In newborn lifestyle photography parents always want pics of their children together. Sometimes this is easier said than done! But over the years I’ve learned a few tricks to help make the older sibling(s) more comfortable and willing to participate!
Start Slow When Involving Siblings with their New Baby/Brother
It’s important to remember that this small child’s world has been turned upside down! They have gone from being maybe the only child, or at least the youngest child and depending on their age, they will have limited understanding of who this new little human is! It can be scary so it’s no surprise that they tend to act out or be hesitant to participate in anything to do with the new baby.
When I arrive at a client’s house I always get on the child’s level and greet them. This involves either kneeling, or sitting on the ground next to them (not simply bending over). At this point, my camera is not even out yet! Usually one of the first things I do after greeting everyone is to take a quick tour of the house so I know the best spots to photograph. I always ask if the older sibling wants to show me around! I ask them about their room, favorite toys, pets, etc. I talk about whatever I think they may be interested in based on context clues or from the client intake form.
Introduce the Camera
After the older sibling(s) and I have had a little chat and we’ve walked through the house I grab my camera. Before I put it on my body I actually let them hold it to let them see how heavy it is and either take a picture of their pet, their stuffed animal or of them if they’ll let me, and show them the picture on the back. I ask them if they like to get their picture taken or if they like to take pictures using mom and dad’s phone. I ask them if there are any pictures of him/her around the house. Pictures of them when they’re a baby are great examples!
Snap Some Pictures in Their Space
Most likely older siblings under the age of 5 will lose patience for photos fairly quickly so I try to involve them right away. I get their individual shots and group shots involving them first. I have found that older siblings love to show off their toys and their room! These are such sweet memories to have!
For the group shots we play games like:
- Count baby’s fingers and toes
- What does the baby’s head smell like? Best answer I’ve ever gotten: Bacon!
- Eskimo Kisses
- Read a book
- Jump on the bed
- Drive a matchbox car up and down the bed
I’m also not above a little bribery (fruit snacks are my go-to). If parents approve of this “treat” don’t wait until the very end of the shoot to give the reward. Give one little piece after each pose or after asking them to do something. Instant reward/gratification is key!
Once you’ve gotten all of the shots with the older sibling, mom and dad can take turns giving big brother/sister a break to go get a snack or go play in another room. I use this time to take pictures with baby and each parent individually.
I finally end with individual photos of baby.
Safety of baby and older siblings is always more important than the perfect shot. Because of this I always follow these safety precautions:
- Take it SLOW
- Always ask the parents if older sibling has ever shown signs of aggression towards the baby and if so – proceed accordingly
- Don’t push it!
- Always have one or both parents standing by to “spot” the baby and sibling
- Ask permission before offering snacks
- Always narrate what you are doing/going to do
I so enjoy taking lifestyle newborn photographs and witnessing the new relationships forming within a family! It is such an honor to capture these moments!