Newborn Photographer, Maternity Photography – Chandra Lee »

About the Artist: How I Came to be a Toronto Newborn Photographer

Toronto newborn photographer, Chandra Lee.PINIMAGE

A collection of images of my daughter and I.

I think a painting, sculpture or photograph are just that much more meaningful when you know a little bit about the person who created them. It’s because of this that I decided it was time I shared a little more about myself and how I came to be a Toronto newborn photographer. Although my start in newborn photography was maybe not as conventional as it was for many other photographers, I’ve always been a creative and naturally artistic person. The way I see it, I was destined to work in newborn photography.

For as Long as I can Remember, I’ve Loved to be Creative

One of my earliest memories of being a creative individual was when I was six and my senior kindergarten teacher ran down the hall to show her colleagues some artwork I’d done. Later, when our class made snowflakes, my teacher was amazed by my ability to create a budding flower in the middle of the paper cut-outs and asked me to teach the rest of the class how I’d done it. It wasn’t something I could explain, I just did it.

Throughout my childhood, I was often recognized for my artistic abilities. In grade 8, I was one of two kids chosen by my school to attend a fully-funded summer arts camp. As far as photography goes, without even knowing what I was doing, I took a photo of my dog with a Nikon F70 35mm film camera in manual mode, a photo which later won a photography contest hosted by the local newspaper.

I say that the path which brought me to newborn photography was maybe a little unconventional because I worked as a law clerk for 10 years before following what I discovered was my true passion and starting a career as a Toronto newborn photographer.

My Introduction to Photography

While there are many professional photographers who went to college for photography and whose lifelong dream it was to take photos for a living, it wasn’t until my daughter was born and I spent thousands of dollars on professional photos, including newborn photography, photos of her at three weeks, three-and-a-half months and six months, that my interest in photography was piqued.

While I loved the images the photographer took of my daughter, I always had a different idea of how they should look. My husband at the time suggested that instead of paying for photos, I should purchase the equipment I would need and learn how to take the photos myself. That’s exactly what I did. In just six months, I took 30 photography classes in addition to receiving private instruction from a mentor in Toronto. While my motivation for taking that first photography class was only to take better photos of my daughter, my family and friends took notice and started asking me to take photos of their children. It was then that I realized that, for me, taking photos was something more than just a fun past-time.

Why Newborn Photography

Throughout my learning, my interest in newborn photography grew, and although my daughter was too old to be my newborn model, I practiced newborn posing with friends’ and family members’ babies. Twenty free newborn photography sessions later, I successfully held my first paid session as a Toronto newborn photographer–and never looked back.

My Career as a Toronto Newborn Photographer

To date, I’ve photographed more than 600 newborn babies, in addition to hundreds of pregnant women and countless older children. I love what I do and feel very lucky to be able to follow my passion each and every day, while working on my business. I’ve met some amazing families over the years and had some very memorable portrait sessions.

Perhaps the most memorable of all my experiences as a Toronto newborn photographer, thus far, are those I’ve done as a volunteer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS), an incredible non-profit organization that provides remembrance photography for parents who are grieving the loss of a baby. It wasn’t until several years after I joined the organization that I was able to muster enough courage to take my first call. After suffering a loss of my own, I realized how important it was to put my emotions aside and use my talent to give families a memory they could cherish forever.  Although it was extremely hard and emotional, I learned to compartmentalize my feelings and emotions and it brought me happiness knowing I was doing something to help others.

Of course, being a Toronto newborn photographer doesn’t come without other, day-to-day challenges. Just ask any artist who has made their passion into their business. Figuring out how to effectively market yourself and to do it each and every day, for instance, is a challenge all of its own. Over the years, however, I’ve diversified my business and added teaching to my career as a Toronto newborn photographer. This is another facet of my business that I think was destined to happen, as people from around the world took notice of my work and started to call me for guidance on posing newborns. Eventually, I started hosting newborn photography workshops and maternity photography workshops to teach other photographers the skills I’d learned.

Sources of Inspiration

When I was first starting out as a Toronto newborn photographer, I used to follow other photographers’ work for inspiration. When I became more mature and confident as a professional photographer, however, I learned that following my heart and instincts was the best way to let my artistic talent shine through. After all, I think it’s by trusting your own judgement and allowing your creativity to evolve that you develop your own style and technique as an artist.

Now, what inspires me most of all are the babies themselves. I follow their lead and work with their cues to create the poses in which they are most comfortable.

What Makes Me Unique as an Artist

There are lots of talented newborn photographers out there and many whose work I admire. I think what makes me unique as a Toronto newborn photographer is that I am incredibly patient and unwilling to compromise the quality of the images I take to keep portrait sessions short. Sure, the amount of money I earn each hour might be more if I just snapped pictures and wrapped up the sessions as quickly as I could. But that’s not me. I couldn’t stand the thought of sending families home with images that don’t make me proud.

I get lost in my sessions and never look at the clock.  Even though photographing newborn babies is my full-time job and how I make my living it is more than that to me.  It’s my love and passion, and just like a painter who loves to paint, I love getting lost with the babies and it is my art to pose them beautifully and to photograph them.

The Way Forward

When I first decided to leave my stable job as a law clerk and to become a full-time photographer, a lot of people thought I was nuts. They doubted me and figured I’d fail. Looking back, I think my soul was in need of an artistic outlet and that newborn photography was just what I had been looking for.

Today, I feel quite content where I am in my career as a Toronto newborn photographer. I’m currently working on my Masters of Photography and continue to earn accreditations to add to the newborn, child and maternity photography accreditations I already hold.

I’m also starting to explore other areas of photography, moving a little outside of my niche to see where it takes me and how it can enhance my business. Right now, taking photographs at night and experimenting with different creative effects has opened up a whole new world of imagery for me.

This isn’t just what I do, it’s who I am. I’m committed to being the best that I can be as a Toronto newborn photographer, for years to come.

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  • Pourya - Hi,

    I’d like to know if my wife and I could set up a session for our newborn for photos this Sunday? Thanks,

    Pourya Ziaian

  • admin - Thank you for your inquiry Pourya. You can always contact me for last minute bookings. If I have openings I am happy to book you in. It is usually best to book 3-4 months in advance. Thank you!

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