WE’VE seen a spike in newborn photography lately, and it seems like it’s the millennial parents who love posting photos of their babies swaddled, surrounded by all kinds of textured props on set. We spoke with Cebu-based Samuel John Orlanes, who specializes in newborn, maternity and kids photography, to get a better picture of the magic that goes behind every dreamy image.

A graduate of hotel and restaurant management, Sam was hired as an assistant for one of Cebu’s known wedding photographers in 2015. “That was the time I got interested in photography. I was taught by my former employer the basics and I also kept on practicing and learning through actual wedding photo coverage. Until such time I created my own photography business and switched to another genre,” Sam said.

Taking it from a passion to a profession, Sam enrolled in online classes and workshops on Newborn Photography in Manila. These include basic newborn photography, baby first-aid and safety, and a masterclass by international newborn photographer Jade Gao. He is also affiliated with the Newborn Photography Philippines Academy and the Philippine Newborn and Baby Photographers of the Philippines.

Although he looks up to renowned newborn photographers Jade Gao, Kelly Brown and Kath V, Sam has developed a technique of his own. He said: “My genre requires personal touch, a different mindset and skill set. As a photographer, it’s very important to be warm and welcoming since I’m dealing mostly with pregnant women, new parents, babies and kids. Most of my clients leave the concept and styling to me since they trust and like my works. When handling newborns and kids, you need to be very patient. Every baby is unique so it’s important as a photographer to understand their cues and personality.”

Even during the quarantine period, Sam got to do a virtual maternity shoot with a client. “I’ve seen a lot of photographers nowadays doing virtual photo sessions, and I think it really goes well with fashion, lifestyle and maternity. Virtual photography is a good alternative for photographers whose bookings got canceled due to the pandemic,” Sam shared.

Sam still accepts photo sessions but limits them to one client a day. “This is to ensure we have time to thoroughly clean our props and equipment after every use. We wash our wraps, outfits and furs using baby detergent. We also use UVC lamps to disinfect them. Our proactive approach to our clients’ health and safety has not changed; it has only intensified,” he explained.

For maternity shoots, the best time to do them is at 30 to 35 weeks of gestation; five to 12 days old for newborn shoots; and 10 to 11 months old for pre-first birthday shoots.

Those who are just starting out can take their cue from Sam and focus on a photography genre they are passionate about. Learning through workshops and online classes is one thing, but there’s nothing better than hands-on learning.

“You can start by taking photos of your friends who are pregnant or your friends’ babies. That’s how I started too! Learning this genre takes time, patience and dedication. If you are very passionate about it, you’ll eventually find your way in this genre,” Sam said.

To view his work gallery, visit his Facebook page (Sam Orlanes Photography) or website (newbornphotography.com.ph).