Baby Portrait Shoot days can be a little hectic. Babies do not work on schedules the way you and I do, they choose to be awake or in a good mood… and at any given moment those conditions can change. If I can time it right, I like to show up right after feeding time. If the baby we are photographing has needs that are met, everything seems to go more smoothly. Diaper changed, check! Warm room, check! Attention on the baby, check! That being said, all of these variables can be accounted for and it can still just be a challenging day.
When photographing a baby there are some things to keep in mind: Patience and Acceptance. When a baby is crying, accept that you might have to do some photographs with their pacifier in. If that means the child will be more content, less outraged in the shots, then I think it is worth it. If the parents do not want a shot with the pacifier in, time it so that you can get the shot right as it is pulled out. It is important to be ready for that one second when the baby moves their lips to reach for the object, after that the crying starts and you are back to square one.
Another thing to keep in mind is alternative posing. While the baby should be the focus of any new family shot, there is always the option to photograph things other than their face to make for a unique portrait. Feet, ears, hands, mouths, eyes only. These points of focus can change the image from average to exceptional. When the baby is having a meltdown, bring the family together and tell the parents to take a deep breath and smile, the camera does not capture noise!
When all else fails, embrace it! Black and white and sepia style photographs can soften the emotion and make the images more tolerable to the parents. While we as photographers might like the breakdowns and the emotion that is shown, most parents are not thrilled by these photos.