I’m asked a specific question a lot from photographers. I am asked how long do I typically spend on a newborn session. The answer is 2 hours. While I do believe I can get a nice photo shoot done every time in 1-1/2 hours, I do like to socialize a little with my clients and talk – but I do my best to make good use of every moment of the session. Most chit-chat is held while I am in between setting up new “sets” or while baby is feeding. Lately, I have been reading on photography forums that some photographers spend 4-8 hours on newborn sessions. That seriously makes me cringe. I will very seldom go over 2 hours, and that is only if we are on the verge of getting something really special and I know baby is still up for it. Most of the time, however, I think it is kind of cruel to both parents and baby to keep them beyond what is a reasonable amount of time for photographing their newborn. I mean, frankly, my clients have lives, and honestly? So do I. As a business woman, I do believe it best to have structure from both a business standpoint as well as to just be efficient. As a parent, I know there is no way I or my kids would want to spend 6 hours with a photographer unless it was a documentary of “day in the life” or a wedding or event. Portrait session? No way, no how.
I know that can touch a nerve with a lot of photographers, but that’s okay. I’m here to encourage as well. So what do you do when you have a refluxy/colicky baby? #1 – do NOT keep them for 4 hours. To be honest, I think it can be torture (depending on the baby) to keep them beyond an hour, if they are truly miserable. Here’s a session that I shot for no more than 30 minutes. I had a final total of 30-different images for the client. There were no crazy prop shots or anything of that sort, but still, we managed some beautiful images of baby.
What’s that saying, “separates the men from the boys?” Well, maybe this is colic/reflux sure separates the “pros from the fauxs?” (sorry but I liked how it rhymed, it’s not quite what I’m after) As a professional, we are called to do the best in the situation before us…. that’s what we try to do. I’m personally very happy with what we were able to accomplish and still not torture this sweet little girl for hours in the process It’s possible, it’s very possible to make things work. The goal was accomplished.
Disclaimer: Because there are some photogs who have taken this the wrong way – I really had no idea that typing that would be so offensive to photographers. People say “that’s what separates the men from the boys” [insert big gruff male laughter] all the time and no one seems to get offended… it’s just a goofy saying that I’ve never thought twice about. I was writing this to encourage. Yes, we all start somewhere, but we should all be about doing our best and being efficient and taking our clients’ time into consideration. Many of us get in a rut where we are out to try every single pose or prop at every single session and we get stuck on that and not think beyond it. I’ve been there… I get it. If you yourself go over 2 hours, so what? I’ve done the same in some instances, but I try to accomplish a goal each time I shoot. We all need goals. It’s what makes us get to the next level.