Newborn photography is a special discipline within portraiture that not every photographer can do well – it is about so much more than a technical knowledge of photography and lighting and having the right equipment. It requires patience and confidence. It requires an intimate understanding of a newborn’s world – and the world they’ve spent the previous 40 weeks growing within. It’s about a CONSTANT regard for the infant’s safety and comfort ahead of the desire for a particular shot. And it’s about being sensitive to the uncertainty and misgivings new, proud parents have about handing their fresh-from-the-womb child to, in many cases, a complete stranger. We want your Chattanooga Newborn Photography Session to be perfect, painless, and comfortable.
My job begins long before mom ever delivers her babe; I talk on the phone at length with my mommies and dads about their session and make sure to answer all of their questions in addition to educating them about how we conduct our sessions. I’d love to give you a little idea of what I tell my clients – and to prepare you for what you can expect from a studio newborn session with me.
I generally schedule our session for 5 days after the expected due date. That gives us plenty of room to catch that ideal window of 5-10 days for the perfect newborn session – after the baby has gotten the hang of eating and before she hits that first growth spurt. During that time, she’s still sleepy and happy to curl into the adorable womb-like poses that set newborn portraiture apart from other baby photographs. However, because babies dictate everything about a newborn session, including scheduling, that date is a soft date until he arrives and we adjust accordingly if we need to.
Parents are encouraged to make sure their little peanut’s belly is nice and full and that he has been awake for a good amount of time prior to the session. Just in case little one falls asleep in his car seat on the way to our studio, I ask momma to select a snap- or zipper-down outfit so I don’t have to pull anything over his head and risk waking him up.
When a family arrives in our studio, I take the baby and start working immediately if he’s asleep, and work on putting him to sleep if he isn’t. Parents are welcome to either sit in our comfy lounge area or watch me work with baby. Often, moms take this time to apply makeup and enjoy a cup of coffee and relax for a little while.
The studio is generally around 84 degrees during the session, with the temperature even higher thanks to space heaters in the area I use for shooting. Because babes that new often don’t regulate their body temperatures as well as adults and because they’re naked, they are safer and more comfortable in an environment that is closer to body temperature. Some of the items I keep within arms reach during the course of the session include blankets for covering a baby, hand sanitizer (I use it every time I touch your baby – especially after touching my face or hair or working with the baby’s bottom!), extra wipes to clean up stray messes, space heaters, white noise machines, and all the hats and headbands I plan on using. I keep everything close at hand because I do not leave your baby unattended – EVER. Even a days-old infant can move more than people expect!
Many poses and the use of props like baskets and bowls will require extra hands for that reason. Some poses are composites, which means I use two or more images and an extra set of hands to stabilize a baby’s head safely and comfortably and use Photoshop to compile the images into one seamless image. When I work with the baby in a basket or other prop, I make sure that a parent or assistant can hold the prop steady so that a baby cannot tip over. Often, these props are also weighted on the bottom, but that doesn’t replace the need for a spotter. When I am manipulating a tiny human into a pose, he may whimper as I disturb his slumber, but if he makes a face or begins to cry, I abandon the pose and work with his cues as to what is comfortable for him. Not all poses work for all babies, so I let them tell me what feels good to them! Some shots require that I shoot from above your baby; every time I do, I ensure that my camera strap is securely around my neck. The importance of safety in the studio cannot be over-emphasized or under-estimated!
After I work with little bit on both my beanbag and in some props, I move into family shots. Most of these are very minimalist and I use a simple backdrop and encourage mom and dad and any siblings to wear simple clothing – white, black, cream, etc. without distracting prints. Often a camisole for mom and a white t-shirt or bare chest for dad is perfect. The goal of these images is to convey the love within the family – anything else distracts from that very profound connection.
At the end of our session – about 2 to 3 hours – I’ll help you get your baby dressed and give you time to feed her if you’d like and help you get her into her car seat so you can head out and look forward to seeing your beautiful images a few days later!
Many times, beside the pediatrician, I am the first visit a new baby makes; that is an enormous honor and I am humbled by the trust parents place in me. I find deep joy in seeing these perfect little people and the overwhelming love their mommies and daddies and siblings have for them. Each session leaves me feeling as if I have been witness to something larger than myself and I am taken aback by how much I find myself caring for these families as if they are close friends. To say “thank you” to these parents doesn’t seem to convey enough of my gratitude for that.
Questions? I’d love to answer them! Even more than that, I’d love to see you and your blessing in our studio!