The first year of your baby’s life is such a special time. They change and grow so quickly that it’s often hard to look back and remember how small they were at birth. I remember receiving a 12-month romper when my little one was born and thinking there’s no way she’ll grow that much in a year! Turns out they do and more
I often am asked by expectant mothers “What’s the best age to photograph newborns?”. Newborn portrait sessions generally take place during the first 6-12 days after birth.
The reason for this time frame is that your baby will be tiny, very flexible from being curled up in your womb and will sleep a lot. Why is flexibility important? Not for doing yoga or gymnastics but for positioning your baby in curly positions reminiscent of being in the womb. Not all babies will love being put into curled up positions and that’s ok – your baby will dictate the flow of the portrait session and the positions they adopt.
Photographing outside of this period
Before the 6th day
It is very unusual to hold a newborn portrait session before the 6th day. There are a few reasons for this:
- The average hospital stay after giving birth, in France at least, is 4- 5 days so it is difficult to hold newborn sessions before the 6th day.
- new parents need a little time to get settled once they’re back home,
- it takes time for newborns to establish a feeding routine and,
- babies tend to be less calm for long periods (or at least the time of a photo shoot) during the early days as
- it takes a little time for babies to establish their feeding routine; and
- for those who breastfeed their child, it also takes a little time for the volume of milk, and also for the baby’s stomach, to increase.
Baby photos at the hospital
I must admit that, before having given birth and experienced the hospital stay, that I had asked myself what I would do during my stay. 4-5 days seemed so long and I wondered how I was going to fill my days. So I thought to myself, “why not have my newborn photos taken at the hospital? It will be a big-time saver, right?” Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that and you will soon learn what I discovered during my hospital stay.
Once you’ve given birth you are, quite naturally, exhausted. You have an adorable baby that relies on you for everything – day and night.
The early days pass rapidly with a crash course teaching you how to look after your baby once you get home, the never-ending visits from the hospital personnel (nurses, gynaecologist, midwife, paediatrician, the housekeepers etc) and, don’t forget, the visits from your family and friends, eager to meet your new baby. I remember being advised to rest during the day as I didn’t get much sleep at night, but honestly it was impossible with all the comings and goings…
Then there’s the baby blues. You may experience on the 2nd or 3rd day, a multitude of emotions, sometimes all at once – anxiety, sadness (for no apparent reason) and feel generally quite fragile and emotional. I know that, for me at least, this would definitely not have been the best time to have my baby photos taken.
Some hospitals invite a photographer to come take photos of your newborn while you’re in hospital. They do the rounds of the maternity ward, seeing who wants to have photos taken of their baby NOW – it’s not generally possible to take an appointment with them so it’s either now or never. This means there’s no time to do your hair and makeup (unless you always have your hair and makeup done) to make yourself look good (or at least less exhausted). You might, if you’re lucky, have the time to change into a nice outfit or put on a little lippy but that’s it.
You’d also better hope that dad and your other kids (if you have any) are also there at the same time as the photographer otherwise they’ll miss out on being in the photos and that’d be a real shame!
This is why I prefer to give new parents time to adjust to their new lives before holding newborn portrait shoot.
After the 2 week mark
It is still possible to photograph babies when they’re more than 2 weeks old, it’s just that it might just be a little more complicated to position them as we would a newborn as they sleep less soundly than in the early days. Babies can also develop reflux and newborn acne after the 2-week mark which can make them more irritable.
Never fear though, I can definitely photograph your baby even if they are over 2 weeks old and your photos will still be gorgeous, they may just not be the curly and sleepy newborn portraits you may have seen.
Factors which affect when you have your newborn shoot
- If your baby was born prematurely, you may wish to wait until your baby’s due date before bringing them in as this so that your baby is strong and healthy enough to travel.
- If you or your newborn is sick, please don’t hesitate to contact me to reschedule your session. Not only will you not be up to participating in the session but there is also the risk of spreading the illness…
- If your baby has been hospitalised or has a health condition, your baby’s photo shoot will need to wait until they have been released from hospital. Once they are back home and healthy, we’ll have a chat about how I can best photograph your little one.
- If your baby is being circumcised, it’s best to either hold the session before the procedure or to wait until 5 days after to give him time to heal.
- If you’re too tired and feeling overwhelmed! While I don’t usually recommend cancelling your session at the last minute, if you’re struggling to adapt to your new life and routine, it might be best if we put off your baby’s session for a few days or a week to give you all a little time to settle in.
If you need to reschedule, be aware that, as slots are limited, you might need to be a little flexible with your availability.
When to reserve your newborn portrait session
As early as possible but definitely no later than the 3rd trimester. I only photograph babies in the morning as they are much calmer then and tend to sleep better. I also only schedule 1 newborn shoot per day so slots are limited.
Newborn sessions are booked in to be held approximately 1 week after your scheduled due date and, if needed, your newborn shoot will be rescheduled once your baby is born.
Want to know more about newborn portrait sessions?
Please visit my newborn portrait page to find out more about newborn photography and to take a look at my portfolio.
Reserve your newborn portrait session
It’s amazing just how quickly your little baby will change and grow and, soon, it’ll be hard to remember just how small they were when they were born. Feel free to contact me to book your session or if you have any questions, by sending me a message via the contact form or by phone on 06 67 71 65 28. I’d love to hear from you!