Give me all the family love at a newborn session. I’ll take it all!
One of the questions that I get most from students and other photographers is how to incorporate older siblings into an in-home session… successfully. My answer? Embrace the chaos and joy!
Toddlers rule the world. Let’s face it. It’s so much better to go into a session with an open mind, and let them think that statement is true. No, they don’t really rule the world, but in their minds, they are the kings and queens! And I love it. I absolutely love stepping into their world for a few hours. Each child is an individual, and each family dynamic is different. By getting on the toddler’s level, letting them show me around, it has a big impact on the success of the session.
Understanding Your Audience. This starts before the session ever takes place. Client questionnaires? If you’re not using one, you should be. I always ask about older siblings, their names and ages. I also ask for information about the family, what they like to do, etc. This gives me to opportunity to walk in and not feel like a stranger. Of course, I am a stranger to a two year old, but I can walk in with confidence when approaching that two year old. Sometimes, depending on the age of the child, I will still ask them how old they are… then make a huge deal about how amazing that is, or tell a silly joke about how I thought they were so much older? “You’re not two. I thought you were 17!” To a three year old, 17 is ancient! They’ll laugh and think I am the silliest person EVER. Sometimes they are too young for jokes, so I just find something they are interested in and ask them all about it!
It may seem backwards, but for me, older siblings guide the session, NOT the baby.
Show Me Around. Toddlers, when old enough, love to show me around. I always ask them to take me to their favorite places. Bedrooms and Playrooms. I focus on them for a bit to allow them to get familiar with me and my camera. I might take some time to document moments between them and their parents, without the baby in the frame. You see, bringing a new baby into a toddler’s world is exciting, but can also be overwhelming. For so long, that was their mommy and daddy… and now they’re expected to share!
Love and Joy. I encourage laughter and fun. I sometimes encourage jumping on the bed or having dad “throw” big brother or sister up into the air. I always encourage snuggling. I am always sneaking tender moments with mom or dad and baby, or baby alone, but overall, the toddler thinks they are the star of the show from start to finish. This is my secret to success, in a nutshell. The newborn is a part of the story, the newest member of the family. But the family is established, and it is so important to make it fun and authentic for the siblings. There will be so many natural moments that unfold throughout the session… and encouraging fun along the way is never a bad idea.
The session featured here is a fun family of four. A two year old, joy filled girl, and her new baby brother. This session took place when the baby was eight weeks old, something that I often hear is “too late” for a session. As you can see, that’s not the case… and I have a blog post coming soon all about documenting life with “older” newborns.
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If you want to learn more about Newborn Photography, check out my course with Clickin Moms: Newborn Stories | Documenting New Life in the Hospital, Studio, and at Home