By Elli Cassidy
I’m a newborn and maternity photographer and trainer based in Lincolnshire and also in London, UK. I’m often asked why I recommend the Fujifilm X series for my newborn work so I’ve outlined the main reasons below.
I bought an X100S in 2013 which I intended to use as a personal camera for photographs of my children as my DSLR was just too big to carry around daily. I fell utterly in love with both the look and feel of the X100S and also with the files it produced. I soon concluded that I need to progress to Fujifilm for my client work, so I sold my existing DSLR camera and lenses and bought an X-T1 for the studio, it has the same Fujifilm feel, and again, wonderful files. Once I started using the X-T1 for client work I found it really came into it’s own, so many of it’s design features helped make my sessions run smoother.
When posing babies on my beanbag set-up I need to stay within close proximity to them so that I am always within arms reach if they were to stir or startle when in a pose. My favourite lens for these images is the 16-55mm as it enables me to get full body shots and also closer crops all whilst staying right next to the subject. I will sometimes use my 35mm too, as I love the extra shallow depth of field I can get when shooting wide open, it helps the blanket backdrops naturally fade off without having to manipulate it in photoshop after.
To help babies settle I often keep my hand on them so they still feel some contact, at around 6-12 days old they aren’t use to being left alone yet, and this is where the X-T1 makes a massive difference to the way I work. It is light enough that even with the 16-55mm lens, I can shoot steadily with one hand, only removing my other hand from the baby just before I take the shot.
The silent shutter is also a winner, once the baby is asleep it’s great to know that there won’t be any heavy shutter clunks to disturb them.
For prop shots I usually use my 56mm or again the 16-55mm zoom. When I shoot against my wooden backdrop the 56mm at f/1.2 gives a wonderful separation between the baby and the backdrop and really makes them stand out. For these shots I do ask a parent to spot the baby for me and they are right next to them, just out of the frame, ready to hold the baby should they roll or startle. On these portraits I tend to use the tilt screen so that I can hold the camera just above the floor enabling me to capture the baby at their eye level which gives a really intimate feel to the images.
Another set-up I like to do is with the flokati rugs, the baby is all curled up in womb-like pose and I shoot from above looking straight down. With the X-T1’s tilt screen, I stand next to the baby and using a light weight wrist strap, hold my camera directly overhead using the screen to frame the image. Before I moved to Fujifilm I had to use a small step to stand on to be able to compose the same image with my DSLR, it was heavy to hold and I never felt that standing on something near the baby was the safest way of working, so I’m delighted now that the X-T1 lets me work around this easily.
When including older siblings within a newborn shoot I have found the X-T1 to be less intimidating and intrusive to my young clients. It’s not big and menacing like large DSLRs and using live view means I can keep eye contact with them too which makes for a much more relaxed image.
An obvious benefit I felt when swapping to Fujifilm was the improved practicality, after a day of shooting my wrists, arms and back really thank me for the weight difference. I certainly couldn’t have entertained the idea of shooting as freely as I do know, sometimes one handed and frequently over the top of my tiny model.
I love that the settings I tend to change within a session are all easy to access, the ergonomics of the X-T1 have always felt ‘right’ to me, I can twist a dial without having to go hunting through menus. I spot focus and find the D-pad easy to use to toggle my focus points, and the auto white balance seems to do a fantastic job with tricky baby skin tones.
I genuinely do think my little X-T1 combined with the great line up of lenses are the perfect match for my little clients.