Photography has always been one of the strongest pillars that keep Jocelyn Conway going. Just a teen when her interests were first peaked, she later traded in her camera for a lengthy career as a midwife. With that, she became a master of everything babies from pregnancy to birth and beyond. So when she reunited with her camera all those years later and formed Jocelyn Conway Photography, she knew exactly where she’d rise to the challenge. While many can’t handle a newborn shoot, she can and does it all with a grand smile on her face. This is Jocelyn Conway, an award-winning photographer who’s won Bump to Baby Photographer of the Year, Fine Art Photographer of the Year with Societies of Photographers, and just took home Master Photographer Association Contemporary Photographer of the Year last week.
Kendra: Being a midwife for over 20 years and then heading into baby photography, it’s clear you love working with the tiniest of humans. What is it that you love about working with babies?
Jocelyn Conway: I feel that pregnancy and childbirth are such a massive part of people’s lives, it’s almost compulsory to capture it! Pregnancy only lasts a short time and every pregnancy is different! So how wonderful for a baby to look back at their mum pregnant with them? We all grow and change the most in our first year. We forget just how small our babies were, so taking beautiful newborn pictures especially with mum and dad is creating memories for ourselves and our children and grandchildren. We need to record these moments because they go so quickly; suddenly the kids are all grown up!
Kendra: You’ve always been interested in photography but just started your own business about a decade ago. What initially inspired you to make photography more than a hobby?
Jocelyn Conway: As you mentioned, I was a midwife for over 20 years. I have had the privilege to know many many women and babies and have delivered a fair share. I understand how women’s bodies work during and after pregnancy and how babies develop and grow. This gives me unique insight when photographing them.
I was a photographer before I was a midwife, When I was 16 I joined a camera club and helped out taking photos of local kids’ football teams for the local paper. I tried to get an apprenticeship with a local photographer, but was told: “it wasn’t a job for a woman.” How sexist!
I eventually didn’t know what to do with my life so I became a nurse, like my sister, and after that trained as a midwife/ I never gave up photography and decided to follow my original plans and become a photographer. I naturally versed into the newborn and maternity genre.
Kendra: Is there anything you learned as a midwife that translates into your photography?
Jocelyn Conway: There is so much I have learned during my midwifery career; how babies develop, their sleep patterns, and how feeding patterns affect their mood. To get these very early sleepy photographs, and awake, but content, pictures, the baby needs to be settled. I’m also very confident handling babies, wrapping them and posing them safely. I know what they can and can’t do, and every baby is different.
So knowing how they feed, wind and just knowing the signs that babies give us to tell us what they want is a big advantage. Also, I’m very confident with pregnant women and can read how they are feeling, I try my best to look after them in the studio and watch for tiredness, or if they are uncomfortable. At the end of the session, I always offer to let mum listen to the baby’s heartbeat. I have a sonic aid and mums and dads love to record their baby’s heartbeat on their phone.
Kendra: You’ve noted how you’re sort of the pioneer of the Bump Baby moldings that some mothers have crafted as keepsakes. When the child gets older and it’s no longer part of their nursery decor, what do you feel is the best way to keep it around the house without their kid saying, “Mom…I’m 16 now, put it away?”
Jocelyn Conway: Haha I’ll bet they’ll still love their “bump bowls” even when they are 16! I’ve been doing bump bowls for many years now, every newborn and bump to baby client get a free cast! I feel it’s such a wonderful way to capture your bump and the pictures of the baby back in the “bump” are just adorable and they do love being in there! I’ve had a baby come back over their first year and had pictures taken each time with their bump bowl!
Lots of mums keep the casts in the baby’s nursery, with teddies or toys in them. Some hang them on the wall. I offer a service to smooth and paint the bump bowls so they can be used as part of the home decor. I’ve always wanted someone to use it as a fruit bowl on their dining table, but I don’t think anyone has! I think It is such a unique piece of art for the home that has it displayed on the wall, especially smoothed and decorated. It is such a special moment that the kids will love it and I can see them in the future having their bump bowl displayed in their house for their kids to see. Definitely investment art!
Kendra: In a world that is all about sharing every moment of one’s existence, we tend to well…overshare…but what three moments of one’s pregnancy do you feel are the most picture-worthy?
Jocelyn Conway: Pregnancy is such an amazing time in a woman’s life; growing a human! The whole pregnancy is a wonderful picture sharing moment. I do a pregnancy timeline for some clients, from about 16-weeks to the newborn session. It’s so special to watch the bump grow. Mums are so excited to find out they are pregnant and I would definitely share that very first scan photo.
As the bump grows and mum feels the baby move it so amazing to see how her belly moves when the baby kicks and jiggles around in her belly. And obviously a professionally taken portrait of her beautiful bump around 32-34 weeks pregnant, when she has a lovely big bump, but not at that most uncomfortable stage later on.
Kendra: Now that we’re approaching 2020, please let us know what you have going on with your business and beyond!
Jocelyn Conway: I’m continuing to take some wonderful bump and baby pictures. It’s what I do and love so much. I take pictures of the babies over their first year, up to their first birthday, which is always great fun! I feel it’s important to capture those milestones, smiling, holding their head up, lying on their tummy, sitting up, standing walking and of course the first birthday! I do a first birthday portrait, which includes a gorgeous portrait of the baby for mum and dad to keep forever, a cake smash if the parents want it and a gorgeous little splash session in a beautiful little bath.
For my business, I’m going to be offering my clients, older child portraits. Gorgeous fine art pictures of the kids and encouraging mum and dad to be in the portraits too. I love looking back at the pictures of my mum and dad when they were younger, and love the history and story behind the images. I’d love for my clients to have this for their children too. Tell their stories.
I’m starting the new year at the Societies Convention in London as one of their judges. Judging lots of amazing prints and panels of images. This will be my fourth year doing this, I also judge their monthly competitions over the year. It’s wonderful to see such a big standard of work and very inspiring.
I’ve not long moved into a bigger studio and love the space to work and be creative. But the backbone of my business are mums and babies. They are my fire and inspire me every day. I’m so looking forward to the future and moorland more babies!