I was so lucky to be invited in to a beautiful home to capture a posed and lifestyle newborn session for Ruby and her family. Ruby had a proud big brother called James who was 2 years old.
Now we can all understand what 2 year olds are like, 2 year olds are the reason people say ‘Never work with children or animals!’. But luckily I have had a lot of experience working with young siblings and so I think I have a good knowledge of how to reach them and take the best photos possible. You see siblings lives have been completely turned upside down by the new addition to their family, everything they have known has changed and they have to adapt. Adapting is hard for an adult let alone someone who has only been in the world 2 years!
Even the mildest toddlers can act up when their new baby comes home, and this can be aggravated by having a stranger shove a camera in their face and ask them to smile. But don’t worry, I have seen it all before.
I always spend time with just the toddler first, getting to know them and gaining their trust. I often ignore the new baby for the first little bit of the photography session. When photographing siblings you will often find me rolling around on the floor with them, discussing Paw Patrol or singing wiggles songs. I don’t care how silly I look as long as I can gain these kids trust. Trust is paramount in photographing siblings. As I shoot on location in clients homes this also helps toddlers to feel relaxed with me. The big camera can actually be scary for young children so I often let them hold it and take my photo and have a look at the photo after they take it. This also works well for bribery, ‘I’ll let you take my photo if I can take yours!’. I have some awesome portraits of myself taken from my young subjects! Don’t worry…. my gear is insured 😉
I will attempt sibling photos first after the eldest has gotten used to me. Depending on the child I will lie them on their back and have them cuddle their new baby, I always have Mum or dad next to them just out of frame watching that baby is safe. Occasionally siblings literally want nothing to do with the new baby and so I will do a composite photo, this means I will take a photo of both the baby and toddler separately and merge the two in Photoshop to get one image. I will also pop baby in a bucket or bowl and get the sibling to sit next to them.
After I have done those two setups, I will ask mum and dad to take sibling away, give them a break, a snack, spend some time with them one on one with lots of attention while I focus on portraits of the newborn.
Newborn Photos are the easy part!
At the end of the newborn photos, while baby is still on the bean bag, I usually invite the sibling over to interact. I can usually capture some cute moments as they cuddle in together or the eldest one might kiss the baby.
Next up is family photos, they are only semi posed with a very relaxed lifestyle feel. I never usually say smile and look at the camera, I like documenting real life. I might make some prompts, to kiss baby or cuddle in together.
It’s important when dealing with young children to have appropriate expectations, most of the time I am not aiming for text book perfection. I am aiming for the moment and to capture their personalities. If I succeed at this then the images become perfectly imperfect, just the way I like it.
Toddlers have a short attention span, and sometimes if they start feeling overwhelmed they might start acting out. Sometimes giving them some space and a break helps.
Because James thought I was his own personal photographer by this point as soon as I stopped paying him attention, and focused on Mum and Dad he decided he wanted to be involved again!
So if you are scared or worried about having sibling photos with your newborn session, DONT BE! Contact me today to book in your full newborn session.