Happy baby = happy shoot and Saturday morning’s family portrait at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn with Miriam, Jon, and baby Ella went off without a hitch. I asked Miriam if she had any advice she would impart to families before they embark on baby’s first portrait, and here’s what she said:
Timing is everything. As everyone knows, I’m the ‘golden hour’ girl. But in the case of family portraits, baby knows best. Every child has a time of day when s/he is happiest…and fussiest. Each parent will have to gauge what time of day this is for her/his individual child, but for most little ones, it is just after a nap and a feeding. What baby wants, baby gets, and if that means your child is happiest at high noon, then that is when the photo session should be scheduled.
In the case of Saturday’s shoot, Miriam knew that Ella was a morning baby. Ella normally wakes up from a nap around 9:45 a.m., has a quick feeding, and is then happy for an hour or so. We lucked out with overcast skies, which cut down o the amount of overhead sun. The timing could not have been better, and Ella did a great job smiling pretty for the camera.
Prioritize your photos. Ella lasted the entire hour and didn’t get squawky until the very end. But I have worked with other children (and even a few adult men) who didn’t last much more than thirty minutes. Since you never know how much workable time you are going to get with a child, it is imperative to prioritize the photos you want, and get these shots taken first.
For Miriam and Jon, their priority was photos that concentrated on little Ella alone. So I made sure to start the shoot with Ella owning the stage on her quilt. The shots focused on her on her back, tummy, playing with a toy, etc. before I included the rest of the family in the photos. For your shoot, envision the photo of your family you want to keep on your desk at work, and then make sure that this photo is taken while everyone is in a good mood. Once this photo is banked, everything else is icing on the cake. And for this shoot, the rest of the photos were a nod to Miriam and Jon’s fantastic engagement shoot at — you guessed it — Grand Army Plaza! It was four years ago that Miriam contacted me to shoot an engagement portrait of Miriam and Jon, and now the circle is complete.
Simple is best. As Miriam explained to me, she selected two outfits for our shoot by thinking about what would be easiest on little Ella. Ella has a closet full of cute outfits, and Miriam was tempted to bring all of them, but this would have meant tiring out Ella sooner. An irritated baby is not a smiley baby, and so Miriam elected to pare down the wardrobe selection to two precious outfits.
Tell me your baby’s favorite activities. Every baby has their own special ‘moves’ that make them happy. Ella loves being on her tummy and her ability to keep her legs and arms suspended at the same time are skills worthy of any Pilates instructor. That said, Ella is not happy if left on her back for that long. As such, I started with Ella on her back, got those photos out of the way and quickly moved her on to her tummy. Standing with the help of mommy and daddy, also a favorite trick, rounded out Ella’s slate of acrobatics.
For your shoot, know what works and what doesn’t for your baby. Have a range of movement options (trying to crawl, reaching for things, kicking feet, etc.) available and make these known to your photographer.
Favorite props are great. No matter where your shoot is located, it’s always nice to bring a few things from home to make your child feel comfortable. A cuddly blanket, a favorite stuffed rabbit — whatever it is — make sure you bring a few of these mementos with you to the shoot. In addition, if you have any special toys that were gifts from grandparents or other loved ones, it’s great to include these props in the photo as a way of subtly including these loved ones as well in the photo session. That way, every time your mom looks at the photo of her grandaughter holding the stuffed rabbit, there will be warm and fuzzy feelings all around.
Enjoy the photos and give me a call if you would like to schedule your own family portrait. With the holidays fast approaching (can you believe it???), NOW is the time to start thinking ahead for your holiday cards. No pressure.
If you would like to see more images from the portfolio of Brooklyn baby photographer, Kelly Williams, please visit her website — www.KellyWilliamsPortraits.com