In this new 3-part series, I am going to give you the the inside scoop – the lowdown – of the typical newborn session with a newborn photographer. (**As many of you know, I consider myself a portrait photographer. That translates as I don’t have a specialty like seniors or weddings – I like to do a little bit of everything. With that said, I do still consider myself a newborn photographer as well…**)I hope that by reading this, new parents-to-be will be more prepared and informed when it comes to planning for their little one’s session and choosing the best photographer to capture your little’s ones perfect newness.
Did you read the first part? or skip over it and kept reading? Trust me. go read the first blog post in the series. It is super helpful. Promise.
Ok, now that you are all caught up, let us move to the second part of the series – the “Production Stage.” Man, I am on fire with these names! They are so original and unique. (**Sarcasm is dripping from that sentence.**)
In my last post, I left off with an organization tip as well as some of my favorite vendors (newborn and as well as marketing ones!) I wanted to pick up and talk about getting parents actually on my calendar instead of tentative due dates and I am going to walk you through what happens on the day of a newborn session and during the session.
I know when new parents have their precious baby, the last thing on their mind is telling their photographer so they can schedule the newborn session. I mean, this glorious woman just gave birth to a human and she is tired. So tired. And the poor dad is right there with moma trying to help with feeding, changing, and all the excited friends and family who want their glimpse of the new little one. I get it, thinking of me is totally not a priority. I usually tell my clients to contact me when they can and that usually works. Some contact me a couple hours after birth, some contact me when they get home. I try to be flexible enough that I have a couple of scheduling availabilities for their session. (Depending on my relationship with the client or if I don’t hear from them, I will contact them, too in an obtrusive way.)
Depending on my schedule, I set newborn sessions either mid-morning or early afternoon – around 10:00am or around 1:30pm start times. I have done some outlier sessions at 5:30pm or started a session at 8:00am, but that is more to accommodate a parents’ schedule. I don’t have a rhyme or reason for why I schedule it those times. A lot of other photographers swear by a certain time claiming a baby is sleepier at a specific time. Some photographers are natural light photographers and are restricted by the sunlight so they have to shoot at certain times to get specific lighting. Since I do studio lighting for my studio (my set-up and equipment will have to be another blog post or this one would be incredibly long!) and each baby has a completely different schedule, I don’t always set newborn sessions at a certain time.
The day before my session (or earlier during the day if I have an afternoon session), I go to my studio and start preparing. I go ahead and crank up my heater to 79-80. It is very warm in my studio but since I am working with little ones who are usually naked and I want to make sure they remain sleepy, I keep it nice and toasty. I also have a personal heater right beside the baby which you can see in the lower right hand corner of the first photo below. What you can’t see is that I am very flushed in the face and sweaty. I strategically didn’t share photos of that because yuck. Just keeping it real.
I also review my notes that were discussed at the consultation or in emails and I start pulling backdrop colors, wraps, props, and anything else I may need. I create a little prop pile in the front of my studio near my session area so that parents can pick and choose the items they want to incorporate. In this behind-the-scenes look, you can see that mess in the background. That is the prop pile. You also can see my fabric stuffers in the basket between me and baby Caleb. These are scraps of fabric I use to prop up newborns for certain poses. They are usually retired wraps, scarves, and fabric scraps I cut for various things. Definitely not anything fancy!
Before parents come to my studio, I ask that parents try to keep their little one awake as much as possible. No, I don’t mean have them screaming their heads off because they are so tired but for a couple of hours directly before the session, play with them, give them a bath, and keep them occupied! When they arrive at my studio, I have them feed them. This makes for a suuuuuper content baby who is full, in a warm environment, and ready to fall asleep. After their feeding, I usually take over and take off their little onesies they are wearing and their diapers and I sooth them to sleep. I tell the parents to relax on my couch, grab some coffee if they want, and even take a nap too! I have had a couple of dads take me up on that!
When it comes to newborn posing, I have a certain flow that I go through. It may vary with each baby depending on their sleepiness or posability (I am constantly making up words). Depending on who all is involved in a session, I usually go through solo posing with the newborn, sibling shots, parent shots, and then family shots. If I have time, I definitely will sneak in a couple of prop shots as well. Sometimes I do sibling and family first so that a family member can pick up the siblings and take them home since my sessions are very long. Other times, I do the sibling and family shots last. It all depends on what the parent thinks their children can handle.
Depending on the age of the child, I will try some different variations of a sibling shot. Here is one I did with sweet Eliza Joy who is two. This set-up is perfect for those siblings who are not quite old enough to hold their little brother or sister in their lap. It’s really sweet and you can easily add another sibling to the other side.
If you have a younger child who does not want to lie down for photos, pretend you are about to change their diaper (if they wear diapers that is…). They are use to lying down for diaper changes so we get them lying down that way and since photos like this are typically waist up, we don’t worry about their pants.
The parent shots are some of my favorite of a session! I absolutely love watching parents interact not only with their newborns but also with each other. We usually have good laughs when it comes to this part of the session because the little babies are *typically* naked or wrapped and I always warn parents that they are in the peeing and pooping zone. Or sometimes I discuss my gross sweating problem like in the video below! Whatever works to get those sweet images!
On average, parents and baby are in my studio anywhere from 1.5 hours to 3 hours. I fully understand that the true boss of my session is the little subject. Newborns usually decide on when they want to eat, when they want to be held and cuddled, and when they want to sleep. They are King/Queen. We are just their loyal subjects who must do their bidding. So my biggest recommendation to those who read this is if you are wanting to be a newborn photographer or if you are considering booking a session with a photographer – have patience!
Are you still with me?!?
Now we are at the last part of the blog where I am going to leave you with the sweetest little blurb from Becky, Caleb’s mom (and above!)
“After an unplanned emergency cesarean delivery and extended hospital stay, the last thing you want to do is suffer through several hours of pictures with an uncooperative newborn. However, our experience was painless. It started with a simple text a few days after Caleb’s arrival from Sami, “Hey sweet moma to TWO babies! When you get a free moment, let’s book Caleb’s session.” After we booked the appointment, she went in to planning mode. She sent me pictures of her backdrops and baby wraps for me to choose from. I asked about specific colors that I did not see in the pictures and she got them!! I also mentioned some sentimental items I would be bringing and she obliged. Sami sent me a prep package via dropbox for me to read over before the session. It covered everything we needed to know about what to wear, what to bring, how to style my daughter’s hair for sibling pictures, and even when to feed Caleb so he would be sleepy during the session for the perfect shots. Upon arrival, Sami greeted us with a warm studio, perfect for Caleb’s bare skin. Because of our prior discussions, Sami had a unique assembly for me to pick from of props, different backdrops and accessories. I felt as if she truly listened to my wants and bent over backwards to make my vision a reality. We felt at home during the session. Caleb decided that he needed to eat occasionally and relieve himself several times while there, but Sami took it all in stride. While in her studio, she provided coffee and even had a snack for my daughter. All in all, it was a wonderful experience. We just received our gallery and are so thankful we chose SamiM Photography to capture Caleb’s first year.”
Thanks for reading the second part of the series! What did you think? Did you know what went into actually photographing a newborn session? Any questions?
Message me! Stay tuned for the post-processing portion (and final!) blog post of the series next week!