Timing and Scheduling Your Newborn Session
Timing is very important for newborn sessions. Here are a few things to consider regarding when you should hire a photographer and when you should schedule the actual date of the session itself.
It's best to schedule your newborn session well in advance. We suggest that you do your research and start obtaining quotes from photographers as early as possible, but try not to wait past the 34th week. You'll want to have your photographer hired and start planning your session before those last couple of weeks of your pregnancy. If your baby arrives a couple of weeks early, then you'll already have your photographer picked out, a retainer fee paid and hopefully have time to plan out the session before things get hectic!
When potential clients contact us about their newborn sessions, we work with the mother's estimated due date and plan a tentative date 5-10 days after. Because labor is so unpredictable, however, we are always having to adjust our schedules to fit mommy and baby in. When scheduling, we know to keep our scheduled flexible for a couple of weeks on either side of the mother's due date.
While we do get last minute requests for newborn sessions (which we are happy to accommodate when we are able), a big part of what makes Eternal Forms unique is the customized and personalized portrait experience we provide to our clients. Last minute scheduling limits our ability to order fabric, design sets and/or obtain additional props for your unique newborn portraits.
Timing Your Session
As a general rule of thumb, we photograph newborns up to 14 days old, but prefer to have them in studio between day 5 and day 10. In our experience, babies younger than 5 days may be struggling to get a good meal, especially if breastfeeding. This can affect how soundly they sleep throughout the session and they may require more feeding breaks. Typically, breast milk "comes in" between days 2 and 5, but the experience is new for baby and may take her a few days to get the hang of latching on and feeding deeply. Those first few days can be stressful on both parents and baby, so we like to give them several days to acclimate to their new roles.
On the other hand, newborn sessions past two weeks of age run into a different problem. Living in the womb for so many weeks, baby has grown accustomed to sleeping in a curled up ball of wrinkly goodness that so many of us like to see in our newborn photos. Newborn photography takes advantage of these natural instincts to sleep in a little ball, which is why most newborn poses involve a sleeping baby in tight, squishy poses. It's still very comfortable and reassuring for them! In fact, during those first couple of weeks, newborns still sleep for about 2/3's of their day. After those first two weeks, babies begin to prefer the extra space and start to sleep stretched out. This is why we only offer newborn sessions up to two weeks and infant sessions thereafter. With infant sessions, we cannot guarantee sleepy, squishy poses.
Before Your Newborn Session
Once your session is scheduled, we'll work with you to create a customized portrait experience so your images are ones you will cherish forever.
We'll ask you what colors or tones you want to see in your finished images, what type of decor you have in your home and nursery, what sorts of props and fabrics you would like to include, what backgrounds and floor drops to use and whether or not mommy, daddy or siblings will be involved in the session. We'll work together so that we have a "game plan" for the session already drawn up before the session date.
We are active on Pinterest and love it when parents hunt for ideas in pins and share their boards with us! We want you to be as much a part of creating your newborn images as we are, so don't be shy. With that said, we have parents who rather we do all of the planning and we're fine with that, too!
Going Into Labor
As parents get closer to the due date, it's important that they keep in contact with us. While we understand that the last thing on a laboring mom's mind is, "Oh, we have to call our photographer and let him know the baby is coming!", we need to know as soon as possible so that we can assure our schedule is free. This is especially true if the baby came earlier or later than anticipated. For many parents, the first moment they think about their photos is when labor is over, family has dwindled and they're left alone with their new bundle o' joy. Take a minute or two and send us an email letting us know you delivered and we'll get to work making sure our schedule is free.
The Day of Your Session
A few days prior to your session date, we'll send you a copy of our Newborn Session Tips, which is full of helpful advice on preparing for your session. Feel free to download a copy of those tips here!
When the morning of your session arrives, we ask that you keep baby awake and active for about two hours preceding your appointment. This generally helps keep her tired for the session, but not always!
What to Bring
Be sure to bring a change of clothes for baby, extra diapers, formula (if bottle feeding), a blanket and a pacifier! Even if you don't plan on letting baby keep the pacifier once the session is over, it is very useful to have while photographing her. Most newborns take to the Mam's newborn binky very well!
If you want to include any props, toys, blankets, etc. please let us know ahead of time so we can pull coordinating colored fabrics and backdrops to use. We'll do our best to incorporate anything you want, but we need to be able to plan accordingly! Some things take time to order and/or have shipped to us, so hopefully we've already had time to plan and order before you even go into labor.
We do most of our photographing of baby in the nude and will undress baby once she arrives at our studio. It's best if baby is wearing a loose-fitting outfit when she arrives. Newborn gowns work terrific and they have built-in hand covers to keep them from scratching their faces! Having a loose outfit helps us not disturb baby so much when we undress her and get her ready for her first poses.
Also, as you are packing your little one into the car seat to come to the studio, loosen up the diaper tabs just a bit to minimize the lines caused by the diaper. If we get started right away, this will help us out "on the back end" when we're editing your photos.
