Photography tips and more from birth and family photographer Natalie Gornall

January 24, 2017

For the last four years, I've had my special family moment photographed by one special photographer, Natalie Gornall of Creationography. I've used our family pictures on my blogs, had them framed, pored over them again and again, and shared them with family overseas, and I treasure them so much.

A few months ago, Natalie shot the birth of my daughter Rebecca (you can see more birth images and read the birth story here), and I can't believe I ummed and aahed over the decision of whether to even have a photographer at the birth (I'm yet to meet anyone who regrets getting to have the most awesome and memorable images from a child's birth).

She also took some gorgeous pics of us a few months ago at Huddle Park, which, by the way, is a fantastic kids' venue in Linksfield.

To get to know the woman behind the lens a bit more, I asked Natalie some questions about herself, and her photography and tips.

Can you give us a short bio of yourself?

I'm a former scientist, mommy to Eva and Kate, and a self-taught photographer. I grew up and studied in Johannesburg and started my photography journey in Cape Town five years ago, as a hobbyist.  

I upgraded my gear whenever it was possible and started helping at weddings and doing small shoots here and there. Births have always been a passion of mine but it was only when we moved back to Joburg that I had the opportunity to pursue it.  

My first birth was my sister-in-law son's birth, which I used to market my service. It has bloomed from there and I couldn’t be happier. There is nothing more fulfilling than capturing a mom at her most vulnerable yet strongest moment ever. 

Do you have a favourite pic you’ve taken of your girls?

Yes, here is one from a recent holiday – they had a ball!

What are your favourite types of shots/pictures?  

I love closeups, especially newly born toes, lips, wrinkles and fingers.  I also have a weakness for black and white images – I feel that they are timeless, classic and show us one's soul.

What did you do to qualify to be a birth photographer?  

Hmm.. Nothing… I just put myself out there and made sure I approached the doctors and caregivers in a mature and professional manor.

What are the “rules” behind birth photography?  

There is only one rule, in my opinion, and that is 'Respect for the birthing women and the birth place’, whether it be in a home, hospital or theatre.

What are your tips for creating birth photos that are so discreet, moving and beautiful?  

Do not interfere and approach as a photojournalist –  I document life events as they happen. Make sure you have the correct gear. Avoid using a flash if possible. Get down low and get up close.

What is the one thing people probably don’t know about being a birth photographer?  

Being on call is pretty hard and it effects one’s whole life. I am on call two weeks before ones due date and two weeks after.  

For one birth, this is a whole month where I cannot go on holiday or take a day out with the kids, away from home. I have to have a backup plan in place virtually all the time – who to call and where to take the kids if I am called to a birth. My thoughts and actions constantly revolve around my clients. There is not ‘off’ time (physically and emotionally).  

How do you get people, kids and babies so relaxed behind the lens?  

Relax, play and have fun.  

Do you have any tips for taking better pics of one’s kids?  

Go down to their eye level. Kids hate posing, so if one has a relatively good camera, go to the park, make it fun and play with your kids… then snap away.

What is the biggest mistake you think people make when taking pics of their kids?  

Angle – one needs to get down low.  I spend most of my lifestyle shoots on my knees!  

What’s always in your camera bag, aside from your camera? 

For a birth… Food!  

What are your best photography apps?

I don’t actually use photography apps… 😉 

What do you use to edit your pictures?  

Lightroom mostly and a little bit of Photoshop.

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