It is funny but true, the smallest clients require the most preparations. Newborn sessions require, preparation, patience, and really good timing. 🙂
Don’t get me wrong I LOVE them, one of the reasons I do, what I do. I Love how newborns embody everything that is good in this world, newness, fresh starts, life, love, and innocence. I can not get enough of them. 🙂 Don’t ask me what I like better, a brand new baby or a really happy couple, there is no way I could decide.
Anyway, I LOVE a brand new baby, and I love to do my best work possible to capture this important, but fleeting stage of life. Here are some hints and ideas on how we can work together to make a newborn session the most successful.
1. It is all about the timing.
Newborn babies are best captured in the first two weeks of life. I know it is a small window to work with, but it really is night and day when dealing with a brand new baby. They grow and change SO FAST. Since the actual birth-date is a moving target for most babies we do not schedule the session date and time until baby arrives. I prefer to get all the session fee and contract details out of the way, talk though location, timing etc before hand, but wait for an email or text message to alert me that baby has arrived. Once baby is here we can work out the finalized date and time. Usually the parent not delivering the child gives me the text or call. 🙂
If baby requires a longer stay in the hospital or NICU we will of course wait until baby is home and healthy, but again staying within about a week of arrival home is best.
2. Don’t forget older sibling(s)!
Some of my most favorite images I have ever captured are of brand new siblings. Like these two little ladies above, that relationship is going to be one of the building blocks of their lives. GAH it makes me melt every time.
That said, these are most often some of the hardest to pull off. Not because of the baby, usually because the sibling is having a hard time adjusting to the new little attention thief in the house. It is hard to give up the spot light, as a big sister my self I get that. So during our session I have developed a few tricks to make sibling shots work. I am not above bribing older brothers and sisters, and giving them special attention. I will often ask them to “help” me during set up and test shots, to make them feel included. If you know of a special treat they will always be into, please have some on hand. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I am pretty good at calming siblings and talking them into things. If you give me the space and a chance we can usually make it work. The sibling shots will not take long, but it is a fine balance of wills. I will never put baby at risk either, be sure that Mom was just barely out of frame for the above image in case the 3 year old big sister she was done holding baby. Again sibling shots are adorable, but do take a little bit of work to pull off. Let me know if we are working with nap or snack time schedules and we will make sure it is the best time possible for everyone involved!
3. Light before location
Most families opt to do newborn sessions in the home. It is usually easier on you not to have to pack up and shlep across to the studio, I totally get that. As long as there is a bit of natural light in the home I can make most any location work. If you have questions or concerns text me a few images of your home and we can talk though the options. For me light is the most important element. Light before anything else.
Solo baby images are taken usually on my blankets or other textiles, family photos though will reflect the location we are shooting in. Sometimes the best spot is a cozy bed like the family above, sometimes we curl up on a couch or even go outside. If you have a super dark home with no natural light and no outdoor options let me know and we can talk about studio options. If your home has options and you would rather shoot there that is great with me. Don’t worry about cleaning up or anything like that. Family photos are most likely going to be cropped in close and focus on the people not the backdrop.
4. Warm it up Kris!
Check out the darling baby boy above. He looks all sweet and cozy right? Yep he does, and that is on purpose! It is hard to keep a baby sleeping while naked and exposed to the air. So a big key is temperature. I will bring in heating pads (for under the blanket) and even a portable heater to blog warm air on baby if needed, but it is also SUPER helpful to keep your house on the warm side during the session. It may feel like a Sauna to a new Mother, sorry about that! But it is necessary to keep baby sleepy and curled up for photos.
5. Patience is key…
Patience, Patience, Patience.
When I come to a home or the studio to do a newborn session I bring many things with me, cute hats, blankets, camera, lenses etc. But you know what I always bring with me too? A good book. Why a book you ask? Because each and ever session is going to have downtime. Babies do not care about our timelines, they do not care about cute blanets, hats, and outfits. They do not care, and I am good with that. Sometimes babies are crashed out and easy to work with, but most of the time that is just not the case. I know most babies are going to need to nurse, or be fed to get to that perfect “milk drunk” state perfect for photographing and posing. It takes time, and I am great with that. MANY times babies have had to nurse for an hour or more at the start of the session. I take the time to set up, do test shots, warm up heating pads, take solo shots of siblings etc, but once everything is in place you just have to wait. I usually sit down with my book and just wait. Don’t let it stress you out. It is the norm! I always scedule 3-4 hours for a newborn session, sometimes it only takes half that, but sometimes we spend hours nursing a fussy baby down. It is ok, and it is always worth the wait. 🙂
6. Let’s be honest, it is not about you.
Focus, Focus, Focus.
