My name is Laurie Baker, the photographer behind Elle Baker Photography and I am a Chicago baby and family photographer specializing in, you guessed it, baby photography! I enjoy other niches of photography as well, but my heart fell in love almost a decade ago with everything baby photography! I have photographed 100’s of babies over the years and I learned that every baby is beautiful and unique in their own special way. I have a natural light studio in a south suburb of Chicago (hey Homer Glen friends!!), and I photograph primarily maternity, newborn, baby milestones, and small families there.
The reason for today’s post is because over the last few years I have received emails asking simple questions about my baby photography. So to all of my blog readers, clients, and fellow photographers, I will be offering Tips For a Successful Baby Milestone Session in this blog post! I hope you find this post informative and helpful! If you have any more baby photography related questions, feel free to contact me! Make sure to follow me on Instagram for pull back shots, behind the scenes, and recent work!
By the way, you have been warned that the images you are about to see will tug REALLY hard at your heart strings and make you all say aww… If you want to see more of this little man, visit a recent blog post to read more!
Bring a special toy, keepsake, or ‘lovie’ to the session. I LOVE to incorporate special tokens and keepsakes that have meaning in baby’s life. If there is a special blanket, or plush toy that the baby just adores, then lets document it! When think back on my favorite images of my babies, it’s them holding their really loved toys.
Babies often time feel at ease and can be easily soothed by their special lovie. I always start out my session with their keepsake to get started and let the baby warm up to me and my big and sometimes intimidating camera in their faces. Parents will look back at those images a year or two later and it will bring back all of those warm and fuzzy feelings of when their baby was that small. I get messages all the time thanking me for capturing those moments with their favorite toy because they forgot all about how much their baby loved it. If your client doesn’t have a special keepsake, I recommend having an assortment of wooden toys (you can find some cute ones on Etsy) for baby to play with because a very important milestone stage worth documenting is them grasping toys.
Clothing and wardrobe advice. I provide a baby wardrobe in my studio for babies 0-18 months old consisting of organic cotton clothing items to be used during the session BUT I always recommend to parents to bring in a simple white or neutral onsie and a diaper cover of their choice. Simple is always better in my opinion and I always recommend tan, gray, white, cream, pastel colors.
Take breaks throughout the session and bring a snack and extra bottle feeding. I take a mid session break so the baby can eat a little snack, get a drink of water, and get some cuddle time with mom or dad. Let’s be real, it’s REALLY hard being such a cute baby model. Babies also get very over stimulated with the noise and commotion during the sessions. My sessions are very calm and relaxed but it’s still a lot for some babies and they just need a minute to relax.
I keep puffs and cheerios at my studio just in case a parent forgets to bring a snack. With their permission of course, we take a minute and let the baby eat. I also take a mid session break even if they aren’t hungry. There is a TON of stimulation between changing their clothing throughout the session, noise from me trying to make them smile, them sitting up or in tummy time. I can say with 100% certainty that your client will have a better customer experience if you take your time, relax, and let their babies take a 10 minute break. I personally block out a full hour of studio time for a baby milestone session. This is also a HUGE opportunity to capture parent and baby shots. These photos will be candid but authentically REAL. We are photographers and are there to document the world of babyhood. So step back and capture those amazing moments happening before you.
In these images below, mom stepped in to comfort baby. I stood back and documented the natural connection between the two.
After baby had his mid session break, I was able to incorporate mom into the session a little more and capture baby taking his first little steps and superbaby (aka guaranteed smiles)
As soon as baby arrives, change their diaper, take off their socks, and pick their boogers! That’s right, I said boogers!
Diaper changing time isn’t always baby’s favorite thing to do so I recommend getting all the ‘bad’ stuff out of the way. If baby cries, this is the time for the crying redness to go away. Next, take off their socks! I can’t tell you how many sock mark edits I have done over the years. Fluffy babies tend to get red marks from their socks and it takes a good 15-30 minutes for those red lines to disappear. And Boogers! I wouldn’t be a great baby photographer if I don’t talk about boogs. Parents PLEASE don’t pick boogs during the session. It makes baby mad every. single. time. When I’m shooting, I always tell parents to leave baby as is. If they get a boog mid session, I will edit it out but please please please don’t pick during the session. 99% of the time it takes away that moment and baby never fully recovers back to happy baby after that. #itstrueaskanyphotographer
I provide neutral diapers for my clients to wear throughout the session. Pampers and Huggies have adorable designs, but sometimes they show through diaper covers and clothing. (Hint hint Pampers and Huggies). I also always prep parents upon arrival about boogers, diaper changes, and grooming. It’s so hard for some parents to just relax and enjoy the session because they are constantly grooming their little baby dolls, but if you prep them beforehand and tell them to just enjoy the session, it will be just fine.
This gorgeous babe did not have a single booger during his session BUT had the fluffiest arms and legs. I made sure to take off his socks immediately upon arrival to ensure there wouldn’t be red marks on those scrumptious chubby legs!
Try to schedule vaccines and shots at least 4 days before our session. This will allow enough time for baby to recoup (if needed) from their doctor visit.
I offer a client preparation checklist and detailed information about my sessions including advice for a successful session. I recommend communicating with your clients throughout the entire booking process and before your session together. My goal is a positive customer experience from beginning to end.
Enjoy the session mom and dad. This is an INCREDIBLY special time in your baby’s lives. Don’t stress about outfits, hair, runny noses, drooling, smiles, crabby baby, etc. Just relax and enjoy the entire time we spend together. I recommend sitting back on the couch and just watch your baby being photographed. If I need help or assistance from you to get baby to smile, then I will call you over for help. My sessions are simple and baby led. I gently pose them baby placing them on their tummy, sitting up, facing the wall, etc. and it naturally flows from beginning to end. If you are stressed and tense, this sometimes can make baby stressed and tense. Take a deep breath and have fun. It’s a beautiful time and I guarantee you I will collect gorgeous photos of your little one.
Occasionally a parent feels disappointed after a session because they felt their baby didn’t smile as much as they normally do, or that they were acting differently then typical. It is your job as a professional photographer to ensure them that their baby did great and you captured authentic and beautiful images of their little one. If you notice something is off with babe (teething, tugging at ears, etc.) offer to reschedule the session. My goal always is a good customer experience. You want them to look back at the images and remember an amazing experience rather than ‘oh that’s the day he wasn’t smiling because he was sick’.
Thank you all for stopping by and reading the Tips for a Successful Baby Milestone Session! Feel free to CONTACT me if you have any questions or if you would like to book your baby session! There are FAR more images of this sweet boy that I must show from his session. Visit this baby’s recent blog post where I documented his 6 month milestone session!
Laurie offers photography services in the Chicagoland area and surrounding suburbs including but not limited to Napervillle Illinois, Homer Glen, Oak Brook, LaGrange, LaGrange Park, Burr Ridge, Hinsdale, Oak Brook, Wheaton, Lisle, Frankfort, New Lenox, and Sugar Grove areas. To read more about the artist visit Laurie’s ABOUT page!