Baby Brandon's Newborn Photography

Baby Brandon almost did not make it to my studio. But it seems the stars all aligned, and he was able to attend his session and give his parents a gallery of super adorable images. No one thought Brandon would be able to do a lot of these poses. Yet, he did. In fact he did phenomenally well given all he had been through prior to his photo shoot.

Way to go Baby Brandon. How cute are you?

Like a lot of newborns, getting him to settle in took an hour or so. We were able to get a couple of cute images of him wrapped up fairly tightly. But even still, he was not in a deep sleep and was startled easily.

After an hour or so, and a couple of bonus feedings, Brandon knocked out like a trooper. Wow. he was super amenable and let me pose him. The key to newborn photography is patience and to remember that no mater what is "usually true", there is no way to predict what may happen for a baby in studio. Technically, Brandon should never have been able to do these poses for this shoot. But, he did. 

While it is true that newborn photos are usually most successful under 12 days old, ultimately, it depends on the baby, their size, weight, and disposition.

Be sure you book early. Most newborn photographers book one to two months in advance.

Katie is a maternity and newborn photographer in Tujunga, CA 91042

Newborn Posing: The many advantages to wrapping

Fine art newborn photography is a beautiful thing. It is amazing to be a part of it as a parent and as a photographer. One of the things that make fine art newborn photography so inspiring is the detail in posing that we photographers try to achieve. The main thing to remember is that your photographer will be concerned with safety first, and not all photographers will attempt every pose clients may see on the Internet because of safety issues. But most all newborn photographers will use some form of wrapping, or swaddling. 

 

Wrapping is a something you will see in many newborn images. Photographers wrap for several reasons. 

  • Soothing: There are times when a baby arrives at my studio already crying. Maybe she hated the car seat, is tired, or fussy. WHen this happens, and we know the baby is not hungry and does not need to be changed, the first thing I do is wrap. And while many babies seem as if they do not like to be swaddled or wrapped, the fact is that, in the end, they do. They may cry while we are wrapping, but once we are finished, they fall into a nice calm sleep.
  • Safety: If a baby is awake, they tend to move their arms a lot and scratch their little face. Not only does this make for poor images, it is miserable for the baby. Wrapping safely constrains their arms, so even if they are awake for the images we will take, they will be supported, comfortable and safe.
  • Convenience: A wrapped baby can be remain diapered. If your photographer knows she wants to get some nude images during the shoot, it can be necessary to time these just right. While waiting for the best time to take nude images, wrapping allows for beautiful images to be taken and the baby stay comfortable.
  • Warmth: Since newborns are not yet able to maintain their own body temperature, wrapping is a way for babies to feel warm. Photographers can layer 2 or even three wraps and peel them off as the series of shots progresses to get different looks.
  • Potato Sack Pose: One of the most popular shots in my studio is Potato Sack. This is not a new pose, or even a new idea. But the way it is done goes through different trends. For this pose, your photographer definitely needs to know what they are doing, and how to wrap in such a way that the baby remains safe through the entire sequence of shots it takes to create this image.
  • Artistic Flare: Wraps can be adapted to show as little or as much of the baby's features as needed. We can place them around the baby in artistic ways to highlight feet, toes, hands, chin etc. 

Katie is a newborn photographer in Tujunga, CA 91042

Baby Sebastien's Newborn Photo Session

This little guy was such a squish. Look at those wrinkles! 

Our session started as normal, with a good solid feeding. Yet, even though we could all tell he was sleepy, Sebastien fought to stay awake! Maybe he wanted to provide some input on his "good side". But after about 90 minutes, Sebastien fell into that delightful newborn deep sleep that newborn photographers love.  He was just a dream to pose, and while it did take time for him to settle in each pose, once he was there, he stayed picture perfect for several minutes. Thank you Sebastien! That helped a lot.

 

Sebastien was a big little boy, weighing in at 11 pounds at 9 days. I was worried none of my newborn studio clothes would fit. But they did. He looked just so adorable in our grey wool romper. I will say, Sebastien was not a big fan of hats, as many newborn babies are not. But he at least tolerated the classic elf hat long enough to get that perfect shot for his mother. 

You did great Sebastien! Can't wait to watch you grow at your 3, 7, 9, and 12 month benchmarks.

 

Expecting Baby... A Stupendous Maternity Photo Shoot

I was fortunate enough to work with this professional young couple expecting their first baby together for their maternity shoot here in Los Angeles. They were just fantastic; and they were troopers. Photo shoots are hard work, not only for the photographer, but for the clients too.

The mom to be, Shelia,  was so prepared. She had gone out to flea markets, and shops in her neighborhood and bought the cutest hair pieces and crowns. Some had a vintage feel, others more contemporary and others just cute, you know, adorable!  Our maternity photo studio rented two maternity photo gowns from Mama Bump Rentals  They arrived in plenty of time, and the return process was easy too. Sheila, had the greatest taste, and she understood what looked gorgeous on her. Between the two of us, we selected the maternity Boho Ivory Gown    and the La Bella Mama gown. Sheila looked so amazing.

Maternity photo shoots are optimal if Dad comes along and is on board. Sheila had the best husband. Goodness, he was cooperative, and patient. He waited as we primped and got Sheila all ready for her set in her first gown, then just appeared on set like a pro when it was his turn. Such a great partner. And because of his support, Sheila photographed even better!  Have a look at this behind the scenes video and see how awesome a Los Angeles Maternity studio shoot can be.

