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Many people wonder why a newborn session can take so long. The most important part of a newborn session is getting the newborn comfortable and sleeping soundly so that they can be posed. Soothing techniques are critical to the success of a session. Please refer to the previous article: 10 Essential Tips for Successful Newborn Photography.
1. Swaddle the baby keeping their arms and legs tucked in tightly so that they feel nice and secure. This technique will make the newborn warm and cozy and more likely to fall asleep. I will often walk around with them or rock them until they start to fall asleep. I often start with wrapped shots, especially if a baby is having trouble settling. Wrapped shots are also a great way to get some open eye portraits.
2. Once the baby is asleep I gently place them on the beanbag. I carefully remove the blanket and if necessary will place the blanket on top of them as they get settled. At this point the newborn should not be crying. Sometimes there eyes are slightly open and gently patting or rubbing their back can help ease them back to sleep. I also like to say “shhhhh, shhhhh” as I am getting them settled. As the Mom of a colicky baby I quickly learned that many babies like to hear the “shhhh” sound as they get settled.
3. Get the babies used to your touch and your voice. Making sure you keep your hands on them as you get them settled and posed will reduce the amount that they jump when you touch them or reposition them.
4. Newborns do not like the feeling of lying on their back with their arms and legs free. They will likely startle or jump if placed that way and it is important to keep your hands on their arms and legs to help them feel secure as you pose them. This is why posing them on their belly is a great way to start the session after your wrapped shots are done. When laying them on their belly tuck their toes up under their bottoms to make them feel comfortable and to help hide their baby boy/girl parts!
5. Never force a newborn into a pose. If they start to cry or get uncomfortable this is their only way to tell you that they are not happy with what you are doing. Remember that this is a precious new life that you are working with and even if you really want to get a specific pose you ALWAYS have to follow the baby’s lead. If they are crying or upset with a pose don’t force it. Get them comforted and move on to something else.
6. I usually start with family images first, then I move to beanbag (usually wrapped images first) and then prop last. I rarely start with prop shots first as I want to ensure that the baby is sleeping very soundly before placing them into a prop.
7. Keep the studio warm, with plenty of white noise playing and use soft comfortable blankets or wraps. Make sure that the baby has a full belly and stop to have the Mom feed the baby as necessary.
8. The most important thing you can do to keep the baby calm and soothed is to stay calm and relaxed. Babies can smell fear and if you are tense or anxious the baby will pick up on that tension and not settle well.
Remember have fun and relax! You are photographing someone’s very special new baby and capturing images that they will cherish for a lifetime. Always follow the baby’s cues and never force them into a pose. Be safe and enjoy!
This article was written exclusively for MCP Actions by Tracy of Memories by TLC. Tracy Callahan is a fine art portrait studio specializing in newborns, children and maternity portraits. Website | Facebook