As a photographer that shot primarily newborn photos for a long time, I have met many new moms. About 80% of them either do not want to be in the newborn photos or are reluctant to do so. It is a miracle if they are ready to be photographed by the three-month milestone pictures.
Postpartum health and healing is tough, and sometimes the last thing moms want to do is see if their favorite dress from 10 months ago still fits.
I was the same way. After having my last biological child, we decided to splurge on some very nice professional newborn photos. I was so tired from extended visits and a second hospital stay that I didn’t even get dressed. Did I mention that Joseph was 11 pounds and 3 oz?! So I thought I’d save our photographer from the horror. I figured if she saw my botched makeup job, ill-fitting clothes and tire rack belly, she wouldn’t even dream of asking me to step in. But she had been around a while and knew exactly how important it is for moms to get in the photographs.
Fast-forward a few years. I was in the middle of my busiest photography year yet, when I received a sobering phone call from a friend of a family I had recently worked with. I vividly remember the session; they were funny, they loved each other and they had one very excited pre-teen big sister. We chatted so much during the session and we stayed in contact with a few exchanges the weeks after.
All of these memories ran through my head as I listened. This friend was calling to request the family’s photos so they could be used in the mother’s funeral. She had unexpectedly passed away, and I had taken the only professional photos of them as a family with their newborn baby boy. The magnitude of newborn photography and the very real risk of postpartum complications were never more real to me than in that moment.
I delivered the images with the condolences, and I sobbed through the task.
This incident took me back to my own session and the fight I put up with my photographer. I ended up loving those pictures so much that I upgraded my package just to have them and all the other amazing ones we had planned for and captured. We are fortunate to live in an age of cell phones and extremely nice quick snap photos. But the professional photos were amazing, sweet and definitely something I would want my family to cherish if something were to happen.
My advice as a newborn photographer is this: get in the picture. Life is always shorter than we want it to be. I am guilty of not getting in the photos too. As a photographer, I am always snapping photos of others. It took a social medial hashtag for me to realize just how many I was not in.