 

Tips to Landscape Your Backyard for Newborns and Infants: Insights From a Newborn Photographer

Backyard Landscaping Ideas for Kids| 3 Things to Keep In Mind

    I often shoot on location in a family's home. Taking family portraits, or even select newborn pictures at one's home is a great alternative to studio newborn and family photographs. Because I have done quite a bit of this in my time, I can provide families with some things to think about as they prepare their own backyards. Not only will you be happier, the kids will have more fun and you can take your own awesome pictures throughout the year.

 Landscaping a backyard with newborn and older infants and children in mind takes planning. Safety, fun and beauty all have to work together. If you are a family with children representing a range of ages, planning a backyard can be even more challenging. Younger children want a sandbox, older children want a tree house, and still others want a half-court basketball area. No matter what you decide to do most likely something will be sacrificed. However, keeping in mind age, safety and climate will help design the best backyard landscape for your kids.

1.     Age: If you have young children, you will probably want to create a sandbox. Be sure that this is placed in an area that is not directly under trees. Bird droppings and small children can create havoc. At the same time, however you want to be sure that the sandbox is shaded at some point in the day. Few parents want their children sitting in the blazing hot sun for hours making sand castles. The other consideration is a bike or tricycle trail. Most families opt for poured concrete or paving stones that are not too bumpy. Design the tricycle trail so that it comes very close to the door of the home. This way, children can keep their tricycle covered in a space near the door. Many tricycle trails are designed to go around a garden. Children like to work in gardens and be responsible for watering the plants.

2.     Safety: No matter what the ages of your children, it is best to select plants that will not attract bees or wasps. This is especially true for newborns and infants up to age 18 months.  Evergreens are a good choice to avoid this problem. You also want to make sure that children have access to shade and water. If planting a tree is not possible given your situation, you may want to install a semi-permanent tarp that children can sit and play under. Or you may consider installing a drinking fountain and planting shade trees in appropriate areas. Jungle gyms are a childhood favorite, but unless you can afford playground safety material you may wish to provide only small slides and climbing areas no higher than 3 feet off the ground.

3.     Climate: Keep in mind the climate you live in. Trees which lose their leaves may ruin sandboxes and clog up tricycle trails; not  to mention create more work for you. Evergreens are great. They’re clean and look attractive all year. If your family has a tree house. Imagine how it will perform in each season of the year. Will it be safe in winter? Will ice form on the steps? Will it be too hot in the summer? How will it be ventilated?

Planning a backyard for children can be very fun. Not only will kids have a great childhood, but it can look terrific as well. Keeping in mind these three concerns will help you design a backyard landscape for kids that you will be proud to share.

Katie is a maternity, newborn and infant fine art photographer in Los Angeles, 91042.
 

How Preparing Her Newborn Saved Her Photo Shoot From Disaster

Newborn Photography Is About Preparation

Photographing your newborn is like many "big" moments in life. There is not much room for a "do over". Newborns look like this, and can be posed like this for such a short time. By three weeks, many babies are past the stage where traditional newborn posing can happen safely.

A case in point is this little newborn boy here. In these images he is just about exactly 4 weeks old. Often, babies at this age can be a challenge to photograph because they do not sleep in quite the same way as they do the first 2 weeks of life. But preparing, and keeping in close communication with your newborn photographer can help a lot. This boy's mom was all over it, in terms of prepping and it made the session. It really did. Here is what she did.

3 Key Newborn Photo Preparation Must Do's

1. Manage Feedings: The key to getting your baby to sleep is a full tummy. Since newborns eat about every 90 minutes or so, it is critical to time your arrival at the studio, or the arrival of your newborn photographer at your home with feeding. Let's assume you have a 10:00 am appointment for a newborn photo shoot. This means that you will need to feed your baby at around 8:00 am, pack up, and get to the studio so that you can feed her again at 10:00. Newborn photographers understand that feedings have to happen, In fact, a lot of time in newborn photography is spent waiting for the baby to finish eating. Just before the session begins, feed your baby. Do not let them fall asleep until they have completely finished however many ounces they usually eat. We want a full tummy Doing this will help encourage your older baby to sleep.

2. Have a Bath Before the Newborn Photo Session: A bath can be very soothing for many babies. And if you baby hates baths, you can do a quick massage. So, if you have a bath or a massage, then feed, then come to the studio and feed again, this will help your baby be calm and feel safe as we pose and manipulate them through the session.  Babies like touch, it makes them feel safe, connected and calm.

3. Forget the Onesie: Onesies are definitely the go to item for newborns. But on the day of your photo shoot, do not use one. Onesies are difficult to get on and off. While removing a onesie, most babies wake up. And if they have just been fed, it is not time to eat again. So there you have a baby who is awake for no "natural" reason. It seems to confuse the baby and makes many sessions go south before they have even begun. Instead, as you prepare your baby to come to the newborn studio, place him in a loose diaper (marks on skin are no fun in photos), and place a warm blanket over him in the car seat. Then, when he gets to the studio, all he needs to to be fed, and he should fall asleep.

These are the three things this mom did to help her older baby kill his newborn baby pictures. They are easy to do and work like a charm almost every time.

