When someone asks me if I photograph newborns, I feel surprised. I think to myself, “Of course!” But I know that if people are asking, then it must not be clear. Also, the Newborn Photography Market is dominated by the baby-in-baskets style. My guess is that it’s so pervasive to see newborns tucked into props and put into the same few poses that many people think that *is* newborn photography. While there are many talented photographers who specialize in newborns to create beautiful imagery in this style, it’s not the only way.
I think it’s time to give the newborn photography counterculture some air time.
Inner Life Portraits is guided by a strong vision I’ve developed over the years based on what is meaningful in life—my own life and the rich lives of the families who hire me. Once upon a time, like any artist, I was searching and emulating. At that time I was curious about the babies-in-baskets style, so I took an online class about it. There’s a lot to it, including sound machines, warm blankets and props, little compression pillows, and more. What struck me about all these methods used to soothe a newborn to get him or her into these poses was that these methods were all emulating being held. A baby wants to be held and loved and snuggled, all to feel secure.
While all these methods stimulate the newborn’s system to feel that way, the photograph I want is the real one: the being held, the bonds forming, and Baby’s blossoming curiosity about the world.
All too often parents are self conscious, or self-dismissive, and only think of getting beautiful portraits of their kids. They don’t see the importance of being in the photographs. But this is short-sighted; these portraits will become part of your child’s history. When your kids are grown they won’t only want to see themselves, they’ll want to see what they saw every day of their childhood: you. They’ll want to see the love in your eyes, and how you’ve changed over the years. Even better, they will be able to show their kids the love they were raised in.
(If you doubt this at all, think about some of your favorite childhood photographs and what you think and feel when you see a great image of your parents’ expressions that captures their personality or their feelings about you).
This is especially true of newborn photography when part of what needs to be preserved is you at this threshold: you—now a parent—your world and yourself changing. When your baby is grown up, she will look at herself for just a moment and think, “Yup I was a little/big/cute/funny-looking baby, but look at my mom!” Your transition into parenthood, and siblings into big brother/sisterhood, is part of the magic to see and to be able to relive as time relentlessly marches on.
For me it’s a great joy to not only offer Newborn Photography, but Family Photography with newborns. My Newborn Photography is a kind of Family Photography, because I photograph the whole picture. I get to show a woman herself as a Mother for the first time. I get to show a man, not just himself, but him as Dad. Three (or more) souls making up an evolving family unit. I’ve always believed portraits are a valuable way not just of remembering life’s milestones, but in helping us appreciate, understand, and live into them.
All of this is why I photograph newborns at home, being snuggled by you. Shoots are quiet, slow, and relaxed as we explore your relationships together. As one mom said while looking at her newborn in an album, “We were just getting to know her then. She open her eyes and we were like ‘We’re your moms!'”
Some FAQs, in case you’re wondering:
FAQ (1) “What if my baby cries the whole shoot?”
FAQ (2) “OK so you take all these deep intimate photos… but what about all the cutsie things I bought on Etsy?? And those outfits my mother-in-law sent… They won’t fit much longer!”
FAQ (3) “How old should a newborn be for a shoot?”
I like to work with newborns anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. Earlier can be fun but depending on the circumstance of the birth and recovery sometimes early is not possible. But that’s OK, the window for magic is big. Every moment of babyhood is precious so if you missed this window, don’t worry and don’t delay. Let’s preserve and celebrate what is precious about this moment—you might not even know yet what is so precious until you see it reflected back to you in your portraits.
FAQ (4) “What if I feel like a disaster in the weeks after my baby is born?”
I’ll let some moms answer this for you.
FAQ (4) “We really love our baby, but our first baby was our dog/cat/horse/hamster…”
For some families I have the honor of documenting the whole first year—starting with a maternity or newborn shoot. See a year fly by for this amazing little family. Since this video they have become a family of four—congrats!