Newborn photography is different than other genres of photography in so many ways! The babies we see are literally DAYS old. They are so new, so tiny and need special handling and care. The parents, too, are new to all of this! The parents have also only been “parents” for a few days (or even more daunting, in charge of “more than one” for a few days). I remember bringing my first baby home, I worried about everything! I even had a little notebook I’d write my questions in, then every morning at 8 am sharp I’d call the nurse at my pediatrician‘s office with my questions (this was before the internet…not sure if that’s better or worse!!). So, when parents have questions or concerns about their photo sessions, I am happy to take their call or their e-mail to help them to check “worry about newborn pictures” off of their list. Most of the time we cover the main things – what to wear, how to prepare, what happens after, etc. but there are so many other things that parents have asked me or wondered about that we don’t always get a chance to talk about. Here are a few…
1) Every baby has their own little personality – and your photographer knows this! Some like to be held, some to be wrapped. Some are more “bendy” than others. Some will fit in a certain bowl or bucket and some won’t. Most newborn photographers over plan for their little models. Your baby’s comfort, happiness and safety are the most important thing during the session. Around two weeks babies start to be more aware of their surroundings. They “uncurl” and want to stretch and see the world. They also may start to get some baby acne and flaky skin. This is why most newborn photographers like to see them within the first two weeks. To make this happen, it’s best to book your session prior to your due date so we can hold a spot for you around that date. Then when your new little bundle arrives we choose an actual day and time that works with your older kids nap schedule and your husband’s work schedule. With that said, there is NEVER a “bad” time or a “too late” time do so a session.
2) Your baby already knows you and wants to EAT! Newborns can smell their mamas and when they smell them, they want to chow down! This is a marvelous trait in a newborn but sometimes causes them not to be able to settle for someone else or they may try to root around on you every time you hold them. This is all normal and expected! We have some tricks up our sleeves (white noise, shushing, paci, etc) and we will ALWAYS welcome a feeding if baby needs it!
3) Your baby will pee and poop on someone or something during the session – and they will probably cry as well. This is part of having a newborn with no diaper on and being, well, a newborn! Please don’t worry about any of our props, blankets (or even us!). They all get washed anyway and we are constantly replacing the worn out ones. All of these things are part of the day to day life of a newborn photographer. We don’t get flustered and we don’t want you to, either.
4) Some images you see online are composites. What does this mean? Well, it’s not a “real” picture. This is the case for most of the “hanging from something”,”on a bookshelf”, “potato sack”, and “froggy” poses. In these cases the photographer takes more than one image and combines them to make the final one that you see. For example, in the “froggy” pose, an assistant or the photographer holds the head then takes a shot. Then the person holding switches their hand to the other part of the head (still holding it). This is all for safety purposes.
5) Your session is going to last a while. Longer than most regular portrait sessions. There are a lot of details that go into newborn photography. Posing your baby may take ten or twenty minutes just to get them into position (we look at every little finger and toe!). Even then, the baby may startle themselves out of the pose or just decide they don’t like it anymore. An experienced photographer can judge when to keep trying a pose or when to just move on to the next one. If you are including family shots, the session may last even longer. Plenty of additional time is taken/needed for feeding, paci-ing, wrapping and clean up.
6) Newborn photographers spend a lot of time before and after your session “working” on your session. This is often reflected in their session fee or their newborn packages. Before the session, there is prop selection, set up (if in your home) or preparation and warming of the area (if studio). Due to this, many photographers shoot only one newborn session a day (especially if they are on location). After your session, your photographer will launder/sanitize all of the items used as well. The process of “culling” is also more involved with a newborn session as there may be numerous images taken of the same pose but the photographer must select the best ones to show you. Retouching of newborns is an intricate process due to their coloring (jaundice, redness, bruising) and baby skin issues. Due to these factors, you may not see your proofs or receive your finished products as quickly as you would from say an outdoor family session. Be sure to clarify this with your photographer. Trust me, we are just as excited for you to see them and promise we are not holding anything back!
7) Your toddler may act differently then you expect them to. Keep in mind that your “baby” is adjusting to their role as big brother or sister. Mom is busy with the new baby, visitors are in and out and now here is this funny lady with a big black circle pointed at them! Of course your photographer will have ways to try to get your toddler to participate. It’s sometimes helpful to have another adult on hand (grandma, nanny, someone familiar with the kids) to play with them in another room or wisk them away to the park so that there is some quiet time for images just with the baby.
8) We understand that you’ve just had a baby. You may not be feeling (or looking) like yourself. But, it’s so important to try to get in at least a few images. Think about your baby down the road, looking through their newborn album and seeing their beautiful mama holding and loving them without even knowing them yet! We also know that your house may be in disarray or that you may forget some things in your diaper bag. Don’t worry, we are focused on your baby! On location photographers are used to seeing (and moving around) messes and studio photographers often have supplies on hand. We also “look for the light” which sometimes lands us in strange places.
9) We love Pinterest for ideas as much as the next creative soul. But, we want to capture you and your baby in a way that is unique! Trust us to create special images that tell a story about you and your family. If you have something special you want to include, let us know beforehand so we can bring the right color accessories to go with it. We are also very in tune to the amount of time your baby is comfortable for and will adjust or call it a day if/when we feel like baby has had enough (we have our own “mom” instincts just like you!).
10) We know you want digital copies of your images but we also want you to realize how important prints are. Photographers differ in how they present their files to their clients but most professionals will not give you “all of the RAW files”. And guess what, you don’t want them anyway! A photographer’s art is not only in the taking of the images but also in the processing and retouching of them. What you want is the vision of the photographer, coupled with the beauty of your family, which is accomplished by selecting the best images and “finishing” those to perfection. And then, a print, an album, something to have as a tangible reminder, something your kids (and grandkids) can actually hold in their hands!
Most of all, relax as best you can and enjoy your session! Marvel at the little miracle that you’ve created and leave it up to your photographer to capture the memories of those first few days for you.
I’d love to be your newborn photographer! Be sure to check out my galleries and info pages to see if we are a fit. I usually book a few weeks to months out so be sure to touch base as soon as you know you are interested in a session.
Want to know more about what it takes to be a newborn photographer? Check out Cole’s Classroom’s article 5 Questions to Ask Before You Start Newborn Photography