PREPPING FOR A SUCCESSFUL NEWBORN SESSION
When is the best time to have newborn portraits taken?
I highly recommend newborn portraits are taken before 10 days of age (preferably between 4-7 days) while they are still in that sleepy and curly stage. After two weeks of age, they tend to be disturbed more easily while sleeping and it is not as easy to get the true newborn poses and look. They can also become colicky or baby acne can start to flare.
In order to ensure that the newborn session runs as quickly and as smoothly as possible, please follow these steps:
1. If nursing, try to avoid eating anything spicy (ie. pizza, hot sauce, etc) or anything that will cause gas and might upset baby’s tummy for 24 hours preceding your scheduled session. A gassy baby will not pose well during the session due to their little tummy being upset.
*If baby happens to be gassy the day of your session, Oval or Gripe Water can be used to help ease baby’s discomfort.
2. Interact with and keep baby awake for 1-2 hours before your session to ensure he/she is good and sleepy for the session. This is very important. Without this, we spend too much time getting them to sleep and not as much time photographing them.
*Stimulating baby with a bath or by doing ‘naked time’ prior to the session are some tricks that you can use!
3. Please make sure your little one has a full belly for the session. Please feed baby just before you leave for the studio, or when I arrive at your house and start setting up. I have many clients who arrive at the studio saying that they gave baby a small feeding about 45 minutes ago and need to feed baby upon arrival. Baby usually wakes up during this feeding at the studio and has trouble falling back into a deep, restful sleep. If baby is bottle feeding, please bring extra bottles and milk (formula or breastmilk) – (babies work up quite the appetite being constantly moved around in the warm studio). Also, baby should be fed as much as possible in the 12 hours that precede the session. This will allow for baby to sleep as deeply and as long as possible.
*A full baby = a sleepy baby, and we need a very sleepy and calm baby in order to achieve the sweet, flexible poses you see in my portfolio. The only way we will achieve calm, flexible poses is if baby is fully satiated and sleeping. I would rather have you give baby an extra feeding than have you worry that baby isn’t sleeping and we’re missing out on some cute poses.
4. Dress baby in loose fitting clothes to avoid any lines on baby’s skin and to also avoid disturbing baby when getting undressed. A simple sleeper is best. Please avoid onesies or anything that has to be pulled off over baby’s head.
*Your newborn will be photographed in his/her birthday suit for the majority of the session but I pay careful attention to ensure baby bits are not exposed in any photos. Clothes tend to be bulky and awkward.
5. Bring a pacifier – they can be very helpful during the session!
6. The studio will be kept at about 85 degrees F to keep your little one warm while being photographed. I recommend dressing in layers so that you can keep comfortable. If we are taking portraits in your home please bump up the heat an hour before my arrival. A warm, full baby, is a happy sleepy baby.
7. When you arrive, please leave baby in the car seat when bringing him/her into the studio. I will remove baby very slowly in the warm studio to avoid disturbing them as much as possible.
8. During the session, sit back and relax. I won’t need much assistance, so take advantage of this time to rest in my sitting area (I’m sure you need it!). Parents will often watch a movie, answer emails or read in my sitting area while I work with your new little one. I’ve even had some parents take a nap!
9. This is a full service studio meaning that I will be changing baby’s diapers, cleaning up any messes, and feeding baby when required during the session. I usually ask that Moms stay outside of hearing and smelling range; Once baby has that connection with mommy in the middle of the session, it’s sometimes hard for them to get back into a deep sleep or if mommy’s milk has not come in all the way baby may want to use mommy to snack on and pacify frequently. I have always had the most success by being the only one to interact with baby during the session. If you’re breastfeeding and are open to bringing bottles with breast milk, great! Of course if you are exclusively breast feeding then I will ask you to step into the warm studio to feed baby when required (again, asking that you remain open to feeding on demand at the studio).
10. Remove all bandages (from shots, etc) from baby’s skin at least one hour before arriving to the studio. These bandages cannot be removed in post processing and, if left on, will show up in the final images.
Can I circumcise my baby before the session?
The answer is ‘Please, no!’. Circumcision can often leave the area raw and painful for a few days after the procedure. It is important to note that newborn photos should be done either before the procedure takes place or at least 5 days after the procedure to ensure the area is healed. In fact, we feel so strongly about this that if baby arrives with a fresh circumcision (within 5 days) we will send you home and reschedule.
I encourage parent portraits with the new baby, and these are usually done at the very end. A white/cream short sleeve shirt is suggested for Dads and a white/cream tank or blouse top is suggested for Moms. For more artistic shots, Dads may choose to remove their shirts and Moms may choose to be wrapped in a scarf, wrap or other stretchy material available in my studio. These can make for some very tender images.
**A note to Mom: I know that you may not feel like yourself right after giving birth, but I strongly encourage you to have a portrait taken with your new baby while they are still so young and fresh. Your baby will grow up and will want to know what their mother looked like holding him/her close to her heart as a newborn. I will shoot you in flattering angles, so don’t worry! Worst case scenario is that you don’t like the image and never look at it again, but at least your child will have this moment documented.
If you have older siblings that you would like photographed with your newborn we will do these shots FIRST. Cream, ivory or white (without patterns or logos) is recommended for older siblings (tops with jeans or even dresses for girls). The more texture the better (knit, lace, etc). They’ll be barefoot, so no need to look for clean shoes.
*Due to the nature of the session we ask that your spouse/partner take the older siblings home or out for something fun to do while we finish up with the individual newborn shots.
Notes to consider
I spend a lot of time getting every little finger and toe positioned perfectly when photographing your little bundle. First and foremost, it is important to me for your baby look comfortable and peaceful in the photographs and for each image to be a piece of art. I have a lot of experience and patience with newborns. I have three child of my own and have photographed many, many newborns. My motto is safety first. I will never put your newborn in an unsafe pose/prop.
Be prepared to spend between 2 and 4 hours at my studio. I am a perfectionist and I want to capture your baby in every way that I can even down to their little lips and eyelashes – it’s not unusual to spend up to 20 minutes working to perfect one pose.
Just to warn you, when being photographed with your baby, you may get peed or pooped on! This happens daily in my studio (usually on me), but some parents are surprised by and unprepared for it.