Although we don’t think you’ll have any trouble finding an adorable birth announcement design (check out our assortment here!), we know photographing your wee one can be a wee bit overwhelming! So we’ve asked professional children’s photographers Moss & Isaac, whom I met at ALT back in January, to give us some pointers–whether you’re hiring a pro or doing it yourself, we’re sure you’ll find their very practical tips helpful.
All photos by New York City-based Moss & Isaac.
What is the ideal age to photograph a newborn?
We like to photograph newborns roughly between 7-10 days. We like to give mom and dad a week to get settled and comfortable. Shooting within the second week is great, because their skin is usually better and they sleep a lot, hopefully. A sleeping baby makes it much easier for us to move them around without disturbing them.
What do you recommend for various outfit changes for the little one?
Starting out nude is always best. We ask to start with a warm room so that the little one stays nice and cozy while naked. Gather some baby blankets and fabrics that you like, to swaddle the newborn for different looks. When choosing clothing, whether it is an heirloom gown or it’s a brand new outfit, make sure it is easy to change in and out of. From experience, we found out that babies don’t like being changed! We suggest no more than two outfit changes, unless you want a grumpy little one on your hands. Also, make sure the clothing colors are bright jewel tones or light pastels. That goes for the parent’s clothing too. Dark colors such as black, navy or dark brown tend to make a baby’s porcelain skin look pale.
How do you coordinate a date for the shoot when the due date isn’t known until after the child is born? Do you tentatively set it up with the parents before hand?
We are full time photographers, and this flexibility helps immensely when setting up a newborn shoot. We do prefer that a couple contact us prior to the delivery, as it gives us time to work around other shoots or meetings when needed. We like to keep in touch, that way as soon as we know the birth date, we can set our shoot date.
What are some of your favorite sets / motifs / locations / props for newborn shoots?
Personally, we don’t work with a lot of props. We always shoot in a room that has plenty of natural light, whether it is the nursery or another room in their home. Colored or wallpapered walls, dressers, blankets, hats, hairbows and baskets are always great to work with.
Some of our favorite items consist of family heirlooms, whether it be a quilt, an outfit, an antique rocker or crib…we think it makes the photographs more special when we can include items that are meaningful. Capturing the family in their home is so special to us, we love to create a story with our images. We want to photograph the parents, the favorite stuffed animal, the baby quilt, and even the family pet, so that when the family looks back on the photos, they will remember that time in their lives with affection and joy.
How long does a typical newborn shoot take?
Hours! If a baby is having a good day and sleeping soundly, then our job is easy and we can be done in one hour. We arrive at nap time, just after a feeding, so that our chances for a sleepy baby are strong. However, as any parent knows, a baby is sometimes unhappy no matter what. In that case, we stay until we feel we have captured the family successfully. Sometimes that takes a few hours. A good photographer can capture a serene and beautiful moment, even if it only lasts a few seconds! Preparation is key, we always send out a list of tips for parents to read before we show up for the shoot. A few items such as a white noise machine (or radio) and a heating pad can make the shoot go much smoother! Prepping for the shoot beforehand helps us do our job quickly and gives the parents peace of mind.
How does a flash affect a newborn? Do you try to shoot without one?
We love to shoot without a flash if possible. Natural light is our favorite, it is so soft and enveloping. If you are shooting in natural light and it still seems dark, go to your local drugstore and get a large white or matte silver piece of poster board. You can use it to reflect natural light on the baby and create a more pleasing photograph. Sometimes we do have to use artificial light, so we have both flash and constant light sources to work with. When we use flash, we integrate the natural or lamp light in the room. We never use our flash directly on our subjects, we bounce our light, so the newborn usually is not affected at all.
Are you often asked to involve an older sibling? What are the challenges of that situation? Any advice?
Sibling photos are great! They are part of the family story we want to capture. Certain ages can be tricky. If a child is too young, they don’t always hold a newborn the safest or the most attractive way. We utilize soft chairs or a couch to support them both. If that doesn’t work, lay the newborn down on it’s back, and have the older sibling lay down beside them. Stand directly above the children and shoot down. Encourage the older child to hold the baby’s hand, or whisper in it’s ear, you’ll get some really cute expressions and they will both be safe and sound. Make sure that the older sibling has something to look forward to after the shoot, so they don’t feel left out. Try to have someone or something to occupy them during the majority of the shoot so your attention can stay focused on the newborn.
Any other tips?!
Be sure to ask your photographer for any suggestions he/she has on how to prepare. If they have any experience with newborns, they will know exactly how you can get ready. Look around your home, and maybe other family member’s homes to find objects that are meaningful and precious to you and gather those items ahead of time. Make sure your home (at least the nursery) is clean and picked up. And if you are looking for unique items, Etsy.com has tons to choose from.
Thank you so much Moss & Isaac for all these helpful tips!! We appreciate your taking the time to enlighten us on some of the techniques behind your masterpieces.
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