At the tail end of last year, my smallest boy had his first ever professional modelling job! As a blogger, it’s pretty handy having a professional photographer in the family as it makes photo shoots, especially fashion related shoots, way more fun and comfortable. I’ve been in front of and behind my dad’s camera kit many times before, creating content for both Instagram and my blog – now it’s Oscar’s turn to hog the limelight.
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Tasked with the job of producing product photographs for a baby play mat, it’s no wonder my dad turned to me and asked if Oscar would like to help demonstrate the play mat’s features. I, of course, said yes and told him that we’d love to be a part of it all.
The play mat in question is the Lionhouse Non-Slip Padded Baby Mat
If you click the link, it’ll take you to the Amazon page where you can purchase the mat and browse the finalised photos of Oscar! During Oscar’s photoshoot, I fell in love with the Lionhouse Baby Play Mat, so while we were working on getting some nice shots of Oscar, I asked if there’d be any way that I could keep it.
The Lionhouse baby play mat now lives happily on my living room floor where it is absolutely perfect for Oscar.
As I loved the mat so much (so did Mikey as soon as I sent him over some shots I took on my phone!), I was able to keep it and thought that, although I’m not being sponsored and this isn’t an advert, I had to share it with you guys. It’s safe to say Oscar has definitely put it through its paces which I’m grateful for as it means I can recommend it happily to you guys as an awesome baby play mat to get if you’re on the lookout for one.
Firstly, I like the shape – it’s 150cm x 100cm, making it the perfect size for babies who are learning to roll, crawl and sit up unaided. The pattern is insanely cute and compliments the popular safari theme that many parents opt for in their baby’s nurseries/bedrooms. It’s also made from 100% soft cotton, making it soft and, most importantly, washable. I have already had to wash the baby play mat twice thanks to Oscar throwing up over it and, although it does take up most of my washing machine, it washes really well at 30. I wouldn’t recommend tumble drying it however, thanks to my favourite feature: the non-slip bottom. I particularly like that the play mat has a non-slip bottom because it’s excellent for us with our laminate flooring; Oscar can practice crawling and rolling over without me worrying that his mat will be slipping and sliding all over the place.
Anyway, that’s enough about the Lionhouse play mat…more about my kiddo being a star!
It turns out that photographing a baby is hard work!
There are quite a few things that I had never considered before now about taking photos of children, especially babies. Obviously I have taken hundreds, if not thousands of pictures of both my kids, but in a professional setup with professional equipment, things are very different.
First and foremost: everything is very unfamiliar.
Oscar was just coming into the age where he was really starting to notice the difference between people and places he knows really well, and the people and places he is unfamiliar with. One moment he was having a cuddle with me, carefully studying his grandpa from the otherside of the room, and the next, he was lying on his back with a big camera hovering above his head.
Next come the distractions.
Babies don’t often like being left alone in a big open space; they want to be snuggled all tightly and closely with someone warm. All the camera equipment and props were distracting and alien to him. At first he wasn’t too sure about the whole thing, understandably! But with a few cuddles, some reassurance and some fun distractions, he perked up. I found myself doing anything and everything to get some giggles out of him! I was singing to him, dancing like a loon behind the camera, calling his name in my best high-pitched mummy voice and I even resorted to shaking my keys!
It became pretty clear that we weren’t going to get a smile out of him.
He was having a good old kick and wriggle around the play mat though, which is nice and padded so I wasn’t worried about him getting a flat head or anything like that during the shoot. It definitely helped that he was snug and comfortable on the mat, which is huge, leaving us with loads of room to move around and get some good angles without having to move him once he was content.
You need to work quickly!
When I’m behind the camera, I like to take my time and make sure I get the perfect shot. If I’m taking photos of Luke, I have been known to make the poor boy pose for ages to make sure I get the best picture that I can. With a 3 month old baby, that simply isn’t possible. While he was wriggling around happily on the baby play mat, I had to talk to him and make sure he was happy while my dad snapped away.
I learnt a few things from Oscar’s first professional model shoot.
There are definitely things I should have thought about before embarking on this modelling job. Although I am fortunate enough to be working with someone I am comfortable around, it’s still hard work trying to cheer up a grumpy baby who’s not entirely sure what’s going on. Here are a few bits of advice if you’re looking to recreate some professional photoshoots of your own:
- Take a noisy toy with you. Something that squeaks, rattles or jingles would be perfect for grabbing your baby’s attention long enough that your photographer can get a few snaps. You might even get some smiles or giggles.
- Take a break. It’s hard work being the centre of attention and having so much going on can be unsettling for babies. It’s good to have a little break every half an hour so you can cuddle and reassure your little one.
- Make sure baby and background don’t blend together. You probably don’t want your baby and the background to blend into one another. Whether you’re getting pictures of your baby’s clothes or photo’s of the background, make sure they stand out from each other.
- Work fast! You need to work together with your photographer to ensure that everything’s set up and all the camera settings are correct. If you want to get a picture of your baby giggling and spend ages coaxing a laugh out of him/her and then find your photographer misses it or the photos is under/over exposed then you’re both going to feel a bit deflated.
- Work around your baby. There’s no point trying to get any happy baby shots if your little one is hungry or wants to sleep. Ensure that your baby is content and calm before attempting any professional shots!
That was my experience of Oscar’s first photo shoot. Overall I think it went really well. I’m fortunate to ‘know a guy’ which makes the experience a little less stressful and nerve-racking. It was a lot of fun to work together in a professional manner and produce photos for a brand in a way I’ve not experienced before. It’s always lovely when brands get back to me about my blog posts and are brimming with positivity about the photography I have featured, but there’s a huge difference in photography styles between lifestyle photography and producing product photos. It’s something that was enjoyable and seeing Oscar’s face on the product page is pretty exciting and gives me the ‘proud mama’ feels! It would be really fun to do similar photo shoots in the future with the boys, so, fingers crossed some good opportunities come our way