Louise Downham

I’m Louise Downham, a newborn and family photographer. I’m a Londoner born and bred, and consider myself so lucky to have a job that I absolutely love.

It’s a total cliché but true – my grandfather gave me my first camera. I’d been using his camera all summer. Realising I had a real passion developing for photography, he gave me a camera for my birthday. It was a Canon – so that was that, I’m a Canon girl now and always have been!

List of kit:

Canon 5D Mark IV: This is a new treat, and I’m head over heels with it. Focus tracking is brilliant for toddlers tearing around, so I’m really looking forward to using that function more. I’m loving having several custom buttons with really specific drive and focus combinations set to each one.

Canon 5D Mark III: This will always have a special place in my heart! I used to carry two Mark IIIs with me, but this one is now my second body. I have a ‘safe’ lens on it like the 50mm or 35mm in case I need to get a bit more distance from my subjects.

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L: I use this mostly for christenings, and occasionally for a more environmental shot on family portrait sessions. I tend to photograph fairly close in though, so it’s not a natural lens for me to use. I keep it in the mix to remind myself to keep stepping out of my comfort zone and to keep challenging myself with finding new angles and viewpoints. For christenings, it can be really useful for getting the whole family in a shot – especially when there are also godparents to factor in.

Canon 100mm f/2.8 L Macro: Man, I love this lens! Ok, it has its limitations – it’s slow to focus, and you need quite a bit of space in a room to use it as a portrait lens, but the images from it are completely knock-out. For macro close-ups on newborns, this is a must-have. For portraits of children who are in a calm and quiet mood, this lens is just stunning.

Canon 85mm f/1.8: I don’t use the 85mm L lens as I’m usually using the 85mm with toddlers and young children, and I need the faster focusing of this lens. It’s an incredible lens for the money – the bokeh it delivers is gorgeous. I try to keep my camera bag quite pared back, but I have to admit that I do still think about getting the L lens every now and then.

[Ed – check out Louise’s Newborn Photography Tips]

Canon 135mm f/2.0 L: I always take this with me when we head outdoors on a family portrait session. It’s hardly ever useful (for my purposes) indoors as it needs so much space, but outdoors it really comes into its own. I love to get far back from a family and shoot them at around f/4.5 so the background becomes lovely and creamy.

Canon 50mm f/1.2 L: Yes, the nifty fifty! I use it quite often with full-length photographs of newborns, and sometimes photographs of parents cuddling their baby – and I often have it on my second body when I’m photographing outdoors, just in case I need to get back a bit. Other than that though, I find this focal length pretty boring to shoot with – it doesn’t really suit me. But, it’s a really useful workhorse and sometimes it’s just the length needed for a particular room or situation.

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L: I use this to photograph the church’s exterior and interior when I’m photographing a christening or baptism. I love how dramatic a building can become at a super-wide angle. I don’t tend to use it much for portrait work, other than occasionally setting the scene in a wide open landscape.

Bits and bobs: it doesn’t seem quite right to show what’s in my camera bag without showing the other essentials! I always make sure I have a packet of tissues, hairbands (both for me and to offer clients if they’re caught without on a windy day), plasters (again, both for me and also for little ones in case they have an accident), hay fever tablets (it’s a massive pain to be photographing outside and to start sneezing!), lens cleaning paper (a dog licked my lens recently – I was really glad to have these with me!), some newborn baby props (like these), and some spare change. And mints! Sometimes on a long day, a good strong mint is an essential pick-me-up.


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