You don’t have to be a pro to put a cute cake together! If bakeries are delivering in your area, help out a small business and place an order.”

To conduct the virtual photoshoots, Sulcov first has the client send her photos of their home and discuss where they get the best light. She then sends them a personalized prep email filled with information they’ll need, such as a list of specific instructions, what items they should have handy, temperature guidelines for newborns, photo examples of what they’re aiming to shoot and anything else that may help the session run smoothly. “They video chat with me through an alternate computer or phone while they shoot so I can help guide them and cheerlead during the session,” Sulcov explains. “At the cake smash, mom was shooting on her iPhone and dad had a DSLR. A pro camera isn’t required but always welcome, it ended up being the perfect mix of angles to capture.” Following the session, parents send her their top 10 favorite images, which Sulcov then retouches to look professionally shot.

Sulcov limits her sessions to one subject and most of them focus on baby, the mom-to-be or the birthday kid. For anyone who wants to try their own at-home photo sessions, Sulcov has some tips.

Choose the Right Camera

Even during this time of economic unease, one the questions Sulcov gets most pertains to the best cameras new parents should own. For any families in search of a camera, you should be able to place an order online, as well as chat with customer service representatives to get answers to any questions you may have before buying.

Capitalize on Your Smartphone’s Features

Of course, you don’t need to own a professional camera to get great pictures, Sulcov adds. There are plenty of online tutorials that detail great photography hacks for smartphones. For example, she explains, “You can easily control the lighting and focus while you are shooting on an iPhone. When taking a photo, tap the screen where you’d like the phone to focus and a box should appear around the subject. Next to the box you will see a sun icon— move the sun up or down to change your lighting. Once you’ve found the perfect light, snap your pic!”

Find the Best Lighting

Usually, this is near a window or any other evenly-lit area—even for photos taken with a phone. Sulcov advises photographers against having subjects be partly in the sun or partly in the shade/dark (unless that’s the creative style they’re going for!). Another tip? Turn off your overhead lights when shooting. “It can shift the color of your photos and look yellow. If you are really into it, invest in an app like VSCO, Airbrush or Lightroom so you can edit your photos like a pro,” she explains.

Sulcov will be opening up virtual shoots for all milestones (maternity sessions, newborn, cake smashes and monthly milestones) to new clients starting April 6. She will be donating a portion of the profits to a different charity every week, starting with Baby2Baby.

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