If there is one thing that I love, it’s photographing newborns. A newborn photography session is so challenging, but it’s so amazing to be a part of a baby’s life when they just days old. There are so many factors that have to come together for the session to go smoothly… and if there’s one thing a photographer must have, it’s patience. A session can go quick and be done in an hour, or it may take 3 hours or longer, but regardless it’s important for everyone involved to stay patient – the end result is totally worth it.
There is lots of preparation I go through to get ready for a newborn session. From looking for unique props to cleaning all my equipment and loading up my car, I can assure you that your session isn’t viewed as “another session” just like your baby isn’t “just another newborn”. I prepare differently for each session and I hope it shows.
In addition to doing everything I can in my power to make the parents and baby as comfortable as possible, there there are some things that parents can do before the session to get things going on the right path. For my newborn session this weekend, I wanted to send the mom an email outlining some ways that she can help to make sure the session goes off as planned. And then I thought “well, why not share these with everyone?” – so here’s my post on the 13 tips for your newborn photography session.
- Newborn portraits are unique in that they can’t be scheduled months out, but you can line up a photographer months out who will build time into their calendar around your due date for your session. If you are scheduling your birth, let your photographer know that as soon as possible.
- Call your photographer soon after you deliver so you can arrange a time for the session. Ideally the session should take place within 5-10 days after birth, and no longer than 2 weeks after.
- The session will take place at your home – do not worry about the state of your house. You just had a baby. I do not care if dishes are piled up the sink and clothes baskets runneth over. I have a job to do, and I’m not there to care about how clean your house is.
- Loosen the the baby’s diaper about 30 minutes before the session. This allows time for the diaper’s imprint marks to disappear.
- Have your house warm. Ideally, you’ll want the thermostat set around 80-85. For the adults it will be hot, but the baby will be toasty and happy.
- Collect any items you want used in the session beforehand – family heirlooms, toys, monogrammed blankets, etc. I’ll go through these with you to determine what will look best in the pictures.
- If you’d like pictures taken of the baby in the nursery, be sure all the curtains and shades are open to let in lots of natural light. No need to clean, but just try and make sure the clutter has found its way to a closet.
- Decide if you’d like pictures taken with your baby, or if want pictures of only the baby.
- Make sure the baby has a full belly before I arrive. Aren’t we all happier with a full belly?
- After the baby is full, make sure they are burped really good. Gas can take a sleepy, happy baby to an uncomfortable and irritable one in seconds.
- A mother’s smell is so recognizable (and sometimes distracting) to a baby, that it may be necessary for the mom to leave the room for portions of the session. This is not meant to hurt your feelings, but only to allow me to get the baby thinking sweet sleepy dreams, instead of hungry “where’s my milk?” dreams.
- Be patient. If the baby gets fussy or alert, don’t stress out. A baby can sense your anxiety and we want to keep the environment as mellow as possible. We will try and get the baby comfortable again, but if that just doesn’t seem possible, we’ll take a break or we’ll work with what he’s giving us. Sometimes the best pictures are ones when the baby isn’t doing what we want.
- Be assured that if there is ever a point where you’re uncomfortable with the poses, simply let me know. I only want to do poses and shots that you are comfortable with.
- Unless the baby sleeps very good through the nights do not schedule the shoot in the morning.
- If you breastfeed and can, have at least one bottle pumped for feeding.
- A majority of the pictures will work best if the baby is asleep so anything you can do in advance to encourage this is recommended. I assumed he should be awake and alert which probably made your job a lot harder.
UPDATE: After one of my newborn sessions, the mother gave me these suggestions to add to the list:
I’ll leave you with a bit of visual inspiration… Tracy Raver and Kelley Ryden are a photography duo based in in Nebraska, that specialize in getting images of babies around 2 weeks old. Here’s a little peek inside a newborn session and the secrets to getting the shots:
You can also view a slideshow of their beautiful newborn images. This video and these images inspire me but also leave me at a loss for words. I only hope that the images I create are as beautiful and timeless as these are.
Be sure to check back next week to see some sweet peeks from my newborn session this weekend!