Our Studio Environment
Our home is very warm for newborn sessions. We like to keep the room about 80 degrees, so dress accordingly. You'll be here for a couple of hours and we don't want you sweating bullets like you're in a sauna! We'll have snacks and beverages for you, but you may still want to bring something extra - especially if you're breastfeeding.
Our home studio is a home first, so you'll find room to sit, relax and stretch out. You can also sit and watch us the whole time if you prefer! If you are breastfeeding and would like additional privacy, we have another room available for you to sit or lay down comfortably and feed your baby.
When you arrive for your session, we'll already be set up and have a "game plan" for the day. If it has been more than an hour since baby last fed, we may ask that you feed baby in order to get her nice and milk drunk before we begin, but if baby is already sleeping hard we may get straight to work!
Typically, we start off posing baby in the nude, in various wraps and wearing hats or outfits on our beanbag with a simple fabric background. We utilize "flow-posing", making sure to get certain angles, then tweaking poses and perspectives to create different images. We'll also get several "close-up's" of baby, including her hands, feet, nose, eyes, ears, etc.
Once we've finished with the beanbag posing, we typically give baby back to the parents to hold while we set up a floor drop/backdrop for images of baby on two to three props. This is also when we generally work in mommy, daddy and any siblings if desired.
***Other Notes - Patience***
Keep in mind that most poses require baby to be sleeping soundly. We utilize space heaters and a heartbeat box to generate white noise, and we also use heating pads to warm up blanket and props. Even so, there may be a significant amount of time spent holding baby, coaxing her, burping her and getting her into a deep sleep. Newborn photography requires a lot of patience, but once we get baby to sleep, we can usually move fairly quickly through a variety of poses.
***Other Notes - Potty Accidents***
While it's nowhere near to an assignment Mike Rowe would take on Dirty Jobs, photographing newborns can get a bit messy. Don't worry baby peeing or pooping on us! It's part of the job and we expect. Secretly, we suspect parents get a kick out of it, but we don't mind!
***Other Notes - Safety***
This really deserves its own section because safety is our main concern while photographing our newborn subjects. It's also on the top of parents' list, too! We may refuse certain poses and/or props that we, in our professional opinion, believe to be unsafe for baby. Keep in mind, too, that many images you may have seen online are actually composite images of two or more photos, which have been merged together in Photoshop.
Additionally, my wife and I always photograph together. Most of the time, I'm the photographer and she's my assistant. In a lot of ways, her job is more important than mine. She's responsible for making sure baby is safe and secure during the session, that a hand is always on her and she can't topple over. Newborns have very little limb control and we've seen it many times before that a baby - who was sleeping soundly just two seconds prior - suddenly has an involuntary muscle twitch that causes them to roll right over!
After Your Session
After your session, we'll send you home with the eager anticipation of seeing your baby's images in all their cuddly, squishy sweetness! But you won't have to wait long because we try to have a "sneak peek" out before we send your your gallery invite. Most clients have their images downloaded to their computers within three weeks of their session!
We generally have a two to three week turnaround on our images. When we are finished editing them, we'll send you an email inviting you to visit a private, password-protected page on our website to come and view your images. While we do not offer client proofing of images, we edit more images than your package contains so you have some choices to make with regards to your final images. This private gallery page will be live for two weeks before being turned off. We ask that you make your selections before the gallery expiration.
Once you make your final image selections, we'll require up to 48 hours to finalize any additional edits, then we'll upload the finished image files to Dropbox and invite you to our shared folder. From there, you'll be able to download your images both in high-resolution and web-resolution formats for a period of thirty days before the folder expires. If you don't already use Dropbox, you'll be invited to register for free so you can access your images. Learn more about Dropbox here.
If you purchased one of our standard packages (vs. Digital only), we also custom-design a beautiful Keepsake Collection box featuring two of your favorite session images. Inside, you'll find a custom DVD of your images and release, as well as a 5x7" print of each of your chosen (20) images. Turnaround on this is up to three weeks, but you'll have your images ASAP via Dropbox.
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Using Your Images Online
We provide a complimentary web-optimized and watermarked digital image file for every high-resolution image you order in your package. These are perfect for sharing on Facebook and have been optimized so Facebook doesn't compress them and make them look bad! We greatly encourage you to use these files on your personal blog and social networking sites. Doing so helps us increase our brand awareness and reach potential clients in your sphere of friends!
In an effort to consistently improve the service we provide, we ask every client to provide us with feedback regarding their session. We'll ask you to fill out a quick online form and you'll have to option to have us craft a testimonial from your responses and feature your testimonial on our site!
We're active on Facebook and Yelp. We absolutely love to read our clients' reviews! While it is against Yelp policy to ask for reviews, we certainly won't mind if you do, so please stop in if you're a "Yelper"!