WALKTHROUGH A NEWBORN PHOTO SHOOT – PART 1
Ever wondered exactly what a newborn photo shoot is like? Maybe you’re booked in for one and have questions, or maybe you’re pregnant and thinking about whether it’s worth the investment. Or maybe you’ve been to another photographer and you’re wondering if my session will be the same!
Whatever your situation, when it comes to a newborn photo shoot everyone has questions and wants to know that they are in safe hands. After all, you’re handing your precious new baby (not to mention your hard-earned cash) over to a stranger! All my clients get a copy of my “Advice & Tips for a Newborn Shoot”, but in this blog I give you an in-depth walk-through of a typical session, to help you really understand the process and the decisions behind why I do what I do. There’s a lot of planning and decision making that goes on behind the scenes to keep your baby safe and to make your newborn photo shoot an enjoyable and memorable experience.
Arriving for your newborn photo shoot
When you arrive at my studio, after you’ve settled in and got comfortable on the sofa, I’ll ask you to undress your baby down to their nappy and give them a feed. A good feed normally gets them very sleepy, and we don’t want to be fiddling about getting them undressed once they are drifting off. That’s the quickest way to wake them back up again! If you’re breastfeeding, this may be the first time you’ve fed your baby outside the home and you might feel a bit anxious about this. Please don’t worry – like nurses and doctors, I have mums breastfeeding in front of me all the time (and I breastfed both of my children) so there’s no need to feel uncomfortable.
While you’re feeding baby, I’ll talk you through how I’ve planned the session, and show you the various colours and props I’m planning to use. You’re very welcome to ask questions, and feel free to tell me if you don’t like a colour or a prop – these are your images, so there’s no point me using set-ups you don’t love!
Once baby has finished feeding, I’ll ask you to hand them over to me so I can wrap them. It doesn’t matter if baby is still awake – after a feed they’re usually content enough to be wrapped even if they haven’t drifted off to sleep yet.
Wrapping is a really important part of the session, and most experienced photographers will use wraps for at least some of the session. It’s not done just for styling – it’s a tool we use to get baby settled and sleepy. Most babies love the security of being tightly swaddled. By wrapping them, I prevent them from startling and waking themselves (and we don’t want them startling in a bucket or crate and hurting themselves) and this helps keep them in a deep sleep. It also keeps them lovely and warm. I always use a base wrap to keep them curled up, which stays in place for the “wrapped” part of your session, and then I use different coloured and textured wraps over the top to give me the variety I need. I may use two or three at a time, but I’ll be keeping a very careful eye out to see that baby isn’t getting too warm.
Once baby is wrapped, we get going with the session. I usually start with parent and sibling shots, if you’re having these (and please do – family photographs are so important!) I do siblings first as a newborn session is long and for young children, pretty dull! So it’s best to do their pictures first and then they can be taken out for a much more interesting morning elsewhere, while we concentrate on the baby images.
If you’re having sibling shots, you’ll probably be worried about co-operation from your older child or children. I can’t lie, it doesn’t always happen! Sometimes young siblings are really unsettled by the arrival of a new baby, sometimes excessively excited, and sometimes they just aren’t interested. But I’ll pull out all the stops to get these shots for you. This might involve me just chatting to your older child for a while, and maybe doing some pictures just of them so that they know it’s not all about the new baby. (These might end up being photoshopped into the baby images, if all else fails!)
I never get stressed by “difficult” behaviour from older siblings, and having had two children myself, I don’t judge. I just work with your children however they need me to, so please don’t feel anxious if it takes a bit longer than you’d like to get those sibling shots.
If there are no siblings, we’ll still start with family shots. Often parents are most nervous about their own pictures – we all hate being in front of the camera! So we do those straight away so that you can relax and enjoy the rest of the session. Also, the studio is REALLY warm, and if we leave it until the end then you’ll be very hot and sweaty. Not the best look for anyone!
I’ll ask you to sit on the backdrop as there isn’t the head-height for adults to stand (I have low ceilings!) and I’ll give you instruction on how I’d like you to sit and position yourself. I’ll also show you how to hold baby. It’s a little different to how you normally hold them, but I’ll make sure you are comfortable before I take a single shot. Mums are usually still healing, sometimes after difficult deliveries or c-sections, so I’ll remind you to let me know if something is uncomfortable for you. I’ll get you to look at me, at baby, and at each other. We’ll do a mixture of mum with baby, dad with baby and both of you with baby.
Most parents are a bit self-conscious when we start, and plenty of parents (especially dads!) are reluctant to have family pictures. But please just go for it – these are your first family photographs and they will be so precious when you look back at them in years to come. However tired and unattractive you might feel with a brand new baby and zero sleep, it’s my job to make you look beautiful so please trust me to do this for you!
Once I’ve done your family photographs, you can sit back and relax while I concentrate on your baby’s pictures. This is the bit that takes the time!
In Part 2 of this Blog I’ll talk you through the newborn pictures and what happens after your session.