Traverse City Newborn Photographer | Meet Baby Suzie!
TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL NEWBORN SESSION
ft. Baby Suzie
We. LOVE. Photographing. Newborns! Traverse City and Northern Michigan is home to some of the most amazing families, and I can't think of a more rewarding kind of photo session. Newborn photography is incredibly challenging, but it’s so amazing to be a part of baby’s life when they are just days old. There’s a bit of prep and planning that needs to go into these sessions to make them more successful though. We’ve compiled a few tips below to help us get the very best out of your newborn photography session.
Click on any of the photos in this blog post to be directed to baby Suzie's full gallery!
SO…LET’S GET STARTED!
LET’S PENCIL YOU IN! We recommend that you schedule your newborn session PRIOR to your baby’s birth to ensure a spot on our calendar. Contact us during your second trimester and we’ll pencil you in. Then, shoot us an email at RahArmstrong@gmail.com soon after you deliver so we can arrange a time for the session. (And we always feel super special when dad’s put us on the official “baby is here!” call list! Just sayin’…)
BIRTH DAY! Newborn sessions MUST be scheduled within the first 14 days of life. However, the BEST time is between 3-7 days after their arrival. We’ll be moving them around and scrunching them into those sweet sleepy newborn images, so we want to make sure they’re sleepy enough to allow us to handle them. Plus, babies just tend to do a lot better with the session within their first 7 days. Somewhere around day 8 they discover the joy that is stretching! Once that happens…they’re not about to let us get them into those curly poses without a fight! After day 14, it’s almost impossible to get baby into that deep sleep that came so easily in their first few days…so it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to get them into any of the more bendy newborn poses. And, keep in mind that newborn acne (and sometimes colic) is likely to flare up after day 14. While we can easily edit problem areas, we prefer to do as little retouching as possible to baby’s skin.
WHERE? The majority of our newborn sessions take place in your home. This is the first place your baby knows as a comfort zone. Everything else is strange and new, and we don't want to risk unfamiliarities that might upset your bundle of joy. Worried because your house is a mess? Don’t even stress out! You just had a BABY! If you didn’t have dishes piled in the sink, dirty clothes and baby items strewn all about, we’d think you were weird. Clutter is definitely expected! We’ve shot in-home sessions in the middle of moving in/renovating and in some very tiny spaces…and rocked them! We really don’t need much space and can shoot around any problem areas.
We’ll also probably be moving furniture around if we need to make room for ourselves, but don’t worry – we’ll put it all back when we’re through!
LIGHT SEEKING! We ask that you open all of the blinds and curtains in your home prior to our arrival. This enables us to find the best source of natural light in your home, so that we can set up our “mini studio” in the best possible location. Nothing flatters like natural light, so we prefer to use it whenever possible. For this reason, sessions are normally done mid-morning to late-afternoon when window lighting is at its best. When we arrive, we’ll walk through your home looking for the best light and that is where we’ll do a majority of the shoot. Sometimes the best location ends up being a foyer, by the backdoor or kitchen…usually wherever there is a large window. We’ll also bring additional lighting equipment to help out when needed.
CRANK THE HEAT! We recommend that you keep your home a bit warmer than normal during the session. (Like a toasty 80 degrees or so.) Newborns are used to being all bundled up,warm + cozy…and then we come in and take off all their clothes for those adorable naked baby shots. They tend not to like that too much! Pushing up the thermostat is guaranteed to make the session flow more smoothly and help them sleep better. We may be sweating, but baby will be nice and warm…and that’s really all that matters! Crank the heat 30 minutes before our session to ensure that it’s warm enough in time for the clothes to come off. Bonus points if you’re willing to make a few back and forth trips to the dryer to keep baby’s blankets warm! They love that!
LOOSEN UP! Please loosen your baby’s diaper and clothing at least 30 minutes before the session. This gives those little imprint marks time to disappear. (Your baby will be naked in many of the shots, but we pose them so that all the “important bits” are not on display.)
SLEEPY? Most of the images we’ll be shooting work best if the baby is in a deep sleep. To encourage this, we recommend that you do whatever it takes to make sure baby is nice and exhausted. Keeping your little one awake on top of your own sleep deprivation might feel like torture, but we think it will be worth it in the end!
HUNGRY? A well fed baby is a happy baby! Please feed and burp baby right before our session to ensure a happy, sleepy (“milk drunk”) baby. We’ll also be more than happy to take as many breaks as needed to help him/her re-fuel. It’s tough work being a model!
VOLUME CONTROL! Please do whatever you can to keep the noise level to a minimum during our session. If you have other children that might create noise, try to find a sitter or family member to take them away from the home for a few hours. If you have a noisy pet, you may want to do the same. * If you have children and would like them to be included in some photos, we recommend bringing them in at the beginning or end of a session and then having someone take them. Only those being photographed should be present to help maintain a calm environment.
PATIENCE IS KEY! Newborn sessions can last anywhere from 2-4 hours. It all depends on baby’s mood and willingness to sleep. Unfortunately…this isn’t something we can predict! We ask that everyone remain calm, should he/she not want to sleep, since your baby will pick up on any frustration in the room. And if sleep doesn’t happen, that’s okay! Wide-eyed newborn photos are beautiful too.
