Ever wonder how a photographer captures people, in the right light, at the right moment, freezing that moment time? Me too. I was excited to chat with maternity, newborn and family photographer Brogan Bentley to find out.
Tell us about your business and how you found photography?
That's a bit of a long story haha! Both of my grandmothers were always carrying those old school film or disposable cameras around and documenting everything. So I come by it honestly. I was always passionate about it and when digital cameras came out my mom bought one. I don't think she ever really used the thing but I would take it to elementary school and photograph my friends. They used a lot of them for this little yearbook when we were graduating from elementary school to middle school and I was so proud of them! I was just always that "girl with the camera", buying and trying different ones until I could afford a DSLR in 2011. I rode and owned horses, so I started bringing it with me to horse shows and capturing the riders. No one was really doing it at the time for western events. I travelled around to the MBRA (barrel racing) shows and selling the photos. Then just researched and learned all I could to start offering portrait sessions with horses and dogs. A few years later (2014ish - 2017) that moved to a lot of models and worked with local brands (I was also photographing couples and families). After that in 2017, I had my first daughter and I became more interested in documenting families, maternity and newborns. I realized how quickly time truly goes. You blink and they've grown into this whole new person. I wanted to be able to capture those moments for families to look back on and to pass down through the generations.
What is the best part of photographing newborns and children?
Seeing the connections. For sure. I love how unique each family is and being able to document their connections to each other in whatever season of life they're in is so special. Newborns especially change SO fast and that whole transition from pregnancy to being a parent is amazing to watch unfold.
How do you get the babies to be so still? What kind of environment do you create?
I don't! I am very much baby-led or child-led. We go at their pace, I don't want us to feel rushed. I don't make them do anything that's uncomfortable. Babies are sometimes asleep and we do snuggle shots and details or they're alert and we get those. If they're crying or fussy, I document that. The parents comforting them, nursing, whatever that looks like. I'm there to capture the real moments. Those are what parents are going to want to remember the most when their children are older.
Without naming names, what is your funniest moment photographing a baby?
Funniest. Hm. I guess I've been pretty lucky but so far I haven't had a baby pee or poop on anyone haha. I'm sure since I've just said that it's now going to happen at my next newborn session!
What is your favorite location to photograph families?
Oh, that's a tough one! I don't have one favorite. I photograph families both outdoors and in-home. For outdoors, I do love a good beach session probably because my own family spends a lot of time travelling around to different beaches. Anywhere that the kids have space to play and interact with nature. It makes them more comfortable with the whole situation and with me when they have something to do.
Do your own children like getting their picture taken?
Sometimes. For my oldest, it's about 10 minutes or so before she's over it. My middle (almost 2) is tough. You can't tell her to do something, she's very wild haha. So for her I just follow and hope to capture what I'm looking for. The baby is the easiest!
How should a family prepare for a photo session?
That's a great question! I'm very hands-on with the session prep. I have a client closet that I'm constantly adding to and that helps alleviate some of the pressure if they don't want to go out and purchase something new. I also have links to online shops that I recommend. Bring snacks and water, extra layers or a change of clothes for the young ones in case of spills or accidents. Try to not let young ones nap in the car if you can help it. Most of them wake up very cranky but if it happens then we go with the flow and work with it. This is when those sweet snuggle shots happen as we wait for them to wake up a bit.
If a family wanted to book you, how would they get in touch with you? What is the process of booking a session?
I have Instagram and Facebook but the best way is to reach out to my email (email@example.com). There's also a contact form on my website. The first step is to get in touch, tell me about your family and what you're hoping to get out of a session. Then if we are a good fit we sign the contract, the client pays a retainer that secures your session date on my schedule. After that, we finalize the wardrobe and location.
I also run a FB group called Motherhood in the Annapolis Valley where we have created a very supportive and fun community of parents. It's a totally judgement-free space to ask for advice or to just unload your struggles. I started to have professionals come in and chat with me over FB live to the group. We ask questions and discuss different topics. That's been super fun!