WALKTHROUGH A NEWBORN SESSION: PART 2
Welcome back to my Walkthrough a Newborn Session! In Part One I talked you through arriving, settling and parent shots. Now we’ll move on to the longest part of the newborn session – where your baby is the centre of attention!
The newborn pictures
Once we’ve done family pictures, you can sit back on my sofa and relax. Have a drink, watch me work – you can even have a nap if you’d like! At this point I will normally turn on a white noise app which helps baby to sleep deeply. It’s such a soothing noise in my warm studio that parents often get quite sleepy at this point too! It might be the longest you’ve sat down and rested in quite a few days!
I’ll usually put a different colour wrap onto baby at this point and start working through my set-ups. I try to expose arms and feet so you can see these precious details – we don’t want baby completely covered and wrapped in every shot. But I’ll use my judgement to decide when I can do this without waking baby up. I use a mixture of baskets, crates, and buckets for these shots, with different fabrics and textures and colours. If baby is still awake, I’ll go with a basket as these are big and roomy. This way, if any arms or legs do manage to escape the swaddle, they won’t kick a wooden crate edge and hurt themselves, or wriggle too much and make a bucket unsafe.
Most of this part of the session is about me reading your baby and doing what I know is safe and will get us great images. I’ll use headbands and hats, and little felted accessories. These tiny details make the difference between a “nice picture” and a beautiful memory. Newborn photography is all about the details, so you’ll see me straightening out fingers (I love those tiny fingernails!) and making tiny adjustments to the placing of hands and feet. It may seem like fiddling, but it really does make a difference to your final picture. Some babies absolutely hate this kind of tweaking, so if I feel that this is annoying them, I won’t push it. Some just want to be left alone to sleep, and that’s okay! We work with what baby lets us do!
During all of this, even a sleeping baby often has a bit of a grumble as we move him from prop to prop, or change wraps. Often it’s hard as a new mum or dad to not get worried by the first sign of distress. But I’ll be reading your baby constantly, and I’ll know pretty quickly whether this is a quick grumble about being moved from a comfortable position, or a sign that baby is actually unhappy. I never force a prop or pose, so if I can tell that baby won’t settle, I’ll move on to something else. While I work, I let you know what I’m doing, what I’m seeing – I might be blocking your view of baby, so I’ll be sure to keep you informed. At any point, you can question me or stop me if you’re not comfortable with what I’m doing.
It’s also worth mentioning that parents often like to take quick phone snaps of baby, or videos, while I’m working. Some photographers don’t like you to do this (we all work differently) but for me personally, it’s fine. In fact, I love behind the scenes pictures, so if you take any pictures of me working with your baby, please feel free to share them with me! Just be aware that your final pictures from me will be edited and worked upon in great detail so they’ll look very different to your phone pictures.
Once I’ve got all the wrapped shots, it’s time for me to start unwrapping baby for some naked shots. If you’ve told me you don’t want these, then I’ll use a little outfit from my selection of especially designed newborn photography rompers). This is the trickiest part of the session, as baby is usually so comfortable in their wrap that they aren’t keen on the change!! I’ll do this part very slowly, bit by bit. I’ll usually unwrap arms first and do some partially-wrapped shots on the posing bed, to allow baby to adjust to the change in temperature and wrapping.
At this point, most babies wake up and I try to time it so that I can capture those gorgeous baby stretches! If they do wake, I take the opportunity for open-eyed pictures which I love. With the white noise app and the warmth of the studio, most babies will drift off again. I’ll then move through a series of simple, natural poses on the posing bed – baby on their tummy, and on their side. Again I’ll be talking you through this as I work, and if baby doesn’t settle then we may try another feed to encourage them to drift off.. Often breastfed babies will need a top up by this point anyway). If they don’t, I’ll finish off with awake shots on the beanbag or on other props.
These posed shots – especially naked poses like a tummy shot – do rely on baby being asleep (or very settled) so I never guarantee them, but I’ll always do my best. If I know that these are the key images that you really want, I may change my workflow to try these earlier on in the session so that I can come back to them later if I need to. As with everything, baby is the boss and I work with what he or she is happy to do. I will never force a pose baby doesn’t like, just to get a particular picture.
Your newborn session will probably last about 3 hours. Usually baby starts to let me know that they’ve had enough, and I don’t push them past their limit. Once I feel that we’ve got a good selection of images I’ll finish up. I’ll hand baby back to you for you to change their nappy and dress them. If you need to you can give them another feed while I clean up the studio. I only ever schedule one shoot a day so you won’t be rushed out of the door. I’ll talk you through what happens next in terms of editing and viewing your images, and you can ask me any questions. There’s some contact details to fill in, a bit of paperwork to sign and you are on your way!
I hope this is useful and that it gives you an insight into what goes on during your newborn session. As ever, if you have any questions just let me know!