She added milk to the bath and something amazing happened. Sometimes the most simple set up creates the most stunning results ever. I'm excited to feature Tiffany from Tiffany Burke Photography on the blog this week who will explain to us how she goes about setting up these unique portraits.
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What all do you need in order to create this set up?
When creating a milk bath, I first start out with a color theme in mind and decide on my colors. Sometimes I make a private Pinterest board , pinning colors and flowers and material ideas. Then, my shopping list includes real flowers and synthetic/silk flowers, tulle or another type of fabric that would create an ethereal, feminine look. Next I grab the milk, I prefer whole milk and sometimes, powdered milk. Also, the main ingredient? Scotch Guard. Synthetic flowers soak up water and sink right to the bottom. I found by "waterproofing" them, it gives them a fighting chance. I still lose some in the tub, but for the most part, this works. I spray the flowers well before the session and give them enough time to dry out. Also, on rare occasion I have been known to add food coloring to the milk, just to get a different feel. It can be fun!
How much do you need to add to the bath tub? Do you pour it in before, after or while your filling the tub with water?
The amount of milk to water ratio will depend on the look you are going for. I typically fill the tub about half way or a little less, with water first. Then I add in the milk to the desired look. For more opaque look, I add in two gallons of whole milk and some powdered milk. To give a more translucent look, I add in much less, maybe half a gallon or less. I really encourage people to play around with it until you find the look you are wanting.
Is there a specific type of bathtub/size you need?
The size of the tub will depend on your subject. You can probably use a regular sized tub if you are just photographing an infant. I prefer a larger tub with more space to add in my design of the flowers/greenary. I have so many photographers message me, saying they don't have access to such a tub. My suggestion, make one! Buy a kiddie pool and some white painter's cloth or white tarp and set it in your nice lighting and ta-da! You have your own bath.
How do you go about getting good lighting for these set ups?
I photograph in all natural lighting and really suggest a bathtub (or kiddie pool) that sits next to a large window. I think you could play around with a softbox if you wanted. For me, the natural light just gives it an organic feel to match the softness of the floral milk bath. How do you go about making sure newborns and babies are comfortable? When photographing newborns in the bath, it's really an easy transition for them because they came from this time in utero where they lived in warm "water" forever. So, going back to that place, laying on mom's chest and being in warm water, feels lovely! I think the key is similar to any newborn session, make sure baby has all his/her needs met, nice full belly and deeply asleep. A good trick is to have mom feed baby when they are both in their bath attire, nude or whatever you decide. Baby can stay in diaper for now. You can have a blanket covering them for warmth. Then, once baby is nice and full and in a deep sleep, mother and baby can get into the tub (diaper off now) and the transition is really smooth and beautiful. Older babies can be trickier, you just don't know how they will respond, some love it and some have a hard time with it. Be patient and gentle and know when to call it and say, "It's okay that baby hates floral milk baths." Please always keep in mind baby safety, never leave baby unattended in tub, always feel the bath temp before hand, all the usual safety issues. Safety is your number one priority with these kinds of sessions.
Any other pointers you can give for this special set up?
Milk baths are a lot of fun and can really beautiful to try. Try for yourself and play around, come up with your own color themes and ideas. You don't just have to put in flowers or greenery, it can be just the subject, or the subject wrapped in tulle, or whatever your heart desires. Milk baths are about create a type of art and feel, and it's up to you to design what you and your client like best.
IMPORTANT. always make sure to check with parents about potential milk allergies.
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