As I sat at the computer with my almost 3-year-old sleeping on my chest, sweaty from her fever and working through the cold/flu bugs that the winter months always bring, I was curious and shifted her weight on my lap and typed in, "How long is a baby considered a newborn for?" in my Google search.
The first hit was this:
"Newborn" usually refers to a baby from birth to about 2 months of age. Infants can be considered children anywhere from birth to 1 year old.
My youngest daughter is turning 3 this coming May, and it made me realize just how quickly this time flies by. And even in the newborn photographer world, really once a baby is older than 3 weeks, it typically makes a "newborn" session much more difficult to run through smoothly and efficiently without having to secure flailing limbs into wraps and having to accept wide, alert eyes staring back at you through the lens.
Newborn Photography involves such a small window of time but captures, I believe, the most precious and emotional time in our lives. Welcoming a tiny little human into the world who is half you is truly an experience unlike any other. Sure, my wedding day is up there on "the most memorable days" list, but the day each of my kids was born all come tied in First Place for the most amazing days of my life.
3 days. Of my entire life. The best. (With my wedding day a close second... lol!)
And I have no recollection, apart from what's left in my memory, of those best days. The days where I was sleep-deprived and perhaps disconnected with the moment, just trying to get through another day while running on strong coffee and a few hours of sleep. It was before I was a photographer that I gave birth to my first and second daughters, and I was still a very new photographer by the time my third was born. I do not have any photos of my children, as newborns, that capture their faces and details well enough to remember how they truly were. I have no photos that show how tiny they fit in my arms. And it breaks. my. heart.
I've never once heard the words leave a person's mouth that said, "I regretted hiring a professional photographer to do our newborn photos." (Okay, okay, that sounds biased since I'm a newborn photographer. But hey, it's true! I've never once heard it!) However, I have heard, over and over, "I wish we had newborn photos done...
... with our first."
... with our other babies."
And while I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a shot or two of each of my babies that was "good enough" to print out and put in their keepsake box, none of them really have that "wow!" factor that screams of quality, importance, and heirloom nature.
So, props to the parents who figured it out sooner than I did and found a photographer to do just that for them! And , if you hired me, an even louder THANK YOU for trusting ME with those memories. If I could go back in time knowing what I know now, even if it was just along the lines of how valuable newborn photography is, I would have spared no expense in hiring a photographer who could perfectly capture my little beans so that living in the now hurt a little bit less as I think back to those precious newborn days and try to remember even the faintest memory of that newborn smell, those newborn features, and just how ridiculously tiny they were.
When I first peeked into the car seat to see a fuzzy head of red hair poking out from under the cover, my hands flew over my mouth to prevent my squeals of joy from waking up sweet little Declan.
Now, to say that his hair will stay such a beautiful shade of strawberry, or maybe turn to a lighter shade of blonde, or maybe even an even more auburn - who knows! This wonderful golden duck-fluff has been perfectly captured, forever, in this handsome little lad's newborn portraits, whereas I'm sure years down the road Mom, Dad, Declan and other family members will ooh-and-ahh over his unique and gorgeous hair colour.
Most newborns that come into my studio have darkish hair (if they are so blessed to have a noggin full of locks). It's truly a rarity to have a little one with this complexion and hair colour come through the studio as a newborn, so I was extremely excited to photograph this little dude!
Declan's parents had a request to incorporate Dad's blanket from when he himself was a baby, and when they presented this wonderfully faded, texturized blanket that clearly held so much sentimental value, I was so very excited to incorporate into a couple of set-ups. There's just something about a blanket of that character; an object that was so obviously loved so much once upon a time by a little boy, now handed down to the son of that little boy and gorgeously captured into a photo to represent that generation. Gosh, it makes the photographer that I am click my heels and melt where I stand.
But seriously, though. That texture in that blanket. I definitely wanted to keep it for my own stash... I even asked. They said no. :P
Our session went very smoothly and little Declan was amazing. While he was quite keen on keeping his hands where he wanted them, he didn't make much of a fuss apart from being a wee bit cluster-feedy. But as long as we gave in to his demands, he was a happy little dude and would let me work with him fairly easily.
We did have a small bout of trouble trying to get a couple of the key shots we really wanted from his session, but we took a quick break in that area and moved on to bean bag to focus on some variety in his gallery, and then were able to return to those shots and ended up getting them!
I think the biggest challenge for me in this session was getting a shot that would work for the "hanging by the hockey stick" shot, which involves a separate shot of the hockey stick and sack, and then posing little Declan on the bean bag in a way that was believable that he was truly hanging from the hockey stick. I had only done this shot once before almost exactly a year ago, and I knew what I had to do but sometimes getting shots that work together is the trickiest part. This shot is a composite image, meaning two or more images were photoshopped together to make the final piece! This photo was accomplished with absolutely no risk to baby, and 100% safely. He never left the bean bag :)
We had to play in a bit of overtime, but we finally got the shot and we SCORED!!! (ha...)
Another main request from Mom & Dad was one of my most requested shots, and that is of baby in Daddy's hands. It's absolutely no mystery as to why parents want this shot; it always such a gorgeous photograph and I love how Dad's hands look so strong, protective and loving as they envelop their tiny little babies. But, it can't go without fail. It's almost always during this shot that babies feel it's the perfect time to relieve themselves... right into the palms of Dad's hands! (Good thing we have wet wipes on hand...)
At least, by the end of the session, we had absolutely every shot that Declan's parents wanted, even though we had a few messes to clean up and whatnot. 'Tis the job of a newborn photographer, but it is so rewarding in all other ways. I love wow-ing moms and dads with behind-the-scenes tricks and showing them how AMAZING shots can be accomplished with the help of optical illusions, angles, and all the other fun things involved with photography (and, okay, a bit of Photoshop, too). I love hearing the oohs-and-ahhs as I pose their newborns, and I can't wait to start being a part of the moment in hearing parent's reactions when they see their photos for the first time! ;)
Welcome to the world, little Declan! And congratulations to Mom & Dad on the arrival of your perfect little dude. You all did amazing, and the pleasure was ALL mine!