What you should know about the newborn photography
It is a pleasure to look at the cute photos of sleeping kids. Beautiful, professionally made photos can definitely be attributed to art. But how to prepare properly and what to expect at the newborn photo session?
In this article, Victoria Asinovsky, a newborn photographer in Katy, TX gives a number of tips on how to successfully prepare for photographing children aged from 1 day to 1 month and gives recommendations on what to do in case something does not go according to the plan.
Photographing newborns is rather hard work, since the photo shoot of a new baby can last from 2 to 4 hours! The sleep of newborns differs from the sleep of adults, feeding and rocking the baby to sleep sometimes takes almost half of the time of the photo session.
What is the best time for a newborn photo session?
Until newborns reach the age of about 14 days, they sleep soundly and sweetly, and their poses can be easily adjusted, similar to those in which they were in the mother's abdomen. The most classic "sleeping" photos are captured during this period. Photographing the baby within the first two weeks gives you a chance to take advantage of baby’s natural sleep patterns. Photographer can invent stories, prepare decorations and choose the right angle because there is plenty of time. So schedule the appointment as soon as possible in order not to miss this wonderful opportunity.
After the 2nd week, the photo session can become more problematic and tedious for both parents and the baby. At this time, babies are already more sensitive, more capricious, easy to wake up, they move and stretch out more. The nervous system of a baby is quickly "overloaded" from the excess of new impressions and baby may become irritated with fatigue.
In addition, after 12-14 days lots of babies begin to have intestinal colic, so they become more restless and can suddenly begin to fuss and cry for no apparent reason. Sometimes every attempt to move newborns into a new pose will require rocking them to sleep.
After 4-5 weeks it becomes more difficult to get classical poses as baby’s limbs lose their newborn flexibility because his/her bones start to develop and become firm.
Preparation for the mother
Every mother knows that the baby eats what she does, so it is important to avoid spicy or salty foods 48 hours prior to the photo session. It can cause a newborn to have diarrhea, upset stomach and reflux. Drinking caffeinated beverages, e.g. coffee or tea, can cause babies to be more alert and restless.
How to prepare the baby?
To capture the classic newborn images, the baby should be sleeping deeply during the photo session. One of the things you can do to achieve that is to make a warm and very long bath for the baby about 1 - 1.5 hours before the scheduled photo shoot. The bath relaxes and soothes the baby and makes the newborn sleepy.
Try to keep the baby awake by interacting with him/her for about 1.5 - 2.5 hours prior to the photo shoot. If you can keep the baby awake during the breastfeeding, feed the baby right before leaving the house. It is equally important that the baby does not sleep in the car on the way to the photo studio. This will ensure that the little one gets tired upon arrival to the studio and falls asleep right before the session starts.
Dress the baby in comfortable clothes or warm fabrics which are easy to unwrap without having to pull the layers over the head.
It is essential to feed the newborn frequently before the photo shoot. You can also feed him/her before the start of the session. Mother can take her time to feed and rock the baby until he/she is completely calm and happy. It is advised to bring a bottle of milk and a pacifier. Using the bottle significantly reduces the duration of the photo session and takes 5-7 minutes to feed the baby while breastfeeding can take up to 40 minutes. Some mothers worry that their newborn will struggle to adjust to sucking milk from a breast after being introduced to the bottle. Worries aside – the child will not develop the nipple confusion if you use the bottle or the pacifier only once during the photo session.
If the baby happens to be awake during the photoshoot, this can make the session last 2-3 times longer (up to 5 hours) and limit the number of available poses. On the other hand, portraits of babies with open eyes reflect more personality and look more candid.
It is advised to start the photo session around 8:30 - 9:00 am because typically babies are the sleepiest in these hours.
If you follow these instructions, the photo shoot will take about 1,5 hour.
What to wear?
The best options for the mother are a plain (turtleneck) sweater, a jumper or a blouse. If you want to make beautiful photos where mother and child touch skin to skin wear a tube or a tank top.
As per the color of the clothes, such muted or pastel colors as beige, peach, cream, vanilla or mint will make the photo look airy and charming. If you decide to go for the classic look, wear subdued colors (olive, navy blue) to bring more contrast into the picture and accentuate the baby. White also looks nice against the dark or white background.
A father can wear a plain sweater, a cardigan or a knit shirt of colors coordinating with the mother’s outfit.
Photo session should take place in a well-heated room. For example, in Candy Fox photo studio, Victoria maintains the temperature at about 86-90 F (30-32 C) degrees, so that the baby sleeps well and does not freeze since many photographs are taken with the baby without any clothes.
If you decide to carry out a newborn photo session at home.
The room should be spacious. There should not be any distracting elements in the background.
Choose a place for a session near the window for an even and natural lighting.
Choose some props for a photo shoot like hats and matching blankets, headbands and soft toys - they can make even the most ordinary frame incredible.
Keep the props handy. Put the toys, fabrics or a basket close by.
If you decide to photograph the baby in the studio, then all of the necessary preparations will be done by a photographer who will set up the lighting, arrange the props, warm up the room.
Here are some other tips that will help you prepare for the first photo shoot:
- Swaddle the baby in soft fabrics. It warms up the baby and helps him/her to fall asleep. It also helps to limit the baby’s movements, because the little one does not know how to control his/her muscles, so newborn’s body is in constant motion.
- Stay calm. Babies sense the worry parents are experiencing and can become more agitated.
- Be around. When parents see how the baby is being photographed and actively participate in the photo shoot, their anxiety disappears, and then the session continues in the atmosphere of trust and creativity.
- You are welcome to bring the toys to the session. It would be a fun and exciting idea to bring a large toy to use it as a kind of a growth meter. So, you can take pictures of the baby next to the toy every month during the first year of life. At the end of the year, you will be surprised at how quickly the baby grew up, and a collage of such photos can decorate the living room or children's room. The toy should be made of natural materials and painted with high-quality dyes, otherwise, it can cause allergy on the delicate skin of the baby.
We hope that these tips and ideas will inspire you and you will be able to make many good pictures of your beloved child.