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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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Remembering With You

We have seen it.  We have watched our friends and our sisters, our neighbours and our co-workers, our cousins and acquaintances walk through it.  Maybe we haven’t lost our own babies but we have carried your pain.  We know that a baby lost is a baby lost whether it is a pregnancy at 5 weeks, a baby at full term or a full grown child.  We know too that, for some, never being pregnant is an intense loss in its own right and every month its own grieving cycle.

Today we hold our babies tighter, those of us blessed to have them.  We hold them tighter not because we deserve them and because you don’t.  We wish somehow by squeezing them we could multiply them and share, that we could fill your empty arms.  But since we can’t, we try to honor you and them by loving them well and praying with compassion for you that one day, your arms too will be full.

Today is a day set aside to remember infant and pregnancy loss.  So we remember with you.

We don’t always know what to say.  We don’t fully understand your pain, although we try.  But we haven’t forgotten.  Today we carry your loss with you.

When Nothing Seems To Fit

I am 39 week pregnant, due in under a week.  I should be burrowing down, anchoring down, building something around me to settle in with the baby, to nuzzle and raise him in a cozy den.

But every page of the calendar, every conversation somehow reminds me of the other voices that are saying order, purge, pack, prepare, pull up stakes.

I feel pulled in two such opposite directions.  Moving countries and having babies generally don’t go together for a reason.

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What nesting looks like in my world–squeezing baby clothes into ziplock bags.

I sit in front of two Rubbermaid containers and sort my clothing into piles.  Maternity clothes that don’t cover my belly anymore, transition clothes for those lovely not pregnant but still chubby days months and finally, clothes for the heat that I hope will fit when we move 6 weeks after the baby.

Shells, yes.  But how do I know if I can fit.  How will I stretch still?  How will I adjust?  They are just shells, yes, but I feel the swelling of emotion, this buldge in my throat, the constriction of my heart like a waist-band too tight that leaves stitching and hem marks branded deep pink in the soft places like a wound.

It isn’t that I don’t want to go.  I know we are going where we should be for this season.  Back.  I know it will fit again, the language on my tongue, the laundry on the rooftop line, the scrub of soil from vegetables, the dirt from the track packed into the grip of my runners.  It will fit again. 

And this wee one, he will fit too.  I will wrap him tightly, carry him on my chest out of the hospital, past boxes, through customs, to teach him the word hogar, home.  The word will still roll round and full.

We’ll unpack sandals one day and the next we’ll shake cockroaches out of the Christmas tree wrapped black like a mummy.  We’ll catch up, with the local family we live with, as one can, in fragments, circling forward and backwards.

Ya me dijiste.

Oh, I already told you that.

Thoughts of what we’ll miss and are missing will circle like whirlpools of snow outside the lit windows.  Less places set at the table this year.

The stretch and the adjustment—I want to separate these—baby and moving.  I want some space between.  But maybe they fit afterall.

My citizenship isn’t here.  It isn’t as though Canada is really my home.  I can still burrow deep, deep into hugs while I have them, deep into the smell of freshly washed baby skin, soft.  I can burrow into the covers with my boys to tell stories as if the bed weren’t the only thing left in the room, to peer out the window of the plane as if it were the first time.  I can burrow deep into the rich comfort of Christ—the one, who by his birth, left his home, the one who understands.  And he offers me an invitation to take two disparate pieces and stitch them together.  In them I can find new understanding and a new way of being understood.

What are the pieces in your world that don’t seem to fit together?  How do you hold them in tension?