When it comes to photographing newborns, my heart definitely goes to more natural images. So I am always thrilled when a client contacts me for a newborn shoot and mentions that there will be siblings involved as capturing interaction and emotion is my favourite thing…
A session photographing a brand new big brother or sister comes with its own set of challenges. So here are the steps that really help me make these sessions enjoyable for everyone:
Before any shoot I send my clients a pre-session questionnaire but I also hold a pre-consultation before I start the shoot too. And when siblings are involved in a newborn session, they definitely are the main topic of this pre-consult. Knowing beforehand how they are handling the situation, their personality, their favourite games, cartoons or toys definitely comes in handy during the shoot.
2. Make the siblings feel special
A new tiny baby in the family can make siblings feel like their world turned upside down. Big brothers/sisters often feel insecure and neglected during those first days of having a newborn at home so if they think that this session is all about the baby, they may be resentful and uncooperative. So as soon as they enter my studio, my goal is to make them feel that the session is about THEM. I introduce myself, chat a bit about the what we will be doing together…all before I even check on the baby. Once the ice is broken, I will always ask big brother/sister if they would show me the baby. Some of them are pleased to do so while others refuse, but I always give them the opportunity to introduce me to “their” baby. If they chose not to, I never insist and go to meet the newborn on my own.
During the session, when siblings are around I will always engage them in what I’m doing, explaining my every move, or asking advice. “Do you think we should sing your baby a song?”
3. Let them decide
I usually start with the siblings shots first because big brothers/sisters are usually more cooperative at the beginning, but also because I want them to feel that the session is about them. However, I’m always prepared to change my routine if big brother/sister isn’t that keen on it – I make sure that I don’t put any pressure on them. Most of the time, when they are left aside while I focus on the baby is the best motivation to finally get them in the picture. But it is THEIR choice, especially when they’re around two years of age.
The key point to having siblings to cooperate in a newborn session is to always give them the choice. If they feel forced to do anything, they will probably do the opposite of what we want them to do. So this is why my session workflow is entirely built around the siblings.
Having another adult available to play with them in another room is invaluable. It will be the perfect moment to do pictures of Mum or Dad with the baby, or pictures of the baby alone.
4. Safety first and always!
When doing those siblings pictures, I always have baby’s security in mind. I use my beanbag as my soft surface and make sure that Mum or Dad is standing right next to them at every moment. I also always help the children to lie down or sit down to make sure they do it safely but also to make sure they are where I want them to be. Finally, depending on the sibling’s age, I decide whether it is safe for them to hold the newborn otherwise they either lie down next to each other or lean over them.
5. Photoshoot with benefits?
Finally, the touchy topic: bribing. I don’t usually need to do it but it is also something that may work. Chocolate is not the best choice (messy!) but having a little incentive to buy us a few minutes of patience can be useful and sweets do often work best. I have kids myself too and I think they deserve a reward for trying their best so they always get a little gift from me after the session to create a positive memory from this experience. My kids’ dentist does this trick too and I love them for that! 🙂
What are your tips for shooting newborn/sibling together? We’d love to hear them – share with us in the comments!
LIVERPOOL MATERNITY, NEWBORN & BABY PHOTOGRAPHER | RENATA KATE PHOTOGRAPHY
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Thinking about booking your newborn/sibling photography session? It’s never too early! Newborn sessions take place within 5-14 days after baby’s birth and my calendar is filling up. It is suggested that you book your newborn photographer at the beginning of your second trimester to guarantee room on the calendar around your estimated due date.
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Adapted from an article by Lisa Tichane on “the Clickin Moms”