Infant shoots are a whirlwind of patience. Some families have a handful of people they want in the pictures, others want to focus on baby, and maybe get some of the parents too, if they aren’t too tired. The more types of images you are looking for, the less I can focus on any one setup, but that is just fine!
My general work-flow is that I come in, take a minute to asses your home for the best shooting locations and get a sense of your style. I set up while keeping and eye on what’s going on around me. It can take close to 30 minutes. I do not care if you use that time to finish getting ready, to wash a dish or five, or to generally take care of your life. My setup typically includes a nest for baby with some different ideas for props and/or backdrops.
Some general tips:
- Warm it up! Get your house, or at least one, well-lit room, TOASTY warm. What I mean is, you need to be comfy in a tank top and shorts. This is your post-baby vacation on the beach in the Carribean. Can’t smell the surf? Turn the heat up a little more.
- Get fresh. Take a shower, do your best to feel like a regular human. I LOVE pictures with the parents. You are tired. You’ve been through a lot in the last few days, and it likely shows on your face. Take a shower, freshen up, put on makeup if it’s your thing. I can only do so much in post-production before you start to look really strange.
- Tidy up! This is another ridiculous request of parents with a newborn, especially if you have other children. I don’t mean scrub the floors, but do put away really bright, plastic toys that your other children may play with, tidy the baby’s room, tidy the living room. Try to tidy enough so that when you look at the pictures, you don’t just see the mess in the background. This is a GREAT way to get family to help out!
- Coordinate outfits. Here is a post on clothing coordination; it applies to all family portraiture, and I’m sure will change over time. It’s not a requirement, but it does help. This is something you can do even before Baby is born so you are ready. Mamas – plan to wear your favorite mid-Maternity wear. Not your pre-Maternity wear. This can include the extended family you want in the shoot. Try to avoid t-shirts that are too soft and lack structure. Dress yourself how you want to remember yourself in 20 years and beyond.
- Baby’s Schedule. It’s best if Baby falls asleep about 30 minutes after I arrive. I have a bit of setup to do, and this helps a lot. If you want nakey baby pictures, put Baby in a loosely attached diaper and wrap Baby up in a blanket that is toasty and easy to remove (not a swaddle). If you want baby in a special outfit, make sure Baby is wearing it before you start nursing just before or just as I arrive.
- Props. If there is a special prop or trinket you want in your Baby’s shoot, pull it out the night before! I like to consult with my clients about what their aesthetic is, but it’s always nice to have things at the ready. These shoots move quickly. Ideas might include special toys, stuffed animals, wedding rings, etc. I will also bring what I have in case it speaks to you. In general, I gravitate towards handmade or craft-made items of natural materials. They are more timeless.
- Pets. I love your pets, I am not allergic, if you want them in the pictures we can try. HOWEVER, I do not love animal hair creeping in on your beautiful baby portraits. If you think that when I set up a cozy nest for Baby that Fido or Fluffy will instantly be drawn to it, please keep them in an area that is a little further away.
After you’ve taken care of all that, do your best to RELAX. If you are relaxed Baby can relax. Put on some music, have some tea while I hold your precious little for a little while. I do not mind fussiness and will work with your suggestions and my own knowledge to calm baby into a deep sleep. If there’s something I’m doing that is making you nervous or unsettled, let me know! I’m happy to take pointers and want to make this a positive experience for you.