Newborn photography preparation

The key to sweet and sleepy newborn photos is, of course, a sleepy baby! Below, you’ll find a few helpful hints, tips and tricks that will make the session flow smoothly . While these tips are often helpful , please know that I will always defer to the needs of the family during our session. I don’t want to upset any budding routines and feeding habits or make life for you harder after I leave!

” But where???” :
The number one question you may have when hiring an in-home newborn photographer is ” Where will you do the photos?” It’s an important one so I’ll answer that right off the bat!  I prefer to work in a quiet area of the home where the hustle and bustle of the house won’t be disturbed. While newborns are used to lots of noise, they aren’t used to be posed while they are sleeping. Working in a quite area of the house ( and with my white noise app) I have find helps babies fall asleep more quickly . It also allows older siblings to carry on life as normal . It also gives your some extra one on one time with big sisters or brothers while I work with the baby only.

Lighting is secondary to a quiet room. While I will bring my own studio lightly, I love to work in a light airy room with enough space for me to move around relatively freely . My lighting set up includes a 5ft by 3 ft soft box . Enough room for that to be opened is helpful! If the room has a window, I’ll start with the curtains and shades open but  may close them depending on how things are looking in camera.  Often times the nursery or the master bedroom is the best place for this! If you doubt, you can send me photos or wait for me to arrive and we can decide together.
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“How can I prepare?”
About one half hour before our session, attempt to feed your little one. If he/she is not hungry, that’s ok! There’s no need to try and force a full baby to eat. If he/she becomes hungry later, we will always allow for a full feeding on demand.  After the feeding closest to our session start time, a quick diaper check will go a long way in keeping the baby comfortable during our session. While needs will change later on, starting with a clean diaper is second to having a full belly. Once you’ve changed the diaper feel free to slather on some lotion to help with dry skin.  After that, you can leave him/her in just a diaper but wrapped in a warm blanket. If possible, using a plain colored blanket to wrap your baby in is helpful!  I often will take some detail photos of the baby before I wrap them in my own wrap . Using a blanket you love enough to have in photos can help me do that with out disruption if the baby is sleeping! Once I arrive and set up, I’ll wrap him/her in a newborn photography wrap for photos. If your baby feels cold, it’s ok to redress, too.

Note: You have added a brand new baby to your family and before that you or your partner were heavily pregnant. Your house should be a mess. Please don’t feel stressed to provide an immaculately clean house! Only feel the need to clean the areas we’ll be using of the things you don’t want in photos. I am a parent and I know how it goes to try and toss in even one load of laundry and actually fold it when your arms are full . No judgement here!

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Temperature is pretty important during newborn photos. Turning down the AC or on the heat during the session time is usually a pretty good idea as newborns are not quite able to regulate their own temperatures yet. Sometimes, even just placing a blanket over the heat vent of the room I’m using  is enough to keep baby warm with out making everyone else uncomfortably hot in the summer  . I’ll also bring a portable heater turned to low to place next to me to help keep the baby snugly. As newborn photography goes, if I’m not sweating, baby is likely not warm enough!

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” We’re  clean, fed and ready to go. Now what? “
Once I arrive, I’ll bring all my gear in. While it will likely take me a trip or two to my car, rest assured that I’m not moving in! Newborn photography does require quite a bit of ” stuff” . While I bring everything I need with me for 2-3 different wrapped set ups, please feel free to add in blankets, small stuffed animals or other small props , too. Please note that I my style leans heavily to the naturally posed . I am not well experienced in studio style prop photos like baby posed ski boots, baby laying on books or themed photos. Having said that, I’m always willing to try those photos as long as I feel they can be carried out safely .

