Worried that your older kids won’t co-operate for a newborn session at home?
Parents – I get it. You’re expecting your second/third/insert-number-here child, and you’d love to capture some tender moments of their first few weeks at home, BUT – and here’s the thing – you just know there’s going to be stress involved when trying to include your older kids in the photos. It doesn’t matter what age your elder ones are, they all have their own challenges, right? Two-year-olds may be entirely immune to bribery, four-year-olds may not want to listen, eight-year-olds (going on eighteen-year-olds…) are never gonna be persuaded to smile…On top of all of this, their lives will just have been turned upside down with the arrival of a brand new human in their family, so “best behaviour” is unlikely to be the reality.
Let me reassure you. Here are a few ways in which I take the stress out of in-home newborn sessions where siblings are involved (and when I say involved – more often than not it’s the siblings that become the stars of the show!!).
1. Get older brothers/sisters to show me round
When I arrive at your home for a newborn session, one of the first things I’ll do is look around your home to work out which rooms and spaces have the best light. If they’re old enough, I’ll often ask big brothers/sisters to give me a tour of the house, and if they’re keen we may even snap a couple of portraits of them in their own bedroom. Moving through your home with them never fails to break the ice, especially if they get a chance to show off their own personal space.
2. Keep it brief
We’ll usually organise, before I arrive, for your partner to take older siblings out for an hour or so when I get to your home. This allows me and mum to chat and relax, to get some beautiful feeding shots and really focus on your brand new teeny squish, without distraction!
Then once partner and big kids return…that’s when the fun really begins! After years of experience, I find the best way to capture the older ones is to keep things as brief as possible – as soon as they start to tire of a situation then we let them run off and play.
3. Let them break the rules!
Always with your permission, I’ll sometimes encourage older siblings to do something they’re not usually permitted to…be that bouncing on the bed, or going in baby’s cot…you get the idea! That way (especially if they think their parents aren’t in on it!) I win them over briefly, and participation is strangely never an issue!
4. Candid all the way
My aim during a session is to get one or maybe two images of everyone looking at the camera. That’s it. The vast majority of our session, I’ll be strongly discouraging anyone from interacting with the camera – after all, I’m here to document the connection between you guys as a family, not between you and a camera lens. If the kids look up at me while I’m clicking – no problem, but what you are not going to hear me say more than twice is “look at the camera!” because let’s face it, how many kids are going to co-operate with that more than a couple of times?! I know from my own children that asking them to smile for the camera is only going to lead to fake smiles, and who wants that on their wall?!
5. Let them take ownership
I’ll always encourage older siblings to show me their new baby brother/sister on their terms. The majority of big ones can hold their baby unassisted, sometimes with the help of some carefully positioned cushions or a discreet grown-up hand, and most will love the opportunity to show how careful they have already learned to be. The moment never lasts for long, but boy is it precious.
Of course, not all siblings will be keen to hold this new, odd-smelling, parent-obsessing, LOUD bundle that’s just burst onto the scene. And that’s entirely understandable! And entirely not a problem. Games are something I’ll always incorporate into newborn shoots with older brothers and sisters, as they’re perfect for capturing the real-life connection between families – we’ll be getting big ones to put stickers on baby’s tum (gently!), to stroke her nose, to look at the smelliest member of the family, to do round-and-round-the-garden on dad’s hand….oh and tickles, don’t forget the tickles. And when it all gets a little bit chaotic…that’s when the magic truly happens!
That’s probably the key thing to remember with big ones – when it feels like it’s all going wrong, just keep smiling, and we’ll make the shots you want to keep forever. Take a look at these two images and tell me which makes you smile most – if it’s poking dad in the eye, then we’re on the same wavelength, my friend! 🙂
Live in Cheshire, Wirral or North Wales, and interested in your very own in-home newborn session?