How I manage newborn photos with siblings
Parents have lots of concerns when it comes to a lifestyle newborn session like what to wear, the state of their “non-instagrammable-looking” home, and more than anything, how to navigate newborn photos with siblings.
Some of the comments I’ve heard regularly from parents leading up to a newborn photography session at home are:
But if you want proof, check out a few case studies from some of my recent Charlottesville newborn photo sessions.
The first 5 minutes of this session were calm and glorious. We photographed in the nursery, which was a tight fit with just one window, but we got some sweet moments of the girls together and of the baby by herself.
Then it broke down. Sweet toddler girl wanted nothing to do with me or anyone.
These images may not have been their vision of a smooth newborn session with a doting sibling, but they’re full of story and rawness. They may not be funny yet, but in 15 years when these girls are older, they will have a whole different vibe.
I ended up getting one set of everyone together by keeping bunny grahams in my pocket and making them hop out to surprise her.
We did breakdowns of baby with each parent (ah those serene moments) while the other parent took one for the team and fielded the tantrums.
Finally, a change of scenery outside was a game-changer. There’s always something you can do.
In fact, I’ve found that doing the opposite and inviting often leads to family engagement much more authentically. This little lady was a jumping bean, so we alternated between letting her do silly things, and then countering it with prompts like “go tell your brother where you’re going to jump next!”
For the 2 minutes we got her to catch her breath, we conveniently laid brother beside her and gave her challenges – “can you kiss his ear!?” “can you kiss his forehead soooo soft he doesn’t even feel it!?”
Simply by lowering my voice to a whisper, I often can get even the rowdiest kids to lean in for some gentler moments.
Bonus challenge for this session – it all took place in one room. The family was literally moving to a new state that week and their entire house was upended aside from this spot. It’s possible, friends.
When you have several kids close together, a newborn session with siblings gets even more interesting. They might be interested in the baby for brief seconds, but really it’s all a competition for parental attention.
Honestly, I don’t need them to be interested in the baby to make photos that have warmth and tenderness.
The idea of sitting calmly all looking and smiling…yea, we’re going to let allllll those expectations out the window mmmk?
The love was just oozing from this family, tickle fights, car races, full laps and all.
This sweet newborn girl was nursing about 75% of the session.
We made beautiful photos of that interaction, but I was also able to make fun portraits of the other siblings while the newborn and mama were busy!
The older girls literally got out Guess Who to play on the bed in the middle of the session because baby was just nursing non-stop, so we just rolled with it and those are some of my favorite shots!
In-between feeding, baby was often crying– likely because we needed her to stop eating for at least a few seconds… but we were still able to get lots of really special, intimate, and fun images that speak to the heart of this family’s dynamic.
Add these quick tips to your toolbox to try the next time a newborn session at home isn’t going so smoothly. I use these strategies often to reset the scene and manage any situation with calm confidence.
If you’re expecting and want newborn photos that give you the feels, I’m your girl.
If you have older kids who make you think “there’s no way they’d go for this…” HI, also here for that.
Families are my heart and soul. Every kind and every way. You deserve photos that bring you back to a place of love, even on the hard days. Let’s make it happen together.
(Want more insider tips and photography advice from shooting to running your family + newborn photography business? This is for you so we can dig in more!)