Leah O'Connell

for photographers, newborns

4 Tips for lifestyle newborn photos with 2 under 2

newborn photos at home with 2 under 2 by charlottesville photographer
I'm Leah!

I’m obsessed with stories of family, creativity, and simple joys.  A nostalgia nerd, educator, wife, and mom of 3, I believe life’s most fun when you’re dreaming big and having kitchen dance parties. 

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The idea of tackling newborn photos with 2 under 2 years old probably sounds crazy, but with lifestyle newborn sessions at home, it’s so possible!

Here are a few of the ways I approach photographing newborn sessions with 2 kids under 2 to keep the stress low and still create storytelling, heartfelt images (and don’t leave tired parents in a sweaty heap at the end!).

1. Ease in.

At the beginning of a session with 2 under 2, I’m still a stranger and toddlers can be apprehensive. It’s important to start the session without being pushy.

I often take on an attitude of nonchalantly having my camera out and asking if the toddler can show me the baby’s room or their favorite toy. Wherever they take me is where we start shooting, even if it’s not ideal. Even if I don’t end up using any of the images, it’s really about connecting and getting some buy-in.

Sometimes, it means starting with breakdowns of one parent with baby so the oldest can observe or play close by while getting comfortable with what’s happening.

2. Be sensitive to the children’s cues and needs

I don’t believe in making photos happen at all costs – rather, I believe that when children are seen, heard, and feel valued, they will be able to engage happily and with their full personalities and great photos will flow from that.

Recognize when they need a break (or better yet, anticipate it)! Newborn photos with 2 under 2 require lots of attention to their needs and transitions to keep things moving. Change the environment. Play a quick game. Invite mom and dad to read a book. Feed the baby. Change the diaper.

Then make the photos. (Or if it feels right, shoot through them!)

3. Do the work

It is not the family’s job to turn towards the right light or dip their shoulder in a more flattering angle – it’s their job to be in the moment. It’s the photographer’s job to move into the right angles, to direct them into areas that have great light, to help them feel relaxed so their smiles are natural and real.

It’s our job to instigate transitions, to adjust the blinds, to notice the details, to choose the right lens. It’s our job to do the work so they don’t have to worry about it.

4. Get quick, stay calm

There’s a delicate balance between keeping a relaxed attitude and keeping the session moving.

All my sessions with 2 kids under 2 years old are less than 90 minutes, and more often, around an hour. That’s because while we do take lots of breaks between directed shooting, I still shoot a lot in the transitions. The actual candid stuff. When you’re confident with your camera, lighting choices, etc. you can set up a shot, shoot through for a few moments, then move on.

I can tell when I’ve gotten the shot I’ve envisioned, when it’s worth it to push or tweak a little more for it, or when it’s just not going to work and we need to try something else.

By trusting that intuition and creative vision, you can move more quickly without feeling rushed.

RECAP for newborn photos with 2 under 2

  • break the ice with older kids and follow their lead
  • respond and anticipate cues of children’s needs
  • don’t make your clients wonder what they’re supposed to do – make it easy for them and do the work.
  • be decisive but don’t rush- get the shot and move on.

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Relaxed newbon photos at home in Crozet

Questions to ask when you feel stuck in your photography business

Tips for photographing a family with special needs

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Hi, I'm Leah.
Family photographer, writer, educator.

I’m  one of the first to meet your newborn baby, the one who won't judge your clothes baskets and unmade beds, and the one who can capture the way your husband looks at you with a twinkle in his eye after 12 years of marriage. I believe in honoring people and telling stories.

I believe art has the power to light up the world in dark places, starting at home.