There once was a gal who had a dream to delve into the realm of newborn photography. She thought, "Why, that can't be too difficult! Babies love to sleep and will be so easy to pose. This will be a cinch!" Ah, my fine friends, soon this gal would come to learn, such was not the case. Spoiler, that gal was me.
I have been a photographer for many years. I can't remember a time I didn't have a camera in my hand (I mean, that's a bit of hyperbole, but you get my drift.) Prior to becoming a portrait photographer, I was a photojournalist. This consisted of my reporting stories as well as capturing relevant photos for said stories. These days, you can liken that to lifestyle photography. After jumping into portrait photography, I mostly captured children and families. While I thoroughly enjoyed these sessions, and still do, I wanted to push myself artistically and professionally. When I became pregnant with my second child, I figured there was no better opportunity. And, while my daughter's pictures will always be special to me...I definitely realized I was not well-versed in newborn photography. It would be another couple of years before I fully started my own portrait business and started specializing in newborn, baby, and maternity photography. Before doing so, I knew I had a lot to learn. A LOT.
Initially, I was unaware of what all was necessary to learn in order to practice newborn photography. I should mention, I'm fully aware there are photographers out there that have not taken any safety or educational courses dedicated to ensuring the safety of the newborns they photograph. I know that it isn't a must have to practice newborn photography. However, I knew if I ever delved into that world, I wanted to do so in a professional manner and ensure the safety of my smallest clients. This promise to myself was the true beginning of my newborn photography journey.
As I researched what courses I could take and with whom, I realized this was going to be quite the pricey expenditure to undertake. However, I knew it was worth it. The education I was going to gain would become priceless when compared to the alternative. I was determined to grow my business the right way. I began by attending conferences, online courses, safety education classes, and working to constantly improve my craft. I wanted to create a safe space for families to enjoy the portrait experience and not worry about their little one's safety during their session.
So, back to the main point of this post. Why newborn sessions take so long?
I often caution my newborn clients to be prepared for their session to take a few hours. Sometimes less, depending on baby. These sessions take awhile for various reasons. The age and temperament of baby are a couple of factors. We usually plan for our newborn clients to be photographed within the first 14 days after they're born. This is to guarantee that baby is sleepy and more easily posed. During those first two weeks of life, newborns are easily lulled into sleep and their bodies still retain some of their malleability from the womb. Meaning, they can be positioned into those adorable little poses that we create in order to show how tiny they are when they're born. Some babies take longer to go to sleep and are easily awoken. This can cause sessions to go longer than you'd expect. Also, some babies are more temperamental than others. They can be restless and jumpy. Which, causes the photographer to have to re-pose each time baby is startled.
Another reason for lengthy sessions is due to the multitude of poses and set-ups most photographers enjoy capturing. For myself, I want to give my clients a plethora of images of their newborn. This time only happens once and it's important for parents to have photos that can treasure forever. With so many set-ups and poses, each time the photographer has to reposition baby, change wraps/outfits, and possibly have baby changed or fed.
All of these factors add up and create a session that is longer than anticipated for parents. I always tell clients to prepare for a long session. This is also the reason I provide snacks and water for exhausted parents to partake during their session. I want them to be as comfortable as possible. While a newborn photography session can be tedious, I want parents to enjoy the experience. These images will be what they look back on fondly as their child grows.