Preserving special moments09/22/2023 12:22PM ● By JP Phillips
A turn of the head. A dip of the shoulder. A bend of the knee. Blueprint Photography owner Jamie Latsley arranges and molds a newborn baby just as a sculptor does clay, resulting in a work of art forever captured on film. She captures precious moments that have never happened before and will not happen again.
Latsley specializes in photographing infants and their families. She feels that the first two weeks of life are a special time that should be memorialized. “The older they get, the more alert they get,” she said. “Their bones are forming, their muscles are forming, they’re not as moldable. And they’re also awake longer throughout the day. For a lot of what I do, I like them to be sleeping.”
Latsley grew up in Maryland and Delaware. Prior to starting Blueprint Photography, she was an elementary school teacher in Delaware. Impressed by the area and the Kennett Consolidated School District, she settled in Landenberg seven years ago with her husband, two children, and two dogs.
She has always loved photography, and took classes in high school and college. Looking for more flexibility in order to focus more on family, she decided to make her hobby into a career. She started photographing friends’ weddings, and eventually moved on to their new families and, at her husband’s suggestion, infants in their first two weeks of life. With so few photographers specializing in newborns, it created a special niche for her.
She started Blueprint Photography 13 years ago. For the past seven, she has been working out of a quiet backhouse on a cul-de-sac just over the Delaware line in Newark, a stone’s throw from her Landenberg residence.
Prior to a photo session, parents complete a questionnaire so Latsley has an idea of the baby’s size and the parents’ color preferences. Based on that information, Latsley’s well-stocked studio supplies the baby’s outfit, pillows, infant baskets, blankets and background.
She asks for clients to set aside four hours so they are not rushed, but the session rarely takes that long. Sometimes, when an older sibling is in the photo shoot, sessions do run on the longer side. “Between 18 months and three years old for the big sibling is the hardest,” she said. “Sometimes, taking my first shot could be 45 minutes because we’re just trying to get them comfortable.” Due to her experience as an elementary school teacher, she feels she has a little extra patience which helps. She says that four- or five-year-old siblings can be persuaded to cooperate, as they can be rewarded with, for example, an ice cream cone after the shoot.
New-age music is softly playing in her upstairs studio. “I start with the baby wrapped for family photos. They’re snuggled, they are falling asleep. Then I move into the baby sets,” she said. “I keep the studio at 79 degrees, so it keeps the baby nice and sleepy.”
There are many elements to a great photograph such as lighting, set design, and posing. When dealing with families, she makes sure the poses are just right. “I might give them seven different things to adjust, and then I’d tell them, ‘Okay, shake it out,’—and now go back to that. Then they’re much more relaxed because they kind of know where they are going and what they’re doing. And I think that it helps them relax,” she said. “One of the things I say is that if it feels awkward, you are probably doing it correctly.”
After the family photo shoot, she moves on to the sleeping baby. “They’re so snuggly and sweet and cute. It’s just fun to design the set for them.”
In describing the sets, she said, “I call it earthy organic. Nice neutral colors, neutral props and things.”
Getting the baby into the perfect pose is usually a process. “Sometimes babies like to pull in, so I take what’s called a ‘safe shot.’ If they are a little jumpy, I take that shot. Then I’m going to adjust the fingers—maybe his pinky was curled in and I don’t want it to be curled in—so I am going to take that safe shot. Then I’m going to adjust his legs and take that safe shot.” She thinks of the session as being “baby led.” She’ll keep adjusting and taking photos until she arrives at her version of perfection, or until the baby starts fidgeting. “He’s told me, ‘That’s enough!’” she said.
She proceeds to take close-ups and photos from different angles using varying lighting techniques. These variations as well as the family shoots are then available for the parents to purchase in the form of enlargements, photo albums, panels, and digital files.
Since she feels that files on a computer will rarely be viewed and could one day be forgotten, she doesn’t recommend her clients purchase just the digital files. She says companies like Shutterfly and other retail photo services don’t offer the same quality prints as she does.
“The quality of those printers can’t read the quality of these pictures,” she said. “Anything you are displaying loud and proud should come from the professional lab. Yes, it is an investment, it’s a lot more than going to Shutterfly, but it’s going to look a thousand times better. And anything from here is going to outlast our lives, the baby’s lifetime, and your grandkids’ lifetimes.”
And who would not want to look at a picture of a beautiful, peaceful, and perfect sleeping baby?
Blueprint Photography is located at 1104 Kelly Drive, Newark Del. The phone number is 302-668-6058. More photos and session information can be found on www.blueprint-photography.com.