Don’t be intimidated when asked to photograph a family with a young one. Babies aren’t scary! They are cute, silly, and funny and you don’t even need to take them home 😛
Parents on the other hand… just kidding!
A photography session with an infant is probably one of the first times that parents decide to have their baby captured by a professional and it’s up to you to make it memorable and enjoyable because photography sessions need not be painful or uncomfortable (that part was labor), this is the time to have fun and capture some great shots that will last a lifetime!
Before you begin your photo session, a few things first:
Communicate clearly with your clients, a confused client will never trust you, let alone purchase anything from you
Discuss their clothing choices, making sure to compliment your location/backgrounds to their clothing. Get some outfit ideas on Pinterest. I love it when everyone compliments each other (ex: everyone wears a shade of blue; all warm colors (oranges, yellows, reds); all cool colors (blues, greens, purples).
I avoid logos or patterns for the sake of classic and time-less images.
Encourage the parents to bring toys/props/food/snacks to entertain the baby, while I also pack a few stuffed animals, noise makers or bubbles for a surprise factor.
Inquire about any particular preferences they may have or occasions they are celebrating and incorporate that into your shoot.
Finally, equally as important are the likes/dislikes that both parents may have in terms of poses, editing, location. Those may come from your personal portfolio or Pinterest pages that you share/shared to familiarize them with your personal style (some people may be staunchly against Black and White editing style, while others find it classicaly beautiful).
During the session:
My favorite way to start the session is to tell the parents to just walk. Walking towards me while looking either at each other, at the surrounding area, or at me. This is usually a pretty simple direction and everyone does great! Then reverse the action and tell them to walk away from me. In case this family decided to buy an album from you, this walking away image would be a great finishing image.
New parents will a lot more likely to purchase your images if you accomplish this one task.
Fart out loud!
Not exactly, but if you can do that on cue, the little one might die laughing. And that’s exactly what you want. Your goal during this photography session is to MAKE SURE THE LITTLE ONE IS SMILING!!!
Parents can smile on cue, but it’s the baby who is yet to learn this pertinent skill! And trust me, parents don’t like images where their baby is anything but HAPPY, so put on your silliest of faces, create some fart sounds, utilize some silly voices, play with some stuffed animals, play peekaboo, or ask the parents to pull out their bag of tricks. Sometimes when a parent is simply dancing, or trying to, makes their family go nuts.
Did you know that some babies smile as a response to your own smile? So don’t be so serious and get silly (nobody is watching).
Another important tip! Make sure to capture moments between both parents and the infant. Each one of them has their own energy and chemistry with the baby, so the more variety you shoot, the happier they will be!
Basically, tell dad to take a break.
Then, tell mom to relax (she’ll thank you.)
As mentioned previously, inquire if the parents are celebrating a special birthday or an occasion, which you can also incorporate into your session. Don’t forget to discuss what type of decorations/props they have in mind and how you can assist in making it more seamless. For this 1st birthday session, I offered to provide the girly background and blankets to sit on, while mom provided balloons and other decorations you see.
Remember this – babies have a ticking time bomb.
Babies have a very short fuse and will literally explode with anger if you take too long, they are unhappy/hungry/poopy or just being cranky cause they feel like it. Just because you dress them in the cutest dress with the sweetest bow, they will not be perfect little patient angels for hours. You’ll be lucky to get even an hour…
So, without acting too impatient, you have to get all the aforementioned shots done and quick. Shoot in burst mode. Be bossy, but kind, but you gotta get shots!
My last-minute resort was to switch locations, to get some variety in backgrounds, to capture some newly blooming roses (because they would go so well with the theme of this shoot), and hopefully, buy some time with the little one. As you can see, smiles were harder and harder to pull out towards the end.
Lastly, there is one more shot you just have to get.
Are you kidding me?
No, this shot is the celebration of this new life, this new human, which one day will be independent just like mom and dad and you have to honor it. Also, this shot is a no-brainer – mom and dad will both love it/buy it because it’s their baby, their first or newest joy and will probably be grandmother’s favorite picture. So do it!
It’s the solo shot!
Funny thing is, she was taking off her “sweetest bow ever” but to the viewer, it seems that she is tipping her hat to somebody. So young and already full of great manners 🙂
This goes without saying but always part with the family on great terms, hopefully, nobody had a breakdown (looking at you, dads). If you had to cut the session short, you can always reschedule. If you didn’t get ALL the desired shots, it’s not a big deal. Remember, it’s the smiles that really matter!
But not all your pictures feature a smiling baby.
Exactly! Do as I say, not as I do.
I’ve been at it a long time and know that smiles really matter, but so do in-focus shots, a variety of shots, a variety of backgrounds, great-looking mothers, lighting, my personal attitude, and personality during the shoot. All of these aspects will slowly make more sense to you as you start photographing more and more family shoots. For now, don’t get overwhelmed, just focus on the most important tips:
Make that baby smile (also mom and dad)
Get mom and baby, then dad and baby shots
Don’t forget solo baby shots
Good luck and don’t forget to be extra silly!
If you or someone you know need a personal photography session, family session, or engagement session let’s get in touch! I love holding easy-going and fun sessions with beautiful final images that you will treasure and love!
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