Not all babies are the same. That might be an obvious statement, but with babies there are very different stages in the first year which present different photographic opportunities as well as posing challenges to the photographer. When I'm approached about a baby shoot, I always try to guide the parents towards the best stage at which to photograph their baby, depending upon what they are looking for out of the session.
The first stage is newborn.
There are lots of ways of looking at how to approach a newborn shoot. The general rule is to try to photograph them in the first week or so of life, as they tend to sleep most of the time and you can, in turn, mould them into lots of lovely sleepy poses. This is always the perfect time to get the shots of the tiny toes and fingers, the details which might be harder to capture when the baby is moving around more when awake.
Photo's of the mother cradling her new baby, or detail shots from the nursery are also a nice approach and a lovely keepsake for years to come.
Even just out of this window of opportunity, babies tend to be more awake more of the time, so you then have to change the approach. One problem with newborns is that, when awake, their eyes have not yet learned to focus, and as a result they don't always photograph well. If this is the case, I like to include the parents more and make the shoot more about their relationship with the baby, which also makes the baby feel secure and happy during the session
Even when the baby is a little older, the relationship with mum and dad is so important
As babies get older, they become more responsive, not only to me but to anyone around them. This little girl was not yet sitting up un-aided, but we remedied this by finding places she could sit up such as in the basket or against the corner, as well as playing peek-a-boo under the covers or shooting down from above when they are lying on their backs. It's nice to be able to capture their laughter and wee personalities when they get to this kind of age.
And don't forget the little details again, such as their first pair of shoes which are great little memories which are soon forgotten.
Although younger babies are best photographed indoors, I do love it when we can venture outside for shoots. This is much easier when the babies are sitting up un-aided, so there's so much more scope for the photoshoot. I had photographed this little girl previously when she wasn't able to sit up on her own, but found it was so much more enjoyable when she was sitting up un-aided when we met at the woods a few months later.
Despite the ridiculous amount of sand this wee boy ate, we had such fun down at the beach for his family shoot.
Of course it doesn't always go to plan, as sometimes babies can be tired or hungry, or simply just having an off day. This poor wee boy had had enough of me by the time we sat him in front of the log pile, but I love these kind of photos' as much as the happy smiley ones, as they are part of the true character of that child. This may not be the one the parents choose to put on their wall, but they will look back fondly at these regardless.