I’m just gonna put it out there: 3-month-olds are blobs. Cute little blobs, but blobs nonetheless. I’m not a huge prop-junkie, so posing opportunities seemed limited to me at this age. As such, I persuaded my newborn clients to come back to me at 6 months instead, when their little ones hit the beloved “potted plant” stage (after babies can sit up but before they can crawl/walk/run away). But with my outdoor sessions still a few weeks away, and another 3-month inquiry coming in, I finally caved. I’m glad I did!
A few things I’ve learned along the way…
1. Set Realistic Expectations with Clients
I work on-location, and primarily outdoors. I don’t own studio lights, and and while I do tote along a beanbag set-up for indoor baby portraits, my backdrop is not large enough to accommodate family shots. So I’m upfront with clients: should they choose an indoor session, much of it will be lifestyle in nature. If young siblings are involved, baby’s safety and toddlers’ cooperation levels must both be considered, i.e. a perfectly-posed sibling portrait is unlikely. I focus instead on capturing interactions between the children, and the unstaged moments are always some of my favorites!
2. Be Patient and Flexible
Most 3-month-olds are not yet on a sleep schedule; stick around awhile (I was there almost 3 hours) and use this to your advantage. While they’re not as squishy and sleepy as newborns, and therefore can’t be coaxed into as many different positions, many are cat-nappers. You may be able to use the same basic poses both awake and then asleep if baby starts to doze off. Of course, some babies may not sleep, in which case it’s easier to keep them comfy (usually on their backs at this age) and move yourself around to shoot from different perspectives.
3. Involve Mom and/or Dad
A win-win scenario. It’s the early connections between parent(s) and child that always tug at my heartstrings when I begin my editing. As an added bonus, baby is usually most content in mommy’s arms or on daddy’s lap.
4. Sneak a Few Solo Shots of Big Brother(s) and Sister(s)
Engage little ones in play or conversation. Let them show you their favorite toys or books, or ask them silly questions. I’m a big fan of “whatever you do, don’t look at my camera!” to get eye contact (and giggles) from a toddler.
5. Capture the Everyday Moments
Diaper changes, feedings, tickles, just chillin’ in the bouncy. Again, experiment with shooting from different angles for a more unique perspective on the ordinary. And don’t be afraid to “guide” these everyday moments towards the best light — babies are very portable, as are bouncy seats and activity mats.
So there you have it. My apologies to the masses of cute little blobs out there and my thanks to one beautiful baby girl and her sweet family who helped change my mind about 3-month sessions.
Thank you for sharing these amazing tips with us Christina! Do you have any tips for photographing 3 month olds? Please share with us in the comments below!
Christina McGuire, Michigan
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Christina McGuire is a natural light children’s photographer, born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit. Always an artist at heart, it wasn’t until Christina became a mother that she found the inspiration and freedom to return to her creative roots. She now paints with her shutter, most often documenting the shenanigans of one blue-eyed babe and another brown-eyed girl. When she’s not busy wrestling the red channel on her new Nikon D700, Christina enjoys date nights with her hubby, playing Lego with her daughters, and swapping recipes with girlfriends.