 

Katie is a maternity and newborn photographer in Los Angeles, 91042.

Newborn Girls: The Do's and Don't's of Headbands

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Occasionally, a client will ask me, "Who are your favorite newborns to photograph, boys or girls?". That is such a tough question to answer because I like the newborn baby photography clothes, hats, headbands and props for both. I will say that it is always fun to photograph a girl, like this little one above who looks great in purple.

5 facts about newborn girl photography parents need to know.

1. Headband size and design: Many clients are given headbands as baby shower gifts. Of course, your friends and family are limited to what is available to them in the most accessible stores. In my experience, headbands are often "overwhelmingly" large. By that I mean that the flower or bow is nearly the size of the baby's head and the baby is "lost" in the photo. All attention goes to the headband with the huge flower on it, and not to your darling daughter. 

2. Headbands are not always a baby's favorite: While parents may have the "perfect" headband for their daughter to wear for her newborn photo session, your daughter may have other ideas. Many babies will not take to having a headband on. It is often a lot of fussing around to get them on straight, with the bow or flower in the right spot etc. Further, many headbands are so delicate that they are knocked out of place with even the slightest shift of the baby during the newborn photography session. A professional has a lot of experience dealing with headbands, but even still, it can take a lot longer than you may think to get your daughter looking princess like with her headband.

3. Elastic is your friend, not the baby's: In my experience as a newborn photographer, elastic is not a baby's bestie. While it makes posing a newborn easier, I think it is irritating to the baby. Perhaps they do not like the tightness around their head. Or maybe it grabs on to their hair and pulls it. One way to work around this is to "wrap" the elastic band in yarn. Yes, it is labor intensive, but it does help to feel more comfortable on the baby. Another way to avoid elastic, while still getting the benefit of a firmer hold, is to use a piece of stretchy fabric, like jersey-knit or a cotton blend with a touch of spandex. Cut about 18 inches in length so you have enough space to fit around your baby's head and then tie a generous bow. You can use velcro to attach a small flower or bow.

4. Low or High? This is a personal preference, of course. But it is good to know how you feel about it before you get to the newborn photography studio. I would say that every newborn photographer has their way of styling headbands on newborn girls. Some prefer headbands high on the forehead, and some lower. Of course, the baby will ultimately decide (grin). But you are more likely to get images you really love if you know how you feel your baby looks best in her headband.

5. Mohair: The Professional's Choice. Newborn photographers often prefer to work with mohair. It photographs beautifully and is "soft" to the camera's eye. The headband in my image above is crocheted. And while it is fairly delicate, mohair is even more subtle. Mohair is very intricate, and many mohair headbands can only be used once or twice before they do not look good anymore. This is one reason why mohair props, clothes and headwear are so expensive. But if you are looking to make a great gift for a friend who is planning on getting newborn photos taken, you can make your own mohair headbands inexpensively. 

 

Katie is a newborn photographer in Los Angeles CA, 91042

How Priceless is a Newborn Picture of Your Child?

How do you think she will feel if you hang these portraits in your home? 

How do you think she will feel if you hang these portraits in your home? 

I often talk about my days as a public school teacher here in Los Angeles.  But many of my experiences are related now that I am a newborn and child photographer. Sadly, I have to admit that I saw hundreds of terrible things during my long teaching stint. But, I did have my share of good things that happened, or that I noticed. And I have taken those and tried to repeat them, or make the conditions arise so that other kids and families can benefit from what I learned in the trenches, literally, of teaching in the inner city of Los Angeles. One of those good things is newborn photographs and the child portraits you take and hang up in your home. Yes, seriously. This small thing helps kids a lot.

Why Do Newborn Photographs and Child Portraits Matter?

  • Kids learn by relating to themselves first. If you already have kids who are old enough to talk, you know that they are total egoists. You know that learning to think and care for others is a skill that you, as a mom or dad, teach. But to be fair, the Self is all a kid has really, to try and learn enough to navigate this complicated world. This is one place where newborn photography and child portraits come into play. Kids love to keep track of how they look and change over time. They enjoy getting taller, stronger, getting teeth and being able to do "big kid" activities.  Child photographs document these changes. They also help to mould the image a child has of herself as she grows up. As a teacher I saw the difference in self-esteem in  a kid whose mom dressed them all up specially for picture day, then bought a print and actually framed it and hung it up at home. And I saw how kids whose moms did not even acknowledge picture day felt. The effects seemed to be strong and negative. Inevitably, kids who did not participate in picture day had worse behavior and more social skill problems than kids who did. Just the event of getting dressed up special, getting a hair trim, wearing different clothes is all a kid needed to feel great about themselves. I do not think it mattered whether mom and dad bought the most expensive picture package. It seemed to me that kids who did not even the chance to look their best on that day, paid a large debt for a long time after.
  • Newborn and Child Photography seems to affect school performance. Of course, what I am saying is totally anecdotal, and merely my experience over 20 years. But 20 years is a lot of time to notice trends. Kids who had printed images of themselves and their family to bring to school and share were happier kids. And happier kids got better grades and had a higher graduation rate it seemed to me.  Plain. Simple. True. Even for kids who had a lot going on in their life, to have a photo slipped under the plastic coating of their school binder meant a lot. And this was for little kids, all the way up to high school kids.
  • Newborn Photography and Child Portraits Increase Self-Esteem. I do not think a lot of research has been done on this. But there has been some. What has been found is that there is positive correlation between kids whose family displays printed child photographs in their home and how a kid feels about herself. You can see an article here. And there is another one here. 

