They seem to be everywhere now. Images of babies asleep in their mother’s arms. Asleep in a crib. Asleep in a sling. Asleep on a pillow. In fact, most of the images you see of babies these days show them asleep. Not that there is anything wrong with that. These images are beautiful, no doubt. There’s something about seeing a calm, content newborn that just makes us say, “Aww!”
In fact, the conventional wisdom among professional photographers is that you should do everything in your power to convince parents that up until 3-4 months old, any pictures of babies should be taken while the babies are asleep. We understand why. At that age, babies are much easier to work with when they are not awake. Since most babies are pretty sound sleepers, they can be moved and positioned and curled without much fuss. They’ll let you do pretty anything you want to them. But sometimes a photoshoot with a snoozing baby is not possible. Maybe because of scheduling, maybe because of the babies temperment, maybe just because of the parents wishes, you have a wide awake newborn.
Where some photographers might be terrified, we think you can get some wonderful images with an alert newborn. The key is patience. You have to be willing to wait. Up until about six weeks, babies respond to very little stimuli. They might turn their head toward a voice, but they obviously aren’t going to smile on cue. And up until three months, it can be very hit and miss. As a photographer, you have have to be ready to capture the moment when it comes.
Over Thanksgiving, we shot our great niece Maddie (1 month) and great nephew Levi (almost two and a half months) and neither were asleep. In fact, at different times during the shoots, both were downright fussy. But because we waited and were patient, we were able to get some pretty interesting expressions and just darling shots.