Interview with a newborn photographer – Sarah from Dart Newborn Photography

newborn photography for multiples

Newborn Photography for Multiples

Sarah is not “only” a photographer; she is also a NICU nurse with over a decade of experience in handling premature babies.  So you can rest assured that your precious multiples are in the very best of hands.

How long have you been working as a newborn photographer?

I have been a professional newborn Photographer for 5 years now, it is crazy to believe that the first babies I photographed are starting school!!

You can find out more about Sarah HERE

What do you like best about being a newborn photographer?

No one wants to make a new mum cry but one of my most favourite things is when my clients contact me after viewing their gallery and say that they were a blubbering mess, I love that the images I can create can evoke so much emotion. These parents all say the same thing, and that is that when they look at the images they look back at their babies and see how much they have changed in such a short period of time and are so happy that the teeny squishy baby stage was captured so it can be remembered. Often their brains are so fuzzy from lack of sleep it’s understandably easy to forget.

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You can read what other parents have said about Sarah and her work HERE

What age should my babies be for a “newborn” photo?

The golden age for newborn photography is between 5-14 days old, this ensures that baby is super sleepy and still super curly.  BUT and there is a huge BUT here, photographing babies under 2 weeks of age is not always possible. Many times families do not realise they want a photo shoot until baby is a little older when they notice how much they are changing.

I successfully do newborn shoots up to 4 weeks, I have even photographed a few 6 week olds lately. The main difference in photographing older babies is that they are sometimes a little chubbier, significantly less curly as they have straightened out a bit and they are a little more alert. An upside to this is that when they are alert we can get gorgeous photos of these babies actually making eye contact with the camera, something that 2 week old babies aren’t very good at. The eyes open looking at the camera photos always seem to be the parents favourite images, and are definitely one of my most requested photos.

My recommendation is always to book your photographer while you are still pregnant to avoid missing out, I always keep a spot open each week for last minute bookings but many photographers will book themselves out in advance.

What happens if my babies are in NICU/SCN?  How can I organise newborn photos when I don’t know when they will be discharged?

The way most photographers book their clients in is by taking down the due date of baby, but did you know that only about 5% of babies are born on their due date? The reason photographers book in the due date is so that they know roughly how many babies they will be doing in a week so they do not over book. After baby is born parents contact the photographer to plan the actual session date and time. Some babies go early and some go late and it usually all works out in the end, every now and then I’ll have a week where more babies have gone late and more have gone early and so I work my little backside off fitting them all in!  In these weeks I just simply do not take on any last minute bookings.

If your baby is in SCN or NICU most photographers still go on the due date for booking reasons so they do not overbook.

Most babies who are admitted to SCN or NICU actually go home around their due date so it works out very similar to booking in full term babies. Usually you will have a rough guide by the hospital about how long they will be admitted, it’s super helpful if you communicate this with your photographer and keep them updated.

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I have heaps of experience photographing preterm (born under 37 weeks) babies, with premmies I work on corrected age. Corrected age is the age they would be if they were born on their due date. So when we say the ideal time for a newborn session is under 2 week of age this may be more like 10 weeks old for a baby born at 30 weeks. My guide with photographing preterm babies is to take their photos the first week home from hospital, or when ever the parents are most comfortable. Some photographers do not understand corrected age and preterm babies, so search around for a photographer who understands.

A little side note, ex-prems in general I have found to be more alert and less curly.

What if my babies are really unsettled and crying during the session?

Most newborn photographers are awesome at settling babies, I literally am asked at least once a week if I can come back at 3am to settle the baby for them! If a baby is crying usually, they are crying for a reason, if a baby is hungry, they need to be fed and if a baby won’t settle with a few ‘shushes’, rocks and pats I will always hand baby back to be fed, this is a great opportunity if you would like to take some feeding photos regardless of if you are breast or bottle feeding.

All babies have their off days but they should never be that unsettled during the shoot.

In my career I have had only 2 babies who were so unsettled that we had to cancel the session and I came back in the following days. One baby had severe reflux which parents went to their doctor and helped to get it under control, the other baby just wanted to cluster feed to get Mum’s milk to come in.

