I know we always say this - but while you're enjoying the effects of post-partum painkillers, you're going to be glad that you've scouted this important detail. Identifying the right pockets of light in your home will pay off in spades when you're a sleep-deprived mommy working with a newborn who may have 10-15 minutes of conentment at a time. Where and what time of day are the pockets that deliver soft, even lighting?
In my home, I can catch light in the morning in my bathroom. In the afternoons, off of the living room and master bedroom. I also know that while the rocking chair in Sydney's room catches amazing morning rays, I need to wait for the sun to pass the threshold of the front porch, otherwise it's too bright. Having this kind of cheat sheet in my brain will help me narrow down my options when the right circumstances in our newborn schedule come together for a photo op!
HAVE YOUR EQUIPMENT READY!
While we're not a big fan of props, there are some things that do help especially with newborns. And you need to have these items in your home BEFORE you go to the hospital!
- A space heater. When I think of newborn photos - I think of skin skin skin. But we can't leave baby in the cold! A space heater serves two purposes - it helps keep baby nice and toasty while in the buff AND it provides wonderful white noise to keep him or her snoozing through the precious portraits.
- A firm bean bag. We know you've seen the pictures. The ones where baby is sprawled on the floor or in the crib with proud mommy taking the shot from above. Rarely is it flattering. Instead, you've got to get right at baby's level, and there are fewer ways more convenient than with a bean bag. You can cover it with almost any blanket, and the soft shape conforms to baby's natural curves.
- A beautiful, natural looking blanket. We don't want to get in the way of artistic license here (or Aunt Jane's fabulous quilting experiment), but remember, you want to show off the baby - not the blanket. Look for earthtones that contrast the skin - and since most babies are born with light skin, deep earthy, wooly knits are wonderful. Think greys, deep charcoals, browns, or rich creams. You can also visit the fabric store and choose wonderfully textured tone on tone Minky Dots or other plush fabrics. Feel free to experiment with all sorts of colors and blankets- we're just sharing our experience!
- A neutral background. Both of my afternoon "pockets of light" back up to neutral sofas. My blankets are large enough to extend from the back of the sofa to the front of the bean bag, so I can create a makeshift backdrop by tucking the fabric over the back of the sofa.
- Props? Okay, after talking myself out of countless cute newborn Etsy costumes, I'm still guilty of having the wooden bowl. The best way to know which props will work - look for inspiriation and see what resonates with you. One of my favorite sources of inspiration is Sleeping Beauties - Newborns in Dreamland. Buy it. Weep.
- A fully prepared camera. Empty those memory cards. Charge those batteries. Heck, after the hospital photos, you may just need to have extras on hand. Just don't get caught with a ready newborn and extra time at home only to realize your battery light is blinking!
PRACTICE AHEAD OF TIME IF YOU CAN!
I had this gorgeous little chum over at the house for his 6-month photos just a few weeks ago. And whlie photographing a 6-month old and a newborn are two totally different ballgames, it gave me a chance to preview some of the spots in my home that work for the wee-est of creatures! Oh... and does he look familiar? How time flies!!!
So, to review, make sure you know where the good light is in your home and WHEN, get all of your photo gear and props ready before you pack your hospital bag, and practice on a willing subject before your little bundle makes it's way home!
Oh, and just a teeny tiny (okay, HUGE) disclaimer. Baby and mommy's safety is #1. Make sure that baby is in no danger of rolling off, out of, or onto anything that can harm him or her. And make sure the bean bag is firm enough that it will not obstruct breathing and that baby is supervised at ALL TIMES. Likewise, don't do anything during your recovery that will injure yourself of baby (we're talking to you C-section mama's!). Have a plan in place to either call in a professional or swap favors with another momtographer in the event that crawling around on the floor isn't a good idea!