Written By: Kara Wahlgren
Fourteen days…if you photograph newborns, you know that’s the magic number. You’ve probably memorized the mantra: “Newborns are best captured within the first 14 days of life. Please call as soon as your baby arrives.”
Still, you may occasionally find yourself photographing a baby after the ideal two-week time frame. Life happens, babies are unpredictable, and those first few weeks disappear in a flurry of doctor visits, family flocking in from out of town, sleepless nights, and the crazy adjustment to life with a newborn. It’s not surprising that photography sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.
Some photographers refuse to shoot newborn sessions past the two-week mark, but I think four weeks (or five, or eight) is still pretty darn new. But I have developed a few strategies for photographing these not-so-sleepy, not-so-squishy “oldborns.” (The babies pictured in this post were all older than six weeks.)
Tip #1: Don’t force the frog pose.
Most of us melt when we see a newborn curled up in sweet slumber, but the chances of catching those coveted sleepy poses fade as babies grow older. But wide-eyed expressions can be just as adorable! And they’re finally getting the hang of tummy time, so you can prop them on their bellies and capture them having fun.
Tip #2: Cover ’em up.
Naked poses can be tough with oldborns, because once babies discover the joys of stretching, they’re basically just nine pounds of indecent exposure. To keep your photos G-rated, you’ll probably want to use a diaper cover, blanket, or cropping. Bonus: The blankie may lull them to sleep for a few precious seconds.
Tip #3: Rethink your props.
After a few weeks, babies get wise to where they like to sleep—and it’s probably not on a postage scale or makeshift bird’s nest. (Don’t get me wrong, I love those photos too! But oldborns rarely share my enthusiasm.) One prop that still works pretty well at this age is a container—buckets, baskets, and bowls can be padded with blankets to keep baby curled up and cozy.
Tip #4: Bring mom in.
By now, babies see their mom as more than a 24-hour snack bar. You can get some beautiful connection shots, whether they’re asleep or awake.
Tip #5: When all else fails, wrap it up.
No, not the session—the baby! A swaddling blanket will soothe tears and keep flailing arms and kicking legs under control. I love images of swaddled babies because they remind me of those last peaceful moments before they (finally) fall asleep for the night.
This can be a tricky age to photograph, but if you find yourself photographing an older newborn, just relax, rethink your expectations, and focus on capturing their budding personalities!
What are some tips that have worked for you?
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