I just need to be honest. I used to hear the word ‘newborn’ session and I felt all kinds of anxiety and worry – I felt like I had to ‘pose’ them. Because you can’t speak logic to a one week old baby, how was I supposed to maintain any type of control over the situation? I had clients who wanted just portraits of the baby, which meant I had to pose him, and it also meant I was at the mercy of how well he slept. And that also meant that the only thing I was doing was taking portraits.
And then something happened – my dad died. And as my mom and I were going through old photographs, I saw her eyes lighting up and brimming with tears as she pulled out countless snapshot after snapshot.
Messy kitchen tables, a shot of the entire room, bad wallpaper, stuff on the desk – it all had a connection to our hearts.
Stand-alone portraits have a place. Styling has a place. But don’t forget to pull back and get the whole scene in there too sometimes. When you place a baby in a mother’s arms instead of just by herself, it gives context to how tiny that sweet baby really is. Years down the road that mother will be able to be transported right back in time – she will be able to feel the weight of that baby there, remember what it felt like as those tiny fingers wrapped around her finger, and that arm wrapped around her back. And when you can produce a photograph that makes someone ‘feel’ – then you’ve truly done your job.