For any mom and dad:
[I had planned to publish that blog post earlier this year, but because my second son came a month earlier than expected I had to postpone the post. On the brighter side, I added additional content ]
After the birth to my first son and now of my second one , newborn photography have been something very special and personal to me. I became more and more attracted to photographing families during their first days of being parents. Now, being a parent of two sons I can say that each one feels like a first love to me. To love someone, someone so small and innocent, someone who needs you and you need him/her is the biggest gift you could ever have. And the biggest surprise is that you never know what to expect in such moment when the baby comes.. But when that moment comes you realize what you live for and what you fight for. Then you discover the missing piece in you.
When people come me to photograph their newborn baby there are a lot of questions and concerns about it. People ask me, where do you take the newborn photos? what to wear? who do you include in the photos? do you have props? in what style do you take them? etc. Here I put together the most thorough information I could think about it right now based on my personal experience working with newborns in this blog. I hope that after reading it will help you feel more confident about being photographed in the first days of being a parent.
The process :
Booking a Newborn Photo Session or First Baby Photos
When to book your newborn photo session? Right when you find out you are pregnant and you want photos of your child’s first days. Don’t do it in your last month of pregnancy because last minute booking fee of $80 may apply to your package. You may think that there is plenty of time, but the baby might come even earlier as it happened to me. Once, you have booked the session, as soon as the baby arrives call me to schedule the exact time for the shooting. Remember, giving birth ‘when and how’ are very unpredictable situations and I am doing my best to accommodate you no matter when you have delivered the baby earlier than your due date or later. Once you enter the 9th month I keep following with you.
When to schedule the newborn photo session? Once the baby is born or you are on your way to the hospital - text me, email me, call me at your earliest convenience so I can tell you which days are available in my calendar for you in the first 10 days of the baby’s birth. Plus, when I know your due date I stay in touch with you and you are marked in my calendar. I try to schedule the photo session before the baby turns fourteen days old, so between 5 and 10 days old. At that time the baby is more likely to be in the ‘womb-like’ poses and sleep a lot. Scheduling babies before their 5th day it’s not a good idea. The mother needs to rest after she gave natural or c-section birth. Her milk supply may have not increased enough in order for the baby to create a feeding schedule in around every 2 hours. But if the session needs to be scheduled after the 14th day of the baby’s birth due to mine or yours schedule don’t worry, you will still get beautiful pictures of your child as being a baby. I am just going to tell you that you most likely will not get the sleepy curly poses, but you will get more photos of the baby being aware (which are some of the parents’ favorites actually). When the baby is older than 14 days I will focus more on the baby being awake and the interaction with his parents and siblings.
What’s the best time for scheduling newborn photos? At your home I usually schedule it for 10am, so we can finish by lunch time, especially if you have older children who needs to nap in the afternoon. In my home studio I schedule it around 12-1pm depends on the season since it’s a natural light studio.
What kind of photos do you take in my home and at your studio? In your home I am focusing mostly on your family interacting with one another and the new baby. I will take environmental - documentary photos of the baby and capturing candid moments between mother-child, father-child, siblings and baby small body details. I may not be able to bring my beanbag to your house and all the props. Images of the baby on a beanbag in the curly poses I take in my home studio.
As a location photographer I think that your home is the most sacred place on Earth at this time of your life and you probably don’t really want to take your baby out during the first days of adjustment and sleepless nights. So, I will come to your place see where is the best lighting in your house for photography, although I am not limiting myself to it. I will set up the shooting position near a window light if it’s possible.
What kind of photos do you take?
Although, I am more documentary-location photographer and not the usual newborn studio photographer, I will take few shots of the sleeping baby on top of a bean bag or inside a basket. The other photos I will take are family portraits with the baby including siblings most likely in the bedroom capturing a real moment of happiness with the new member of the family; Then sibling photos, single photos of mom with baby and dad with baby. During breastfeeding, although I prefer to leave the mom alone to enjoy that moment quietly if she is ok with it I can take photos of the baby feet, hands, eyes, lips and all the little details of the baby that are so small and precious. However, there are no guarantee that I could take all those photos above because they depend on your accessibility, how well the baby sleeps and behaves. All newborn babies are different. Some are fussy, others sleep all the time, some want to be hold by their mom, to suck and be rocked and the moment you want to put them on the bean bag they wake up. That was the case with my babies. And those things are unpredictable. Oh, let’s not forget the surprise. Newborn babies poop and pee all the time, especially little boys [most of the newborn photos are done without diaper]. Yes, accidents happen and don’t worry about it I am used it.
