One of my favorite sessions to shoot is a newborn session at home. Or, what I call a “Welcome Home Baby Session”. There’s something magical about those first few weeks at home. Your love and wonder for this new member of your family is so on the surface, exploring their temperament, discovering their likes and dislikes, tweaking your life and your routines to fit them inside of your family cocoon. I remember my daughter’s first weeks at home in a way that is almost physical; warmth, soft light, happy tears, cuddles, bleary eyes. And yes, so, so many diapers and baby wipes and bottles.
Shooting at your home gives you so much space and flexibility. We schedule plenty of time. You can break to breastfeed, or we can photograph that wonderful connection between you and your child while you do. You don’t have to shush your child to sleep to get a shot. It’s all part of the shoot, the crying and the shushing and the feeding and the stuff you’re already doing. No need to put on a show. No need to worry about nap times or misbehaving siblings. It’s all perfect. Even the discarded burp cloth. It’s all part of your story.
Here’s just 6 of the reasons why I think you should schedule an at home “Welcome Home Baby Session”
1. You don’t have to physically get yourself, your baby, your husband, and any other kids, up and out the door.
If you’re new to this parenting thing, the time it takes to achieve this previously-simple feat cannot be overestimated. If you’re a pro, you know this: it doesn’t matter what time you get up or start the process, you will be rushing around at the last minute to get out the door, you’ll be stressed, you’ll probably forget something (likely brushing your hair), and everyone will be grumpy and resentful as a result. But oh… here’s a camera… SMIIIIIILE! Nope. Not happenin’ So, stay home and wait for me there. If you’re running a few minutes behind, I photograph and watch the baby and other kids while you run a brush through your damp hair – and allow dad to gulp down that last, sweet, sip of coffee. We can just ease ourselves into this. Ahhhhhh.
2. You have everything you need, right there.
Diapers, changing table, change of clothes, favorite blankets, bottles, formula, binkies, rocking chair, a quiet place to breastfeed, a bathroom, toys for the other kids to stay occupied with… need I go on? Don’t stuff the diaper bag with everything but the kitchen sink and bribe your other kids with promises of candy or ice-cream. Home has everything you need in the eventuality of almost anything that might happen. Taking the stress out of this photo session is good for everyone. Babies and kids feed off our moods. When we’re comfortable, so are they – and that comes through in your photos. If you have other children, they can go off and play without you worrying a bout having to entertain them the whole time.
3. This is your baby’s home.
It may not be something from the cover of Better Homes & Gardens but it’s the place where he or she will grow up, the place that will hold all the sweet memories. Memories of midnight feedings and sticky-finger crawls, dribbling first solids and wobbly-legged first steps. Don’t you want to capture that? Wouldn’t it be great to accompany that “remember when…?” with a picture of that exact spot in the house, that exact mural on the wall, the exact pattern of the crib bumper? I can photograph the little details of your life that knit you all together as a family, as well as your loving and smiling faces.
4. Baby is cute but he/she didn’t get here alone.
Your baby is part of a family, no matter how big or small. Photos of them wrapped up in a beautiful muslin shawl are gorgeous and precious but they don’t need to be the only photos you have taken of your newborn. The interactions, love, attachment, and rituals of everyone at this special time in your family’s life, are just as important. Big sister carefully holding baby with love is important. Daddy’s shushing and hugs are important.
5. These little things you do, you’ll only do for such a short time
You will be a parent for 40, 50, or possibly more years of your life. Only 10% of those years are spent parenting a child. An infintisimal percentage of that time will be spent as the mom or dad of a newborn or baby. Less than one year out of 4 or 5 decades. Although those days of sleepless nights may feel long now, in the grand scheme of things they are but a blip on the radar of life with this little human you’ve made. The morning snuggles, the nightly rituals, the reading, the juggling, the crying, and yes even breastfeeding one baby while potty training their older sibling… those memories gain value over time, as they become blurrier and blurrier and you’re struggling to remember how they smelled, the names of the books you read, the sound of your partner’s voice through the bedroom door as he sang a lullabye. Capturing a slice of that, in the place where it all happens – home – can take you right back there, with a single image.
6. There is no perfect time to schedule your session.
There’s no right age or timeline for your session as there can be for those curly-q newborn portraits. The day after you get home is fine. Three weeks after you get home is fine. Three months works ok too. Of course, baby is growing every day and what we capture and how we capture it will change, along with your routines, depending on when you schedule your session. But, with this style of session, there is no “perfect” time. Just the perfect time for you. Just because I call it a “Welcome Home Baby Session” it doesn’t mean I have to be standing on your front porch when you pull up to the curb, freshly home from the hospital (although that sounds pretty awesome… I’d love to do that!)