Ah, the newborn photo shoot. Funny how those peaceful, sweet images of a sleeping baby reveal nothing of the chaos that so often accompanies this phase of life. Seems like the last thing you want to worry about when you’ve just had a baby is getting their pictures taken, but nothing beats looking back at those photos when the years have transformed your once tiny baby into a bigger, louder, messier version of themselves. With that in mind, here are some tips for making the process go as smoothly as possible:
Take some time to decide what kind of photos you really want
Some questions to ask yourself:
-Do I want formal studio portraits or more casual photos in an informal setting?
-Who do I want in the photos? Just the baby? Baby and parents? Siblings?
-How much money/time/effort do I want to invest in this?
In my case, I knew I wanted something more polished than my amateur iphone photos to document my new babies, but also realized that I didn’t want to spend top dollar on a photographer or dream up a bunch of elaborate props, outfits, etc., especially since I found myself gravitating more towards simple photos of newborns swaddled in their cribs than studio shots of naked babies sleeping in a basket of flowers or perched on a pile of books.
I also wanted my babies’ newborn photos to reflect the life of our family and their surroundings when they first arrived, so I opted to have photos done at home with our whole family present, keeping outfits and backgrounds simple and casual. And since I wasn’t too hung up on the quality of these photos as long as we got one decent group shot and a few great portraits of the baby, I hired amateur photographers that took the photos for a fraction of the price that most professionals charge.
Regardless of which approach you want to take and what your priorities are for your newborn’s moment in the limelight, definitely keep the following in mind:
Plan ahead as much as possible
This could probably prevent most of the stresses in life, right? And photo shoots are no exception. Photographers generally recommend getting newborn photos taken sometime within two weeks of your baby’s arrival, and heaven knows those first couple of days/weeks with a new baby are crazy enough without having to scramble to get ready for a photo session. So try to think through most of the process beforehand:
-Nail down clothing choices for everyone in the photos, not just baby. Even if you aren’t going to buy anything new or wear anything fancy, fish the clothes you have in mind out of the closet and hide them away until it’s time to take pictures. Otherwise you might end up rushing to Old Navy the morning of the shoot to buy your husband a new gray polo shirt because his is stained (not that I speak from experience or anything…)
-Assemble any props, blankets, etc. that you want to use and have them ready to go so that you’re not looking for things while the photographer snaps away. As we’ve established, I like to keep things simple for newborn photos with my babies in white onesies or something similar, but I’ve used different swaddle blankets and accessories to mix things up.
-Browse Pinterest, photographer’s websites, etc. to get an idea of specific poses/photos you want to have and show them to the photographer beforehand.
Set yourself up for success
You might be looking at the photos accompanying this post and think “geez, these babies look kind of big” and that’s because both of my kids didn’t have “newborn” photos taken until they were about a month old.
Maybe by the third baby I’ll feel differently, but with both of my experiences so far I’ve felt a bit of anxiety and depression both at the tail end of my pregnancies and for the first few weeks after the baby is born. Nothing major, but enough that newborn photos are the furthest thing from my mind. So I waited until I felt better and capable of more than just making it through the day to get these photos taken. And even though it resulted in not-your-typical newborn shots (my daughter stayed awake the whole time!) it made for a better experience for everyone involved.
But even if you are feeling on top of the world after having your baby, make sure you’re not sabotaging yourself:
-If you know you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule your baby’s photos first thing in the morning thinking you’ll magically be able to pull it together that one day. Same goes for other times/days, especially if you have other kids involved. Consider when everyone is most likely to be in a good, cooperative mood and schedule your photos for that time.
-Calculate how long you need to get yourself and/or everyone else ready (hair, makeup, etc.) and add on an extra hour. Just trust me on this one.
-Feed your baby right before the photo shoot starts, even if they aren’t due for a feeding yet. You want them happy and content. And if you want photos of their cute naked tush, make sure the room you are in is warm enough. Basically, make sure that they are happy and comfortable.
And last of all—this may be the biggest “do as I say, not as I do” piece of advice on here—but don’t stress too much. Even if the photos turn out terrible and you hate them, I guarantee if you pull them out 6 months later they will magically look better (speaking from personal experience here). And even if they don’t, they’re just pictures, right? Go snuggle your baby and forget about them.