How to make the baby sleep during his personal photo session? For best sleeping baby poses try to not feed the baby before the session, but try to keep it awake for at least two hours before the scheduled photo session. When we get together start breastfeeding. Once the baby is full, he/she will relax and will fall asleep. Alternatively, you may start with the family photos first, get him/her tired a little bit then feed the baby and once the baby is full, hopefully it will fall asleep deeply.
Remember, the baby has lived in a very tiny space, snuggled in your belly, surrounded by a white noise, rocked each time you moved and he misses that place, he/she is so used to it. And if you read ‘The Happiest Baby on the Blog’ by Dr. Harvey Karp, [a great book that helped me a lot with my first child] you will have better understanding of your baby sleeping habits in his first months of his birth. And because the baby is so attached to his/her mother already, he/she can feel her smell and voice. Smell is the most developed sense with newborn babies. that’s why, I will ask the mother to stay a little bit away from the baby during the sleepy poses. I will hold myself the baby helping him to fall asleep with a little rocking , shushing and touching his forehead. Tricks that help a lot to calm baby down and you can use them yourself. I use blow dryer for white noise and I always carry a small heater to warm the room up if the room is cold. It has to be at least 75F -80F in order for the baby to be undressed. Babies like to be warm, but not hot or cold. Meanwhile, I ask the parents to pick a blanket color and props. The parents should pick up to three poses and props and depends how well the baby behaves we could do one or more than three. The clients can bring their own props. I am trying to do my best to get you at least one posed newborn portrait. We start with the most important props, pose and shot for the parents. For instance: some parents want to duplicate a photo of their first child or have similar one, others want a photo with baby inside a basket or just naked sleeping baby. After the baby falls asleep deeply, I place him/her on the blanket comfortably in a safe pose. I don’t do any poses that are unnatural like froggy pose and similar. They are not in my style. If you are looking for those poses than I am not your newborn photographer. My goal and style is to provide you with the most natural and sweet baby poses for your baby at that stage. Although pediatricians don’t recommend babies to sleep on their bellies, babies like to sleep on their bellies. It also prevents colics as Dr. Karp writes in his book. That’s why those poses are completely safe when supervised by adults. Also, every baby has different flexibility , ones are very stiff and others are more flexible.
I can not guarantee you certain poses. It all depends on the baby. He could be 7 days old and still waking up every time I try to put him on the bean bag. Or 14 days old and sleep very deeply. For most of those poses the baby has to be without diaper. Accidents happen and don’t worry about it. I have two boys who were peeing and pooping every time I just pointed my camera at them.. And before each photo session I make sure all the blankets and props are clean and washed.
Circumcision . It is a good to keep the tradition of circumcision as part of your cultures but it takes days to heal. It is a very uncomfortable and unsafe for circumcised newborns to have their naked photos taken during the healing period. I suggest to my clients who are planning to circumcise their baby-boy to schedule this procedure after the newborn photos. If the baby is already circumcised, I am not going to turn my clients away.I will advise them, that I can’t guarantee the curly-naked poses. The baby most likely has to be in a diaper and the she/he will be wrapped or dressed with clothes for its safety. If the baby is circumcised and we try to take naked poses of him the circumcision may be very irritated and lead undesired complications. Although, I love newborn photography, baby’s safety always comes first and I won’t compromise on that matter.
What to wear - skin to skin is probably the most natural way to be photographed with your child at that moment and show the connection between each other. I understand that some may not feel comfortable in front of the camera being photographed naked. If that is the case, any clothes that have natural colors can work . Unless, you want to make a statement and show your lifestyle in the photos, we need your expressions and the purity of the baby to pop up / be the focus not your clothes. For that reason I would suggest natural, pastel colors.
What not to wear- clothes with signs that don’t speak anything about you or your baby, clothes and colors that are distracting and shift attention to the outfit rather than your faces and the connection between you and the baby.
Props - I have some props, but I am not a prop person when photographing babies. I always suggest my clients to bring something that they like and feel personal about it like hats, wraps, anything for girl’s hair. Personally, I like the baby in his/her most natural look, but sometimes it’s good to show his/her gender by dressing the baby with some props. If you know in advance that I will be your photographer please advise with me before you decide to purchase anything. Many props that say ‘newborn’ may not be the exact newborn size or ‘newborn -3 months’ , that will be probably bigger for your baby. It’s good to choose up to 3 poses and props, make it simple. There is no guarantee how many we will be able to capture and also we don’t want to exhaust the baby by changing him/her in many props and poses. It all depends on the baby sleeping time, behavior etc .
About the props: I always recommend my clients to get something that they really like first before using my props. Something that may leave a special memory for them and be personal for their baby. And here are few links with prop sites, which I like: