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Should we get professional newborn photos taken?

I’m supposed to say

yes

because I’m a professional photographer. But I’d rather speak as a mom, a wife and a daughter.

I worked hard to plan and prepare for his arrival when I was pregnant but a lot happened during and after his birth that I couldn’t predict or control. That first year was a love-soaked haze.

I didn’t understand how deep my love for him would be from the moment I laid eyes on him. My love is like that part of the ocean where they can’t find the floor and the intensity of it still scares me sometimes.

Having a newborn was far more beautiful and difficult than we ever imagined. It changed my husband and I much more than getting married and of course, we have plenty of photos of that. Hiring a professional is always encouraged around fine clothing but the truly transformative moments are rarely fancy.

I wish I could see more of our love, joy and care as new parents in those early, hazy days. we didn’t have newborn photos made and most of what I remember postpartum is the struggle.

Epic fail for a photographer, huh? There are plenty of photos of him, of him with me, of him with him but

…there just aren’t enough of our newly formed family together when it was all new.

Here’s what I’ve learned: hire someone from the outside to tell you your story. Leave a beautiful document of love for your baby to find and for you to revisit as well. Let your babies see how tender and over the moon you were at the hospital or when you first came home. Let them see your wonder as you explore the miracle of tiny hands and feet. A new Universe is forming in your home, unlike any other that came before. A metamorphosis is taking place, one your baby will remember and one that you may not have a cohesive memory of either.

So, with my own mom-regrets on the table, here’s my professional photographer advice for why you should have profesisonal newborn photos made. And yes, I am biased towards at home, documentary style coverage so that you stay in the picture! Check out more of my own newborn work here.

Read also: Newborn Photos at Home (melworthington.com/blog/newborn-photos-at-home)

Why you should have professional newborn photos taken

new parents soothe their newborn daughter in her nursery, the image is their reflection in the mirror

What are you more curious to know: what you looked like as a baby or how your parents looked caring for you? Ideally, both. I’ve only seen one photo of me as a newborn with my mom and there are none with my dad, who I assume was behind the lens.

We take so many pictures now so your phone will be flooded with photos of your baby each day! But what about memories of you as you parent? Do photos together as a family matter?

You’ll write a will, you’ll save money for college, you’ll do lots of things to assure the best future for your baby. Knowing our history is an important part of how we walk into our best future so make it a priority to plan for this too.

As families grow, homes change. Maybe we move out of an apartment and buy our first house when baby #1 is born. Maybe there is a new city or suburb that comes later down the line. Or maybe an entire childhood takes place in one home – how amazing would it be to see that familiar place when you first arrived? Not only is home the most comfortable place for a newborn shoot, the context itself is an important part of our history and memory.

3.) Because they will never be this small again

I still can’t believe that the boy who stands taller than me could ever fit so neatly into the crook of my arm like a lock and key! Photographing your baby at their very tiniest is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and how small and helpless they once were will never cease to amaze you. Choosing photography at home where your baby stays in your arms lends both important context and helpful scale.

4.) Moms are photographed less than anyone else in the family (including the pet iguana). We can change this together.

While conducting market research I had the opportunity to talk with 12 mothers. Only one had commissioned photos, 9 out of 11 regretted the choice not to commission professional newborn photos.

The two who did not have regrets had partners who photographed them with their children often and well. The nine who regretted it, when asked why they didn’t hire a photographer, cited overwhelm, external circumstances, uncertainty about their body, an unwilling partner and/or feeling that it was too luxurious or impractical an expense at the time. Often it was more than one of these reasons.

Add to that the mounting evidence that moms are the documentarians of their family – meaning that we make the magic for our children and capture it too. We’re often absent from tangible memories of important outings, birthdays, holidays and vacations.

Read more here: LINK WHEN WRITTEN Photo tips for new moms

How to get past what’s holding you back

Remember the moms who regretted not having newborns made? I do too and I’d like to address what came up for them, just in case these things are coming up for you.

1.) How you feel about your body

Even if we didn’t birth our baby, we are undergoing massive change and are subject to societal pressures. New moms on TV have flat stomachs and walk around like nothing happened – and that’s because a fancy pillow got yanked out from underneath their shirt.

Becoming a mother in the real world is a lot harder than that. And it takes a larger toll.

You are allowed to feel however you want about your body at any time. You are allowed to decide which photos are seen in the world and which you put aside just for your family. Tell your photographer how you feel – she will understand.

Just don’t let this get in the way of being seen, celebrated and remembered. In all likelihood you will look back with grace and perspective and think that you looked absolutely amazing! Even if you don’t, these photos will bring back the joy and wonder you felt and that will always be worth revisting.

2.) Stuff happens.

This one I know up close. Maybe your birth didn’t go as planned, maybe your recovery is more complicated than you expected, maybe postpartum depression hits or you’re having trouble making it through the day.

If you wait until the baby is born to hire a photographer its going to be too hard. Commit to your session with a compassionate professional photographer prior to birth and you can be assured it will happen because the “work” is done, the deposit is paid and your photographer will gently check in and wait for you to feel fully prepared and ready.

Post script: I didn’t know my son would be the only of five pregnancies I would be allowed to carry to term. I am so grateful I took maternity photos while pregnant with him, that there is proof my body did it. I just wish…. well, you know.

3.) Expense

When moms work outside the home here in the US, childcare expenses are devastating. And if we’re not working, we’re down one income. This can make the financial commitment of professional newborn photos seem extravagant if not and poorly timed.

What if family photography wasn’t just about having a photo for a birth announcement, a holiday card or to post on social media? What if family photography made parenting easier and families more connected?

I have a lot to share on the subject – plus tips for budgeting and making it more affordable!

Read more here: LINK INVESTMENT POST, LINK NEUROSCIENCE POST

welcome baby mallory 2

I’ll tell you a secret: everyone you see photographed here and on my site had a house they considered a mess! Say it with me: “my home is perfect just the way it is.” (I can’t hear you…. Louder for the back!). Seriously, we’re not coming to cover your home for an issue of Better Homes and Gardens, we’re here to capture this amazing moment in life in your most comfortable and ever evolving space. I mean, if you’re already living in your dream home that’s great… just know that you don’t have to be to love these photos.

Want to know how to prepare for your documentary shoot? Read more here: HOW TO PREPARE

5.) My partner is so not into this

Find out more – why are they feeling this way? Sometimes its related to expense but often its about the process (posing, ugh) or simply not seeing the value value (what’s the point?). If you’re having trouble communicating what these photos mean to you, just share this post.

Your partner wants what’s best for your baby just like you do. And if they learn that photo sessions can be easy, enjoyable and relaxed while having a real benefit for their kids, they might surprise you! (Dads are actually my biggest fans.)

I hope this has helped you make it over your hurdles and well on your way! Get professional newborn photos made and tell your baby their story from the beginning!

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