Photography & Fatherhood – Beautiful Baby Portraits by Wes Armson

Wes Armson is a lifestyle photographer based in Calgary, Canada, where he lives with his wife and two kids. During the day, he works as a mechanical engineer in Alberta’s oil and gas industry, then switches to photography during the weekends and evenings. Besides doing professional photo shoots, he spends time photographing his little sons as they grow up.

We asked him a few questions about photographing children and being a father.

Silver Pursuit

Silver Pursuit

What motivated you to become a photographer?
I actually bought my first DSLR on my wife’s 23rd birthday in early 2009. I don’t remember what I bought her for that birthday but my gift to myself was probably better… But I mean it was really for us both, right?

We were going to the Calgary tower for a celebratory supper that night and our wedding was upcoming in March, so I figured I should start capturing our memories at a higher resolution. I took some really nice pictures of us at the top of the tower but I later deleted them all by accident when exploring the features of my camera.

When we realized the images were gone, we were pretty disappointed, especially my wife. We went back a different day for a bit of an attempt to recapture the experience, but it just wasn’t the same, which is when I realized how valuable those captured moments are.

From there I started doing some research, practicing, dabbled into editing, moved over to using RAW image format. I enjoy photography as a hobby because it gives me an opportunity to flex the creative portion of my brain which doesn’t always get a lot of exercise during my day job of calculations, calculations.

Push Car

Push Car

They see me rolling...

They see me rolling…

What do you enjoy most about photographing children?
My long-term memory is horrible. I think that portion of my brain is broken along with the circuit that connects reading a piano note to making the finger move. I truly need mnemonics to help remember things.

When my sons were born my heart was fuller than I ever could have imaged. When they first smiled, had a little laugh, or had a sneeze the moment was so precious. I’d sometimes close my eyes and mentally try to store away the moment and the feeling of tremendous joy. The thing that I most enjoy about photographing my own children is that the photos help me remember those moments and those feelings.

The thing that I like most about photographing the children of others is being there to witness them in those moments I’ve had myself. Everything and everyday is so new and exciting, and the parents are learning and the kids are learning.

faces

faces

Lil Man

Lil Man

Lifted Away

Lifted Away

Where do you get the ideas for your creative portraits, like ‘Super Maddox’? What are your sources of inspiration?
When we had our first son, we found a cute little onesie with a cape. It had the words “I’m Super” on the front, so that’s what I named the image of our little Super Skyler.

With Maddox, I’m trying to do a lot of similar concepts that I did with Skyler but with a little twist, so that’s where the idea for “Super Maddox” came from. It’s a little different with the mask and the wrist guards but similar enough. We were actually just hanging out at my parents so I went downstairs got some scrap fabric and started cutting out lightning bolts.

I'm Super!

I’m Super!

Super Maddox

Super Maddox

For a lot of my images the internet is also a great tool for inspiration. Pinterest, 500px, flickr are just full of great ideas. The sharing aspect of the internet has revolutionized photography and everything else. I try to find ideas that I like and mash them up, hopefully build on them or maybe put my own creative spin on the concept.

Every now and then I think of my own original idea until I Google it and find out it’s not so original. Sometimes I wish I’d never Googled it because seeing what others have done can give you a little tunnel vision which I never like.

At my day job my boss often says, “We don’t innovate, we replicate.” There is nothing new under the sun, but we’re all a little different, so in the end things still finish up with your own little custom stamp on them.

Animal Party 2.0

Animal Party 2.0

My Bananas

My Bananas

What is your secret to making babies look peaceful in photos?
Typically I try to make sure the babies are actually in a peaceful state…

Before most shoots I crank up our heat or I ask the client to crank up the heat if I’m coming to them. I also ask the mothers to try and have the babies well feed. I also try to make sure the shoots are in the first 7-10 days when the babies still like to curl up and sleep as much as possible. But they’re newborns so there is pooping, peeing, feeding breaks, etc. I just try to take my time and be patient.

If one thing really isn’t working, we’ll take a break or switch up the setup. We’ll always get there even if it means a little burst shooting where you can pick out one image where the baby appears to be peaceful. Things aren’t always as they may appear to be, but that’s the exception to the rule and typically the appearance of peacefulness actually is a happy little newborn.

 Something to smile about

Something to smile about

Lil Monkey

Lil Monkey

Maddox in a box

Maddox in a box

Do you prefer a well-planned photo shoot or more spontaneous pictures?
I like to plan things out. It’s good to be ready. My day job sometimes sabotages my plans for prep if I have to stay late for deadlines near a shoot, but my day job is also where a lot of the planning mentality comes from.

I’ve heard the expression “Good players adapt to any circumstances” but also “Chance favors a prepared mind.” I can wing things if I need to, but I prefer to invest some time preparing. If you’re not worried, you’re not taking it seriously and you’re not pushing yourself.

At the shoot it always takes a few minutes to get in the groove, some moving around and adjustments to get the angles and settings right, but as soon as you get that first good image that you like, it’s typically smooth sailing from there.

Nothing will replace practice, but good planning is almost always worthwhile.

Lil Santa

Lil Santa

A little light reading

A little light reading

NY flat brim baby

NY flat brim baby

Do you think you’ll miss photographing your children and toddlers? Or are you looking forward to photographing them as teenagers, too?
I’ll definitely miss photographing our kids as babies and toddlers but I’m excited for all aspects of their lives, and I won’t miss changing diapers. That being said, everyone loves puppies and kittens and babies… Well, not everyone, but typically the infant versions of most everything is adorable.

I’ll be proud of my children and their accomplishments, and I am excited to take photos from sports games, camping trips, wakeboarding, snowboarding, their first car, graduation photos, etc., but I’ll miss chasing them around, bribing them with candy, and hearing them say things like, “Love you couch, love you table.”

Shades and Hunters

Shades and Hunters

508 Below

508 Below

Daddy's Lil Assistant

Daddy’s Lil Assistant

On your profile, you write: “I’ve been drawn to photography ever since discovering that it demonstrates the impact and importance of perspective. Vantage point has the ability to take something that’s seemingly ordinary … and reestablish how fascinating it truly is.” How does your perspective as a photographer change or connect with your experiences as a father?
Photography is about the important moments: CELEBRATION, PROMISE, LOVE, GROWTH. My camera helps my mind keep some of the most important things in focus, which will hopefully help me be a better father, husband, son, neighbor and friend. When my camera is on my neck my whole outlook is different because my eyes and my brain are looking for beauty and blessing which are everywhere.

Big Brother

Big Brother

To see more of Wesley Armson’s photography, visit his website, 500px, Facebook page, or Flickr photostream.




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3 Comments on "Photography & Fatherhood – Beautiful Baby Portraits by Wes Armson"

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Jay Long
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Beautiful images; that li’l dude is adorable, too–being facetious. My daughter always tells me photography is easy when you–meaning me–have such beautiful subjects–her children. Bottom line: subject is adorable, but I love the manipulation and patience that went into each shot. Great, awe-inspiring images.

Paul Wilde
Guest

Superb images. Great use of light and the natural surroundings has produced beautiful photos.

Alex
Guest

Great photos. Amazing lighting too. Was curios what lighting mods is he using. I’m sure not all of them are natural light shots. I don’t like to use strobes on kids, esp babies. Would be great to see how he did it.

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