I see this question a LOT. On facebook, on forums, even from client emails. Should we wait until bubs can sit up? Are we too late for a newborn shoot? Are our kids too old? From the point of view of a photographer and a mother, here's my guide:
You'll see it said on most newborn photography sites that the best time for newborn photos is between 6 - 10 days of age. By this they mean it's easier and more likely that you'll end up with those 'sleepy', and curled up newborn poses if that is what you're after. After the first two weeks, newborns basically 'uncurl' and it's harder to get them to stay in place and remain in a deep sleep. So if you are desperate for those sweet little poses, book your photographer early - before baby is born.
That said, there are other types of newborn sessions and my number one rule for this period of time is - do not miss it. If you've gone past the two week stage and you've only just started to get back into the swing of things and wondering if you've missed out- book it! Babies who are under 3 months are still beautifully small and sweet and they will still look like babies! While some photographers won't do newborn sessions after two weeks, there are plenty that do and plenty of options. Here's one from my session with 8 week old Jacob.
What about after the newborn stage?
Although there is no "bad" time for a session, 3-4 months old is generally not a time I push for sessions. While they are really very cute at this age, quite a fewbabies don't enjoy tummy time poses and coupled with a lot of awake time it can be difficult to get a lot of variety from the session unless it involves the whole family. If other siblings are also under three, it can be difficult for them to pose with a baby this age as they are also too young to reliably hold them. It's a good time to take advantage of a mini session if your photographer offers it.
Sitting up to 1 year
The next best time for a session is when bubs is reliably sitting up for longer periods. It's an age that coincides with lots of smiles and personality as well. Bubs is looking a little older and is easier to pose with any other siblings as they can sit by themselves and often aren't at the stage where they can crawl away at warp speed! I love sessions at this age - the calm before the toddler stage! Most babies aren't walking much around this time as well, so are easier to pose in one spot for longer than three seconds! The crawling pose is adorable in itself, as little Sophie shows below.
One year old
One year old is a great time for a session. Babies are just starting their wobbly walking skills, mum and dad are finally in the swing of things and lets face it, turning one is a hugely special time for the family. It's common to document this time professionally with coverage of the first birthday party, a cake smash session, or just a traditional portrait session. It can be a good idea get the session done a little before the birthday date and use the images for invites.
I honestly recommend updating your family photos every one to three years. The younger your family, the more frequently. Fill the wall or fill the albums - but when the kids have grown up and moved on, you will still have a ton of beautifully recorded memories. I offer photobooks available with each session for just $75, making it super easy for my clients to have yearly records of their family without breaking the bank or having to find wall space for new prints.
I also recommend not just waiting for professional sittings but taking photos of your babies, every day. Lets face it, as photographers we only see you for a very brief time in your life, so we may not capture that funny smile your daughter has sometimes, or those brief few weeks where your son decides peekaboo is awesome.
SEASONS & TIMES
I'm going to say it now, and I was tempted to say it in CAPS - Please do *not* avoid winter sessions! Winter sessions can be really beautiful as the light is softer and kids look adorable rugged up in winter coats! Some of my favourite sessions have been in winter. Love this one of Ashley:
Summer is a great time for sessions as well, but also has a few drawbacks that non-photographers may not be aware of. Sunny weather isn't always optimal for on location photography, so be aware that your photographer may only be willing to do summer shoots in the early evening just before sunset, as the light is much less harsh and gets a beautiful golden glow that believe it or not, cannot be photoshopped in! It's important to choose an experienced photographer for summer sessions as many inexperienced photographers may not understand how and where to pose you so that you don't get harsh shadows across the face. Summer evenings are a magical time for photography - the special glow of sun behind father and daughter below is what is called 'backlighting'.
Autumn is the other great option for photography - you can't go past those intense orange and yellow shades and it is also still chilly enough usually to bring out the gorgeous coats and scarves. Autumn is an especially great time for younger kids because the autumn leaves can be used as 'props' to make them laugh and play, and you can get some beautiful natural shots just from using the surroundings and your child's natural curiosity.
Wherever you are in your family's timeline, if you've never had a session before I do encourage you to consider it. There are great photographers out there to suit most budgets and there is something pretty amazing about seeing your family photos on the wall.
NatalieM Photography services Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Surfcoast & South East Melbourne.