It's been exactly five months since I wrote a blog ( Adventures in baby photography part 1
) about my newly found interest in the art of photographing newborn babies. My hopes were that maybe I had found my niche as a photographer. However at that time, almost half a year ago, I had yet to photograph a single newborn! Through word of mouth, facebook, family and friends, I found my first little model quickly and I have photographed over a dozen babies since then.
I would like to share with you here some of the things I've learned. I'm not going into the technical details at this time, other than to say that all the images were studio shot. What I would like to share here, is the experience of posing baby and dealing with young parents.
All the babies I've photographed are around 10 days old. Older babies often develop baby acne, can be colicky and are often a little more alert and more difficult to pose.
I start all my sessions by asking the new mom to undress her baby, leaving the diaper on very loosely so that I can remove it easily when I'm ready. Then I ask her to top up baby even though I've already asked her to bring baby well fed. I explain that I need baby to feel the way we do after a big turkey dinner, too full and too sleepy to move. :)
Once baby is finished feeding I ask mom to place him or her on the bean bag. At this point I take over. I warm my hands on the little space heater I use to keep the room extra warm and then start soothing baby into a deep sleep before I attempt to pose. I always like to talk to the baby constantly and softly throughout the entire session. I think this relaxes all the adults in the room as well, including myself.
When it comes to the actual posing, slow movements are the key. Although some babies have been like putty in my hands, many are very easily startled. I usually start with the easier poses first, belly down, and work my way to baby on the side and end with baby on it's back. My style is simple and natural, and still evolving.
I take a lot of time focusing on the details and placement of little hands and feet. I will spend several minutes gently unrolling each little finger because open hands look so much better than tight little fists. I even go as far as adjusting their little lips! I love baby wrinkles and try to create them by tucking and crossing their little legs under them. I use rolled up washcloths and gently push them underneath the blanket to shift baby or to lift up and tilt baby's head, bottom, arms and legs. This is a great and easy way to move baby into a perfect position.
If babies start to fuss, I find that shushing loudly in their ears, and rubbing their backs, their foreheads or using a pacifier will usually settle them back into sleep. I also play a playlist of never ending womb sounds in the background.
At some point we may have a little messy accident. This is inevitable with naked babies and I always have baby wipes handy. This is clearly a good time to switch to a different blanket. Moms often feel bad about the mess, so I always reassure them it's ok, that it happens all the time and that's is in the job description. :)
When it comes to the new parents, I believe that showing your confidence with their baby is very important. I like to think that I am naturally confident with babies and I do hope this relaxes parents immediately as they watch me handle their new little bundle of joy. It's important to me that the parents enjoy the experience as well. It shouldn't be stressfull for them. But all parents are different. I've had one second time mom go into the other room to watch tv and she actually fell asleep! Good for her, but I'd be surprised to see a first time mom do that. I try to keep a session to two hours although I will go longer if mom is game and eager for me to try other poses and blankets. I really love doing this and could happily fuss with one baby all day long.
I can honestly say that I've been thrilled with the results so far. I know there is much more to learn, much more experience to gain. I look forward to photographing many many more babies in the years to come.