One of the greatest challenges of being a newborn photographer is capturing that elusive sibling shot. Newborn sibling photos are some of the most difficult to capture because…well, toddlers. Have you ever met a toddler? I’ve met lots and BOY do they have opinions about things!
Any time I have a family coming into the studio with an older sibling, we always start right away with trying to get that sibling photo. Why? Toddlers have a short attention span. You have to catch them while they are still engaged and interested in what’s going on. For some, coming into the studio can be a bit overwhelming. There are lots of new things to see and touch. And there’s a new person standing in front of them with a camera who they’ve never met before (or don’t remember meeting because they slept through it last time!) If I get the sense that older brother or sister needs some time to warm up to me or the studio, I’ll start with a group shot with mom and dad or let the toddler play while I get a few individual shots of baby.
Depending on the age of the sibling I try for one of two images – baby and sibling laying down on the rug or baby in a prop with sibling sitting next to it. Whichever one ends up happening is totally dependent on the child’s cooperation.
Some parents come in to the studio already knowing their toddler might be difficult to wrangle. I generally don’t advise bribery with this age group since it doesn’t always work, but sometimes we do need to involve technology like a phone or iPad as a form of distraction. These tools can be a life saver. Sometimes they don’t work, though. I try to prepare parents for the possibility that a sibling photo may not happen. You have to remember that for these little ones, their whole world has just been turned upside down. Their routine has been thrown off. Everything is different. Toddlers look for things they can control – and cooperating for a photo is definitely one of those things.
So, what can you do to help make the process as smooth as possible? A few things. Make sure your toddler is well rested before the session. I usually try to work with client’s schedules to ensure the toddler has had a nap (or isn’t too close to nap time) when they come in with their newborn sibling. I also encourage practicing at home. Make sure your older child gets some time to interact with the baby beforehand so they don’t feel like the baby is being forced upon them. These little things can make a big difference on picture day.
Are you expecting baby #2 (or 3, 4, etc!) Don’t be afraid of the newborn sibling photos! They are always my client’s most cherished images from their newborn sessions.