While it may seem like an inconsequential thing, hanging printed and framed images of your child impacts their life in a positive way. It says that they are important, that they are special in your life, that you value them, that you like how they look and a million other subtle things that tells kids they matter.  So, if you have been holding out on getting professional newborn, infant, or child photographs taken, the time is now to get your kids all spiffed up, hair coiffed, and get them to the portrait studio. It matters and it's time.

Katie is a maternity, newborn, infant and child photographer in Tujunga, CA 91042 of Los Angeles.

 

Newborn Boy Photos: Always A Delight

newborn-photography-losangeles

Being a newborn photographer means you get to do a lot of fun creative stuff. I have not had the chance to photograph a newborn boy in some weeks. I can't explain it, but everyone has had a little sweet girl lately. So when Jackson here came along, I was ecstatic to try out some different colors and textures with him.

Firstly, look at that skin. Wow. Just naturally so creamy and smooth. Just a thing of beauty. Hard to believe Jackson is only 7 days old in these images. And he just loved to curl up his teeny legs and feet for mom so I could get her these timeless newborn photos.  And those eyelashes! Not every newborn baby has eyelashes, so when one comes into the studio who has them, I go nuts getting those classic timeless shots. Also, whether you know it or not, every newborn baby has their own personality. I don't care how much of their little lives is in "reflex mode", they still have certain ways. This little guy had a thing about bending his pinky finger. I finally gave up trying to get him to hold the perfect newborn photo pose, and just took the shot as he "wanted" it for mom.

A lot of newborns are not to fond of being put in the classic "baby-in-a-bucket" pose, but Jackson was a real amenable trooper. "Ok Mom, whatever you want". That was his attitude. And I have to give kudos to Jackson's parents. Both  mom and dad were fabulous about prepping Jackson, themselves, and following the recommended guidelines for getting ready for a newborn photo shoot. There is no doubt that I was able to get these awesome images because Jackson was calm and well prepared.

Well, Jackson. I had a blast being your photographer for your newborn boy photo shoot. Don't forget to come back soon for your milestones during your first year of life.

 

 

Newborn Basics: What You Need to Know

Having a baby is the biggest event in one's life. But what I have found, working with new parents as a newborn photographer, is that hospitals and doctors do not seem to provide too much information about newborns. This is just my experience, of course. So, I thought it may be useful to my readers to put together some general facts.

Most of these facts I learned about during my coursework to become a newborn care specialist. It goes without saying that nothing on here is medical advice and you will need to consult your physician for specific concerns about your baby.

Newborns generally are/have

  • a pulse of 120 -140 beats per minute
  • a distended abdomen
  • a respiration rate of about 30 breaths per minute
  • no tears until about 6 weeks
  • excellent hearing put poorer sight
  • sensitivity to changes in the taste of breastmilk
  • excellent smell
  • not able to breathe through their mouth
  • pug nosed so they can breathe while they eat
  • not able to smile on purpose until around 2-3 mos
  • are not as good at regulating their own body temperature as adults

The other thing I have noticed, just listening to clients as we move through a newborn session, is that doctors often are great a big medical issues, but not so great at little stuff like how to calm a baby.  The biggest issue new parents seem to have is calming down their baby, I recommend reading "The Happiest Baby On The Block".  The strategies given work for 99% of people and  it will make your life so much easier. 

Newborn Massage: How It Can Help.

Newborn Photography and Infant Massage

Being a  successful newborn photographer requires you to know a lot about newborn babies that has nothing to do with photography. And there is so much to know. It can be intimidating to new parents. I know I spend a fair amount of time answering basic newborn questions while parents are here for their newborn session. Sadly, because we live in such a litigious society, most hospitals do not offer any kind of formal education about newborn behavior. 

One of the most difficult circumstances a new mom or dad can find themselves in is being "stuck" with an unsettled or 'fussy' baby. This is a baby who continues to cry even though they have been fed, changed, and are warm and comforted. This is especially true during a newborn photo session. If a baby is fussy, it is virtually impossible to get images even a mom with "mom goggles" will like. So what can you do? Massage. Babies LOVE to be touched and massaged with firm yet gentle strokes. It tends to kick in sleepiness. 

How to give a massage to a fussy baby

In my studio, with the permission of parents and a doctor's approval, I will give a newborn a massage using oils. Preferred oils for this are coconut oil, avocado oil, almond oil or extra virgin olive oil. I am not a fan, ironically, of so-called  'baby oil". Baby oil is just mineral oil, and in my experience, I have found that it often clogs baby's pores. 

When trying to calm a baby down so that they can be photographed, I first unwrap them out of their swaddle. It is important to move very slowly in doing this. Jerky, hard, or fast motions often make the baby even more cranky. I place the baby on a soft table, or ottoman, in a dark environment (no music or talking or other sounds) and unwrap her.  Then I place her on the softest swaddling blanket I have. I do this because I will be rubbing firmly, and I want her skin to be touching something soft and soothing. Here is one of my favorite blankets that I use in the studio. 

