As a newborn photographer, I give my clients tips when they schedule their photography session with me, and thought I would share some of them with the rest of the internet.
First, I find it helpful when clients have an idea of what they would like. There are a lot of directions that we can go with their newborn photography session, and while some people “like everything!” other people take a look at my galleries and other photographers’ galleries on the web to get an idea of what they would like me to aim for (but not copy), and what ones they would rank as the most important.
However, secondly, parents should relax and understand that not all babies are able/willing to do the same things as other babies. But, with a creative photographer, you will still end up with wonderful photos that you will treasure for years.
So those are the first two things to keep in mind, but as a veteran newborn photographer, here are some things you can do to make sure that this short time in your baby’s life gets captured in a way that you wanted.
1. Book your photography session BEFORE you have the baby. I really can’t stress that enough. Babies come when they want to, and to get the sleepy, curly newborn shots, it’s best to aim for them to be younger than 2 weeks old. Sometimes people call me when the baby is 1 or 2 weeks old already, and then we can’t fit the session in until the baby is 3 or 4 weeks old. Month old babies are really adorable, but they don’t sleep as well as they do when they are brand-new.
2. Choose a photographer that has experience working with newborns, and one that comes recommended by others and is responsive to your inquiries. I hear quite often from people “My friend who is just starting her business did my baby’s newborn pictures for free/cheap, but they weren’t very good, and now it’s too late…” I’ve also heard “I booked a newborn session with this other photographer, and my baby is already 9 days old and I can’t get ahold of them! They don’t return my calls! I’m freaking out that my session might not happen at all.”
3. As part of #1, don’t expect to get heirloom-quality portraits from the hospital photographer. A lot of hospitals have contracts with a photography company that claims to do artistic newborn photos in your hospital room. But the pay as a hospital newborn photographer isn’t better than minimum wage, and they don’t take much time with you, so you can imagine that skilled photographers don’t work that job.
4. When scheduling your newborn session (after you’ve pre-booked with your photographer), think about your baby’s sleep/wake times. I’ve generally found that morning sessions run much more smoothly than afternoon & evening sessions, because after the baby spends all night awake, they are really tired in the morning!
5. Things to bring: make sure to bring formula if you are formula-feeding, and if you are nursing, it’s helpful to bring pumped milk so the baby can get his tummy filled up and avoid a nursing marathon. Bring diapers & wipes, and possibly an extra change of clothes for you if the baby won’t be wearing a diaper in the photos. If you are going to be in the pictures, bring powder for your face to help avoid shininess. I also love it when parents bring things to the session that are meaningful to them, to incorporate into the pictures.
6. Keep in mind your baby’s safety. Good photographers know what to do and what not to do with babies, but I’ve seen some really crazy things on the internet that make me fear for the baby’s safety. If it doesn’t seem like a good idea, don’t do it! You CAN tell your photographer “No!” Babies don’t belong on railroad tracks, in real trees, or in real mailboxes. Even if the baby is just sleeping on a beanbag, there should ALWAYS be a baby spotter right there next to the baby, just in case. You can never be too careful.
7. For max sleepiness, bring the baby in the carseat with just a diaper on (and blankets over top). Feed the baby right before you leave your house, and the baby should be happy, content, and sleeping soundly when you arrive at the studio. Then you’ll be able to get all the sleepy pictures out of the way quickly right when you get there rather than spending the first hour putting the baby back to sleep. And when the baby wakes up, you can then move on to some awake photos.
I may add some more tips as I think of them (you may have noticed that I’m a photographer, not a writer, so I don’t expect to win any awards for my writing abilities) I love photographing newborns (ok, I will admit that I love photographing babies in general, not just newborns!) and I really like hearing that people had a wonderful experience giving their baby their first portrait session. I still proudly display my own children’s newborn pictures; they will never be that tiny again!
If you are in the Columbus, Ohio metro area and looking for a newborn photographer, feel free to check out my main web site with my galleries and pricing information at http://www.dgnphoto.net. I can also be reached by phone at 614-323-3147 if you would like to book or have any questions I can answer.