It may seem like this new human will spend its entire life as a squirming, wailing meatloaf – at least that’s how it feels at the 3 am feeding – but they grow fast. Soon your baby is waddling around the house and, approximately twenty minutes later, smashing your mailbox with the car fender. It’s easy to forget to capture the moment when you’re busy living the moment.
(Or hoping the moment will end. Yes, they’re precious bundles of joy, but those precious joy bundles have a terrible habit of wailing in the grocery store line.)
One way to capture those moments is to book a portrait session with a professional photographer. Yes, iPhones are a wonder of technology but there’s nothing like a professional to give you an image you’ll want on your mantelpiece forever.
“When people coo over baby pictures, they may or may not realize that the baby doesn’t actually look like that,” explains Karen Geaghan, an experienced baby photographer. “Their skin is red, they have pimples, and more than half the babies I shoot have purple feet because of poor circulation,” she says. Geaghan spends hours after every shoot manipulating expensive software to edit out the blemishes and alter skin tone. “People don’t want to see purple feet,” she laughs.
What People Don’t Realize
Those perfect baby pictures posted on Facebook don’t happen by accident. “People see the end result without knowing what goes into it,” says Geaghan. Keeping a baby content during hours of photography is no easy feat. She has to crank the heat up to 85 degrees – no joke in Massachusetts in January – and she asks the mother to feed the baby at the beginning of the session so the baby is sleepy. (Translation: content and malleable.) She also employs a veritable Rube Goldberg machine of contraptions to keep babies calm, like white noise and a soothing heartbeat monitor.
Babies Are Expensive
“Pricing throws people for a loop,” says Geaghan. Often parents don’t realize what goes into a session or what happens behind the scenes. A photographer’s time for a single session is often more than ten hours – set-up and breakdown of equipment is an hour, shooting is three to four hours, and then there’s editing to remove the purple feet.
Plus, there’s the equipment. Cameras – and professional photographers have many, all of which perform different functions – are thousands and thousands of dollars. “My favorite lens is $2500,” laughs Geaghan.
Your Baby Will Probably Pee On Something
No worries, that’s what babies do. It’s in their job description. “That’s why I have a washing machine,” laughs Geaghan.
“I tell parents not to bring a lot of clothes – they aren’t dolls. Really, they’re not much more than a blob for that first four months,” she says. Some parents want to put their child in clothes and she never wants to say no, but she does try to explain her thinking. “You can only go without clothes in pictures until they’re a few months old,” she says. “So this is the only time you can see those cute, chubby rolls. You’ll want to remember those.”
About those buckets and baskets you see in newborn photography everywhere: “Prior to four months, your baby can’t hold itself up. That’s why I put it in something,” explains Geaghan. “That’s the only way you’ll see the baby’s face.”
We Aren’t Robots
When asked how she coaxes emotion through on pixel, Geaghan says, “How can you look at your newborn baby and not feel? It’s just there.”
You’ll remember the emotions because you feel them every time you look at your child (well, some of the times you look at your child) – but you won’t ever regret capturing those first few months. Especially after the decade that your angel will spend coloring on the walls. That picture on the mantel may just save everyone’s sanity.
Do you have any favorite newborn/baby photos, or memories from photo shoots of your kids?