When I had the opportunity to test drive the Tamron 90mm macro lens, I JUMPED at the chance! I had tried a macro lens only a handful of times but never took the time to actually learn how to use this beauty. After lots of practice, I took it on a few shoots (some newborn, some 6 months and even a 1-year-old) and the results were beyond my expectations.
I am often asked what gear I use. Here is a link to my full gear list and I’m happy to answer questions. Though I favor my Canon 50mm 1.2L for the majority of my shoots, I use between 3 and 4 lenses for every single shoot and the Tamron 90mm macro is an excellent addition that I can’t believe I previously lived without.
The original article from Tamron can be found here:
Their Development Is in the Details
Brooke Bryand captures tiny fingers and toes in her baby portrait sessions with the Tamron SP 90mm macro lens.
Article By Jennifer Gidman
Images by Brooke Bryand
Even though she’s only been a mom herself since 2009, Brooke Bryand has always been drawn to photographing babies and families. “I started shooting well before my own child was born, but it’s a whole different experience once you become a parent,” she says.
The Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 macro lens has boosted Byrand’s creativity during her infant photo shoots more than she could have even imagined. “This lens is absolutely perfect to capture those little noses, toes, and mouths — I couldn’t get those details with other lenses I was using,” she says. “It’s also a cool lens to use during the first-year ‘cake-smash’ session, when they’re eating a cupcake or cake and I’m photographing them getting really messy. While it’s fun to show their distinct body parts when they’re newborns, it’s a whole different perspective to now show them using those toddler hands in a different way!”
The 90mm’s focal length (ideal for portraiture) and 1:1 life-size ratio is an invaluable aid in Bryand’s extreme infant close-ups. “When I first started experimenting with this lens, I was just using a box and a Pez dispenser, “ she says. “Even though I wasn’t that close to the box, I kept feeling like I was going to touch that Pez dispenser. That’s why my baby shots are so intimate, because I can get such fantastic, up-close detail in every nook and cranny.”
Baby’s Age Matters
Bryand’s shoots take anywhere from 30 minutes for a mini-session to three hours for newborns — and patience is paramount if you’re attempting those longer sessions. “Putting a newborn into one particular pose can take up to 20 minutes on its own, and any sudden thing can jar the baby awake and make you start all over again,” she explains. “Babies with digestive issues are particularly challenging, because they often have a tough time getting to sleep when their tummies hurt. You have to be prepared for that and be able to move on if a certain pose or image doesn’t work out.”
Offering a variety of packages for older babies allows parents to specify the types of shots they’re looking for. “I have a 30-minute mini-session, for example, if the parents really just want to capture a quick snapshot of what’s going on in that particular phase in the baby’s development,” Bryand explains. “Longer sessions take place as the baby gets older, not only because I’m shooting more as the baby becomes more active, but also because I like to get the baby in her environment, like in her crib or play space, then also go outside in the backyard or to a park.”
Bryand has to reach into a different bag of tricks for different ages as well. “When a baby is three months old, I can use something simple such as a little squeaky toy or an item that’s black and white as a visual aid,” she says. “When a baby is six months or nine months, though, I have to entertain him more, maybe singing songs or playing games with him. Even a few weeks can make a big difference: At three months, a baby might not be able to push up, but at four months he might be able to; by nine months, he’s crawling and so excited to be mobile — they’re all totally different photo shoots because of this.”
Because newborns aren’t as animated or mobile as their slightly older counterparts, Bryand introduces drama into these images by constantly changing her perspective. “I use a variety of angles, depending on the look I’m going for,” she says. “The newborn isn’t moving, but you’re telling different stories by moving yourself around the newborn. If I’m trying to get an infant’s face with that 90mm, for example, I might shoot straight on at her level; then, when I’m trying to get her toes, I might shoot from straight above, and then complement that by switching to wide angle so I can get the baby’s entire form.”
Working the Big Picture Into the Smaller Ones
Her attention to detail with the 90mm lens helps set Bryand’s work apart — in addition to her ability to put those details into the context of the larger story. “I do a couple of things to differentiate my work so it’s not simply ‘insert baby here,’” she explains. “First, I try to integrate some portion of the family’s home into the photos. I will bring blankets, hats, and other props I’m thinking of using. Once I enter their home, however, I look for items that mean something special to the parents and that are also appealing to the eye — like maybe a striking souvenir from their honeymoon. That gets their personal story into the picture.”
The other element that’s vital to Bryand’s images: making sure that Mom and Dad are in some of the shots. “To me, the individual baby images are just part of the story,” she says. “My job is to show what’s happening on that day, at that moment in time, which includes capturing the relationship between the baby and his parents in what’s often their first official family photo. If a newborn just woke up and is about to feed, I’ll take that opportunity to do the family shots; once the baby is ready to sleep, that’s when I’ll focus on the individual shots of the baby.”
When it’s time for those solo shots with older babies, Bryand often encourages the parents to remain nearby (“you never know when that separation anxiety will kick in as they get older!”) but to also let her do the lion’s share of the work. “I want to take the load off of the parents and let me be the entertainer during the shoot,” she says. “I’m fresh meat for the kids, so they’re interested in me and I can engage them directly. If a baby isn’t feeling comfortable with me for some reason, I bring Mom or Dad in and ask them to stand as close to me as possible so they’re my shadow.”
Parental input is important, too, when it comes time to decide whether to fix those bumps, scratches, and bruises a baby gets from learning to navigate the new world around her. “While I try to do as much as I can in-camera to minimize any blemishes or take care of it in post-production, I always talk to the parents about it first,” Bryand says. “Some parents actually want to show that moment in time, bumps and all, because it’s a memory of when baby started walking; other parents want their baby to look the way he normally looks, without those battle wounds. I always defer to the parents’ wishes.”
When asked what the best part of shooting these baby sessions is, Bryand doesn’t hesitate. “They’re so new and beautiful,” she says. “Plus the parents have often only been home for a day or two when I get there to shoot a newborn session, and they’re just in this blissful state where sleep deprivation hasn’t quite kicked in yet and they’re just thrilled to be parents. It’s such a treat for me to share in such an intimate time with these new families.”
To see more of Brooke Bryand’s images, go to http://www.brookebryand.com.