RELAX! We’re pretty comfortable holding and posing newborns. (Rah has several years of experience as a newborn photographer.) Your baby is in safe hands, we promise! So yes! Feel free to rest and leave the room for a bit if you’d like. We’ve had parents who’ve used this time to take a nap, shower…and even run out for a quick dinner. All totally acceptable to us! If we have a question or need you for feeding, we’ll come and track you down.
IN CASE YOU MISSED THAT: RELAX! Moms tend to stress out because this is a new experience…and they aren’t used to the waiting game that is newborn photography. They see their baby being fussy or having a difficult time getting settled and panic. “This is a disaster! They aren’t going to get ANY good photos!” It isn’t, and we will! We take the baby’s lead; getting them to sleep before posing takes time and they may need to be fed or cuddled a few times first. In fact, we’d say that a good 50% of your session will involve feeding, diaper changes, and cuddling to get baby comfortable. If that doesn’t work, we’ll take a break or we’ll work with what baby is giving us. Sometimes that best photos happen when baby isn’t doesn’t what we want. Just remember: Babies can sense stress and anxiety (especially from their mommies!) It’s super important that EVERYONE remain calm and relaxed during this session. Keeping the environment as mellow as possible is pretty much the only way we’re going to get the shots we’re looking for.
POOP HAPPENS! Your baby is going to be in the buff for the majority of this shoot. Please don’t panic if your baby decides to use our blankets (or us) as his/her own personal potty. This is natural and we expect it! Please don’t feel embarrassed or worry when this happens, because they all do it. (Rah gets peed on at least TWICE at every session.) We wash all of our baby props and blankets between each session with non-scented baby detergent. (This is why we only schedule one newborn session per day!) It would definitely be helpful if you had a stack of old towels, extra wipes and blankets available for when things get messy though. *If you would like shots in a diaper, it’s a good idea to have a cloth diaper, diaper cover in a solid color, bloomers, or something to put over the diaper. Diapers on their own tend to look a little messy and distracting in photos, but throwing a cover over it cleans things up.
PROPS! We have baskets, blankets, and posing pillows and backdrops that we’ll be bringing to your session. You are also, of course, welcome to use any of your own props. Look for items with texture and color to help make your images unique. If you have headbands, hats, flowers, or anything special you'd like to use, please gather them before we arrive. We may not get the chance to use ALL of the items, but we’ll look through them with you to determine what will work best. *We also STRONGLY recommend that you discuss any ideas, props or poses you have in mind at least a week prior to your session. We start planning out your session weeks in advance, so dropping a huge idea on us mid-session (that requires an unavailable prop) can cause stress on everyone! So talk to us early on and let us know what you have in mind!
THE NOSE KNOWS! As a mother, your smell is so recognizable to your baby, that it may be necessary for mom to step out of the room for a portion of the session. This is not meant to hurt your feelings, only to allow us to help the get baby thinking sweet, sleepy thoughts…instead of “where’s my milk?!”
SPEAK UP! Your baby’s safety comes first! If there is ever a point where you become uncomfortable, just let us know! We take every measure to ensure that your baby is never in any danger. For that reason, we will always make sure that a parent or assistant is nearby to lend support if needed.
BUT WHAT DO *I* WEAR? I know! You just had a baby and aren’t feeling your best. But we think this is the perfect time to pamper yourself! Go have your hair + makeup done (or better yet, have someone come to you! Dawn at Up North Perfection has a team of talented hair & makeup artists - just say the word and we'll get it set up), schedule a massage (Angela Johnson, LMT will come to your home!) or have your nails done. Looking super relaxed and at your best will make you feel more comfortable during the session. This is an exciting time in your life and we want to capture all of that…so take care of yourself first! As far as clothing? Keep it simple. Throw in a little color if you’d like, but skip the busy patterns. (And please don’t feel the need to match everyone in white shirts and jeans!) For moms, we suggest cotton knit camis and knit tops. We’re also big fans of skin-on-skin portraits with you holding your baby against you. They’re so simple + timeless! So if you want some portraits like this with your newborn, consider a strapless top or tank as an alternative.
FOR THE MEN. Your hands, and possibly even your feet, will play a major role in this session, so it’s important that you tend to them too! Even if you aren’t planning on participating much in the session, you’ll still be handling your baby a bit, so it’s a good idea to touch up on your grooming. Trim and tidy your nails and apply lotion to any dry skin. (It also never hurts to dab a little moisturizer on your face to help you look more refreshed. Those late nights can take a toll on your skin!) A little clothing advice? Long or short sleeved knits are best. (Make sure there isn’t too much bagginess in the sleeve.) Undershirts also work well. We suggest you NOT wear button down shirts, and make sure your t-shirts are free of logos or too much writing. *Wrinkles do show up in photos, so please make sure all clothing is ironed or steamed.
Now that you're fully prepared for your newborn session, check out our packages at www.TraverseCityPhoto.com/product-catalog