A parent’s guide to great newborn portraits.
A parent’s guide to great newborn portraits.
Newborn portraits today are a lot different than those of the past. Today’s parents want newborn portraits that stand out from the pack, the old one hour mall portraits just won’t cut it. As a parent of the “greatest thing that’s ever happened to the world” you want to show off your new bundle of joy to friends, family and anyone else that happens to be passing by and why not? Babies are special and your baby is extra special! Your baby’s newborn images should be as fresh and unique and special as your family. There’s a very small window of time (the first two weeks) that makes for the best newborn portraits (however 3-5 days old is even better). It’s during this time that babies sleep the soundest making it possible to create the beautiful and unique images my clients are looking for. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make your newborn session the best it can be.
A well-fed baby is a happy baby
More often than not when a baby gets fussy during a session it’s because they’re hungry. Newborns are happy when their bellies are full so it’s a good idea to come to your portrait session prepared. Before the session prepare a few bottles or bring a nursing cover so you can feed your little guy or girl before, during and after the session. And don’t worry about how long it may take or how many times you may need to feed them during the session, any photographer that photographs a lot of children won’t mind, in fact we expect it. Babies eat when they want to eat. In my studio I usually block out half a day for any newborn or child session so parents never feel rushed or like I’m watching the clock trying to finish as quickly as possible. So don’t worry, there’s plenty of time for everything weather it’s feeding or handling a tantrum meltdown.
Keep them warm
Newborns like warm temperatures, especially during the first two weeks, which is when we generally photograph them. During that time they’re still accustom to the warmth of the womb and temperatures adults generally consider pleasant newborns find to be downright frigid. Most photographers will keep their studios quite warm during a newborn session in order to keep your little one comfortable but that may not be enough, especially considering most newborn sessions require your little guy or girl to be nude. I always keep a number of baby blankets on hand to cover them with between images or as we’re setting up a pose but you shouldn’t assume every photography studio is the same. Remember to bring at least a couple blankets with you just in case the photographer doesn’t have any on hand or if one or two get soiled.
Plan your day around your session
Children in general tend to do things on their own schedule and sometimes require a good deal of time to sooth whatever may be bothering them. In addition, all those cute poses you see on websites and blogs like mine take a lot of time and effort both during the session and in preparation before you get to the studio to make them happen. Posing or swaddling a newborn can take time and often a few attempts between which a feeding or cuddling may be needed and that’s OK. As a professional photographer who photographs a lot of children I know what to expect and I try to rely that to my clients. When you schedule your portrait session it’s often a good idea to plan your entire day around it, this is especially true if you have other children that will be at or taking part in the session. I recommend blocking out at least three hours for the session and adjusting your meal and nap schedule for that day so any two or three year old siblings also taking part will be happy and energized during the session.
Stay Clam (sessions with siblings)
Many of my families that come in for newborn sessions also have a 2, 3 or 4 year old son or daughter that I photographed a few years earlier. I love creating images that include older siblings but we all know how a two year old can be when they’re not happy or have decided they’re not going to do something. So, how do we keep big brothers and sisters cheerful? This is actually going to be the subject of another post but I’ll give you a few helpful hints here. First, make the portrait session something they’re looking forward to by talking about it in a positive manner in the days prior to the session. Tell them how much fun it’s going to be to have their picture taken with their little brother or sister. Next, remember to bring them plenty of snacks so they can keep their energy and mood up. Also, there can be a bit of down time during a newborn session during feedings and image setups and to a three year old even a few minutes can seem like a lifetime, having their favorite toys, books or even some interactive games on hand will help to keep them occupied, entertained and engaged. Lastly remember to stay calm, even if they aren’t. Tantrums happen and tears sometimes can’t be stopped, they’re kids it’s OK. The key is to take it in stride and not let their acts of stubbornness affect the portrait session in a negative manner. Try to speak calmly and in a pleasant tone, reiterating the fun aspects of the session or how he/she can be a big help by doing this or that. Above all try not to become irritated as this can often cause more tears and additional stubbornness. These tricks usually do the trick for me but if all else fails I always keep my secret weapon close by, my dog Lulu, kids adore her.
Planning Makes Perfect
The old adage is true, planning really does make perfect, especially when it comes to fresh, modern newborn portraits. I encourage expecting parents to contact me as soon as possible for their complimentary consultation. I try to create unique images for each of my newborn clients and sometimes that means building props, painting backgrounds or hunting down the right accessory to complete an idea I have for an image. These things can take a bit of time so starting the process early gives me the opportunity to take the ideas we’ve exchanged during the consultation and create you a one-of-a-kind piece of art for your home.