The best time for portraits of a newborn baby are within the first two weeks, when they are still snuggly and squishy and mostly sleeping and undeniably cute. After the first two weeks, they are much more alert, but can’t actually do anything for photos – like smiling, holding up their own head, laughing at my jokes, following directions. I call that the “Potato Stage” and it’s really not very much fun to take pictures of potato babies. So I like to do newborn photos within the first two weeks, and if we miss that window, then we wait until the baby can hold up their own head and smile so that we can get some cute photos.
Okay, so now that’s established, let’s say you want photos of a newborn baby. Sounds simple, except that you’re exhausted and physically worn out. Maybe you haven’t mastered getting out of the house yet. Maybe it’s cold and you’re not comfortable taking the baby somewhere. Maybe you just don’t want the hassle of having to go to a photo studio to get sweet portraits of your new dumpling. For any of these reasons (and more), I always go to a family home to photograph a new baby. It’s just easier for everyone, including the baby.
“But wait,” you say. “My house is a mess!”
“Of course it is,” I reply. You have a BABY. Your house will be a mess for a long time. But we can still take photos there. We just need one room and a little bit of space. You can do this.
And besides, I like to photograph real life, not some staged and directed version of it. New babies make for messy lives and messy homes and tired parents and unfolded laundry. And I love that. It’s part of the story. It’s part of the narrative of, “Here we are with a brand new baby and no f@!*ing idea what we’re doing. Take our picture.” That is real life.
I love baby photos that are about the experience of having this tiny person in your home and in your life for the first time. It’s messy and uncertain, it’s sweet and lovely, it’s daunting and heroic. I won’t be the one putting a flower hat on your baby and arranging their tiny bodies into a flower pot. But I will be there to document you trying to do it when the baby poops all over you. Because that’s real life.