Before Little Pea arrived, I bought the sweetest little onesie, size 0-3 months, with the intention of putting her in it for her 3 month portrait. I love my home snapshots, but I'm definitely a sucker for the professional portrait sittings for the little baby milestones.
Little Pea is growing right before my eyes and it started to become apparent that the sweet little onesie might not make it to her 3 month portrait sitting. She's only 6 weeks old and I'm still too hesitant to bring her out in public. I decided to take matters into my own hands and set up my own in-home studio for an impromptu photo session.
It was easy enough to do and I'm pleased enough with the results that I thought I'd share some of the tips and tricks I discovered this afternoon.
First, the results. I played around with different treatments with Photoshop for the final poses I liked the best. Baby skin is very difficult to make look nice and creamy. I still have a lot to learn about Photoshop. I can't decide which treatment I like best. Thoughts?:
How I did it:
1. I waited patiently for a coupon in the mail from Joann Fabrics and last week purchased 2 yards of soft fuzzy blanket material to be used as a backdrop. I prewashed it and was pleased to find it didn't even fray and doesn't need to be hemmed! Best $12 I've spent in a long time. If you have a large enough plain colored blanket at home, you can skip this step but really the 2 yards were just barely big enough, I don't recommend using anything any smaller.
2. I've been waiting for a sunny day so our home is filled with enough natural light. Today is perfect, not a cloud in the sky.
3. I gathered several different "props" to experiment with--couch pillows, the Peanut's tiny soft arm chair, a Boppy pillow, the backdrop cloth and a pastel quilt. It is much better to grab anything you think you might use and have it nearby vs. stopping in the middle of your session to go rummaging around the house. For baby photos, you can get really creative. Consider baskets, large bowls, pillows of various widths and thicknesses and look for blankets with different textures.
4. I waited until Little Pea had just finished her bottle and had a fresh diaper on. She was the perfect stage of sleepiness and contentment. (Probably the biggest perk of doing this at home, you can wait till the time is perfect vs. waiting for an appointment!)
5. Of all the props I experimented with the Boppy pillow won as the most useful and natural looking positioner. I draped the dropcloth over the Boppy pillow on the floor and then up the edge of the couch so when I shot the photo looking straight at the baby you can't see anything from my house in the background.
6. I kept a bottle on standby for when she got fussy. All it took was a few sips and she was right back to being content without needing to break her pose.
7. The posing tricks I used I actually remember from the Peanut's 3 month photo session. If your baby is sleeping, I think the sweetest pose is lounging on their sides vs. flat on their back. I let Little Pea fall asleep on her back and then gently pulled the blanket from one side to help turn her over onto her side.
I gently prodded her little arms and hands into a position that matches the same pose from the Peanut's portrait. When Little Pea would tuck her chin down or hide her face, a gentle tickle on her cheek would cause her to lift her chin in response.
Hmm, I used "gentle" too many times in that description, but it really sums it up. I was soft and slow with any changes I made to her position so she wouldn't wake up and would settle back into a natural position.
When I was done with her side poses, I took the chance of waking her and moved her onto her tummy with her legs tucked under and her arms propping up her head. Each photo you see was staged by me, she doesn't naturally fall into any of those positions without a little encouragement. That may seem like an obvious statement, but it was the biggest inspiration I got from watching the professional shoot photos of the Peanut--it's ok, maybe even necessary, to stage the position of the baby to get what you want.
8. Wouldn't you know I ended up with a certain jealous Peanut? A chocolate chip cookie and the promise of her own photo shoot kept her at bay just long enough for me to finish. She absolutely insisted on posing right where the baby had been.
9. And, I knew just when to stop. No need to push things.
I spent 2 hours from when I first decided to do the photo shoot to when I packed up my camera. In that time, I took 239 photos. Many of them are repeats of the exact same thing but with different cropping or slightly perfected arm and leg positions. I tried 4 different "stages" with my props before I settled on the best arrangement.
I'm not suggesting you need to go off and take 250 photos of your baby. I'm just saying that I'm not a professional and this was an afternoon of trial and error to get a small handful of photos I'm thrilled with. And it cost me a grand total of $12 for my backdrop cloth and I don't have a portrait studio threatening to delete my album if I don't order prints Right. This. Second.
With my new mommy hormones, who needs that pressure?? I happily ignored Handyman Tim's eye rolls today and it was worth every moment.