Almond oil is my preference for newborns in the studio. It has a subtle smell they seem to like and the oil is viscous enough to not "run" all over the place like virgin olive oil can. But that is just my preference. Everyone is different.  I start by making firm clockwise circles on the baby's tummy (being careful around the umbilical cord if it is still attached). I start here because it is always possible that gas is the culprit. Loosening up this area often releases gas, and then it is like a miracle, how the baby is happy once again.  But even if this happens, I still continue the massage. Once I finish the tummy, I move upward and do the baby's chest area. This is a favorite of baby's to be touched. They just love it. I gently rub and stroke in circles or lines as the baby responds to. Finally, I massage the baby's forehead. A minute or two here can really make a huge difference.

For me, in a photo studio, doing just these areas is usually enough to calm the baby down so that she falls asleep.  But if your baby is at home, you can get some great bonding time by massaging arms, legs, hands and feet.

After this, it is critical to continue to move very slowly while manipulating the baby. Whether you are going to swaddle for bed, dress in a onesie, or be wrapped and posed for newborn photos, you have to be sure to go slowly. Fast, in these situations, is not what a baby likes. Literally, it may take me 5 minutes to dress a baby in a onesie. Think about how slow that is. Remember that newborn time, is not at all like adult time, and going fast is usually not something babies like when they are newborns.

The next time your baby seems fussy, you can try this 10 minute massage trick. Want to learn more? 

Mayo Clinic on Infant Massage

Katie is a newborn photographer in Los Angeles, Tujunga, CA 91042

What? Prepare For a Newborn Photo Shoot? Are You Nuts?

Newborn-baby-boy-photos

What Newborn Photography is not.

Everyone likes photos. We especially like newborn photos.  We are inundated with memes and "cute stuff" pictures all day. For the most part, what we see everyday are really just snapshots. A shot that "just happened". And while they are entertaining and fun, from a technical and/or artistic point of view, they are sub par. Let me tell you right off: studio newborn photography is not a collection of snapshots. 

Because of this digital world of media beyond media, we are conned. We think that photography is "no big deal", that we can just "show up" and have great images made.  Let me state the main best practice for successful newborn photography: Plan weeks in advance and prepare your baby properly for the shoot.

Why Plan My Newborn Photos So Far Ahead?

There are 3 main reasons why newborn photo sessions need to be planned. 1. Newborns are only really able to be posed in the cute poses you probably want for about 2 weeks. 2. The decrease  in mom's ability to remember things and function for the first weeks after birth. 3.. Newborn photographers are sought after. They book up fast.

If you wait until AFTER your newborn is born to find a photographer, you are increasing the risk of getting very disappointing images.  This is a problem I come across in my studio almost daily. Newborns arrive in a very underdeveloped state. This is especially true of the first 2-3 weeks of life. During this time, they sleep more easily than they will at 3-4 weeks, their bodies can "fold" for safe and cute poses, they are not yet as "aware" of their surroundings and are less sensitive to what is going on. Thus, if you call a photographer, and your baby is already 2 weeks old, you will be lucky to find a reputable newborn photographer who has an opening. And if you are lucky enough to find one, your baby is already "aging out" out of the newborn time frame for pictures.

But that is ridiculous. How can a 3-week-old baby be "too old". C'mon.

Of course, photographs can be taken of your baby at 3 weeks. But they probably will not be the photos you saw on Pinterest or on your photographer's website that you liked. Some babies are still very "newborn like". But I would say that a good number of them are not. By three weeks, the number and variety of images than can be taken of your baby are most likely dramatically reduced, compared with having them in the studio by days 7-10. Your baby will be awake, which is fine. But an awake baby at 3 weeks can usually only be photographed while they are on their back. This makes side view shots, or shots with a variety of angles harder. Not impossible. Just harder and less likely.  Why risk losing amazing images? Plan ahead.

Further, by 3 weeks, babies already are more sensitive to new environments and wake themselves up faster and more often.  So even if your 3 week old sleeps in the studio, it will likely be a lighter sleep for a shorter time making getting into position fast enough to take photos harder.

Whady'a mean a new mom does not function so well?

Giving birth is a phenomenal physical feat. The chemical changes in a woman's body are tremendous. Most people will say that they notice a  decrease in the ability to  remember things and learn. Because preparing for a newborn shoot involves  learning a lot of new things as well as remembering them, if a mom waits until her baby is already born, she is probably not going to remember a lot. And when she and the baby get to the session, they both will be unprepared. When you make your newborn photo appointment, your photographer will spend a fair amount of time explaining how to prepare the baby to come to the studio. From eating and clothing restrictions, to timing, to diapering and feeding, there is a literal science to helping your baby be calm and asleep for the entire newborn photography session.

Newborn Studio Scheduling

A newborn shoot is not something that can be taken lightly by the photographer. We have to consider safety, and provide AMPLE time. Newborn photography sessions go at a baby's pace. That pace can be pretty slow. Feeding alone can take 45 minutes. And if a session has  2 feedings, well, that is 90 minutes just waiting around for the baby to eat. So, most photographers cannot schedule two newborn sessions in one day (unless they are a huge studio with a lot of room and assistants and extra photographers). Further, newborn photographers have to give clients a "window". Just because a baby is due on a certain date, does not mean they arrive exactly on time. They may come early, or late. The newborn photographer has to prepare and be ready for this occurrence. Generally, the newborn photographer is contacted within 24 hours of the baby's birth, and the shoot scheduled. Normally, mom is in no shape to do this mundane thing. It is a friend or family member who has been given the newborn photographer's phone number and instructions to call and get the baby's photo session scheduled. All retainers were paid well in advance. Literally, it takes a village to plan and prepare.