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Most photographers have quite long sessions, usually around the 3 hour mark to allow for settling and feeding, these photographers also often do more complex poses. My newborn photography shoots are considerably less than this, I shoot on location in my clients homes which seems to keep baby calm and do very simple timeless posing which I fit into one or two sleep cycles, my full sessions are on average about 1.5 hours long. I ask parents to feed baby right before I arrive and this also helps keep baby calm and my session time down. My twin & triplet sessions are only slightly longer than singleton sessions.

If at any point you are worried about your baby, you have the right to stop the session and take your babies. Always listen to your gut, you are the parents and if you think something is off it probably is.

Are the “cute” poses you see on Pinterest safe?

I will be totally honest here, some poses you will see on social media are safe and others are higher risk. Personally I do not do any high risk poses, safety is my absolute number one priority.

There are some common poses which should always be done by a composite image, a composite image is multiple images blended together in photoshop. Unfortunately in particular new photographers do not know that these images should be done this way, they see cute photos on pinterest and want to recreate them. These poses are the…

Froggie – baby holding their head up in their hands

Potato sack – baby wrapped snug and sitting up

Dangling – baby wrapped in a cocoon and hanging from a branch

Even as a composite image these poses carry risks, even while being held Froggie pose puts a lot of pressure on baby’s spine, as baby is tightly wrapped in multiple wraps there is a real risk of over heating and pressure asphyxiation with the potato sack pose.

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I always recommend parents to talk to their photographer about safety

Do they do higher risk poses, have they been trained (remember though that training is only as good as the photographer training you), do they do composites, do they have their baby CPR and first aid certificates, have they had all their immunisations up to date. Photographers should never leave babies to hold themselves up, or in unsafe situations. Even basic poses carry some risk, for example I am often posing babies with their chin towards their chest and this can be a risk for positional asphyxiation which I keep a close eye on, not many photographers understand this.

If at any point you are unsure or worried about how your baby is being handled speak up! You need to be comfortable and there is nothing wrong about speaking up.

What is the difference between lifestyle photography and posed photography?

Posed photography is usually very polished and refined, perfection is usually the goal. For babies and parents, they are often posed and manipulated into flattering positions. Babies are usually photographed naked with pretty hats and wraps. Parents are usually photographed against a plain back ground. Posed photography looks awesome as a feature artwork on your walls.

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Lifestyle photography uses your home as a back drop, the images document the imperfections of life. The photos are lovely and nostalgic. The photographer usually directs to a small degree of where to sit or stand and will find the light in your home. They will also encourage you to interact with your babies and your partner. These are not your usual ‘smile at the camera’ photos.

I love both styles and incorporate both styles in all my sessions.

What should the babies and our family wear for the photos?

The way I photograph family photos the clothing is not the center of the photo, I always hope you see the connection and love between people first and not what they are wearing. In saying that here is a general guide because I get this question a lot!

What you wear is completely up to you, my number one advice is to wear what you feel confident in. Mums in particular often feel vulnerable in the post partum time and are self-conscious about how they look. Always pick Mum’s clothing first, make sure she is happy and then build partners and children’s clothing around Mum’s

A few other bits of advice regarding what to wear for newborn photography shoots.

Try and steer clear of large logos and designs on tshirts, in particular dads and siblings. Wear clothing that fits, and isn’t too big or too small. Wear a top that hides bra straps. Patterns can look lovely, but if one person in the couple is wearing a pattern it is best that the other person wears something plainer, otherwise the photo starts to look too busy. Colour wise neutrals are always a good choice, just stay away from Fluro and super bright colours which can not only be difficult to photograph but also can cast a colour onto your skin (trust me your photographer will thank you!). Also think about the fashion you choose and pick something timeless, hopefully these images will be on your walls for many years, you don’t want to cringe in 20 years about the fashion long being out of date!

As for baby, in many photography sessions baby is naked for the majority of the photos. Baby can be wrapped in a plain wrap which the photographer often provides. For lifestyle images there is nothing more quintessential newborn as a onsie, in particular I love photographing babies in plain white onsies. The newborn newness against the soft white onsie really highlights all of babies features, and it will never go out of date.

Do you charge more for multiples??

No way! You guys already have to purchase multiple everything! Some posed photographers do charge more though, these photographers usually hire a 2nd set of hands to accomplish the more refined complex posed photography.

To Sarah has compiled a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions, which you can read HERE

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To book a session with Sarah, please visit her website.

Dart Newborn Photography


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