I LOVE photographing newborns! Holding and snuggling sweet new babies is definitely a plus, but it is absolutely incredible to be a part of creating such precious heirloom memories for families. I love to imagine all of my tiny adorable little clients, all grown up, looking through albums of their baby portraits with their own new baby to compare features. As much joy as photographing newborns brings me, there is a reason you might hear a lot of photographers say things like "I will photograph anything EXCEPT newborns!" Newborns can certainly be challenging models! In order to get the sweet squishy poses we all love, your little bundle needs to be nice and sleepy! While I adore the awake images too, I prefer for them to be conked out for the majority of our session! Not only are the poses significantly easier to achieve when the baby is asleep but our session goes by much quicker and smoother! I've made a list of how you can help prep for a successful newborn photography session.
The best time for posed newborn photography, is when baby is between 6-14 days old. We can certainly get beautiful images after 14 days, but after the 2 week mark, babies tend to become more alert and startle easier if they are being moved around for poses while they are asleep. If you are circumcising, we'll schedule our session no less than a week afterwards so your little love can have adequate time to heal. I prefer to do newborn sessions in the morning. 10 am tends to be an ideal time. New babies can get overstimulated easily and running errands or going to appointments before our photography session can quickly turn in to an overstimulated baby. I recommend clearing your schedule on the day of our session so you can have a calm relaxed morning before heading to the studio- or at least as calm and relaxed as it can get with a newborn!
2.) Plan ahead
I want your newborn session to be as enjoyable for you as possible. Every time you look at your baby's newborn images, I want you to feel an overwhelming sense of love. I want you to remember their tiny fingers and toes, chubby cheeks, pouty lips, sweet sleep smiles, and dreaming pouty face. I absolutely don't want you to look at those images and think of a stressful frazzled morning trying to get to your photo session. Leaving the house with a brand new baby is an adventure! It takes some getting used to. Getting the diaper bag and family wardrobe ready the evening before can help you have a relaxed stress free morning. When mom and dad are relaxed, baby is much more likely to be relaxed too! Lucky for you, the studio is completely stocked with outfits for baby, soft blankets, cozy wraps, props, headbands, and bonnets... everything we'll need for our session so you don't have to worry about a single thing! I have wardrobe options in the studio for the rest of family as well! Just chat with me in advance if you'd like to go that route! And if you are not a morning person at all, like me, I work with a professional hair and makeup artist who is available to come to the studio for your session as long as it's arranged in advance. You can literally show up in PJ's, or even a bath robe with your hair in a towel if you want, I've got you covered mama!
Giving your baby a warm bath in the morning before your session is a great way to prepare for your session. Warm water is very soothing and will help put baby into a comfortable sleep. Not to mention they will be nice and clean! Newborn babies tend to have very sensitive skin, so right before a photoshoot might not be a good time to try out a new soap! Red patches, baby acne and dry flaky skin are all very common for newborns. If you want to use a mild moisturizer before your session go ahead, but please make sure to apply it at least an hour before our session so it has time to absorb into the skin. Dry flaky skin can be edited out, but shiny skin is much harder to work with! Not to mention slippery babies don't stay put in poses as well Ha!
One of the best ways to put a baby in to a nice deep sleep is with a full feeding! If you can, give your baby a little less than a full feeding for the 1-2 hours before our session. If you are traveling more than 20 minutes to get to the studio, wait until you arrive to top them off. If you live nearby, go ahead and give them a full feeding right before putting them in the car seat. If you are breastfeeding, watch what you are eating the day before. Things like broccoli, spicy foods, or beans can give baby an upset tummy which could make some poses uncomfortable.
The only clothing you'll need for the baby is the outfit they'll wear for the car ride. Try to dress them in something loose and put the diaper on loosely as well to avoid indentations on the skin. We want to move baby as little as possible to keep them sleepy and avoid overstimulation, so don't dress them in anything that goes over their head. For family outfits, I recommend solid prints, neutral or muted colors. For the family poses, the focus should still be on the baby and the connection and love of the family. heavy patterns or bright/bold colors will draw the attention away from that focus. And if you'd rather not have to plan outfits at all, I have a collection of mama gowns and a few children's outfits in the studio available for newborn sessions, just give me a heads up so I can have them ready to go! I do recommend bringing a change of clothing as most of the newborn poses will be done without a diaper and there is a possibility you could get wet or worse during a snack or snuggle break! And most importantly, dress comfortably! Your little love is used to a really warm environment and hasn't quite figured out how to regulate body heat yet, so we keep the studio nice and warm for their comfort, and to help keep them sleepy. And when I say nice and warm, I mean it gets pretty hot, so seriously, bring comfy clothes!
6.) Older children
I've found that it works best to do sibling and family shots at the end of the session. Newborn sessions take around 2-4 hours depending on how many snack and snuggle breaks your baby needs. I do have some toys in the studio, but if your older children will have a hard time playing quietly in the studio for that long while they wait for their turn, it might be best to have an alternative plan. If you have an available friend or family member, one option is to have someone stay at home with the older kiddos and bring them to the studio when it is their turn. Another option is to have one parent or another adult available at the studio to take the older kids out to play or for a walk if they become restless. There are a lot of fun things to do within walking distance to the studio. There is a park nearby, a library just a block away, candy and ice-cream shops, as well as an assortment of restaurants and shops on the block.