When to do the photos.
Some photographers like to do photos as soon as possible, within days of birth. Others like to wait a few weeks until mom and baby have established a routine. My preference is to do photos early on because newborns LOVE to sleep that first week. However, it’s ok to wait. There are no hard and fast rules. No extra stress needs to be added to this time for mom or baby. The newborn phase is a brief window and you should do what feels best to you. My job is to capture these memories for you.
Where will we do the photos?
Mom and baby’s comfort are most important. And let’s face it, there’s no place like home. If you’re nursing, you both may be trying to learn how to latch on, and let’s face it, you’re really sleep-deprived at the time of the photoshoot. Plus…..germs. That’s why I come to you! I will bring my lighting equipment, wraps and props, the camera, and everything we will need. You just need to let me in. As far as location in your house, your bed is usually the best place (plus you get to lay down next to your baby and catch some shut-eye while we shoot). If the bed isn’t an option, I can also use your couch or ottoman. If you would rather do a park session (in warmer weather), this is a great alternative to studio lights. We’ll find a nice quiet spot in the shade.
Sleep and Feeding Management
Sleepy babies cooperate the best. So I like to advise my parents to not let their newborn sleep before I get there. At least for an hour before our session. Keep in mind that all of those classic newborn images with cute poses, curled up in baskets or blankets, that we all love, require your baby to be in his or her deepest sleep. When babies are sound asleep, those poses are much easier because they are relaxed. In order to achieve this, try keeping your baby awake for 30 minutes or maybe even a full hour just before the session time. So you may ask, how do I keep my baby up?? Stimulation. Two great ways are to change their clothes or give them a bath. Then as I arrive, you can begin feeding. If you are nursing, it can take a bit of extra time to feed your baby – so only you know how long it takes your baby to eat. Just plan accordingly. Oh, and let’s not forget temperature. Babies like it warm and cozy. The room temperature should be around 80 degrees for optimum baby comfort, ensuring a sleepy and happy baby, especially with outfit changes in between shots.
Prepare for accidents and pauses to clean up or calm down the baby. A lot depends on baby feeds and calming techniques. If your baby uses a pacifier, I highly recommend this to keep your baby calm while we change poses. And don’t worry, we’ll take plenty of breaks as needed for cleaning up messes, feeding, cuddling, and soothing as the session goes on. Your baby’s comfort is important to me, as well as mom and dad’s comfort. Just remember to be patient and do not get embarrassed or frustrated when things go wrong. They often do, and the photographers who often work with infants are used to it.
It’s best to have nothing but a diaper on your baby when I arrive and make sure you have them wrapped in a blanket to keep them snuggly warm. You may want to loosen the diaper a little before I arrive if you are interested in having cute newborn photos without a diaper. This will eliminate those annoying diaper lines. I receive lots of requests to use outfits. In general, I usually discourage parents from using clothing/outfits. The angles and positions that your baby will be in will make it hard to see outfits in the photos. I have newborn wraps and props that I use. For boys, feel free to use hats or ties. And for girls, bows and other accessories are perfect! If you have props you’d like to use, such as a musical instrument, shoes, wedding rings, stuffed animals, or other items, feel free to include them! I love making sessions personalized. If mom and dad (and/or siblings) are joining, simple coordination is needed. Check out my what to wear guide for more ideas. If you’re camera-shy, that’s ok – we can use your hands and body for some shots.
You should keep in mind that there are some very cute and creative poses out there, but the experienced photographer will never do anything that will compromise the safety of the littlest models. That is the most important thing when it comes to basics and tips for successful newborn photography, although every photographer also has their own bag of tricks. The bottom line, safety is the highest priority during a session. A cooperative baby is essential. I will never force a pose on any baby. I’ve had very cooperative babies who can pull off the frog pose shown here, and I’ve had many babies not comfortable in this pose, so we don’t push it. Your baby will dictate the poses we can accomplish. Safety comes first.
Plan for the end result
It’s good to think about what you want to do with your photos before you create them. Most people only think of the digital files when thinking about their session, then after getting the photos, they realize the colors don’t match their room’s color scheme. Sometimes after getting digital files, they do nothing with them. That’s heartbreaking! So before your session, think about how you want to use your images. A Photobook? A wall display? What about prints for grandparents. Will they want a Photobook?