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Expert Tips: Newborn Photos

Family photographer Raquel Langworthy helps us prepare for baby’s first big paparazzi moment.

Expert Tips: Newborn Photos

Becoming an aunt to twins was introduction by fire to infants! My sister gave birth to two cuties four years ago, when I was newly graduated into the recession and had a lot of spare time on my hands as I searched for a job as an art director in advertising. Although unemployment was not fun, I must admit that I loved every minute shared with those two little angels.

I photographed the twins a great deal in their first year of life, which taught me a lot about the ins and outs of capturing infants at their best. Later, when my second niece entered the world, I was well prepared. These life experiences made transitioning into child and family photography feel pretty seamless even though I am not yet a mommy.

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Here are some answers to common questions I get from expecting moms, as well as a few tips to get you ready for your first family shoot.

Schedule in advance. Set a date for your photos a few months before your due date. Newborns are best photographed within the first 8-12 days of life. This is because they're most malleable and sleepy when they are new to the world. Booking a photographer will be the last thing you’ll be thinking of when they are born, so it’s best to set a date in advance.

Think ahead. Set maternity and newborn photography dates all at once. Many photographers (myself included!) offer a package deal if you book them together, which makes the planning process easier.

Timing is everything. Baby is usually freshest in the morning hours. Feed your little one before the photographer arrives, and have a bottle handy throughout the shoot.

There’s no place like home…which is lucky because it’s also the best location for a newborn shoot! Bottles, diapers and a change of clothes are within arms reach, which will help keep you relaxed and ready for anything. Since your home will be the backdrop for the photos, it's important to have it as neat as possible. Key rooms are your bedroom, the nursery and living areas. For apartment dwellers, everything is a potential backdrop, so make sure the place is tidy.

What look should we go for? Many moms ask me what everyone should wear. For newborns, I find that simple clothes are best. Hats, headbands, and bloomers are a creative way to add personality to the photos. Also swaddle wraps, and pretty blankets are lovely additions to the photos. For adults, solid colors or large simple patterns often come across best in photos because they allow your eye to focus on the baby. The key is to not have everyone be too matchy-matchy, while still looking cohesive. For example, if you love purple, have everyone wear different shades rather than the same color.

Kick back and enjoy the experience. Your expression, more than your infant, evokes the emotion of the photographs. Your baby will mostly likely cry during the photo shoot, and that's okay! Any infant photographer is very accustomed to working in spurts. The joy or concern you wear on your face will be the most apparent aspect of the photos.

Great lighting is the key to gorgeous photos. Consider your space, and how well lit your home is. If your space is on the dark side, but you’d like photos in your home, let your photographer know. He or she will either stick to a flash, or bring a light kit to fill the shadows.

Photography by Raquel Bianca Creative.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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