Category Archives: Newborns
Tips for working with toddlers at newborn sessions
We have all been there – you ask a two year old to do something and the exact opposite happens. You were excited for your photography sessions you but your oldest isn’t cooperating and you start to get anxious asking yourself while you even bothered. Believe me you are not alone. Sometimes a session with a toddler and a newborn can seem like complete chaos but it is that chaos that really makes the session magic. The trick is understanding where the child is at and trying to harness and redirect the energy.
Before the session has even begun, the toddler has gone through a great deal of change. It is important to recognize and acknowledge. The emphasis for the last few months has been on this abstract concept of a baby, and now he or she is competing for attention, and often loosing out.
While you might need information on how to prepare for a newborn session, this is my process for photographing a newborn lifestyle session, whether in Arlington, Boston, Brookline or the South Shore this is my process.
Ignore the baby
Think about every visitor that has come to your house. They ohh and ahh over the newborn. Can I hold him? Isn’t she cute? Etc. The other child or children feel ignored and might act out. A toddler might not have the verbal skills to express these intense emotions. My first interaction at every session is with the sibling(s). I lower my entire body and start engaging with that child asking questions. Can you show me around the house? Where is your favorite spot? Can you show me your favorite toy? This allows the toddler to warm up to me, complete a stranger, so they can feel special. The baby isn’t going to notice if I don’t say hello.
Praise the toddler
I might be over the top but multiple times throughout the session I say how I heard they are such an amazing big brother, or something similar.
Ask for help
When we are talking photos all together I like to ask the toddler for help. By giving the child a task, it keeps them engaged. Most of my questions – Can you count the baby’s fingers? or Where are his toes? – are silly but it does the trick.
Photos and play with parent(s)
Inevitably during the session, the baby will need to be fed, changed or comforted. This is often the perfect time for the sibling to have some 1-1 time with a parent, grandparent or any other adult present. I love these moments to capture something less scripted. Often it gives the parent a chance to read them a book, or play with a favorite toy or even just snuggle for a few minutes.
Take Needed Breaks
At the beginning of every session, I do my best to capture the sibling and the full family shots. Everyone is still fresh and I don’t think it is reasonable to assume a 2 year old can sit and take photos for 5 minutes let alone an hour. It is easy to tell when a child needs a break. In my experience, giving them a snack or just letting sit on the floor and play is enough. They will start to feel left out and naturally join back in.
For example, at this session it was obvious the older daughter need a break so I started to take a few photos of just mom, dad and the baby. A few moments later, the toddler joined in for a photo after feeling left out.
It is always fun to see what toddlers are interested in at this age. For some it is a toy or a book you love. For this big sister, she loved band-aides which is something my kids were fascinated with as well.
How does a Boston Newborn Photographer Prepare for a Photo Session
Every time I leave for a newborn or family session I’m always a little nervous. I think a lot of us photographers are a bit anxious. We love capturing your families but we want you to love your photos too. Plus, there are a lot of unknowns that occur at every family session – How will we interact with the family? Will we be able to get the children to cooperate? Will the lighting cooperate? Will there be enough light? Some of your concerns and our fears overlap. While there are steps you can take to prepare for your newborn sessions, photographers have a list to review, too. Despite any anxieties that pop up, there are a number of things that I do to prepare for the session in order to make sure that everything goes smoothly. Below is my mental checklist about how I prepare for any Boston newborn photography session.
Check the forecast
Following the weather is an on-going process. Even for inside session we don’t want a stormy day. A light rain is usually okay and gives us enough light but a downpour creates dark skies and not enough light for an indoor newborn session. While I will check a week out, an accurate weather prediction doesn’t come until a day before anyway. I’ll also check the hourly forecast to see if it is more likely to rain in the morning or the afternoon so we can adjust the time of the session as needed.
Confirm with the family
A few days before a session I send the family an email to confirm the day and time. It is a reminder on both of our ends that we have an appointment. If I think the weather might be an issue we can start thinking of an alternative date, if needed.