The whole goal of a newborn session is to capture a tiny sliver of your new babies life. This fleeting time while baby is tiny and sleepy. 75% of the images will be of baby solo, but of course parents are an important part of babies life so they need to be captured too!
That said, is there anything more unappealing than being in-front of the camera just days after giving birth? Not really! Let’s be honest Moms, things are just not the way they used to be. Clothes will not be fitting right, and if you are breastfeeding that is a whole other world of discomfort and sizes changing. I get it, I really do. I am the mother of two, and each time I worked with colleagues to capture my own newborns I was tempted to refuse being in front of the camera. BUT each time I gave in, and I really do treasure those images. The key to family and parent/child photos is the angles. If you tell me what parts have you concerned I will do my best to crop them out. There are beautiful and subtle ways to capture a family together without capturing ill-fitting clothes, troublesome tummies, or unflattering bits. I am also always happy to advise on what will photography well when it comes to clothing choices. You can check out my pinterest page for inspiration.
7. Leave room for shenanigans.
Sometimes the best photos result from REAL moments. If “big brother” wants to do a headstand, and I give the thumbs up, trust me I see a great photo there. Perhaps I will talk you into going outside to take advantage of a newly blooming tree, or crazy vintage bus. Or convince you to stand in the closet because I see some amazing opportunity for a silhouette shot. These are all really examples of my crazy ideas that have paid off in beautiful and quirky family photos. Sometimes the images that are not exactly picture perfect end up being all of our favorites. If you trust me, we can make some great images.
8. My etsy.com addiction will work well for you, but feel free to bring your own!
I will admit it, I have an addiction to tiny little knit baby hats. It is one of my great weaknesses in life. It all started when my own little girl was a toddler and I stumbled on to the site. I have everything from the softest mohair elf hat, to the silliest wonder-woman and batman set up you can imagine. I have ALLOT, but please do bring your own. Either at your home or the studio, I am always up for some knit cuteness.
That said I do try and steer clear of the super “prop” looking accessories. I am sure that giant tea cup looked cute on pinterst, but are you really going to love that image of your baby in a few years? Items that have personal connections to you, sure bring it on! I once used a mom’s old homecoming queen crown in a session, it was adorable. I am happy to get creative, BUT super gimmicky props that will look dated in a few years are not really my style. If you have ideas please send them my way and we can talk through every thing prior to the day of the big shoot. 🙂
9. Full tummies are the best, diaper lines are not.
Babies are the sleepiest when their tummies are full, and the house is calm. If you can nurse or bottle feed baby while I am setting up that would be awesome! Again we always leave room during the session to feed baby again if needed, but starting off with a full tummy works well. During that time please also have baby wrapped loosely in a blanket. I really prefer to avoid fussy snaps and garments while undressing a sleeping baby. Also please have baby diapered, but not SUPER tightly. Those sneaky red lines take a bit to go away.
10. Relax, I’ve got this!
I did my first newborn session so long ago that first baby now knows how to read and write! I have been doing this a long time, and I LOVE it. I love the challenge these little bundles of joy are. I love that they have ZERO interest in our timelines, and just do their own thing. I love the hard work it takes to get that perfectly timed shot. The little lady above had to nurse for hours to finally conk out and get settled, but once did she was one of the best and most smiley newborns I have ever captured. 🙂 She was worth the wait, they all are. If you trust me to make it work, I promise you will be happy with the results.
So lets do this!
That said rules are made to be broken. One of my most favorite newborn sessions of the year was with a “newborn” who was 4.5 weeks old, though he was “too old” he slept like a champ and was perfect for me. I recently had to trick an older sibling into holding the baby with a clip from Frozen on my phone, I am not proud of it, but it worked! I’ve also edited out poop, penises and pee on blankets and parents arms, anything to get the shot!. I can make a lot of things work, but going into the session with most of the above makes my job, and the resulting photos better I promise. As always please contract me with ANY questions at all. I am always here to help. 🙂
Contact me any time to go over pricing, timing, and session info specifically fitting your family. I also offer gift cards perfect for baby showers or holidays! Or if you want to capture the whole first year of life email me and I can send you info about my “babies first year” collection. I also love to capture maternity sessions, and I do accept a limited amount of birth photography clients per year, for more about those contact me for details. 🙂
(or hit the “contact” button above)