There is no reason so sabotage your baby's newborn photos. Plan, prepare, done.

Katherine Katsenis is a newborn photographer in Los Angeles.

Newborn Swaddling: What You Need to Know

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What is newborn swaddling and why does it matter?

NOTE: This article is written from my experience as a newborn photographer. I am not a doctor. I write based on my training in newborn care and as an experienced person in calming newborns down for photo sessions. 

Swaddling is wrapping a newborn baby aged 0-about 12 weeks very tightly so that their legs can move, but their arms are restricted. Swaddling a newborn baby has many benefits. A proper swaddle helps a baby sleep more easily, sleep longer, better and calms down an overstimulated baby. The basic idea behind swaddling a newborn is that it takes them "back to the womb". We have to remember that newborns up to 12 weeks old are really still very underdeveloped. You could say that they are still fetuses.

Unlike other animals who can walk and find their own food within hours of birth, humans are not able to do this. Because of the size of our human brains, we are born "early". If nature waited until we were really able to fend for ourselves better, there would be no way we could leave our mother's tummy. Our heads would be just way too big. So, ironically, humans are born very underdeveloped in many ways, even though, in the end, they have the ability to control their environment much better than other animals.

What is a proper newborn swaddle?

There are two key factors in a proper newborn swaddle: tight and arms at sides. If a newborn is swaddled tightly, so tight that it is difficult to place your finger under the swaddle, and their arms are restrained at their sides, your newborn is properly swaddled. Truly, it is almost impossible to swaddle too tightly. Swaddling for newborns is very comforting. This is why newborn photographers often start a newborn session with images of your newborn wrapped, or swaddled.  The video below shows one way to tightly swaddle a baby. But there are several ways to swaddle. As long as you are using a thin blanket  that is about 45 in. by 45 in. and it is tight, you are good to go.

Why would I want to swaddle my baby? It looks uncomfortable.

We have to remember that newborns are almost nothing like us. They cannot see well yet, they cannot control their limbs or body temperature. They are sensitive to the slightest changes in tastes and touches. What may look miserable to an adult is nirvana for a newborn. Remember that they have spent the last 9 mos in the tightest space possible. There it was warm, dark, and loud (yes, loud). They could not stretch their legs too much. Swaddling mimics what they have come to know. It reminds them of those days when everything was done for them. They did not have to cry to get what they needed. Sleep was easy and food was available 24/7. 

What are the benefits of swaddling a newborn?

The biggest benefit is that it calms newborns down. Imagine what it must be like to be experiencing all the sensations of sound, light, taste, touch, and sights. Then imagine that your own hands and arms flail around uncontrollably and maybe scratch your face, or bump you, or keep waking you up. Being restricted properly helps to alleviate the overstimulation that happens in just a few minutes of being around others.

The second biggest benefit is that swaddling helps newborns sleep. Even though sleep is still not understood as well as science may like, we know that newborn babies (and adults too) need good restful, uninterrupted sleep. Babies who are swaddled tightly and placed on their back tend to sleep more easily and longer. I have noticed that fussy babies like being swaddled even if they are crying while I am wrapping them. Once I am finished, they relax and are much calmer. Here is a little bit about the importance of sleep.

Of course, in newborn photography, we often swaddle so that the adorable hands show at the top of the swaddle. It makes for a more compelling image. But there have been times when I have had a super fussy baby who had to be totally swaddled with arms at their sides. Once they calmed down, I was able to get a ton of images with super cute expressions.

Whether a newborn baby is swaddled for newborn photos or because they need support to help them relax and sleep, the fact remains that for most babies, in most situations, a tight swaddle with arms at their sides is comforting and stress relieving.

 

Katherine Katsenis  is a newborn photographer in Los Angeles.

Super Cute Newborn Boy Photo Shoot Los Angeles

The Start to a Successful Newborn Boy Shoot

Newborn photography usually follows a pattern. We start on the posing bag, then move to a prop, and then do family photos. But babies often have their own agenda and we are left to create adorable pictures no matter what they do. This happened to is the other day. We had the most adorable newborn boy for a photo shoot in our Los Angeles newborn studio the other day.  

Not the sleeping baby we wanted at first

This little guy was a bit skeptical about being in our studio at first. He decided to fight sleeping as hard as he could. And he was successful for quite awhile. We think his parents may have given up  hope that their newborn photo session was going to be OK.  You can see in the photos that he was awake for several of the shot sequences. But when he did sleep, not only was he a super sleeper, he let us pose him in almost every pose mom and dad wanted. 

He looked so adorable in his navy blue newborn pants and matching hat set. What is even more astonishing is that mom and dad wanted photos of their newborn boy with his eyes open and he stayed calm and let us snap away. What a great newborn model. Enjoy these adorable pics. If you are trying to get great photos of your newborn, be sure to use the tried and true tips to help you capture every adorable thing about your baby. 

