The key to a successful baby photo shoot is a happy, content baby. Over the past 7 years as a baby and newborn photographer, I’ve narrowed down the top things that parents can do to increase the chances of a smooth and successful baby session. I share most of these with my clients in my prep guide to help them prepare. Here are my top tips!
Tip #1: Schedule the photo session for the best time of day
Most parents will find that their baby is happiest in the mornings. (Usually after being up most of the night keeping their parents on their toes *wink*). The afternoon and evening is typically known as the “witching” time after a long day of being stimulated and winding down to bed time. This is why I always photograph newborns and older babies in the morning. My typical start time is 9:30am for newborns and around 10:30 for older babies (however this can be adjusted depending on your baby’s normal routine).
For older babies 3+months:
This is probably the number one golden rule – particularly for older babies 3 months+. By about 6-8 weeks, you’ll notice that your baby will start falling into a natural rhythm of wake times and nap times. Of course some days can go haywire (we’ve all been there Mums!), but for the most part you can start to get an idea of approximately when your baby will have his/her nap. If you’re having your older baby photographed, the absolute worst time of day to schedule a photo session is for when they want to be taking a nap. I usually suggest to my clients to schedule their session for around mid-morning. The best time being just after they would normally wake from their first nap of the day. I only photograph one baby per day so I can usually adjust my schedule and start time to accommodate when your baby would normally be waking from his/her sleep. I encourage parents to try to encourage their baby to have their sleep on the way to my studio in the car so that they wake up fresh and ready for their session when they arrive.
(Please note that this tip doesn’t apply to newborns less than 2 months as babies are not normally in an established routine at this stage and have very little awake time)
Tip #2: Be easy going
Baby photo sessions should always be baby-led. Every baby is different. They have their own personality, likes/dislikes. They have good and bad days just like all of us. My number 2 tip is about setting your own expectations as a parent when you are going into a baby photo session. It’s helpful to have an open mind about the types of images that your photographer will be able to achieve with your baby. This is particularly important when it comes to posed newborn photography. There are some poses and positions that your baby may not like. If you have your heart set on very specific images you may be left feeling disappointed if your baby isn’t settled that day, or if he/she doesn’t like that particular pose. An experienced baby photographer will know how to make the most of your baby’s session regardless of whether your baby is unsettled on the day of the session.
Tip #3: Be open to using a dummy/pacifier
In rare cases, some babies may be very unsettled for the duration of the newborn session. I have a range of settling methods to help keep them calm and happy for their photos, but as a last resort (once they’ve been fed, changed, burped, wrapped, cuddled, rocked etc) a dummy can be a lifesaver in helping to get a good gallery of images of your baby. In cases such as these, I will always seek the parents’ permission to use one for the session. I encourage my clients to bring one along – even if they’re not planning on using one on a regular basis. Sucking is a natural reflex for babies and is a proven method for soothing fussy babies. I have some Avent Soothie brand dummies on hand in the studio which are freshly sterilised before use and only with your permission in case parents have not brought their own. Rest assured that using one for a few minutes at a time throughout your session will not cause any nipple or feeding confusion. If you would prefer not to use one that is totally fine and completely your choice.
Tip #4: Bring Extra of Everything!
Always bring extra of anything you may need for your baby (and yourselves). Extra nappies, wipes, extra bottles and formula if you are bottle feeding etc. It’s always a great idea to bring along a spare change of clothes for every member of the family. Sometimes babies will poo/wee during unwrapped shots – accidents happen! You don’t want to be going home covered in it 🙂
Tip #5: Enjoy Your Baby’s Photo Session
Having a baby – and particularly your first baby – is a very stressful time in your life. Nothing prepares you for the physical and emotional rollercoaster of the first few months. Sometimes I meet clients who arrive for their session feeling very anxious and worried about whether their baby will “behave” for their photo shoot. Please try to relax. It’s my aim for you to really enjoy your time at my studio. For the most part, I will take care of your baby for you (always within your sight, and I will always pass them back to you if they need you). For many parents this is the first time since their baby arrived that they don’t have to do anything. Many parents feel emotional and teary when given the opportunity to simply sit, relax and look at their baby and just how perfect they are. I really enjoy this aspect of my job as a baby photographer. In all the noise of the long “to do list” when you’re a new parents, it’s rare that you have the time to take it all in. My hope is that your baby’s photo session will give you the opportunity to do this. Please enjoy the ride! 🙂
I hope these tips really help you prepare for your baby’s upcoming session. By following these and coming along to your session with a smile and an open mind (despite the exhaustion!) you’re sure to get some beautiful images for you to treasure forever!