#1 BOOK YOUR SESSION IN ADVANCE
It is surprising to many that there is in fact a fairly small opportune time frame for photographing Newborns. Personally I try to book my babies in between 7 and 14 days as I find this works the best. If you wait for your baby to arrive before booking up you may find most photographers are fully booked.
I receive many inquiries from families who wish to book in their precious newborn only to have to tell them that unfortunately a 1 month old is no longer classed as a 'Newborn' in photography terms.
To achieve the incredibly cute, curled up photos we need a super sleepy baby. After the 14(ish) day window the babies tend to wake up for longer periods of time, sleep less deeply and become less mouldable.
So tip #1 is to find your photographer well in advance and provisionally book in your session for around 1 week to 10 days after your due date and then move the session if necessary.
#2 KEEP BABY AWAKE
My newborn sessions are booked for 10am. I ask all my mommies and daddies if at all possible to please try and keep baby awake for at least 1 hour prior to my arrival. This can require a fair bit of effort but is super helpful to the session. I tend to find that where this has been achieved the session runs smoother and we fly through multiple poses instead of having to get baby back to sleep between every shot.
#3 BEGIN A FEED DURING SET UP
This is another great tip I tell all my families. Timing a feed to begin as I arrive sets us up beautifully for the session. It usually takes me around 15-20 minutes to set up all my equipment in their home. By holding off on a feed for at least 2 hours prior to the session and giving one right at the start helps us to work with a baby with a lovely full tummy from the offset.
When you combine this with keeping baby awake we now have a content, very sleepy baby to work with = ideal situation.
#4 CRANK UP THE HEAT
This is CRUCIAL! For the majority of the photo shoot the newborn baby is either naked or has very thin props on for clothing so we need to crank up the heat in your home to keep baby comfy and content.
I tend to aim for a minimum of 26 celsius (80 fahrenheit) dependant on the time of year/type of room/home I'm working in. This temperature tends to make us sweat a little but works perfect for keeping baby happy and asleep.
#5 BE PREPARED TO FEED
Milk is the wonderful drug of newborn photography lol. This is the miracle secret to a sleepy, happy baby. This is of course up to the parents completely however I always ask my mommies to be prepared to feed more frequently then normal just for this session time.
As we move baby around somewhat and fiddle with tiny details sometimes baby wakes up and a cheat to get baby back into the session fast is a mini feed/top up.
My sessions run for between 3.5 and 4 hours. In this time we may typically do an initial feed at the start and 2 top ups. Of course there are some babies who just sleep through the entire process no matter what but they are few and far between.
#6 TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
As a mummy you care for your little one so much and it can be hard to trust the photographer with your precious baby. However it is critical that you do. Take your time when choosing your photographer and make sure they have lots of experience under their belt.
I personally tend to find that babies take longer to settle when with mommy, especially if mommy is breastfeeding and smells of yummy milk. So after the feed I will (for the most part) steal baby away for cuddles and to get baby to sleep if not already there.
I love to give the parents a lovely break and time to relax. I want them to be able to sit back, have cup of tea and enjoy watching the session. By taking charge of settling baby I get to know the little one and build trust with the parents. I want this experience to be an enjoyable memory for them, not one of stress and frustration.
Now of course all of these are exactly as described...TIPS. They are just situations to attempt to generate/facilitate however we all know babies do not run on our schedule or do as we wish all the time so it is no problem if they are not acheived. This is why I schedule a lovely long 3.5 hours to cater for breaks, feedings and lots of cuddles to get baby back to sleep.
I hope these tips will fill you with confidence and an idea of how you can prep/help out on the day of your little ones photography shoot.