3 Must-Do's For Your Maternity Photo Shoot

Planning A Maternity Shoot With a 'Wow' Factor

glamor-maternity-photo

Maternity photo shoots are fun to plan because photographers are dealing with adults as opposed to the newborn they will be working with in just a few weeks. And while newborn photography is also a blast to plan, 'plan' is the key word. Often, the baby did not get the memo about your 'plan'. To take advantage of maternity planning,  here are three things than can make your maternity photo session a stunner.

1. Clothes: Like most things, clothes can take an image from "hey, that's nice", to "Wowza! You look like a movie star"! When I plan maternity sessions with my Los Angeles clients, I always ask them to jot down three adjectives that they want to convey in their images. It does not mean that they actually feel like these words. It means that this is their fantasy. Common words I get are: glamorous, vintage, sophisticated, avant-garde, cutting edge, grunge, fairy tale princess-like, athletic, bold, provocative, and elated. What is amazing is that even women who seem shy or not convinced they can bring out their best adjectives, almost always do. 

Most maternity photographers like the uber-formal maternity gown. We love to have all that fabric being blown by a wind machine and creating a blurred line between reality and the ethereal. Many of us have a collection of gowns clients can borrow. But not every excellent photographer has a studio or a large wardrobe. So here is a trick of the trade moms-to-be: RENT. Yes. You can rent great gowns. Mine for Nine is just one of several places you can go to.

http://www.minefornine.com/  

2. The Annie Leibovitz/Demi Moore Pose

Most expectant moms today were still too little or not yet born to remember this cover from 1991. Demi Moore blew the world away by her willingness to do this. And Annie Leibovitz created this now-classic pose.

demi-moore-annie-leibovitz

It's an awesome image. And in the maternity photography industry it is still, 25 years later, the most asked-for shot. I have never had a client strike this post and not love it. Granted, they may not show it to their mom and dad. But they have it always to remember at how amazing they looked. And yes, everyone is a bit nervous at first, but that's OK. After a few minutes, it all comes together.

3. Hair and Makeup: Most studio maternity photographers offer this as a service for an additional fee. Of course, it is not necessary, but the work of a great hair and makeup  artist (HMUA) can bring out subtleties of a subject's  face without having it look overdone or trendy. Maternity photographers tend to like images that stand the test of time. No one wants to look back at an image and say "Oh, that was so Millennial". HMUA are trained in this "timeless" way of making clients look astonishingly perfect. But if your photographer does not work with a HMUA, you can plan to have your hair and makeup done locally. You probably did this for your wedding. It makes for a long day, but  the good news is, you can make plans to go out after your maternity shoot because you will look fantastic.

 

 

 

Los Angeles Newborn Photo Shoot: Elsie

Our Sunland-Tujunga studio had the cutest 4 week old in here the other day. Wow! She had a rough start, but was soon calm and adorable. Look at those newborn wrinkles! Elsie decided she would rather be awake for some of her photographs. But she dozed off enough to get the "classic" baby pictures for mom and dad. Way to go Elsie.

 

Colors were teal, pink and brown earthy tones. Newborn Elsie was not so keen on wearing hats of any kind, but we did get her in one, and a headband to boot.

Great job on the newborn posing bag. You gave mom some awesome shots.

 

Katie is a maternity and newborn photographer in the Sunland-Tujunga, CA 91042 areas of Los Angeles.

Ways For You and Procrastination to Get Along: A Newborn Photographer Shares How

Teaching is a lot like being a mom. Seriously. Each day you have in your charge 20-30 kids for 6-8 hours. Their time must be managed, their learning planned, their behavior modified, their hearts healed and the list goes  on and on.. There is so much to do; so much that legally MUST be done, you have to be organized. Teachers take the old "Fail to plan and plan to fail" quip as TRUTH itself. 

SInce I began my second career as a newborn photographer, things are a lot different. But still and all, just like you moms out there, procrastination rears its ugly head. It dawned on me one day early in my professional life, that trying to eliminate procrastination was like trying to stop a train by blowing on it. So instead, I decided to learn to let it live with me, but on my terms. "My sandbox, my rules". Here is what I did to help us get along.

It is all about how much you are willing to suffer.

  When learning to cohabitate with procrastination, you have to decide where your ideas rate on the "to do" landscape.  I made it simple:

 

Nearly all choices come down to these two simple things. You either want or need something. And your reason for wanting or needing is either for you or for others. If there are things you NEED to do (I mean things that if you do NOT do them you will suffer in some way), nature has it in our brains to get it done. You do not have to worry about it. The question is all about:  "How much will I suffer if I put off doing something I need to do? The less you will suffer, the longer you will put it off. But it will get done. Once I found out how much I was willing to suffer, then I just let procrastination live with me and I would not judge myself about how much I put things off.

On the other side of this chart is the WANT side. If these are things that are PURELY things you WANT, then they too will get done. It is human nature to do things that make us happy. 

But it can get complicated.  Somethings in  life you want to do. But they also carry a little bit of "need" as well. For example, I want to buy a gift for my daughter-in-law who just had a newborn baby. Of course you want to do it because it is a nice thing to do. But you are also doing it so that your family "looks" good, so that when it is time for your family to deserve a gift or a card, you will get one and so on.  Again, ask yourself, how much are you willing to suffer? If you say " a lot", then you will likely never buy that gift. But if you say "I'm not willing to suffer", you will find yourself at Macy's that same day. 

