For a 33 year old that does not have any children, I sure do know a lot about babies! How, you ask? Baby photography! I have been a baby photographer for over 13 years. They are my specialty, my joy, and my life.
When I started newborn photography I had to learn how to hold a baby, soothe a baby, stay calm, and familiarize myself with facial expressions. I would often look at them and think, "I wonder why they are smiling like that". And then you hear a sound... from the diaper... a wet sound. I imagine parents, other photographers, and everyone who works with babies can relate to this.
After a few years of newborn photography, I decided to create a guide to help new parents and photographers alike to help prepare for the photo shoot if the photo shoot takes place at the clients home. All my newborn photo shoots are taken at my clients' homes because it's the most comfortable place for a growing family.
Without further ado, here is the guide born from my frequently asked questions about a newborn photography shoot...
1. When should we schedule the newborn photo shoot? Schedule your newborn photography shoot within the first two weeks of the due date. This is just a tentative date and will likely change depending on the baby's arrival. If you have a C-section then the date is pretty set unless the baby comes early.
It's best to capture babies around 5-14 days while they sleep and have the newborn look. Having said that, there are no guarantees with newborns. They do what they please. I have done photo shoots at 6 days. Some cooperate and some don't. I have done photo shoots at 4 weeks. Some cooperate and some don't. Either way, they're all wonderful!
2. What happens if my baby is late? Contact your photographer and play the date by ear. If the baby is early, don't worry about contacting your photographer right away. Enjoy the new member of your family! Contact them within the next couple of days and let them know that your baby is here.
3. What temperature should the house be? The day of the photo shoot I suggest to have the house at a good warm temperature. We will be sweating but the baby will be comfortable. You might not need the heat on during summer though. The little ones don't like to be too hot or too cold.
Keep in mind that most of the poses will be of the baby in their diaper, naked, or whatever you discussed with your photographer. Walk around your home and think about the settings/backdrops that might work out best in terms of lighting. Usually, photographers like to setup in the room with the most natural light. But also important rooms like the nursery, your bedroom, the living room, and the yard if it's a nice day.
4. When should I feed my baby? Try and time it so that you are almost done with the feeding or completely done by the time the photographer arrives. A happy baby equals a sleepy baby. Sleepy babies are awesome! Also, bear in mind that we might feed the baby a little outside their schedule to keep them calm.
If you wanted your baby in a wrap, diaper cover, or possibly naked then I suggest to take their clothes off (but keep them in their diaper!), wrap them up in a blanket, then start to feed them. The less we move them around after they have a full belly, the better.
5. What do I do if my baby is sleepy right before the photo shoot? Sometimes your baby will be asleep before we arrive and before the feeding. Try to keep them up by changing them or maybe a nice bath. You want your baby to be tired during the photo shoot, not before
6. How long will the photo shoot last? The length of time would all depend on the photographer and the baby. I have completed newborn photo shoots in an hour and upwards of 4 hours. If the baby is awake during the photo shoot, it's OK! Photos of your baby alert and awake are magical!
7. What props should I have ready and does the photographer bring any? Most of the props and hats that I personally utilize in my photography shoots belong to the baby. The picture will hold a different meaning if you utilize your own hats, blankets, books, and/or other props. Also, don't forget all the gifts that you baby will receive. Using gifts from friends and families makes these photos extra special.
I hope this overview helped answer some of your questions. Good luck and have a great photo shot!