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

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.

 

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 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

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.