Here’s a little story about how I came to do (and came to love) natural newborn baby photo sessions in baby’s own home.
I started off doing newborn photography in my house in a converted room and did the curly posed, headband, furry blanket style shoots.
One very hot day in summer I did a shoot with one of my first families. Mum, dad and gorgeous 11 day old baby. Mum had had a very difficult birth and still looked a little traumatised. We start the session and soon little baby starts crying and is very difficult to settle. After an hour we decide to take a break hoping baby will settle after a feed. I go to get some water for babies bottle and as I go to open the door the handle comes clean off leaving the door shut tight. We’re locked in the room. Oh no!
Dad and I had to climb in and out of the window to get tools to break out of the room. Mum had to stay put as she had stitches. Baby and mum were getting increasingly uncomfortable as the room gets warmer. After half an hour we were able to leave the room by the door and not the window. I attempt to look like this happens to me everyday but inside I. Was. Dying.
I get back to taking pictures and we have another disaster. My camera stops working. I take the card out to save the pictures to my computer and the card reads EMPTY. NADA. ZERO IMAGES.
My insides are now edging their way out of my stomach and I want to join baby in a massive cry fest. All the pictures I had managed to take had gone. I have no back up card or back up camera…. I don’t know how but eventually my camera starts to work again (and I was later able to retrieve the pictures). Baby continued to be unsettled on and off for another hour or so then slept with the exhaustion of it all.
4 hours later, yes, 4 hours later, the session ends. After seeing the very understanding and forgiving family out the door I dissolve in a heap on the floor. Asking myself why why why I wanted to be a newborn photographer??
After this I did a few more newborn shoots and while I had no more disasters on that scale, one or two of the following things happening were becoming a dead cert. Projectile vomit and/or projectile poop (mostly from baby, on occasion from me), baby pooping all over dad (how me and mum laughed), baby screaming blue murder for an hour non-stop, baby being unsettled for 3 hours then falling flat out asleep on their way out of the door, baby not wanting to leave mama’s breast (a couple of times I nearly asked if I could latch on to the other in desperate need of relaxation). After every session I was shattered.
And full of self doubt.
This was no life. I mean if I continued this I was going to end up on medication…
I had a session with a baby whisperer for lessons on how to settle babies. It helped but I found I just was not enjoying these shoots and more often than not the parents didn’t seem to be either. Hats off to those photographers who do this day in day out. I salute you. But I wouldn’t want to be you.
And so I decided no more. It was the best decision I’ve made as a photographer. I started family documentary photography and immediately loved it, for loads of reasons. And I’ve loved every single shoot since.
I decided to take up newborn photography again early this year. Only this time I go to baby’s home. And we don’t do basket, bows and ribbons and poses.
I’ve now done nearly 4 times as many of these natural newborn shoots and I haven’t had any disasters. Yes babies have cried and been unsettled. Mums have been exhausted from a difficult birth and so on. But the sessions are so relaxed that these things become part of their story. And instead of trying to get this pose and that pose we just chill and go with the flow. We chat about babies and parenthood and I just love it. As do the parents. I glide in and I glide out. No more blood, sweat and tears…..phew.
I especially love the photographs we get from the shoots because no-one’s pictures look the same. Ever.
And I take two cameras to these shoots with a back up one for good measure.
This 3 weeks old bundle of yum is Martha. The rest of her family are brother Seb, mum Rebecca and dad Serge join her. Seb, being 2 year old, lost interest about 5 minutes into the shoot but we were able to manipulate him into being in some of the photographs. Here are just a few of over 100 photographs we made.