I’m not sure that “negative” is the correct photography term for these photos, but that’s what I call them since the background is completely black. I thought it would be helpful for me to share the process of creating these photos with some before and after shots. My subject, 19 day old Hunter Ann, was so awesome for her newborn session the week before, I asked her to come back and help me practice these techniques.
For those reading this for technical information, all were shot in my studio with an Alien Bees light and giant softbox set at a 90 degree angle to the subject about 5 feet away. My settings were 1/200 s at f/2.8, ISO 160 (50 mm lens). Editing was done in Photoshop CS6 (of which I am by no means an expert).
During editing the first thing I do is select the background with the quick selection tool, then add an adjustment layer and slide the black way down. That takes care of evening out the background. Then I grab the paintbrush, choose the black brush and trace around the subject to soften the edges where it transitions to black. After that I touch up the skin and either adjust the color manually or use one of my favorite actions to get the look I want. Whether to keep them in color or change them to B&W is a personal preference. I’m about 50/50 on the color to B&W ratio, just depends on the shot I guess.
One thing I learned practicing this last photo is that we really need a third person to help support the head. Mom used her (you know whats) to balance Hunter’s head, but we could have done better with one more person there.
I’m thinking about adding at least one negative shot to each newborn session. It would be a nice contrast to the soft and colorful blanket and prop poses. I guess I should ask a few of my soon-to-be mommies what they think.