I’ll take about 10 minutes to set up in the room you’ve selected. Once that’s done, I’ll wash my hands and be ready to photograph the baby! While I generally work quietly with just the baby, you are more than welcome to pop in and out to see how things are going. I encourage you to take time to throw in a load of laundry, spend time with your other children snuggling with a book or even take a nap while I work. You have my word that I will get you as soon as it’s clear your baby has a need.  If you are uncomfortable with the idea of this, please let me know! I’d never want you to feel worried for your child while they are in my care. You can expect the newborn only portion to take about one hour once the baby is settled .
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After newborn portraits are done, we’ll move on to lifestyle family photos. These are more laid back and casual than posed photos and are intended to document life as it is that day. These will be a reminder to you later of these early ( sleep deprived ) days and one day to your children as they grow up and have their own babies! The photos are loosely posed and I look mostly to photograph interactions. Later on, if you decide to book a 6 month session, we’ll get more of those posed family photos . During this time, we will take photos of each member of the family with the baby and then a group family photo, too. The family portion of the session is best done in a larger, well lit room like the living room, nursery or master bedroom. Wearing solid colored shirts helps as I usually convert these photos to black and white ( as well as color when lighting allows) .
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An important note about siblings:
Siblings , especially toddlers, often reject the idea of taking photos with their new sibling. When this occurs, I follow the lead of the parents and gently encourage interactions. Incentives are ok and welcome! If a package of fruit snacks or lollipop will encourage a few minutes of photos, I’m ok with that! New brothers or sisters have been through a lot, too, and a little treat, whatever you find to be helpful, can go a long way.  Still,  despite our best efforts,  there is no sure fire way to create loving sibling photos. I’ll count on you to let me know when you feel like you’re ready to stop trying . I take extra care to engage siblings and get them excited for photos. In doing so, I always attempt to get at least one photo of them so they feel just as special as their new baby brother or sister.  I have learned that older kids will often relax a little bit toward the end of the session when the pressure is off a bit. Because of this, you’ll see me start to put my gear away but keep my camera handy in case a moment happens at that time. We take these interactions as they come and don’t force . Usually, by the 6 mo session (for the Watch me Grow families) , the older kids are more agreeable and the baby seems more durable.  All of these same tips can be applied to fur siblings, too. I’m happy to give pets their due space in photos as long as that can be done safely!
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” How do you feel about Pinterest?”
I love Pintrest because it allows me to see a families style . I know immediately if I’m a good fit as a photographer when someone sends inspiration photos and that is very important. If a family sends photos that I know is not a look I can achieve with my equipment and style, I will let you know and we can talk about that!

On the other hand, Pinterst can set us all up for disappointment and stress when our photos don’t match those . It’s important to  keep in mind that every family and every photographer are different and you can’t insert a family in front of a photographer and expect the same results. So much goes into a photo that can’t be manufactured. In fact, some of my own photos I’ve found floating around Pinterst are some I’ve never managed to recreate because they were a once in a lifetime occurrence.What I want for you instead is photos that come naturally because they are created by you . I want to see how your child’s eyes sparkle when you tickle them and I want to showcase the love that is uniquely yours. Now, that can make anyone feel vulnerable but trust me to see the beauty found right with in your walls and we can create something irreplaceably you.

The take home message here is this:Send all the screen shots! I’d love to see them and we can have a conversation about them.  I love to see your style and hopes for photos, just don’t hold so tightly to those images that you can see beauty in what is yours.

“Do you take check?”
Payment is due at the time of the session and can be made via cash, check ,  Venmo or the Ca$h apps. I no longer accept Paypal as there are digital payment options that don’t charge fees. If this is an issue, please talk with me. I’m certain we can work something out!  Please note that photos will not be edited until payment is received.

“When will my photos be ready?”
You can expect a turn around time of one week ( unless otherwise specified) Know that I’ll be working steadily on your photos to have them returned to you as soon as I can. Your photos will come to you via link to an online gallery . Inside the gallery, you’ll find all of the photos I’ve culled, edited and uploaded. Those are the photos that I found to be original ( not duplicate to other sent) , printable and that match my stylistic standards. If you do not find a photo you remember we took , it’s likely because it didn’t meet one of those standards. While I do my best to nail every shot, it’s impossible to guarantee every shot will turn out.  I frequently check the display of my camera for quality but often times blur can’t be detected until the photo is pulled up on a computer screen. For this reason, specific shots can’t be guaranteed.

Included in the gallery will be my written permission to print your photos ( you can screen shot this and show it to the printing lab if they ask ) and instructions for how to download your photos. Your gallery will remain active on the site for only 30 days. After that, they’ll automatically be removed and purged to my external hard drive where I will keep them for one year. If you need an extension beyond 30 days, please just let me know!

You can order prints directly from the site if you wish though I understand there are budgets for everyone. That’s why I recommend Mpix.com for a quick, reliable and quality service. They don’t pay me to say that; I just like them that much!

Last but not least, I don’t like to add any pressure for families to buy photo sessions with me. If you decide you’d like to book a 6 month and 12 month session at the Watch me Grow discounted pricing, feel free to send me a message 6 weeks before your baby’s milestone month and I’ll be over the moon happy to schedule your next appointment! You can also let me know at the newborn session if you know you’d like to go that route!

I count myself so lucky to be able to follow families as they grow. Today, you have invited me to take photos of your tiny baby and it’s my hope that one day you’ll also be inviting me to take photos of your senior in high school, too!

With all my sincerity,
Missy