By Trisha Jimenez of TG Photography
ONE OF THE MOST CHALLENGING aspects of being a newborn photographer is posing the newborn with a sibling. This can also be the most rewarding shot that you will ever capture. The majority of people tend to have their babies two years apart, so 9 times out of 10, you are working with not only a newborn, but also a rambunctious two year old. Add to the fact that this toddler’s usual routine has just been recently altered with the introduction of a new baby in the home… well, you can see where this is going.
Some siblings adjust well to a new little bundle of joy. Unfortunately, some do not. Since you can never anticipate which type you will get, you need to be prepared for anything. Newborn safety is the most important factor when posing them with a young sibling.
- Do not let the toddler/sibling hold the baby unattended. If the baby gets dropped, squeezed, rolled-on, squished, or slapped (yes, those precious two year olds like to slap), then not only will parents be upset with you, they will also be upset with the sibling. Tensions rise and the whole session can go downhill.
- Do not place the baby and/or sibling on high surfaces. Try to take all sibling shots on the ground or as close to the ground as possible. Kids get uneasy when they are out of their element. The toddler is already getting nervous about being in an unfamiliar place and interacting with the new baby. I’ve noticed that if you let them sit or lay on the floor they are more comfortable with the idea. Occasionally I will let the toddler sit in a chair, but this should only be for the most cooperative siblings.
- Do not force a toddler to do something he or she doesn’t want to do. Moms and dads know what happens when we try to force a child to do something: it becomes a battle of the wills and rarely ends well. Instead of telling a toddler what to do, ask him or her. For example, “Do you want to kiss the baby?” If he or she is adamant about not doing it, quickly move on to something else. You can always come back to it later.
- Composite images are another way to ensure newborn safety. When using a prop, place it on the ground first and snap a shot with the toddler sitting next to it before you put the baby in/on the prop. This way you can make sure that a baby in a bucket doesn’t get carelessly overturned or a toddler doesn’t take off with the newborn in an antique baby carriage at 90 miles an hour. See below for some examples. Notice a parent is next to the newborn in every shot.
- Use a swaddle/wrap to secure the newborn
- Lay newborn and sibling on their backs next to each other
- When attempting composite images, place a toy in the prop to hold the sibling’s attention
- Holding the baby is not the only option. Lay the baby on a bed/carpet/prop and then have toddler lean over the newborn to kiss/hug the baby (with parent nearby, of course)
ALWAYS REMEMBER WHEN PHOTOGRAPHING NEWBORNS: SAFETY FIRST!
Thank you, Trisha for sharing this awesome tutorial! Trisha has a new set of newborn editing Photoshop actions out. Here’s what she has to say about them:
“I love a nice clean edit and that is exactly what I strived to create with each of my action sets. All my actions are created to be applied at 100%. Yes, that’s right! No adjusting opacity and no tweaking each individual layer. These actions are extremely easy to use and are sure to speed up your workflow significantly. You will also love the retouching and skin smoothing actions to give your subjects a glowing, flawless look.”
You can pick them up in her shop here.