CB Natural Living contributing photographer Khali MacIntyre shoots live births and expecting couples in LA for a living (khalimacintyre.com). Khali, mom to Bandit, 2, and a baby girl due in October, shares her best tips to ensure all of your family photos are beautiful and memorable.
CB: Why do you love photographing expectant parents?
KM: Seeing these two adults who love each other so much and are so excited and terrified and nervous and thrilled for their next stage of life. And yet I know that they can’t begin to fathom the total love explosion that is about to happen to their souls. I’m sure that sounds cheesy but I get a swarm of butterflies every time I see two loving individuals gazing at each other, plump belly between them. The same goes for adopting parents, too. Love changes the world and I am lucky to get invite after invite to witness it.
CB: What’s been the most mind-blowing moment photographing a live birth?
KM: The grace and power. In the movies, birth is always the same — grunting and screaming and pain. I am not saying pain is not present at a birth or if you scream you aren’t doing it right. I screamed plenty of expletives when my daughter was born. But to see pain process to triumph so swiftly is something I have only seen during births. To watch someone pull all their strength and focus together, while their partner or doula or midwife is right their to cheer them on, is other worldly. It is a completely addictive adrenaline rush.
CB: What’s your best advice for taking photos of babies?
KM: They grow so fast, take photos of the day to day activities. Nursing, napping with your partner, your baby gazing at shadows on the wall from their crib. Some day they will be teenagers and it’s these small moments that will bring you back the magic of the beginning.
And don’t stress out if your kid isn’t smiling or making nice faces. Love what it is and not what you think it should be.
Let real life happen. Even if your kid makes the craziest faces in all the photos, you will always look back on that time as the year “Tommy made crazy faces in every single photo.”
CB: How do you keep a wiggly baby still?
KM: The easy go-to is noise. Have the camera ready and go for your best monkey impression. That’s sure to grab attention and maybe even a priceless smile straight to the lens. By toddler age they aren’t quite as entertained by noises, especially if you’ve been pulling that trick for months. I have them hold the spot by pointing out a leaf or smudge on the ground and tell them to stand on top of it. Have them jump. Have them dance. Have them freeze. Involving them in the process always helps.
CB: What’s the secret to capturing the perfect family photo?
KM: Good lighting can be a game changer. The easiest tip is to keep the light source, sun/lamp/window behind the camera. But do try and avoid direct sunlight. And choose your timing well. It can be hard to wrangle multiple people, let alone adding kids to the mix. Do yourself a favor and think ahead — naps done. Food eaten. Spot picked. Spur of the moment for organized photos can just be stressful for you and not fun for kids. For the best chance at smiles and cooperation, make it fun and keep it light. Do the work ahead of time to capture that perfect, twinkle-eyed giggle from your kids.