We hear it all the time “oh you must have your baby photographed within the first 7 days, otherwise, it’s just too late”. I used to believe so too and I would rush to my clients home within the first week, strip the baby down to a nappy and pull out one of my oh-so-cute newborn hats and place them in a sheepskin lined basket and hope they would stay asleep. My mother once asked “What’s with the hats?”. And she was right, what WAS with the warm hats on a naked newborn baby?? When would that ever happen in real life? The thing is I believed that is how you were supposed to photograph a newborn. And I believed that because that’s what all the newborn photos I saw looked like. Curled up sleeping naked newborns in nothing but a woolly hat. And the reason for the “get them in the first week” ideology? Because mainly what they do in the first few days is sleep, and in a curled up foetal position. And if you are going to be moudling them into strange poses, you need them asleep and not stretching their legs out.
There were just two problems for me with this type of newborn photography. First, I was really very terrible at it. Some photographers are amazing at this type of newborn photography. But I wasn’t. Perhaps because I was missing the “why” with this approach. There was no reason for me to photograph newborns in this way. Which leads onto my second issue which is that by wanting to create this perfectly posed just-like-everyone-else-does-newborn-photos image, I was missing out on capturing the essence of what it means to bring your new baby home, to welcome this new little person into your growing family. I was missing out on capturing this small child’s personality and the joy of those around her.
So now I tell my families to wait until their newborn is 3-4 weeks old for their storytelling-style newborn photography session. And here are 5 good reasons why:
- You both have time to recover: Giving birth (and apparently being born) is, as we all know the hardest most strenuous thing we ever do in our lives. I love to come to the hospital and photograph those first few moments with you all as a family (my “Fresh 48” sessions), but mum, you will be tired, so let’s catch up again in a few weeks, when you’ve recovered a little, got a bit more sleep and the routine of having this new little person is starting to settle in.
- Your newborn will be a little more alert: her personality will be shining through, we’ll get to see her curious about the things around her, reacting, eyes open. The pictures will be much more interesting and reflect your baby’s personality more accurately than pictures of her curled up fast asleep in naked in some unnatural pose.
- Daily rituals will be in place: I will capture these for you too – nappy changing, changing clothes, breastfeeding (which by this point won’t be so agonising!) or bottle-feeding (you’ll now have the knack of preparing formula), and best of all my favourite ritual – bathtime. I LOVE to photograph baby bathtime, especially if there is an older sibling around who knows how to help out. By this time, baby will have had a few baths and hopefully enjoys them. It is these rituals, that may, right now, seem mundane, but will so quickly change and eventually disappear. So what a gift it will be to have images of these daily tasks so that we never forget what life with a newborn was really like.
- The relationships and bonds with her family members will be established: At first, it’s all so new, this little person, it’s like “oh, hello you, nice to meet you!” (at least that’s how it was for me). But within a few short weeks, we know and love them even more than we could have imagined. I love to capture connections between family members.
- Any older siblings will feel more secure: It’s a huge upheaval for any child when a new baby comes into the family. It can take a little while for big brother/big sister to figure out their new role and get to know the new baby. I find photographing the baby at 3-4 weeks gives the older child time to adjust to this new member of the family and we’re much more likely to capture genuine moments of the siblings interacting together than in the very first week, when it might all be a shock to the system for the older child.
All of this I will capture at your home, at a time that suits you, and in a totally relaxed way. The pictures I make are not so much for you (well just a little), they are really for your child. So that when she grows up, she will see how she was loved and cared for. This child will see and hold in her hands a photograph that evidences the joy she brought when she came into the world, she’ll see all the little ways in which her family cared and nutured her and yes, she will marvel at how young her parents looked!! I cannot stress what an amazing gift a storytelling-style newborn session is for your child (and her children too).
Here is Baby N, at 4 weeks old, enjoying all the attentions of mum, dad and her energetic big sister. Oh these two are going to have some fun together as they grow up!
If you are expecting a baby, fill in the form below and we can talk about how I can create some beautiful images of this special time, for you and for your children to hold in their hands in 20-30 years time. 2016 is booking out fast, so get in touch if you are expecting anytime between May and November this year.