Have you ever been in a doctor’s office and seen these amazing photos of little newborn babies, peacefully asleep, adorned in cute outfits, and wondered how on earth do they get those pictures?!
I have! How do those babies stay asleep like that? My first two children would never stay asleep that well as newborns, especially if I was moving them around or changing their outfits. We even tried a newborn photo session with my second son when he was two weeks old, but it didn’t go well. He would wake up and fuss every time the photographer asked me to re-position him. I spent more time trying to nurse him back to sleep then we did actually taking pictures. So when I was given the opportunity to do a newborn photo session with local Annapolis photographer, Kristin Micari, my expectations weren’t that high, but I figured I’d give it a go.
I showed up at the photographer’s house with my almost three week old baby girl Amelia. I had nursed her right before coming, but also brought a bottle of milk with me. When we arrived, Amelia was awake and wide-eyed. Like my boys, she didn’t stay asleep very well. The photographer took me down to her studio basement which was already nice and toasty warm. She had told me beforehand to dress lightly, which I was glad I had. We chatted a little while I got Amelia undressed and made sure she had a nice clean diaper on. She showed me some of the outfits and backdrops she was planning to use, but explained that when the baby was ‘done’, then that was it. She only does what the baby allows her to do. She wouldn’t force a pose or keep going if it was upsetting the baby. This made me curious how long the photo shoot would go, since I was guessing Amelia would last maybe five minutes before fussing or refusing to stay asleep.
Since it was obvious that Amelia was still quite wide awake, the photographer suggested I give her the bottle. As I fed her, and her little eyes became heavy, the photographer lowered all the lights in the room, setup her camera and lighting equipment, and turned on a white noise app on her phone. Soon enough, Amelia was asleep in my arms. I assumed the photographer would then have me position her the way she wanted, but instead she reached out her arms and asked me to hand her over. Reluctantly I did. She then suggested I take a seat and relax, she would handle it from here.
Over the next 3 hours, I sat and watched in amazement as the photographer would wrap up my baby in these beautiful fabrics, adorn her sweet head with beautiful bows and ribbons, and position her over and over again to get these absolutely stunning pictures. Throughout that time, Amelia would occasionally wake up, especially when getting unwrapped. But the photographer would patiently bounce or rock her back to sleep, sometimes bringing the white noise closer to her, or using the pacifier I had brought. Within just a few seconds, or sometimes a few minutes, Amelia would be back asleep, and the photographer would continue to position her with extreme precision to get just the right shot. She would gently move Amelia’s little hands or feet, or turn her head slightly, to make for such a perfect picture. She explained that babies sleep so peacefully when they’re wrapped up tight, so sometimes she would wrap her in one cloth, then wrap a different one over that to create the color or look that she wanted. I was just in awe watching her work. I even found myself holding my breath one time as she worked so hard to position Amelia with her little hands under her chin for this incredible picture of her propped up in a little barrel.
She was always so gentle, but also quick and methodical, to make the most of the time we had. About halfway through, when it was taking a little longer than usual to coax Amelia back to sleep, she handed her over for me to nurse her. Afterward she had no problem getting her back to sleep and into more adorable positions. It was such a fun and relaxing experience. It never felt rushed or forced. Amelia seemed happy as a clam, all cozy in her pretty little wraps. And I had such fun watching the ‘behind the scenes’ of how these newborn baby photos really happen. Now if only I could get Amelia to sleep that soundly at home!
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Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.