Sometimes I think newborn photographers make it look like it’s easy to get babies to sleep peacefully through all the posing and moving and changing. And sometimes it is! Harper literally didn’t wake up once and her entire session was over in under two hours. That is almost a record for us!
But she’s also totally the exception!
So what do you do when a baby won’t sleep? Most babies take more time. They get hungry or fussy or just stay wide awake for no reason except, well, they want to be awake! It’s those babies where we really have to work our magic and pull out all of our tricks to keep them sleepy.
And yet, there are still a stubborn few that really just don’t want to sleep for us!
Jaxton was a sweet little guy and not fussy, just not tired either.
Now you wouldn’t know it from the images we shared because eventually we DID get him to sleep! We always do, some just take a LOT more time than others. So the question is, what do you do with a baby that’s wide awake but not hungry or crying, just calm?
You photograph them!
We don’t blog many of the wide awake shots we get sometimes because we show what we would consider our favorites or our ideal shots. Awake babies aren’t safe to pose in our often used poses and can fuss easily so we want to show all of you the sleepiest of sleepy babies posed in sweet little positions! But I wanted to share some of the things we do when a baby just won’t sleep in case anyone else runs into that problem!
One shot we might try with a wide awake+calm baby is the head shot:
Kim is holding onto Roman’s right hand/arm and both legs and I’m standing above him (on a step ladder because our table we shoot on is waist high). His left arm was calm but his right kept flailing so Kim held on for dear life which in turn totally calmed him. He felt secure (like he was swaddled) and very calmly looked around.
Now we know a newborn can’t see all that far, they dart their eyes around a lot and sometimes they even go cross-eyed so you have to be super patient. We adjusted his head numerous times too because he kept looking to the right but the light was to his left. And then I waited. The second he even sort of looked my direction I snapped. And out of numerous shots I got, the one above of him looking directly at me that was a keeper. Was it worth all the time waiting and readjusting?
Of course! We got the shot dad wanted with the hat they brought and we used time we’d otherwise have just been shushing him trying to force him to sleep. This way he had some awake time, we got a shot we needed and then he fell sound asleep!
Another thing we do is break out the macro lens. A lot of our macro shots are on wide awake babies because again, there’s little else we can do while we wait, so we play!
Sleepy little Jaxton above wasn’t sleepy until the last 30 minutes or so of his session. I think he was awake/feeding/fussing for maybe three hours? Once he finally fell asleep we rocked it out and filled their gallery with so many sweet+sleepy shots but during all the time he was awake? We played a little!
I call this, a foot study!
Now, are macro shots easier with a sleeping non-moving baby? YES! It makes me SO dizzy when feet are flying at the lens! HA! But in most of the shots Kim was holding the legs so only the feet were moving and since the baby’s awake (meaning you can’t do much else) it’s ok to load your card with out of focus shots as they move around!
All I’m saying here, I guess, is PLAY! When a baby isn’t sleepy (but isn’t screaming or eating) don’t panic and go into full “get baby to sleep” mode. Take a little time and play with different shots you CAN do while a baby is awake! And once all of those are exhausted THEN go into baby whisperer mode and get that kid to sleep!
Kind of a random post for a Friday! Have a great weekend!