In most of the newborn photography you’ll see, including at The Camera’s Eye, the baby is sleeping. This makes sense, since this is the majority of what they are doing anyway. (Ok, maybe it doesn’t feel that way during the night for the parents, but that’s another story!) So it stands to reason that a sleeping newborn would be a cinch to photograph. Right?
Not entirely. If you are a parent (and/or a professional photographer), you know that you are totally beholden to the baby’s schedule. The baby might not want to actually be asleep during the time that you scheduled the photo session. And have you ever tried to explain to a five-day-old that there’s a schedule to keep?
I’ve been photographing newborns for 13 years, starting with a set of preemies as my first clients, and I love the possibilities that a newborn photo session holds! In general, it really helps me to work with moms who aren’t afraid to have me handling their brand new little one. Of course, I am super strict about washing props and washing hands before handling anyone’s baby. And I’m always amazed when brand new parents are willing to go with it when I say things that essentially add up to, “Oh, let me fold up your bambino like a tree frog and stuff him into this bowl. Sound good?”
I truly admire and am inspired by newborn photography that is stylized and prepped, with perfectly placed accessories like headbands and themed props. My colleague Esther Fuller has some great examples, and I use Pinterest to keep track of other creative newborn images! In my own shooting, I gravitate towards the up-close details – the little toes, the warmth, and connection between the baby and the parents.
Still, I am always developing my artistic vision when it comes to more precise newborn and baby photographs.
I let moms handle their babies as much as possible during the photo shoot. It can be difficult for a mom to position their baby when they’ve never done it before, or for me to position a baby when he or she isn’t familiar with me. Plus, all you want to do is let the little angel sleep, but you’re probably going to rustle him awake with the many tiny adjustments you need to make.
Keep in mind, even when your baby does sleep, they might not be making the most comfortable, relaxed expression. There is a natural “sleeping baby eyebrow scrunch” that can lead to a lot of post-newborn session Photoshopping!
A client recently asked me: “You do so well with these shoots, and you don’t even have kids…so how do you have the patience to get peed on?” And, I know it sounds weird, but this is probably one of the greatest compliments I’ve received in my work as a professional photographer. At the end of the day, I’m truly enjoying myself – even in the line of fire. And don’t worry – at The Camera’s Eye studio, I always schedule time afterwards to take care of all the clean up that
might will need to happen. It just comes with the trade of natural lifestyle photography – and what’s more natural than that?