Julie Kulbago Photography is a nationally published photographer who is trained in newborn safety practices and has mastered the technical knowledge & experience to use advanced photoshop techniques to capture challenging poses safely.
Her full service boutique photography studio works with families to capture fleeting moments so they last a lifetime. Let’s plan your perfect session!
Newborn photography is one of those things that feels simple UNTIL you find yourself 3 hours into a shoot with a screaming baby (and no good photos to show for it).
Maybe you can relate? Wondering how all the other photographers have figured out the key to keeping a newborn baby calm during their photo session?
I remember being in one of my first sessions with an adorable 7lb baby girl wrapped in a beautiful pink swaddle. But she was furious. Her mama was on the verge of tears, her dad was saying they should go, none of my tried-and-true tricks were helping, and I was profusely sweating as I tried to calm everyone down.
I don’t wish that on anyone! After that moment, I found myself reconsidering my career change (for just a moment because newborns are so much more fun to snuggle with than excel spreadsheets).
Once I stopped being a drama queen, I did the only thing I knew how to do . . . I researched the heck out of it to try to find the best solution. I wish I could say that I solved my problem with just one quick google search but that just wasn’t the case. I did a lot of researching and then tried a ton of techniques on my sessions until I figured out what works best to help keep babies calm during every newborn session.
This is probably the best piece of advice I can give you. Sending parents a prep guide helps them know what to expect and decreases their anxiety on picture day. Your prep guide doesn’t have to be lengthy but should cover what to bring, what to wear, how to prepare older siblings, how to prepare the baby and what to expect during the session. Make sure you tell parents how long to expect the session to last so they aren’t surprised that it may take up to 3 hours to complete the session.
Since we are already on Tip 2 for “How to Keep a Calm Newborn” and I haven’t really even mentioned the baby yet I bet you can tell that keeping parents calm is half the battle! In my studio, I try to set the perfect environment to help my clients feel relaxed and at home. I have a comfortable seating area with snacks & drinks. I have a makeup artist ready to pamper mom upon her arrival and a selection of dresses so she can shop in my closet. I also have everything they might forget (diapers, wipes, pacifiers etc) available so that they can feel completely relaxed.
I keep my studio at a balmy 80 degrees. A week ago, these babies lived in a 98 degree environment. Babies LOVE to be warm! If you think the room feels “ok” it’s probably not warm enough. Just make sure you turn off the heat when you switch to wrapped images so baby doesn’t overheat. Second super easy way to keep newborns content for their photo session? Feed that baby! Newborns often eat every 2-3 hours. On session day when we are moving them between poses they might need to eat even more often than that. If mom is nursing baby, make sure baby is actually eating and not just using her as a pacifier. In a warm room it’s easy for baby to just fall asleep on her and not actually eat. Just remind mom to make sure baby is eating and not just sucking. Bottles make this a lot easier if mom is willing to use one. With bottles you can be sure the baby is actually eating.
If you ever have a baby that can’t seem to settle – try a swaddle. Swaddles are like magic for newborns. Even the most cranky newborn will settle almost instantly when swaddled. Swaddles make newborns feel safe and secure – it’s very reminiscent of being in the womb.
One thing that most of my clients tell me is that they can’t believe how patient and calm I am. I’m not sure you can be a newborn photographer if you aren’t calm and patient! Newborns are amazing energy readers (yes, I realize that sounds hokey). But it’s true. If you are stressed – the baby will be stressed. If you are calm – the baby will be calm. Remember that baby I mentioned in the beginning of this post? If I did that session again I would have done a lot of things differently . . . I would have suggested to dad that he run out and grab Starbucks for himself and his wife. I would have wrapped that baby and then started talking to mom about anything to get her mind off of her stress. I would reassure her that this is totally normal and we are getting amazing pictures (which is true because once everyone is calm baby will be too). By controlling the room and your energy, baby will feel relaxed and you can get back to being the amazing superhuman photographer that you are 🙂
That’s it! I really feel it’s that easy . . . well, that and knowing how to pose newborns . . . but honestly, having a calm and sleepy baby makes everything easier!
If you are looking for even more on truly understanding newborns I created this free guide that goes even deeper into decoding the clues that they give us. Newborns communicate with their own unique language -this guide will make you fluent in it! Click below to download your copy now!