I am a Mom and Photographer, so naturally my daughter is constantly getting a camera shoved in her face. BEFORE I was even pregnant, I dreamed of the newborn photos, out of the box shots I could finally try. Then my daughter arrived and I realized, photographing your own newborn is even HARDER than photographing other peoples children.....
First off I must say, hats off to the Moms & Dads who choose to even attempt newborn photos. You are just trying to get through each hour, and I don't care if you have 10 kids or 1 it's a struggle those first few weeks (ahem, months). Now you are willing to dress your kid in funny outfits, manipulate them in weird positions, and even put on a clean shirt and jump in the photos yourself. Extra points for mascara!
I have photographed newborns for years so I had this romanticized idea of how my daughters photos would go. Having never photographed my own child I quickly realized, this is HARD!
This wiggly little 8 day old wrinkly girl does NOT think sitting in a old washtub is her idea of fun! And how dare I put a bow on her head the size of Jupiter??? After my first attempt I nearly gave up and said, well I suppose we can wait till your 10 and try again.....Emotionally I was a wreck!
So after several attempts and a pep talk from my husband (he's amazing like that), I finally gave it another try. So here are 7 things you should know going into your newborn photos that I think ALL parents should know, from a photographer's point of view AND a Momma.
1. FEED YOUR BABY!!!
I don't care if it comes from your breast, bottle, formula, syringe, your milk goats teat, just FEED THE SNOT OUT OF THE BABY before you start shooting. I typically like to schedule newborn shoots with no time constraints and I suggest you do the same. I will gladly wait all day long for you to feed your little bundle of joy until they are so milk drunk that the garbage truck could drive through the room and they won't care! A well-fed baby is a photographer's (and Mom's) best friend. That goes for all ages by the way.
2. Choose Your Location Based on Where Your Child Feels the Most Comfortable
I mostly shoot newborns in the comfort of my clients homes. This is because typically a parent and child will both be more comfortable at home where everything looks, smells and feels familiar. Babies are more likely to sleep at home, and all of your things are at home. Feeding is easier at home. Home makes sense. Even if it's in your pants pocket, find where baby is most comfortable!
If this isn't an option, studio shoots are the next best. I have ventured outside for newborn shoots on a warm and still day (few and far between in Texas). These are amazing for light purposes, but are difficult with itty bitties. Also keep in mind keeping those little ones germ free!
3. Keep your Location Warm
When you choose your location, make sure you consider temperature. Newborns are used to be very warm, 98.7 Degrees to be exact. So in order to have a happy and even sleepy baby during your shoot, crank that thermostat up to around 80. Use blankets, muslin or swaddles as props (bonus, they look adorable!)
4.Windows are Your Friend
If you are trying to decide where in your home is best to set up for your shoot, consider a spot with lots of windows close by. Window lighting is flattering to everyone, it clears blemishes (like baby acne) and helps create the "glow" effect naturally that everyone loves. Screen doors are also a nice option as well. My daughter had baby acne in this shot below, can't even tell!
5.Keep Your Props Prop-ortional
Sorry for the bad pun... But make sure your are not overwhelming your cutie with props twice their size. Yes they are adorable, yet I'm sure 5 layers of tulle seem great in theory, but in reality your 7 day old may not appreciate the fuss. Also make sure you are incorporating props that draw attention to your baby, and not take the focus away from them. Your photographer will definitely have great ideas for you to choose from.
6.Keep Clothing Soft and Snuggly
This goes hand in hand with #5. No one, much less a sensitive little newborn likes an itchy tag, poking or pinching elastic and they REALLY hate being manipulated into stiff clothes that are hoard to put on! Do a trial run of your newborns outfits and make sure they go on and off easily. (By the way, you can cut zippers and buttons off, bust seams and create slits as needed and hide them strategically to create extra comfort!)
7. Do NOT worry about the TIME!!!
But seriously, being rushed through newborns is NOT GONNA WORK! As a photographer and first time mom, take my word for it, these kids have their own sense of time! Any parent with a newborn reading this a 3am on hour number 4 of rocking will tell you the same.
Photographers must be efficient in capturing these little cuties before they get tired. However, because of their needy schedules, you may go through 3 rotations of shooting, feeding, outfit change, soothing and then being able to shoot again. Make sure your photographer is not charging you by the hour! As a professional I understand going into a newborn shoot that they don't work on my time.
*Also, ladies if your hubby is anything like mine and pictures are just not his thing, please explain to him in advance that babies and photos can take time. Setting these expectations first can really be a big help to avoid a frustrated Daddy in an already stressful situation. Dads are welcome to stay and help soothe and comfort baby if they wish, I find both parents are the best help during a newborn shoot.
Above all, ENJOY this sweet time with your littles! Even though you are adapting as a new parent, this time will go by so quickly and soon you will think, oh remember when they actually sat still for photos?!? For more newborn photos check out our portfolio at www.jcphotographyintexas.com/newborn.