Alice Kat Photography—Boston Newborn Photographer
When the time comes to take newborn photos (or any family photos), you will have experienced the process of creating a human.
Your body alone will have nurtured another being and given it life. You should feel nothing but pride and strength, yet instead, many of us may feel self conscious in what can feel like a foreign self. You may not love this temporary state of your body, you might feel mentally out of sorts or just so tired that you can’t imagine trying to put on makeup for photographs. I went through the same moments in time and in looking back all I wish was that I was kinder to myself (and that I had a single photo of me nursing my baby). My hope for you is that you can embrace the person that you are in the first few weeks of motherhood, let go of what the camera may ‘see’ and focus on the love that we will capture together. I promise, no-one will be looking at your tummy, or your chin — they will be obsessing over the way you touch your little one, the way you and your partner look into their eyes and how tiny (and freaking cute) this little humans toes are!
Mama mantras aside, here are a few tips to maximize your new mama swagger and increase your comfort level in front of the camera.
If you set up your session before baby arrives, choose your outfit then as well and have a backup on hand just in case. Choose something that allows for layering, you will experience some serious temperature changes in those first few weeks postpartum.
Wear a flowy top or dress that is easy to move in. If you are self conscious of cleavage, be sure that your top provides maximum coverage when moving around. Some good options for dresses are those that button/snap in front or have stretchy straps that could easily be pulled down for nursing (if you have chosen to do so). Any loose shirts that can be lifted up will work well too
If you are doing your session in your home, and own an animal, avoid wearing a super dark color—it will reveal ALL of the fuzz and hair that has ever existed in your home! Neutrals tend to let baby shine. Patterns are okay but should be simple. Avoid tiny tight stripes or patterns as they can become deformed in photos.
If you plan on styling your hair (totally optional by the way — come as you like mama) I advise doing it the evening before when your you may be able to grab an hour or two to yourself. This will leave you feeling more prepared in the morning.
If you paint your nails, make sure you really like the color — it will make an appearance in many photos of you touching your little one. Neutral or no polish at all is generally a good choice.
Be prepared to go barefoot, socks are a no-go in photos (unless you really want them on for some reason, then they are definitely a go—you run the show).
If possible, have a family member or friend come over the morning of to help with the baby so you and your partner can have a few moments to get dressed and ready alone. In the first month you reserve the right to ask anyone and everyone for help. Take advantage.
Relax. Seriously. I have no expectations that this will go ‘smoothly’ or that your baby will be quiet and sleeping the whole time. I don’t think that you will ‘know what to do’ to calm them down. We’re in this together and I’m going to join you right where you are. Any newborn photographer who does in-home work (and has a bit of empathy) will do the same.
I remember as I neared my due date and after baby arrived, the last thing I wanted to do was think about buying clothes. I’ve created a collection (summer 2019) of great dress and shirt options from stores like Madewell, Zara, Free People, Lulus and Gap that are flattering nursing friendly. Head here to check them out.
Some helpful tips.
I will bring some basic swaddles and blankets but you should keep sentimental items nearby. The purpose of doing sessions in your home is to create a sentimentality in the photographs of this new life. A hand-knit blanket, stuffed animal from a grandparent or hat from the hospital are great items to include in a photo or two so that you can remember the tiny details of this fleeting time.
Try to feed baby around 30-minutes before the session, milk-drunk babies are the bestttttt!
Keep baby in a diaper and simple onesie (not a footed romper, but a bodysuit that snaps at the diaper) with a swaddle or blanket wrapped around them if it is chilly. We will start with baby in this outfit and then change them as we go.
Turn the heat up or keep a space heater nearby, little ones don’t love being cold and we will be trying to capture their little features which will require taking them out of a swaddle or blanket.
Check the wrists, make sure they are free of apple watches, hair elastics, etc.
Have you partner wear something comfortable as well. If your partner is a man, think loose button up shirt or a henley t-shirt. Avoid sportswear and logos. If your partner is a woman, follow the same rules of comfort. Think of what they may wear if they were going out to a casual Sunday brunch.
Keep everything out of your pockets, (I’m talking to you, dudes).
Lightly wipe down babies face with a warm washcloth before the session, this will remove any eye crusting or milk dribbles which might be visible in photos.
Reach out with any and all questions. Your photographer is also your therapist in this time and can help calm any nerves, provide suggestions on styling or just give you a confidence boost when you need it most!