Bump and baby photos can make beautiful memories for your family, but organizing a photo shoot during such a hectic time may be a lot to handle. If you are considering taking maternity or newborn photos, you will want to be prepared. Robin Allen, of Robin Allen Photography in Lexington, focuses her work on the family by photographing pregnant women, newborns and children. She offered our readers some tips on planning these types of photos.
Q: What month do recommend doing pregnancy photos?
A: The bigger your baby bump the better! However, towards the end of your pregnancy, you may start to retain water or generally feel uncomfortable. Therefore I recommend scheduling the shoot sometime between 32-36 weeks, but ultimately it is up to you.
Q: How early should you book your newborn photos?
A: Many newborn photographers, myself included, can only accept a certain number of sessions per month. Session requests over that number are wait-listed. When you call to schedule, I will pencil you in on the calendar for about a week after your due date or scheduled C-section. Then, once your baby is here safe and sound, call me again and we can adjust your actual session date.
Q: How many days or weeks do parents typically wait to take photos of their new baby once she is born?
A: Your newborn is ideally photographed in the first 5-10 days of life. Preemies, twins, and triplets can usually wait a little longer, since they will behave like a newborn longer than a full-term, single baby would. Your baby is most pliable, and is less likely to be disturbed while sleeping in the earliest days. Colic and baby acne tends to flare up after a couple weeks after birth as well.
Q: What should parents consider when choosing outfits or props for the photos?
A: At a newborn session, I advise my clients to skip the outfits. These cute little numbers look better on the hanger than to do on the baby. Naked baby is what is photographed at the newborn session.
Accessories such as hats and bows should first and foremost fit the baby. We can jerry-rig a headband to fit a newborn, but if a hat is too big there is often nothing to be done. Remember this when you are shopping – one size does not always fit all!
When choosing the colors of your bows, hats, and blankets, consider where you will display these images. For example, if every item you plan to bring for your baby girl is bright pink or purple, then these photographs won’t look right in your formal living room which is decorated in chocolate and light blue.
Instead, if you already know you would like a beautiful wall portrait is in this brown and blue room, perhaps we should photograph her on cream or taupe, use a tasteful blue bow for accent, and choose our framing to coordinate with the chocolate. A bit of planning ahead like this can make for very beautiful displays.
If you are finding that you have a ton of great ideas for props, but you have too many items you want to bring, and the grand piano just won’t fit in the car, then perhaps your photographer needs to come to you instead of you going to the studio.
Q: What do you recommend parents bring to the newborn photo session?
A: You will likely stay through a feeding or two, so bring anything that makes you and baby comfortable. If your photographer or studio sees multiple clients at once, then definitely bring all your modesty gadgets if you are a nursing mother. Many studios are private studios so you can feel a little more at home. They may even have a Boppy pillow and a bottle warmer if you need them!
During a newborn session my studio is quite warm to be as baby-friendly as possible. It’s a good idea to dress lightly, and bring your wardrobe to change in to if you plan to be in the photographs. Don’t forget touch-up makeup and a hairbrush for yourself too!
For “prop-ier” newborn photographs, bring your favorite hats, bows, and blankets. Your photographer may have a ton of back-up items, but the more your items are used in photographs, the more they look like you.
Your photographer should coach you on the props that work best, and the wardrobe you should wear. Different clients want different “looks” and each photographer has their own style. You should work these fine details out together.
Q: What should parents look for when choosing a maternity or newborn photographer?
A: Trust is important when choosing a photographer for both a maternity session and a newborn session. Obviously, when interviewing photographers, they all will testify to their own experience and professionalism. Your friends and acquaintances will do the best job at verifying their trustworthiness, so ask around.
How does the photographer conduct him or herself when dealing with the sensitive, intimate nature of maternity photography? Will your beautiful, but private, shots be plastered all over Facebook without your permission, or does the photographer request a model release before using your images for marketing?
Also, how does the newborn photographer handle the newborn? Are the posing methods dangerous for the baby? Lots of beginner photographers put babies at risk when posing, while many of the amazing images taken by a professional are actually composite shots, and the spotter was edited out in Photoshop.
After you have qualified the photographer, the next thing to consider is quite obvious … do you love their work? Does the photographer’s taste and style line up with yours? You may just love the neighborhood photographer who you have known for ages, but you are not framing your friendship and hanging THAT on the wall, you are hanging their artwork. Do you love it?
Bottom line: try to gather as much information as you can ahead of time about who you plan to hire to make some of the most precious images you will ever have.
Robin Allen has been photographing professionally since 2006 and has photographed nearly everything including weddings, commercial and product photography, babies and kids. As her skill and passion for photography increased she has found her niche in photographing the young family. Robin focuses on making beautiful images of pregnant mothers, babies, and children. Her studio is located in South Lexington on Millpond Road. All visits and sessions are by-appointment-only.