As the founder of Tiny Times Photography, Vancouver-based photographer Mandy Tillitson has a sentimental speciality: newborn photos. Describing her photographs as “simple, sweet, [and] pure,” Tillitson captures heartwarming shots of brand new babies as they playfully pose and peacefully sleep.
Creatively combining a lifetime of infant caregiving with 9 years' worth of photography experience, Tillitson has mastered the art of baby pictures. Her precious portfolio showcases a range of artistic approaches, from traditional portraits of snoozing and smiling newborns to depictions of babies paired with desserts. Aptly titled Sweet, Sweet Baby, Tillitson dreamt up this sugary series for her daughter, whom she unfortunately lost late in her pregnancy.
After healing from this tragedy, Tillitson—now a mother of two—continued to pursue her passion. Today, she has worked with (and cuddled) nearly 1,000 mini models, capturing countless memories and helping parents to “pause [the] tiny moments, belly to first birthday.”
We had the opportunity to talk to Tillitson about Tiny Times Photography. In our interview below, she discusses her inspiration, memorable experiences, and “sweet, sweet” approach to newborn photography.
What inspired you to pursue photography?
Photography became my passion at an early age. My Grandfather (he was a photographer) would let me assist him at his weddings and events. Plus, I was always in front of his camera getting my picture taken in all my dress-up clothes as a child.
What prompted you to specialize in baby portraits?
I have been caring for newborn babies my whole life. As each of my siblings were born, I began to understand babies—their sleep patterns, the gassy smiles, the feedings, etc. That knowledge carried into my career as a newborn photographer, making it naturally easy to photograph a sleepy baby. Combining maternity, newborns, and photography just seemed right for me. It was still quite new when I first started about 9 years ago and now it's very popular to have your newborn baby artistically photographed.
Sweet, Sweet Baby—a series that pairs little ones with foods—is particularly special to you. Can you tell us more about this series?
This series came as an idea for me when I thought of all the things we love about babies: “sugar and spice,” “sweet and scrumptious,” etc. The original image was supposed to be with my first daughter as a stack of pancakes with strawberries. Unfortunately, we lost her in my 8th month of pregnancy in 2013. Through the healing process I re-gained my passion for newborn photography and my “sweet” idea. So when my nephew was born, so was my blueberry short stack of pancakes portrait!
How has being a mother influenced your practice?
Being a mother only enhanced my passion for newborn photography. The connections became deeper with my clients to the point where I made wonderful friendships.
What challenges have you faced in your career?
Comparing myself to others. I have learned that the only person I should compare myself to is myself. There are many amazing artists and I am learning every day, plus the photography circle is extremely supportive.
What have been your most memorable moments as an infant photographer?
Well on the funny side of things, I would say would be when a newborn pees or poops everywhere! Haha! It happens all the time. However I must say I will never forget my first clients, then my first big sale, and most of all, the connections I make with my clients and their brand new babies.
What do you see in Tiny Times Photography's future?
I hope for nothing more than what I already have: a beautiful studio and an abundance of babies to photograph and cuddle. I would also just like to let my (future) clients know that photos of their babies will last longer than anything else they will buy….they will be the first thing you grab in an emergency and the only thing you will look at when you need a refresh on your memories. I hope I can be your family photographer to provide those memories.