An Amateur’s Guide To Photographing Newborns Like A Pro

IMG_8300Congratulations!  You have just welcomed a brand new baby, a precious gift from heaven.  Understandably you want to capture the moment, the fleeting smallness.  Yet newborn photo sessions and prints can set you back hundreds of dollars if you choose a pro with a good reputation.  With all the money you are dishing out on diapers and baby gear and RESPs, the thought of coughing up another $500 can make you want to run back to the hospital and get an epidural.

So what’s a parent to do?  Take your own photos!  This guide for amateurs will walk you through how to take professional style photos of your precious little one.  Today we’ll outline what to expect in a photo shoot.  Tomorrow we’ll cover a list of tips to ensure your photo shoot is a success.

IMG_8385Block off at least two afternoons of precious napping time.  Instead of doing something pressing such as showering, iron a black sheet.  Feed the baby.  Drape the sheet over some chairs and use hair clips to secure it.  Better yet, tape it to the fridge while ignoring the lunch dishes that are still on the counter.  Next dump your children’s books out of the basket in the living room and spread the books all over the floor.  Feed the baby again.  While you are feeding the baby, browse Pinterest and YouTube for inspiration.

When the baby is well fed, stripped down and sleeping, take some test pictures. The lighting should be too bright.  Now your living room is a mess and you have no photos.  You are right on track.


Move half the mess to your bedroom and try there.  The lighting will be too dark. Feed and redress your baby.  While you do this, upload the test pictures.  Delete them all.  This is your first day’s task.

On the second day, get started sooner.  The lighting should be perfect.  Strip the baby down and get him into position.  Just as you are ready to take the first shot, he should pee all over everything.  End the photo shoot.  Throw in a load of laundry.  Feed your baby.  While you are feeding your baby, browse Pinterest longingly.  Check your bank account balance.  On your way to change the baby’s diapers, trip over the pile of books.  Put them all back in the basket.  You have successfully completed your tasks for Day 2.

On the third day, decide to take a nap. On this afternoon, your baby will, after 5 minutes, decide not to nap.  You will get neither rest nor photos, except for one of an empty basket.  Listen to lullabies on YouTube and eat more banana bread than you’ll admit to.

On the fourth day day, pull the sheet out of the dryer.  Don’t bother ironing it.  Change your mind and use another wrinkled blanket instead.  Dump the books out of the basket again.  Take about 500 frames of three poses.  When the baby is feeding, upload the pictures.  They should look decent except for the wrinkled background, which, when combined with your ineptitude in Photoshop (and the fact that you don’t even have Photoshop) effectively renders them useless.  Throw them all in the trash.  Leave the books on the floor so that when unexpected company drops by, they think you’ve been stimulating your infant’s cognitive development instead of dragging him half-naked all over the house for days on end with nary a photo to show for it.


On the fifth day, pull some of the photos out of your trash bin and write a satirical blog post on newborn photography.  You will feel better about yourself until you remember you need to send out birth announcements.  Then go book a professional photo shoot.


Welcome Little One

As you may have guessed, the sudden silence in the month of near-daily posts has been a result of the most welcome type of interruption.  Late Monday night, October 21, we welcomed our third son into the world.  Liam Daniel was born at 10:47 weighing 7lbs 11.5 oz.


After the fiasco with the spinal and my knee surgery, I didn’t even want to entertain the idea of an epidural.  Morphine makes me loopy even thinking about it.  So I told the nurses not to offer me anything, even if I begged and pleaded.  There was no begging or pleading and with the consistent encouragement of my wonderful husband, I had the natural delivery I wanted.  Though it was long (22 hours!) and obviously intense (they don’t call it labour for nothing), I was very thankful for God’s peace in the midst of it.

Liam is feeding and sleeping well.  He loves to be snuggled and swaddled and is a very calm, peaceful baby so far.  We are more than thrilled with our new little blessing.

My older sons, Lucas and Micah are thrilled with their new baby brother and love to hold him.  We can’t believe how they have adapted so well.



We came home from the hospital on Wednesday to a turkey dinner my dear mom cooked.  The table was full as my sister and brother in law had come to visit.  It felt like a Thanksgiving celebration.  And it was.  One week late.  Every day, in fact, finds our hearts full of thanksgiving for this new and precious gift.  Welcome to the world little Liam.  We love you.


On the road again

I should be good at this by now.  I’ve done it enough times.

We are moving.   Again.

We’ve been house-sitting for the past 2 ½ months in Canada.  This time we don’t have the furniture, dishes, filing cabinets fiasco.  We do, however, have the tiny diapers, rubber boots, Sunday suits, piles-of-paper-because-we-don’t-have-filing-cabinets fiasco.  No matter how you slice it, moving is work.  Moving internationally is no joke either.

