Keeping a baby comfortable and settled during a newborn photography session is key. Kelly Brown discusses the importance of being “baby-led”, to help you identify how each baby prefers to be held and positioned.
HOW TO BECOME A BABY WHISPERER?
I’ve always found being called a “Baby Whisperer” a little odd! Don’t get me wrong – it’s extremely flattering, but I don’t believe it’s a real thing. What I do believe is that some people are more naturally drawn to babies than others, and that we can all learn how to read their cues to help us understand better what they need to keep them content.
So, I guess if you wanted to label the ability to do that, you could call it baby whispering! But let’s face it, when it comes to newborns, they are unpredictable and there are no magic tricks. It’s knowing how to deal with every situation with every baby as it happens. And this only comes from doing your research and experience.
Over the past 16 years, I’ve learnt how to keep a baby settled and how to get the most out of every session by being baby-led.
BEING BABY-LED DURING A PHOTOGRAPHY SESSION
What does it mean to be baby-led during a session? Well, we all know that every baby is different and when photographing them you can’t tell them what to do. This is why as a newborn photographer, it’s our job to know how to work with them, to understand their behaviour, regardless of whether they are awake, unsettled or sleepy during their session so that we can provide our clients with the products and service they are paying us for.
When I hold a client’s baby for the first time, I spend a couple of minutes watching how they respond to my touch as I gently move their little arms and legs while holding them in my lap. I also watch to see how they naturally lie, if they prefer to draw their legs up and curl into a ball, or arch their backs to stretch out.
POSING NEWBORN BABIES – IS THERE A “BEST WAY”?
While I teach all of the many different poses you can achieve when working with newborns, it’s important to know that not all babies will go comfortably into every pose. They’re just like us. We all have our preferred way of sleeping and will spend time finding our comfy spot when we sit on the couch or climb into bed.
WHICH POSE TO USE FOR EACH BABY
Out of the 10 most popular poses there will be some you love that become your go-to’s, and others that are a little more complex.
Firstly, you have to learn how each pose is achieved, from positioning the baby, to how to place your supports to make them feel secure and stay in place. Then, while being baby-led, you will learn from their reactions throughout your session, which poses would be better suited to that baby. This makes it easier to transition a baby from one pose into the next to create a streamlined process as you flow through your session.
For example, if a baby is constantly arching their back, they might be more comfortable in the ‘Bum Up’ pose. If a baby likes to bring their legs up and they draw down with their upper body into a ball like shape they could be better suited to being wrapped on their back or the ‘Taco’ pose.
NEVER FORCE A BABY INTO A POSE
One of the most important things to remember is that when you are posing a baby you might be able to achieve ‘all’ of the poses, but you shouldn’t have to force a baby into a particular pose just for the sake of ‘getting the shot’!
If a baby is resisting you with fussy, rigid movements and/or crying you need to consider how this will make your clients feel. There is a natural instinct as a parent to protect your child when they cry. So for me, I don’t ever want my clients to feel that I am being rough or potentially hurting their baby.
And you don’t ever want a client to walk away from a session feeling like you didn’t have their baby’s best interest at heart. Because they will always remember how you made them feel during their experience.
THE KEY TO SMOOTHER NEWBORN SESSIONS
When you become baby-led, you will find your session workflow not only speeds up, but you will also make each baby more comfortable and content throughout an entire session.