Cute baby photos are the cure for anyone having a bad week, no? So with that in mind, I am thrilled to share with you images from my recent Upper West Side newborn portrait session. Monica and Kyle are the new proud parents of a little girl, and I have all the photos plus some newborn portrait tips for you in this week’s blog post.
Meet Monica & Kyle
With the pandemic still all around us, it is truly a surreal time to become a new parent. Monica and Kyle, however, have mastered parenting after the birth of their daughter. For their portrait session, while the couple was of course looking for some great photos of the baby, they also wanted to include their other ‘fur-baby’ – Barkley – in the shoot. Barkley is a 10-year old mix who recently had a bad accident jumping off the couch. He has fully recovered and was such a good boy throughout the entire shoot.
In addition, Monica and Kyle wanted to include a special outfit and mini basketball. Kyle is a basketball coach at a local school, and it was natural to think that his little daughter will one day follow in his footsteps on the basketball court.
Details of the Upper West Side Newborn Portrait Session
Monica and Kyle chose to begin their photo shoot in their apartment. We had originally planned to take some final photos at the end of the session in Central Park, but the weather was not cooperating. Also, while the baby did a wonderful job throughout the 90-minute session, we could all tell that it was time for a nap. Getting the baby ready for an outdoor photo shoot might have stretched her patience a tad too far, so we remained indoors for the entire session.
I focused the location of my photos in the living room where the large main window provided the great natural light. It was overcast during the session, but lack of light was not an issue as I brought with me a continuous light on a stand. The heat from my light did warm up the room, so I occasionally turned off the light and used my on-camera flash instead.
Newborn Portrait Tips
Older babies = direct eye contact and smiles. Let’s start with discussing the age of Monica and Kyle’s newborn. Thanks to Covid-19, the couple decided to delay their baby’s first photo shoot until things had calmed down a bit. Waiting a bit for their daughter’s first photo shoot worked entirely in their favor, however. At five months old, their daughter was past the usual newborn photo shoot age of five to twelve days after birth.
Babies grow at an exponential rate, so if you wait a tad longer for your photo shoot, you end up with a little ball of personality who is happy to showcase her first smile to the world. First direct eye contact happens for a baby at six to eight weeks, and the first ‘social’ smile happens at two months. Sure, taking a photo of a baby after it has just been born is a wonderful documentary experience, but don’t ever feel guilty because you have had to delay a photo shoot. The end result is lots more personality captured on camera, as Monica and Kyle’s daughter aptly demonstrated.
Don’t worry about bad weather; I always bring lights. April showers bring May flowers…and indoor photo shoots. Rain was predicted the entire week of Monica and Kyle’s photo shoot. This didn’t stop us, however, since I always bring with me a continuous light on a stand, perfect for any indoor setting. I did set the portrait session in the living room where there was a large window, but since the day was completely overcast, there was not enough natural light. So fear not; I can make any setting look bright enough for the camera.
Room temperature matters. The only issue that came up during Monica and Kyle’s family portrait session was the temperature of the room. Their apartment was perfectly comfortable before I arrived with continuous lights that heated up the living room. Babies are very sensitive to temperature, be it too hot or too cold. My recommendation is that you have a fan running to have a bit of air circulating, and just make sure not to have the room too warm. Babies will definitely start to cry if it gets too cold, but the other extreme isn’t great for photos either.
Definitely bring in other ‘fur’ family members. The presence of Barkley, Monica and Kyle’s first fur-child, added so much to their portrait session. My favorite shot of the day was to see Barkley give a sweet lick to the baby when she started to cry. Barkley is most certainly a full member of the family, and there is no reason why he should not be included in the portrait.
Skip the great outdoors if it is going to upset the talent. Going outside for a photo shoot is great, but if it will upset the baby, then you can stay inside the entire time. In Monica and Kyle’s case, their daughter was reaching the end of her patience for the photo shoot, and putting her into another outfit to go outside would have just been too much. We stayed inside, and the photos still turned out fantastic.
Mom and dad should get a manicure. Everyone looked great in Monica and Kyle’s photos, but remember, Mom and Dad, that you will also be in front of my lens quite a bit. Even if you only want photos of the baby, nothing can replace the image of a tiny little hand holding on to Mom or Dad’s gigantic finger. Also, there will be plenty of close up shots of either parent holding the baby, so your hands will definitely be in focus. My advice: take some ‘me’ time and enjoy a couple’s manicure.
Moisturize that baby! Babies have very sensitive skin. When they come in to the world, they often arrive with baby acne or dry, flaky skin. Who knew? Since I will be taking close up images of the baby’s face, hands, and feet, pay special attention to the child’s skin. Certainly, I always do my best to digitally smooth my subject’s skin. (I do this for clients of any age.). That said, a little lotion would go a long way for the baby’s happiness as well as less Photoshop work on my end.
Don’t be afraid to bring in props. Monica and Kyle’s enthusiasm for basketball will surely be shared with their daughter. In the meantime, the tiny ball and precious onesie look great on camera. While I am not a fan of prop overload, bringing in a significant item to show an interest that your entire family loves is always welcome. A favorite toy, first outfit home from the hospital, or even the baby’s hospital identification bracelet all work well during a photo shoot.
Finally, I want to take a moment to address Covid-19 restrictions for a newborn portrait session. I have had my first dose of the vaccine, and I am thrilled to announce that I will have my final Pfizer dose on April 28th. In the meantime (and even after vaccination), I keep on my N95 mask throughout any shoot. As with all newborn photo shoots, I wash my hands thoroughly when arriving in a client’s home. Also, all toys and blankets that I bring with me to a shoot are washed after each portrait session. Your safety = my safety.
Enjoy the images of Monica and Kyle’s precious little one, and I’ll have plenty of new photo adventures to share with you next week!
Are you interested in scheduling your own Upper West Side newborn portrait session? Drop me a line and let’s chat about your photography needs.
If you would like to see more images from my family portrait portfolio, then please visit my website – KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com