And then there is the new baby.  But babies are small.  They don’t need a lot.  I mean, how much can one little person use in a year?

Ah, the first-time parent myth.  I’ve fallen for it again after an almost 4 year span between our children.

I decided to keep my packing list to the basics:

  • Cloth diapers.
  • Disposable diapers for overnight
  • Wipes
  • Zinc cream
  • Baby powder
  • Shampoo
  • Face cloths
  • Collapsible baby chair to double as a high chair
  • Miniature squirting rubber ducky (this is more for my older son so he won’t get into mischief when Mommy is irrevocably up to her elbows in bath water.)  Mmm, that reminds me…
  • Bath tub  (We buy purple since the ultrasound said we’d have a girl.  Turns out it was a boy.)
  • Clothing.  Hats.  Shoes.
  • Receiving blankets
  • Sunscreen
  • Bedding
  • Mobile
  • Vitamin D drops (if I can just remember to give them!)
  • Soft structured carrier (I love the Beco Butterfly II)
  • Jogging stroller with infant adapter (the BOB SUS is my running partner!)

On and on the list goes.

The trouble with baby basics is that they aren’t so basic.  That is still a lot of stuff.   I don’t like having a lot of stuff.

Ethical dilemma aside, I have another problem.  Where I live, it is next to impossible to buy good baby things or any baby things for that matter.  You are guaranteed to sacrifice quality or price, most likely both.  And that is if you can find what you need.  That if is very big indeed.  Here I am trying to simplify, partly by choice and partly by force, but I have no idea what it is like to really do without like so many of my neighbours have to.

What does one do if you can’t find diapers or can’t afford them at $1 a piece?  Well, you can do what the locals do.  Use a disposable diaper once.  And I mean really use it, until it is bulging.  Cut a slit in it and scoop out all that pee-logged gelatin, wash the diaper, hang it to dry.  Now you are ready to grab a wad of gauze and put the diaper back on and watch the baby leak all over your lap.  Then you have to wash it again along with your pants.  I kid you not.

You see my dilemma.  Hence, I need to import everything for the first YEAR of baby’s life in suitcases and get it past customs, as if I were a normal tourist.  And for those of you keeping track, yes, that includes the purple bathtub.  Our goal this trip is six suitcases of 50 lbs or less.  Too bad the rest of us need clothing.  And peanut butter.  And toothpaste.

So here I am, putting my extra post-baby weight to good use, sitting on the duffle bags and zipping them up one-handed while holding the feeding baby with the other.   I’m really glad I bought that luggage scale on one of the many post-baby trips to the pharmacy.  My husband lifts up the suitcase and I scrutinize the wobbly black needle.  “48.5?” I say.

“Let’s try again,” he suggests and hefts the bag again.

“Yep,” I say.  Room for that last ziplock bag of protein powder.

My son runs over with a big orange bulldozer.  “Mommy, can my digger come?  Please?”

He and Daddy weigh it and then we tuck it into the digger-size space in his suitcase beside his pared down tool kit and brand new vehicle stamping set (Melissa and Doug).

“Going on vacation?” the agent at the AirCanada desk asks.

“Not exactly,” we reply.  “More like moving.  We just came back for the baby to be born.”  We briefly explained what we do.

The total weight of our suitcases was 298.4 lbs.  I’ll save you the effort: that’s under the maximum weight by 1.6 lbs total or an average of .27 lbs per bag.  “That’s cutting it pretty close,” I think as the agent proceeds to label all of our bags with bright orange tags saying HEAVY 50lbs.  On the plane, we realize they didn’t even charge us for the extra 2 bags.  Altruism or just pity?

We clear immigration and customs without incident and manage to cram our bags into our teammates’ two small cars.  We arrive back at our rental house with our local “family” jumping up and down and pointing to the hand written sign taped on the living room wall: “Bienvenidos a Casa”.  Welcome Home.

Now that we are finally unpacked and settling in, I start to re-evaluate what I packed.  I wonder why in the world did I pack my carry-on full of 0-3 month clothing?  In the sweltering heat, the poor guy hasn’t worn a darn thing.  Also, it doesn’t look like he will need many more size one diapers at the rate he is chubbing up.  I guess I won’t have to look far for people who will, ahem, get good use out of them.

But, just for the record, both boys have sure enjoyed cooling off in that purple bath tub.

The view from my lap on the plane

The shuttle from the plane to the airport (just a little packed)

Packed into the shuttle with the 2 boys on my lap