Capturing those perfect moments

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Charlotte Harding meets a photographer capturing a family’s first few weeks.

In the weeks that follow having a baby it can all pass in a sleep-deprived blur.

For Cuckfield photographer Sally Nakajima, through her business Echo Baby Photography, she specialises in capturing those moments for parents to cherish.

“Babies only stay like a newborn all scrunched up for the first two weeks,” she reveals, “they then plump out.

“I photograph the newborn between seven to 10 days and capture the little details like their fingernails, eyelashes, lips and ears.

“It is just a magical time to capture.”

Photography has always been a large part of Sally’s life. When she was studying fine art at university she had to take pictures of each stage of the process she was undertaking.

“I was always comfortable with a camera,” she says.

“We lived in Hong Kong for five years and while I was there I started to take pictures of families. I set up Echo Photography in 2012 but when we moved back to the UK in 2014 I decided to rebrand the business and focus on pregnancy and newborn pictures and changed the name to Echo Baby Photography.”

While some may think photographing newborns would be tricky, Sally admits it is easier than the ‘chaos’ of a family portrait.

“The session is about two to three hours,” she explains.

“Some sleep through while others may fidget or open their eyes. The key is learning about the baby’s cues. If it gets uncomfortable with a sore stomach you know not to take the nappy off and if the baby gets restless or wants a cuddle we just stop and maybe change the set around.

“Even at this early stage you can see parts of their character coming through which is just lovely.”

Sally has also found that when it comes to photographing newborns you can be a lot more creative.

“You can use different backgrounds,” she adds.

“I have so many hats and soft knits that the baby can be wrapped up in, you can just have fun.”

One key thing that sets Echo Baby Photography apart from the rest is that she uses nests to put the babies in.

“I like the poses to be quite natural and I love the idea of the nests,” explains Sally.

“I recently did a weaving course so I could make my own. I initially thought how hard could it be they have been doing it since before the stone age, it seems it can be quite hard especially willow.”

The photoshoots take place at the family’s home, so that the parents don’t have to worry about forgetting anything and everyone is comfortable.

“Sometimes the parents haven’t been out the house yet so I go to them so they don’t have to have that stress,” she explains.

The aim is for Sally to create limited edition nests for the different seasons which parents can choose.

“The season before the baby is born can be very emotive for a new parent,” reveals Sally.

“I also tend to use the flowers of that season in the nest, or if there is one that is particularly special to the parents I can include those.”

Sally also sources high quality products for her clients and has also introduced fine art papers which add a subtle texture to the print and has an effect almost like a painting or tapestry.

“Another unique product is the birch mounted print,” she explains.

“I really like the synchronicity of the baby in the birch nest and then the final image is mounted onto birch wood.

“Birch is also a sustainable source which is then crafted by a furniture makers in Newcastle before the print is mounted onto it at the lab. “The integrity of my products is really important to me I want to be able to offer my clients something really bespoke.”

When she takes the photos Sally also asks the parents where they plan to display them so she can take that into account when picking the colours, style and backdrop.

Sally also offers bump pictures as she feels it is important to capture that special time which you can share with your child as they grow up.

“I know some mums don’t want to be photographed so when I do talks at groups I give them a leaflet with tips so that their partner can take the pictures for them at home,” she explains.

Although her primary focus is newborn photography Sally does hold pop-up events in Burgess Hill where she will take pictures of children.

“I get so many parents asking me to take a picture as their child grows but I don’t want that to be the primary focus,” she says.

As a magical time for parents who wouldn’t want to capture those moments with some beautiful imagery they can treasure forever.

To view Sally’s work, visit www.echobabyphotography.co.uk

This first appeared in etc Magazine’s April edition out now.