By realizing your willingness and tolerance for suffering, you can let procrastination be its happy self and you do not have to fight the continual fight of chastising yourself for not doing such and such on time.

Katie is a maternity and newborn portrait photographer in Los Angeles, CA 91042

Easy Hacks to Super Charge Your Pre-Schooler

As a newborn photographer in Los Angeles, I see our future. Most of us know by now that the first 3 years of life contain the brain's most intense development. What your newborn, infant or child experiences sets the pattern for how they will develop later on in life and through adolescence.   Please do not get me wrong. This is not determinism. As a teacher I can tell you that no matter what a child experiences, there are too many variables to tell how a kid may "turn out". Seriously, I was an educator long enough to have students I taught as third graders come back as adults and tell me how they were doing. Some, who I thought would go the college route, opted for manual labor jobs. And others, who I would have bet would be in jail, had AA degrees or better. You just can't ever know. 

Given this, it is still true that kids who have a lot of experiences in their first 3 years definitely have it easier in school. It is easier for them socially, academically, and emotionally. I'm sure there are amazing reasons why this is true, but even if you are like me and don't understand the brain science behind it, you can do a lot to capitalize on these early years. Here are a few of my faves:

1. Provide Choices: In life, in school, in everything, there are choices. Kids have to make them. But making choices is a skill. It really is. Learning how to think about what will happen if I choose this over that, how much I like this more than that, are skills. We learn them by sheer practice. So give your kids choices: Do you want to wear sneakers or boots? Do you want the blue or yellow pencil? Would you like to take a walk, or play with Legos. These may not seem like such big decisions, but they enforce critical thinking and they help kids get to know themselves; what they like and dislike.

2. Use Adult Vocabulary: Truly, a poor vocabulary is probably the biggest disadvantage one can have in life. Opt to use "big words", words that may seem NOT to be age appropriate. Instead of "boo boo", say "Did you injure your finger". Instead of, "What do you want for dinner", ask "What do you prefer, this or that?".  Here are some alternatives you can start using today:

  • Emotion words: angry, frustrated, devastated, impatient, joyful, elated.
  • Words instead of "nice": delightful, wonderful, extraordinary, delicious, marvelous, friendly.

3. Have Conversations: Whether your child talks yet or not, have conversations (not fights) in front of them. Show them that one person talks, the other listens. Then vice versa. Opinions are shared. Not ridiculed. If  your child talks, then engage them in conversation. You can talk about anything and make it a way to prepare them for school. "What if the only clean clothes you had were your pajamas? Would you wear them to school? Why or why not?". It does not matter what they  say to you. What is important is that you accept what they say. Don't judge their response ("Are you kidding me? That's crazy..." do not encourage kids to talk). Trust me, if they made an unrealistic choice, they will soon realize it on their own. They are little, so they do not see the worlds as adults do yet. Be patient. Not only are you validating them as persons with hopes, dreams and ideas, you are preparing them for life.

I hope that these easy things to do can help you with your toddler.

Katie Katsenis is a maternity, newborn and infant photographer in the Sunland Tujunga areas of Los Angeles.

Get Better Photos of Your Kids

Photographing newborns, as I do here in Los Angeles, always means photographing older siblings. These can be toddlers, who are their own challenge. But as a newborn photographer, families often ask for images of their much older kids too. Here are a few tricks I use to get natural looking images.

1. Allow Kids to be Part of the Design: Family photographers understand that many images are taken, but few are chosen. This is just part of family photography. The good news is: kids do not know that! So ask your child how they would like to be photographed. Ask if they want to make a silly face, or sit in a funny way. Snap away and tell them what great ideas these were. Then, on the sly, take images of their expression when you tell them what a great photo designer they are. These will be natural looks to accurately represent how your child looks at this time in her  life. Another trick is to say things to them like "I have an idea too. Can we try it? How about if you sit/stand....." This is another way to make kids feel included and not just an object of photography.

2. Explain What You Are Doing: It may seem obvious, but so often kids are left out of the conversation. We assume that we can just expect them to do this and that without any context. So, take 5 minutes and explain why these newborn and family photographs are important to you, and what you want to do with them. "Mommy and Daddy want these pictures so that we can make an awesome wall display of you (and whoever else). These are going to be printed in a special way." (Of course, there is no 'special way'...but talk  the photography session  up like it is this B I G,   H U G E thing. It usually helps. 

3. Play the "You're the Older One" Card: In my newborn photography studio, it is my job to get older siblings to "perform" pretty much on demand. One way I do this is to congratulate them on being the "older" sibling. I mention that they get to boss their younger sibling around, play tricks on them etc. But then I remind them that the younger one is going to be looking to them for help and that they will be a hero for their new brother or sister.  For most kids, this gets them feeling pretty good about themselves (at least long enough for the photo). Remember, having a baby is an adjustment for everyone. And even though it may seem like your other children are "ok with it", they still need a lot of reassurance. Make them feel responsible and important. It helps. It will also yield a better image. 

May these tips for photographing your kids yield pictures your family will share and enjoy for decades.

-Katie Katsenis is a newborn and maternity photographer in Tujunga, CA 91042 just outside of downtown Los Angeles.

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