Review client emails and questionnaire if applicable
One of the last things that I do before heading out is to review client emails and the questionnaire. I’ve already done this earlier in the week when I’m planning out my schedule but I’d like to review it one more time so everything is fresh in my mind. Specifically are there any client requests? Did the family mentioned a particular photo that they want to take?, etc.
Look up directions and estimate time
Knowing where I’m going is also really important. In the Boston area something that takes 10 minutes one day I can take 30 minutes with traffic on a different day. I like to use Google maps and adjust the time so I can get a better idea of potential traffic, especially in the morning or late afternoon. I’m also a bit of an early bird – I hate being late – so I like to give myself enough time. By arriving early this short breaks allow me to focus on the session and clear my mind which can be difficult when you’re running around trying to manage a household and making sure kids get to school on time. Even just sitting in my car provides an opportunity for me to slow down so I can relax.
Prepare my equipment
The last thing I want at a newborn session is a technical issue so I always make sure to charge my camera batteries the night before and add a second battery into my camera bag. Additionally, I’ll clear my memory card and make sure I have backups with me. Again, it might seem obvious but during the busy season I might not be editing as quickly or all of my memory cards might not be in their work bag.
Pack my camera bag
Before heading out the door, I like to double check my camera bag to ensure I have everything I need to bring with me to my photo session. This includes any lenses I think I want to use, my back up camera, extra battery, multiple memory cards, and my flash.
How to Prepare for Your In-Home Boston Newborn Photography Session
Tomorrow your newborn photographer is coming to take photos of you and your baby. You aren’t sure how to prepare so you start to wonder “What do I wear.?”, “Do I have to clean my house?”, “What if the baby cries the whole time?”
Newborn photography sessions should be relaxed and about capturing your growing family, not stressful. The tips below will help you prepare for an amazing session with your baby.
Take care of yourself and the baby.
It might sounds ridiculous saying this but it is so important. Take a break. Get a glass of water. Comfort the baby. Just make sure you are comfortable. Bringing a new life into the world, whether through delivery or adoption, is joyful but stressful.
Don’t rush feeding the baby.
Getting a full feed is really important. I always tell parents not to rush the feeding otherwise the baby will be hungry again and we end up doing this dance of eating, crying, eating, crying. More importantly,we want to make sure the needs of the baby are met. The photos always take the same amount of time.
Turn up the heat at the newborn session.
Having your home be warm is essential to a successful photo session. The heat helps calm the baby who might not wearing the same type of clothes we are wearing. They are used to be warm and cozy in a belly. It also keeps the baby’s skin looking warm and not purple and cold. I’m sure you’ve noticed when your baby is cold the appearance of their skin changes.
If the heat bothers you, make sure to wear appropriate clothes. There is no need to layer or wear sweaters, otherwise you’ll overheat and be a sweaty mess.
Block off time.
I find that no matter what I do sessions always last about 90 minutes. It allows enough time for you to take care of the baby’s basic needs – feeding, changing and comforting – and for us to take photos. Some partners with more flexible schedules are on leave while others need to go back to work right away. We can work around their schedule to set an earlier meeting time or when there is space in his or her schedule. Generally, I find that mornings work well for everyone – the baby is calmer, the light is adequate in most homes, and we don’t have much stress from the day yet.
Don’t stress about how clean your house is.
Seriously, you just had a baby and no one is judging. No one will know if you didn’t vacuum or mop the floor. And, it won’t show up in the photos. If you have limited time, just clear the clutter (if it will bother you). At a session, we can take a minute to clear off a table if needed, or we can document life as it is.
Reflect on how you want to remember this period.
It is really important to reflect on how you want to remember this incredible time in your life. It goes by so fast and I found that I barely remember the period since a lot of it was worrying about sleep, the baby’s health, tracking eating and bodily movements, etc. Simple questions such as – Where are you spending your time? How do you hold your baby? Is there a gesture or movement your partner does that you’d like to document? – can help us document this time appropriately.
