I adore shooting newborns. It takes a lot of patience (and the acceptance that you may be peed or pooped on), but I get to spend the day with an adorable newborn baby and at the end I get to give parents beautiful photos that are the start to a whole new chapter in their family album. I have shot so many newborns that I have learned what it takes to make a session go right and I can spot right away when a session is going to go badly. I wanted to share here the anatomy of a perfect newborn session to achieve the best possible photos for your new family. I have been interviewed a few times on this topic, which you can check out on babble, the help company, and mommyshorts, but I've never written about it here on my own blog- so here are my tips for a perfect session,
I do two types of newborn photography- traditional and lifestyle. Traditional newborn photography must be done between 5-12 days after birth and takes place in my Tribeca studio. Traditional newborn photography involves the sweet curled up poses on blankets and the fun props like baskets and buckets. If your interested in this kind of session I recommend booking at least 3 months in advance because I do book up fast! When you book your session I take down your due date and then when your little one comes we schedule the exact date of the session and no matter when your little one is born you are guaranteed a day in the 5-12 day window. The 5-12 day window is essential for this type of newborn photography because at 2 weeks your little one will go through a growth spurt and start stretching out his tiny arms and legs and won't want to curl up into those little poses anymore. Shooting these sessions in the studio is very important because it is a controlled environment where I can have the temperature just right and take all the necessary safety precautions for your newborn. I have all the props and accessories ready for you here so all you need to bring (other than yourselves and your newborn) is an easy to take off onesie, pacifiers (if you're using them they're a big help), some extra diapers and wipes, a burp cloth and a couple extra bottles if you're using them. The sessions typically last 3-4 hours and the best thing to do is sit back, relax, check your emails or read a magazine and watch all the adorable positions I pose your newborn in. Sometimes it takes a while to get your newborn ready for posing and parents will worry or get tense, which the baby will pick up on so it's very important to remain calm and have faith that we will get fantastic photos- and if you do I promise that we will! Baby nurses are not allowed to attend the session because we need to keep as calm of an environment as possible and passing the baby between 3 sets of hands does not work well. I have never had a session with a baby nurse in attendance that went spectacularly so please ask her to sit this one out. Here are some examples of some of my favorite studio newborn photographs-
The second type of newborn session I do is lifestyle photography. This type of session takes place in your home and focuses more on capturing those beautiful real moments of your newborn in your arms and in his or her crib. This is a beautiful opportunity to take some authentic photographs of everyday life with your wonderful new baby in your home. There is a little more of a window for these because we don't need the 5-12 day rule to capture the little poses, although I do still suggest shooting within the first month because they lose their newborn qualities so quickly and it's such a great time to capture. I can still take some of those great curled up shots in your home and I love to improvise with these and use things in your home like a nightstand, coffee table, bed or couch- just as long everything is safe and sturdy to use! In your home it is a little harder to control the environment than in the studio, but there are still very important steps we can take to insure a successful experience.
- No baby nurses allowed. Just like my studio sessions baby nurses are not allowed to attend. If you have a baby nurse in your home please ask her to stay in a room we are not shooting in because it can get very hectic having another set of hands there and does not end in good results.
- Keep the space we're shooting in clean and de-cluttered. When I shoot in your home I am using natural light so I will look around and determine the best places to take pictures so you should have your whole home clean for the photos. Clutter looks bad in photos and is always the #1 thing people ask me to photoshop out and it's not always possible and can be costly when it is.
- Warm it up! Keep the heat on high. We may all be a little sweaty, but I promise you your naked baby will be very happy! Babies need heat- way more than we do- so we need to keep the space very warm to keep them comfortable and happy for the photos.
- Keep it tranquil. All babies are different, but for the most part newborns will do best in quiet, white sound, or soft lullabies. I will bring along white sound and lullabies so it's important to turn off any tvs or stereos that you have on during the shoot.
- Pick the right time of day for your newborn. Not all newborns are on schedules yet so it's hard to know, but by the end of the second week you may have a sense of when your newborn likes to be awake and asleep so lets pick a time of a day when your newborn is sleepiest. There's nothing worse then when I get to your home and hear a baby nurse say "I don't know why you scheduled now the baby is always awake this time of day."
- Limit the number of people in your home during the shoot. The shoot should be limited to only the people being photographed, which if you want to try and take any traditional newborn should be just the parents (and an older sibling if there is one). Inviting grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. is distracting for the baby and especially if there are older children is a recipe for disaster.