Are there items you’d like to include?
Since I am a lifestyle photographer, I don’t bring props with me but that doesn’t mean we can’t include items that are meaningful to you and your family. Maybe there is a special once you received as a present? Or, a blanket someone made for the baby? An heirloom item that has meaningful to your family? Or, something like a wall hanging you bought specifically for the nursery. These are all items that we can include.
Think about what you will wear.
For women who just gave birth this can be a hard decision. It takes awhile for our bodies to feel like themselves, plus there are all the issues that come with delivery a baby that I’ll spare you from here on the blog. I’m not the photographer that will plan your outfit but I think the following guidelines will help.
While some women can rock a tight dress after delivery, many of us can’t.
Tip #1: Pick something that you feel amazing in. Don’t overthink it.
Tip #2: I recommend wearing a loose top or dress, something not form fitting, if you are worried about your post-pregnancy body.
Tip #3: If you don’t like showing cleavage then opt for a top with a higher neck line.
Tip #4: Avoid really bright colors. They tend to leave color cast on your and the baby’s skin.
Tip #5: Think about the colors in your home so your outfit doesn’t clash. with the decor If your home is neutral wearing a colorful top would work well. If you have a lot of color in your home, then a more neutral grey, white, cream look will work best.
Tip#6: Avoid black tops. Many of us are trained to think that black slims us but I find it doesn’t work particularly well in newborn photos, especially black and white conversions at in-home sessions
Despite everything I wrote, I think it is important to be yourself. If you feel great and love your outfit choice, you’ll feel better at the session and love your photos more.
About 30 minutes before the session try to feed, change and wrap the baby up in a swaddle blanket.
This is pretty self-explanatory and it will help the newborn sleep and keep him or her calm for our session.
You know what is best.
Despite all the information that you read online or that I give you, you’ll have a better idea of what is best for your baby . Everything you read is a recommendation and not strictly something that has to happen.
When is the best time for newborn photos? |Boston baby photographer
One of the first questions I’m asked is when is the best time for newborn photos? There is a range of responses depending on who you ask. Have you read a bunch of blog posts that say newborn photos need to happen within the first week? Did you already have your baby and are now stressed that you missed the “window”? Were you sitting in the doctor’s office and imagining life going by in an instant? Did you adopt and you need to wait to come home. It is okay.
A lot has been written about this two week newborn window but a lot of it applies to posed newborn photography. I’m in the camp that anytime is a good time for baby photos. Posed newborn photographers need the baby’s to curl up and be sounds asleep, which is more likely in the first few days. That is not the case with lifestyle or documentary photography. We capture life as it is at the movement. It is okay if the baby is awake. If the infant is sleeping that is okay, too.
When families book me for newborn photos there a few things that I bring up.
- How are you feeling? To me, this is one of the most important questions. Of course you might not be sleeping well but are you okay to take photos, or do you need more recovery time. A lot of emphasis is put on the newborn but the birth may have impacted you in a way you didn’t even fathom before it happened.. After my first delivery I did not feel like myself and was definitely not up for photographs while with my second delivery, I was up and walking around right away. Your mindset and health are important factors to consider.
- How is the baby’s health? Were there any complications? Does the baby have jaundice? Did you need to stay in the ICU? Unfortunately, this things can pop up and the baby’s health takes priority.
- If you have a partner/spouse, are they going back to work? If your partner only gets a few days off, it is important to reach out earlier. We have to work with your schedule, doctor’s appointments and availability. If work hours are more flexible or fluid then there isn’t a rush.
- Do you have visitors? Bringing home a baby is a bid deal for family and friends. Do you want to include the traveling grandparents or do you want a more intimate session? The timeline of your visitors may impact the schedule.
Babies change quickly but that doesn’t mean we can’t capture the magic of the first few months at home if we miss the first few days. Below are a few examples of photographs taken within the first few months.